Cities of Dust

July 25, 2013

It was 1985. I was a 17 year old boy with a shock of died auburn hair and heavy, smudged eyeliner when I first heard this song.

I was living back home in Toowoomba, famous then only as the Garden City with its Carnival of Flowers, infamous now for its carnival of unsolved murders. It was about an hour after dawn on an autumn day. I was alone, walking slowly down a silent country road.


The road was a damp black line that curved gently here and there to pass at a distance between the larger hills of the Darling Downs; golden hills of wild grass that has a name that I don’t know. Each individual stalk of that grass sparkled with reflections of the rising sun cast by early morning dew. The air was cold and smelled of sorghum; a wheaty, malty smell.

A week before, I’d been in an op-shop searching for paisley shirts when a tarot-reading trannie psychic whom I didn’t know slipped a mixed tape into my hand. She said “I think I made this for you, tho I didn’t know it at the time.” Things like that happened in Toowoomba all the time back then.

The first song on the A side was “Cities in Dust”. I played it on a clunky portable cassette player. No headphones. The sound was a little muted but I turned it up and the music filled the warming air around me as I walked. For me, the song is about the genuine sadness we feel when something beautiful perishes. Other people say it’s about other things. That morning was beautiful. The song ornamented it. Altogether it changed me.


The Genteel Art Of Birding

January 12, 2013

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker

When I think about bird-watching I think first about Jane Hathaway, the gangly, tweed suited secretary to Mr Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies.  I picture spinsterish women with bottle thick glasses and bumbling English vicars whose dialogue includes phrases like ‘Jolly good what!’ I picture hats with furry earflaps.

When I think about bird-watching, or birding as it is more often called these days, I think of eccentric old fellows who wax lyrical about speci...

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Book/Journal Reviews

December 12, 2012
Hello my friendly (blog) rollers, Just a bit of an update. My book America Divine: Travels in the Hidden South is featured in Books from our Backyard, the Queensland Writers Centre's overview of books written by queensland authors in 2011. On another front, I've recently been getting into writing book reviews. Book reviews are not easy things to write and so I'm not great at it yet. Recently, two of my reviews appeared on Angela Meyer's Literaryminded blog. Angela is THE rising star of Austra...
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Blast from the Eighties Past

October 16, 2012

Here are some pics (not great quality) of me in the Eighties. A picture says a thousand words as they say and these speak quite articulately about the gender-bending generation. In the one above, I am second from the left, I've been caught mid wink/sneer/stoopid eighties pose. I think I'm fifteen years old in this. Cheers, ciao, enjoy.

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A Rose By Any Other Name

April 15, 2012

So, after getting asked again about my name I thought I might write a post about it. It might come as a surprise gentle reader but people often ask me if 'Dallas Angguish' is my real name. It's a bit tiring answering that question over and over again but I suppose my name is unusual enough to warrant the curiosity. The answer I normally give is a variation of this:

The full name on my birth certificate is Dallas John Angguish Baker. In the early eighties, when I was a deeply anxious and sad ...

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Is it possible to become a writer, or is writing ability an inborn talent?

March 25, 2012

I was on a panel at the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival recently and made one of those rather glib and throw-away statements that are becoming a rather predictable part of my repertoire when in public. It’s not that I want to be glib; it’s just that being in public spaces provokes acute anxiety and nervous exhilaration in equal measure so that I’m not really myself. It’s a bit like being a Catholic priest at a Gay Pride parade.

So, what I said was that I didn’t believe in ...

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February 4, 2012

A Couple of photos of the Bellinger valley. The church is in an area called Glennifer and is described in Peter Carey's novel "Oscar And Lucinda".
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Writing in Pixels

January 17, 2012

Ask any writer how they do what they do and you'll get a diverse range of answers. Most writers however will agree that their writing practice is fed by these three things:
  1. Reading
  2. Introspection (which sometimes requires solitude); and
  3. Social interactions (which often requires alcohol).

Some writers, especially those for whom writing is as much an act of reflection as an act of communication, say that music and visual art both play a part in inspiring, sustaining and reinvigorating th...

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Photography 1

January 17, 2012

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Why I Love Southern Literature

November 26, 2011

My new book is a collection of travel tales set in the Deep South of the USA. People are always asking me why I love the South and Southern literature so much. As a queer man, it might seem that there is much about the South for me to dislike. Well, let me explain, drawing on some of the Preface of America Divine.

The landscape of my travel tales is the American South, a place that I have visited a number of times over a decade or so. Although I am certainly writing about my experience ...

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About Me

I am a writer, editor and academic based in Australia. I have been published in a number of journals including TEXT Journal, Lodestar Quarterly, Retort Magazine, Bukker Tillibul and Polari Journal (of which I am the editor). My work has also appeared in the anthologies Bend, Don’t Shatter (2004), Dumped (2000 and US edition 2002) and Sensual Travels (2013). A collection of my short works, Anywhere But Here, was published in 2006 and received very positive reviews. My collection America Divine: Travels in the Hidden South was published by Phosphor Books. I have a PhD in Writing from Griffith University.