The Philosophy of Clothes

Available from 15 November 2009

The Philosophy of Clothes

Clothes are always more than the threads on our backs. River Road s latest collection takes human garb discarded, borrowed, still warm on the body as its starting point for some three dozen musings on what clothes reveal. Those fabric envelopes get a second life here. A woollen jacket untangles a wearying national history, a knitted jumper unravels love and death. Function is subverted: short boots become dog stoppers, shoes are step doggers; nudity can be disguise, and dress a kind of striptease.

It s not, as Barbara Fisher puts it, that Sometimes, as Barbara Fisher puts it, we may think the worst of our clothes without their owners . But the poets here also think more of them, riffing on hats and underpants, the shirts on spin cycle, hijab and mobile phones. In a world awash with advice on what not to wear, the Philosophy of Clothes is style free. This CD won t make your bum look big.
Ingrid Periz

ISBN 978-0-9805386-4-9


  1. All Will Be Revealed        Stephen Edgar
  2. Dear Lawrence                  Craig Billingham
  3. Quilt                                   Lucy Dougan
  4. Concerning Clothes:   i Clothes Consciousness     Barbara Fisher
  5. Concerning Clothes:  ii Best Sari                             Barbara Fisher
  6. Concerning Clothes:  iii Discards                            Barbara Fisher
  7. Concerning Clothes:  iv Dressed to Kill                 Barbara Fisher
  8. Concerning Clothes: vi Nightgown                       Barbara Fisher
  9. Concerning Clothes: vii Without Clothes            Barbara Fisher
  10. Sweat                                                         Andrew Taylor
  11. Scarf                                                           Andrew Taylor
  12. Hat                                                             Andrew Taylor
  13. Anne (white jeans)                              Neil Paech
  14. Hats, Too                                            Lesley Walter
  15. Belts                                                         Andrew Taylor
  16. The Shoe                                                   Peter Boyle
  17. The Blessings of Saint Vincent            Carol Jenkins
  18. Bra                                                      Andrew Taylor
  19. Handbag, Earrings                     Andrew Taylor
  20. Green Dream Shirt                     Carol Jenkins
  21. Shirts (the collective)                  Carol Jenkins
  22. History                                           Michael Sharkey
  23. Down the Street                            Cath Vidler
  24. His Shoes and Socks                   Lesley Walter
  25. Black Cardigan                                Lucy Dougan
  26. Wearing Hijab in Muscat (Arabic)                       Jillian Kellie
  27. Wearing Hijab in Muscat (English)                      Jillian Kellie
  28. Mobile Phone                                                      Andrew Taylor
  29. Casting Off                                                     Barbara Fisher
  30. Underpants                                                   Andrew Taylor
  31. Glasses                                                      Andrew Taylor
  32. Tie                                                                 Andrew Taylor
  33. The Clothes                                                Geoff Page
  34. Ode to Shoes                                                 Michael Sharkey
  35. Opportunity Shops                                 Andrew Strickland
  36. Short Boots                                                 Carol Jenkins
  37. The Library of T-shirts                        joanne burns

Running Time:  39′ 08″

All poems ©the Authors 2009

Recording, Notes,  ©River Road Press Pty Ltd 2009

Contributor Notes

Craig Billingham’s first collection of poems, Storytelling, was published by Five Islands Press in 2007. His work has been featured on ABC Radio National’s Poetica and at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2008. He lives in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

Peter Boyle’s first three collections of poetry, Coming home from the world (1994), The Blue Cloud of Crying (1997), and What the painter saw in our faces (2001), have received several awards including the New South Wales Premier’s Award, the South Australian Festival award and the National Book Council Award. His CD The Transformation Boat is also published by River River Road Press.

joanne burns is a Sydney poet. Her most recent collection is an illustrated history of dairies (Giramondo, 2007). Her CD kept busy is also published by River Road Press. A new collection of her work amphora is forthcoming from Giramondo in 2010.
Lucy Dougan’s first book Memory Shell (Five Islands Press, 1998) won the Mary Gilmore Award. Her second book White Clay (Giramondo, 2008) won the Alec Bolton prize for an unpublished manuscript.  She has just completed a PhD and is an advisory editor for HEAT magazine

Stephen Edgar lives in Sydney. He has published seven books of poetry, the most recent being I(Black Pepper, 2009). His book Lost in the Foreground won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry in 2003. In 2006 he received the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. His CD Photography for Beginners is also published by River Road Press.

