Jas Duke (1939-1992)

Poems Of Life And Death By Jas H. Duke

1. Hot Dragon Day (from NMA Publications, 1989) (1:02)

2. Dada (from I/V Surrealist Festival 4, Bill Marshall PBS-FM, 1980) (2:03)

3. 4 & 20 Blackbirds / Tribute to Yeats (In a Sewer Dark & Dreary) / Psalm 23 / Nikola Tasla / Positive Poem / Another Bite of Yeats (Breath Poem) / Lack Lustre (from I/V Surrealist Festival 4, Bill Marshall PBS-FM, 1980) (8:26)

4. Personality Cult Poem / In Lost Atlantis / The Pope (I/V Born to Concrete, Jeff Herbert, 3CR No Limits, 1981) (9:26)

5. No, no you can't do that (rec. Warren Burt, 1982) (1:25)

6. Atlantis / Australia (I/V Montsalvat, Terry Bennett, 3CR, 1977) (4:25)

7. Mirror Man (I/V Niagara Galleries, Jeff Herbert, 3CR No Limits, 1981) (0:39)

8. A Dream (from I/V Surrealist Festival 4, Bill Marshall PBS-FM, 1980) (3:59)

9. New Imperial 1,2,3,4 (from I/V Surrealist Festival 4, Bill Marshall PBS-FM, 1980)

10. A letter from my brother in the country / Presentations / Dad's Dead (from 925 Poets, rec. Kev-in, collective effort press, 1980) (4:36)

11. Democracy (from Poets against the Bicentenary, collective effort press, 1987) (1:10)

12. Bloodshot Eyes, from NMA Publications, 1989 (1:15)

13. Looking out the window, (from 925 Poets, rec. Kev-in, collective effort press, 1980) (4:50)

14. Grace O'Malley, NMA Publications, 1989 (6:48)

15. Shit Poem / 1987 Federal Elections or: The Johns Party / Beijing Town / American President Poem / Hangman Brown (from reading at Baker's Café, collective effort press, 1990) (8:31)

16. I remember the War in Vietnam / Stalin / Tribute to Malevich (Black Squares) / A letter to Queen Victoria (from Soundworks, rec. Ric Rue, Sydney 1986) (10:44)

Poems Of Life And Death By Jas H.Duke
Selected & produced by jeltje
Collective effort press, Melbourne, 2003

These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights to this recorded material belong to the author's estate. (C) 2007 Estate of Jas Duke. Used with permission of Elizabeth Snashall, Literary Executor of the Estate of Jas DUke. Distributed by PENNSound & UbuWeb.


During his lifetime, Jas H. Duke was scarcely noticed during sojourns outside Australia, and not many poets outside his circle of friends in Australia recognized him, despite the energy he generated around himself wherever he went. Richard Kostelanetz includes an extreemly sketchy and not altogether accurte entry for him in his Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, the only U.S. mention I can recall. Duke himself may not have required more than this - his Anarchism, was decentralist, and more oriented to the active scene in which he took part than in literary conquest, but it's a shame for the rest of us that he remains such a well kept secret. As an introduction to Duke, thalia's brief biography below does very well.

- Karl Young


Jas H. Duke was born in Ballarat, Australia in 1939. Son of two schoolteachers, Irish-Scottish ancestors. His family moved to Melbourne in the 1950s.

He worked as a draftsman/ a laboratory assistant/ a technical writer and dreamed of becoming a chess champion (didnt quite make it). As a substitute he read every book that he could find.

In the 60's he became an Anarchist. Wrote short stories, and was desperately looking for a way to break-out! Went to England via the U S of A, where he circulated in the politico-psychedelic underground. In England he sought the commraderie of Freedom Press; met Ted Kavanagh, Cohn Bendit, Yoko Ono, and Raoul Hausmann. Jas became a political activist, and an actor who appeared in many underground movies by filmmaker Jeff Keen.

Jas came back to Australia in the early 70's. He published a surreal novel Destiny Wood printed in 1978, which includes poetry translated from the German, and a section of Concrete poems. He became an active member of Collective Effort Press, where he was involved in many small press publications, including the groundbreaking 925 a poetry magazine, for the workers, by the workers, about the workers work.

Jas was also involved in the first Visual Poetry Anthology of Australia Missing Forms published in 1981 by Collective Effort Press.

His poetry reading performances were memorable. They included: sound poems, lyric poems, narrative poems, the satirical, the absurd the political . . . his range was immense. Sometimes he would tear out a page of poetry and eat it while reciting a poem, or, sometimes he would scream out D A D A! in various intensities. His energy and commitment to poetry would shock and re-awaken his audience.

Jas discovered visual and sound poetry, along with the Dada movement in the 60's. He was initially influenced by R. Hausmann and K Schwitters, but found Letraset (and similar products) to be a liberating force, one of anarchic dynamism.

Jas's last book, Poems of War and Peace was published in 1989 by Collective Effort Press.

On 19 June 1992, Jas died of a massive heart attack brought on by a broken bone that shattered when he slipped and fell over a concrete step.

-- P. O.

P. O., friend and confidant of long standing, and a Collective Effort Press member, is preparing a posthumous collection of the Melbourne Anarchist poet Jas H. Duke entitled Poems of Life & Death.

For copies of Poems of War and Peace or Poems of Life & Death

Collective Effort Press
P.O. Box 2430V
G.P.O. Melbourne 3001

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