Richard Tipping

Richard Kelly Tipping was born in 1949 in Adelaide, South Australia, and studied at Flinders University and later at the University of Technology, Sydney. He was the co-editor of Mok magazine from 1968-69, and co-founded the Friendly Street readings in 1975, editing the first anthology published in 1977.

He lives in Newcastle, NSW, and lectures in media at the local mind factory. He has published three books of poems with University of Queensland Press, and is represented in many anthologies, including the Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry and the New Oxford Book of Australian Verse.

He has been exhibiting wordworks (poems sculptures and visual language) since 1970. His most recent solo exhibitions have been at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney (1996), the Eagle Gallery, London (1997), Ubu Gallery, New York (1999), Multiple Box, Sydney (2001) and Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide (2002).

His websites can be found at

What Happens Then?

My grandmother is growing
smaller; not that old
quick look, but a kindness
at the bottom of a letter
rubs her eyes.

She smoothes
the stiff sheet’s folded edge
like a child’s hair.
“Soul, my soul,” she says, then
“only half an hour left in this.”

Her skin is wrinkled finely like the sea
photographed from a distant planet
on a clear, crisp day
with a good wind blowing.
“What happens then?”

She turns away
from the sealed window
with both eyes closed. “I don’t know –
half a hour’s a lifetime,” then
“nearly time to go.”

From The Friendly Street Poetry Reader and Tuesday Night Live

Hillside with Two Figures

Mornings without which
sleep. Wet lashes of grass,
black-eyed daisies
folded like old beach umbrellas
in an abandoned paddock, falling away
through unsharpened fences, the fireplace
and the sheep-run
a monument to unnoticed effort.
The apples are crimped
and fallen, all coddle-moth & quince.
Pale buttocks of folding
hillslope and gorge a white bird swoops up
in a pendulum
whoop of song
the licked-clean slope,
tiny fluorescence of flowers
stark thistle and thorn –
the goldtops still asleep
in their deep and foggy roots
there are worlds within the world – creek moss
floating islands
a struggling ant would sink
birds smaller than butterflies
invisible humming wings
that carry us up to a hillside
where you hold me
like a tree hugging rock

From Friendly Street No. 2 and Tuesday Night Live

Body Surfing

The inside history of our times
not touching, distant as Japan.
My expectations filled a truck.
You were the Girl on her Stallion –
I lay by the creek and smoked
tearing up love’s telegrams
letting the grass grow over me
like a month. Strange tastes
called ‘MISSING YOU’ and ‘XXX’.
Image replay, dream video
fucking personality spacesuits
eyes gleaming stones in a creek
hair sprouting from rocks
hands that wave from the tips of branches
wildflower ears, a beard of bees.
The wide screen flaps
tossing the whole love movie’s cast
out into the cheering Drive-In.
My parent’s marriage was like this –
hearts in mouths and shaking knees.
Brave hope, brave lunacy.
Suddenly you Return from Overseas
strolling through shuttering pigeons
silk dress swirling over me
saying it didn’t really happen and
don’t look back. It’s just what I need!
You’re a surfer yourself and appreciate
how off right off can be.
With my brother’s optimistic shout
ringing in my ears
to charge across the open beach and crash
into the unexpecting waves.

From Friendly Street No. 3