Barbara Fisher studied at the National Art School, Sydney, and has worked on magazines, in advertising, as an art teacher and as an antiquarian bookseller. She is represented in various anthologies and has published two books of poetry – Archival Footwork (Indigo, 2001) and Still Life, Other Life (Ginninderra Press, 2007).

Carol Jenkins is a Sydney writer. Her first book, a collection of poetry, Fishing in The Devonian (Puncher & Wattmann, 2008) was short-listed for the Anne Elder and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

Jillian Kellie is a Sydney poet who grew up in Lebanon. When she was eighteen she moved to Melbourne to study nursing. She has worked as a pediatric nurse and a midwife. She has four adult children and is currently studying creative writing at Southern Cross University.

Neil Paech is an Adelaide poet, occasional fruit-picker and English teacher. His books include The Bitumen Rhino (Friendly Street, 1986), k is for keeper a is for t.v. (Wakefield Press, 1994) and the skinscape voyeur (Wakefield Press, 1998). He was co-editor of No. 14 Friendly St. Poetry Reader (Friendly Street, 1990).

Michael Sharkey’s interest in clothes stems from his early efforts to rearrange a school uniform in such a way as to make him a debonair flâneur. It also has to do with admiration of poems such as Herrick’s ‘When as in silks my Julia goes’. His CD ‘Readings from The Sweeping Plain’ is also published by River Road Press.

Geoff Page is a Canberra poet who has published eighteen collections of poetry as well as two novels, four verse novels, anthologies, translations and a biography of the jazz musician Bernie McGann. He has won several awards, including the ACT Poetry Award, the Grace Leven Prize, the Christopher Brennan Award, the Queensland Premier’s Prize for Poetry and the 2001 Patrick White Literary Award.  His CD Coffee with Miles (2009) is published by River Road Press.

Andrew Strickland lives, writes and cuts hair in the Blue Mountains. His work has appeared in The Cows Were There the Whole Time (APC, 2008) and Voices from the Meadow (Five Islands Press, 2007).

Andrew Taylor’s Collected Poems were published by Salt Publications (UK) in 2004. In that year he also translated a number of Eugenio Montale’s poems, which have been broadcast on Mike Ladd’s ABC radio programme, Poetica. Salt published a new collection, The unhaunting, in 2009. He teaches at Edith Cowan University, WA. He wrote poems about accessories because they are some of the commonest things in our lives and yet most poets overlook them.

Cath Vidler’s first collection of poems is forthcoming from Puncher and Wattmann ( in 2010. Cath is the editor of Snorkel (, a literary magazine specialising in the publication of creative writing by Australians and New Zealanders.

Lesley Walter is a widely published Sydney poet whose awards include the Dame Leonie Kramer Prize in Australian Poetry from the University of Sydney and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize.


Peter Boyle’s ‘The Shoe’ is from Museum of Space (UQP, 2001), joanne burns’ ‘the library of t-shirts’ is from penelope’s knees (UQP, 1996), Stephen Edgar’s ‘All Will be Revealed’ is from Corrupted Treasures (Heinemann, 1995), Craig Billingham’s ‘Dear Lawrence’ is from Other Poetry No.28 (UK, 2005), Lucy Dougan’s ‘Quilt’ and ‘Black Cardigan’ are from White Clay (Giramondo, 2007), Barbara Fisher’s ‘Casting Off’  is from Archival Footwork (Indigo, 2001) and her ‘Clothes Consciousness’ is from Still Life, Other Life, (Ginninderra Press, 2007), Carol Jenkins’ ‘Short Boots & ‘The Blessings of Saint Vincent’ are from Fishing in the Devonian (Puncher & Wattmann, 2008), ‘Green Dream Shirt’ and ‘Shirts (the collective)’ are from Eclogues: Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2007, Andrew Taylor’s poems are from Götterdämmerung Café (UQP, 2001), Geoff Page’s ‘The Clothes’ is from Darker and Lighter (Five Island Press,2001), Neil Paech’s ‘Ann (white jeans)’  is from the skinscape voyeur (Wakefield Press,1998), Michael Sharkey’s ‘The Shoes’ was published in Quadrant and his ‘History’ is from History: Selected Poems 1978-2000 (Five Islands Press, 2002), Lesley Walter’s ‘Hats’ and ‘His Shoes and Socks’ are from Watermelon Baby (Five Islands Press, 2000).

Special thanks to Michael Sharkey for his help with research, Thomas Carlyle, from whom the title The Philosophy of Clothes is borrowed, and Raghid Nahhas for both his translation of ‘Wearing Hijab in Muscat’ into Arabic and his patient assistance in the recording this poem.