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Hemingway in Spain

Hemingway in Spain and Selected Poems by David P Reiter, was shortlisted for the prestigious John Bray Award in the 1998 Adelaide Festival Literary Awards.

Reiter’s work emerges out of his passion for travel, cultural history, and of course his love of language. Not easily categorised, his writing shows at once a mastery of classical form and techniques but also a playful exploitation of post-modern methods.

There are several “Hemingways” in this sequence, voices from the past and present, real and imagined, in a mode Reiter calls ‘fusion poetry’ to produce an unforgettable artistic experience.

Hemingway in Spain and Selected Poems is the fourth poetry collection from an author of international stature.

Now in its 2nd edition, it features even more of Reiter’s photographs from Spain, providing a taste of what’s in store in his DVD based on the book. The enhanced eBook, available direct from IP and on the iBookstore, contains audio readings of many of the poems.

The DVD is available in PAL and NTSC versions and for download from Amazon. The audiobook is now available from Audible.com as well as other major audiobook sites..

Take a look at the DVD film version as well.

ISBN 978187819828 (PB, 124pp);
152mm x 229mm

AUD $25 USD $18 NZD $27 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 9781921869525 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $10 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7
ISBN 9781876819866 (Film 2hrs) AUD $30 USD $25 NZD $33 GBP £17 EUR €20
ISBN 9781925231878 (Audiobook) AUD $16 USD $10 NZD $18 GBP £8 EUR €9


Articulate and endlessly curious, David Reiter sets no bounds to his taste for the world’s many places, people, and happenings. These poems criss-cross Spain as well as the early Hemingway’s life and texts, to create a colourful simulacrum of its invincible, fecund life and history.

— Judith Rodriguez, Deakin University

Reiter’s book bring[s] a panorama of lost worlds to the reader — from the Kremlin, to Flinder’s Breaksea Island, from Norfolk Island markets… to Idaho. They stitch you into a tapestry blending a rather fine weave, with loose threads left hanging just to trip you up if you become complacent. ‘Art does not insist. You must let the fragments/find voice and not worry so much about the gaps.’

— Bev Braune, Australian Book Review

What Reiter has done is more imaginative and more genuinely creative and ground-breaking because he has turned Spain not into a land of monuments that the poet reacts to and makes poems from but into a land of voices. Hemingway acts as a kind of guide but the voice is as likely to be that of a character from one of his novels as it is to be that of the writer. And Columbus, Charles the Fifth, Clint Eastwood, Miro, Picasso and a host of others get to speak as well. All of the themes of this ‘voco-drama’ interrelate because, as one poem says: ‘the centuries / act in circles more often than straight lines’.

— Martin Duwell, University of Queensland

Hemingway in Spain is a substantial and accomplished piece of writing which, often in the persona of Hemingway, retraces poetically many of that man’s preoccupations, as part of David Reiter’s aesthetic response to his experience of Spain (photography is also included). History and its lessons, the blood shed in its making, suffering and stoicism, religion and belief, the mystery of beauty and sex, the nature of modern life and the primal ‘truth’ (as Hemingway might put it) of ancient cultures and rituals. Pithy observations which in the confidence of their assertion carry a ring of truth evoke the big American style: Infidelity / was a squall for some, an anchor for others / candles against the uncertainties of night…Some believe it’s science / others just good luck / that we fall in love / is a superstition; that we stay together is default… ("Contrast at Cuenca").

— Nathan Hollier, Overland.152

Australia does have…a few who are masters of the poetic art… they include the great Les Murray, the splendid Phillip Salom and the challenging David P Reiter. Hemingway in Spain is the best example yet of Reiter’s experiment with what he calls fusion poetry and the story he tells in the many parts that comprise the whole offers as intriguing and insightful a perspective as any on the great, but flawed American novelist…[he] brings us that man in various forms, whether as the writer, as his greatest character from his greatest novel — Robert Jordan from For Whom The Bell Tolls — or as an observer looking back. And while taking on Hemingway is a formidable challenge, remember that in the end even Hemingway couldn’t live up to being Hemingway. Reiter is more than equal to the task.

— Michael Jacobson, Gold Coast Weekend Review

David Reiter’s most recent book is a fascinating expression of the problem of history and the emptiness of the social sphere…[the] photos exemplify what I read as the central thesis…the frustrating presence of a past that cannot be pinned down, and that offers no secure place for human subjects…this is a book which disturbs, rather than confirms, a narrative stability. Its uncertain politics, its promiscuous juxtaposing of images, times and places, and its collapsing of the fictional into the historical (and vice versa), leaves something unsettled and unexpected, but something which deserves further attention.

— Jen Webb, Idiom 23

David P. Reiter

David Reiter is an award-winning text and digital artist, and Publisher at IP (Brisbane). His film Nullarbor Song Cycle was short-listed for the 2012 WA Premier’s Award. Hemingway in Spain and Selected Poems was short-listed for the 1998 SA Festival Awards and is now a film. The Cave After Saltwater Tide (Penguin) won the 1994 Queensland Premier’s Poetry Award and his short story collection, Triangles, was short-listed for the 2000 Steele Rudd Award. His most recent works are the satire Primary Instinct, the third junior novel in the Project Earth-mend Series Tiger Tames the Min Min and the picture book Bringing Down the Wall (2013).

David was artist-in-residence in 2012 at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada) where he completed the transmedia My Planets Reunion Memoir Project with the support of the Australia Council and the Cultural Fund of the Copyright Agency.


The critical article on the text and film of Hemingway in Spain by Ron McFarland in Appropriating Hemingway

Check out the trailer for the Hemingway in Spain DVD

David's Google profile

David's YouTube Channel


a clean well-lighted place

part of you died each year when the leaves fell
from the trees and their branches were bare
against the wind and the cold wintry light

It’s easier when you come back in winter,
in the half-life.  The sun’s more sympathetic
to grey and you can sip a cheap rosé without
regretting those stories you left too quickly.
the blood goes first

Chicote’s — that table over there
is where I pretended to listen to them,
the ones who’d have written something
great if only they’d had what it takes.

then the mind trails along

always something left

It took me a while to get the balance right —
enough alcohol to stay awake and seem amused
but not so much that the boredom crept back
before the hangover.  Discipline, that’s the key.

I still wonder if others felt the same, or if only
those who are addicted to imagination
feel so restless when the chatter goes stale.
And not a single one saw through my gaze!>

Spain was an excuse for them, not a reason.
They arrived by chance and were waiting
for a gust to sweep them off to a new perch
where they could speak as if they’d known me.

reporters who play at soldiers
soldiers who lose the will
to report

i was both and yet neither

There’s a wooden bust of me up on a shelf,
a few scraps of prose, a snapshot of a marlin.
The last owner thought it might be good
for business but it lured in more writers

than tourists.  He didn’t make a living
from cappuccinos though one waiter
did all right by telling how I wrote
A Moveable Feast between whiskies

over there.  And they encouraged him
with tips, which I suppose was as good
as believing him, until he’d saved enough
to open up his own place at Plaza Mayor.

He called it Not the Hemingway Restaurant
and all the postmodern pretenders go there.
I can’t understand a word they say
and the booze is BYO but it keeps off the frost.

when all you want is to get nothing
out of something.

at the Hotel Florida

It was the only place I could relax
in Madrid.  I didn’t bother to tell them
who I was, and they had the decency
not to ask or to put words in my mouth.
They never confused style with substance.

It was the kind of place where you slept
with the door unlocked but always kept
a pistol under your pillow just in case
especially after the shelling stopped
and the women you were dreaming of
had dressed and crept away.

they say every man chooses
his own hill to die on

the taste of earth
sour in his helmet

I knew things had changed when I saw
the lobby, the bevelled mirrors, the crystal
chandeliers, and the friendly receptionist.
In the old days if you wanted a mistress
you brought your own.  And no one cared
if you didn’t or did, or tried to tempt you
either way.  Even during the worst nights
of the siege.

When I signed the register E. Hemingway,
Ketchum, Idaho, she smiled and asked
“and is there no Señora Hemingway?”
“Two women did their best,” I answered
in Spanish, “and others would have liked
to try their luck.  I’ll tell you about it
some time.” Her name could be Maria
I thought, looking her up and down.
And I knew I would be tempted.

I lasted that night on my own
which was pretty good considering
how long I’d been bunking solo.
But then you don’t really miss it
once it’s out of bounds and you ask
what the fuss was all about back then
under the sheets, in the sweaty neon.

when you’re wounded and dug in
you feel this urge to name
every rock

I stood at the writing desk in my room
for hours staring at a sheet of paper
wondering if I could ever get it back,
keep the demons at bay long enough
to let a story take hold.

Then I heard voices in the street below,
a man and a hooker haggling over price.
He’d pay for what an artist would have
for free — what could I make of that?

between the fire-storms
i have this rotten habit of picturing

the bedroom scenes of my friends

I’d written a paragraph by sunrise
and ripped it up after café con leche.
The waiter was a bit too eager to please
and the antler coat racks left me cold
but I was back at the Hotel Florida
and the juices were starting to flow.

the walls of Toledo

It took days for our troops to reach
Toledo through all the sniper fire
and land mines but just a few hours
for Maria’s old Renault.

I’d almost forgotten Ituarte’s son.
We caught him trying to dynamite
the last bridge over the Tagus River
before we could cross.  Surrounded,
the fascists retreated to the alcázar
“to die like Romans!” Ituarte shouted
shaking his fist from the ramparts.

Then we showed him his son,
a noose draped around his neck.

the young ones bleed like stems
but the old men are more stubborn

The deal was this — a life for a fortress
and their stockpile of arms.  Through it all
the youth stood defiantly, his black eyes
daring us to martyr him before his father
could choose.  He needn’t have worried.

the romans swore these waters
hardened their swords like no other

Ituarte delivered it like a proclamation:
“pray, my son, then shout viva España
and die like a hero!”

i’ve seen many die
but i’ve never seen a politician
die well

We hung him from an orange tree
but it took a bullet to wipe the smile
off his face.  As the men cut him down
the tree pelted them with ripe fruit.

A month later we had to lift the siege.

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