King Hit Audio

$25.00 (GST-inc)

Stephen Oliver’s voice resonates with strength and passion. With the highly original music of Matt Ottley this CD transports us across soundscapes of harmony and disharmony, life and death, peace and violence.

Stephen Oliver’s voice resonates with strength and passion. With the highly original music of Matt Ottley this CD transports us across soundscapes of harmony and disharmony, life and death, peace and violence.

Stephen Oliver’s voice packs all the tonal shifts of a heavy-duty gearbox. The resonance is bedrock; Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas, Ken Nordine rolled into one.

Matt Ottley’s compositions make for a collaboration of high originality, moving effortlessly through modern classical, rock, blues, and jazz notation.

Oliver’s poems challenge, delight, and entertain. Beat for beat, groove for groove, Oliver & Ottley perfectly counterpoint one another. The words and the music deliver exactly what this recording promises: a King Hit.

Matt Ottley

Matt Ottley grew up in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea where he spent the first eleven and a half years of his life. He lead an itinerate life as a stockman in Queensland before returning to Sydney to study fine arts and music. He is regarded as one of Australia most popular children’s authors/illustrators with such classics as What Faust Saw, and Mrs Millie’s Painting. His books are published in several different languages. He is also a composer and flamenco guitarist.


Brady’s Grave

Listen to the moaning of the pine
at whose root thy hut is fastened
– Old Danish proverb

In front of the old Manse,
Duck Creek weaves through
bulrushes along the hillside
striving with pine trees,
slippery with copper needles

home to magpie’s carolling.
‘There were three homes we had.’
Farther back into the hill,
a tilted slab of concrete, rusty
iron posts and chains mark it out

amongst the tussock clumps—
Brady’s Grave makes a slipway
for the flying, full moon;
and the local cats gather into
a circle, under the yellow glare.

A questioning silhouette
of Black Swans at Pauatahanui
ride easy, buoyant, on the inlet’s
long tides away from view,
behind the whistling pine grove.

“Oldest Pine”

A 10,500-year-old Huon pine, believed to be the world’s oldest tree, was handed back to Tasmania yesterday by mining company Pasminco.

– Sydney Morning Herald, April 24, 1998

Years grew in rings,
but my earliest memories
sought bird-dialect, the
hush of water and wind.

Men could hear then,
stood with forest-silence;
the leaf-like breathing
at my base made speech.

The loud and glacial
grumbling of boulder—
ice ceased in my first years,
ferns eventually uncoiled.

I thought myself ever
which is now at a closing;
yet I did not regard
this end without mystery.

Other pine-tree that
built memory in fire onto
their bark’s surface,
recorded an earlier time;

they hide mostly in the
moist gullies and deep rift
valleys (branches radial):
an ancient pine tree.

photo is found locked in
the earth’s element, an old
family and they are few.

The wide-branched
rivers that angled mirrors
under the sun, are gone
underground, they

emerged from within
the ice-tides, mountains fell
when the sky opened, the
seas had retreated.

They are shadow leaves.
They flow many-branched.
They house every myth.
They rise in me to air.

Emblem for Dead Youth


Over the past five years in the Great South Land,
a primary dissipation of energies; 2,500 youth suicides,
in fact. we pause to consider this phenomenon:

2,500 small white crosses neat as napkins laid
out in geometric patterns upon the parliamentary turf
sweeping up to the Big House. Small white crosses,
abstract as wing-nuts or butterflies, each one pinned

to the yellow grass lapel though, hauntingly, branded
onto the mind’s dumb hide. With each grief-prone parent,
pain inflates safe as an air-bag. Small towns outback
spin to emptiness. moonrise is a chalk outline after the

going down of the sun. Stars swing bright herds into the
dark corrals. There’s movement at the station; a murmuring
engine through woodland, sky velocity blue as gun-metal.

Cultural Misappropriation

Is that what I hear you cry, citizen?
If a delph-glazed moon with its O so
delicate pattern pans over Holland, flat as
a tack, it also comes by way of the
Antarctic circle right to your doorstep
in equal measure. If the sun clamps
its golden torque on mosque or synagogue, pa,
cathedral or sacred site does this endorse
any one people over another? Is it your wish
to head off the cultural bandits at the
historical impasse, citizen, by placing a
patent on your mana? Beware the polemicists
who define and so divide, who aggregate
authority unto self where before lay none.
Symbol becomes the circumference of
time and custom. It is not the thing itself,
but the beautiful echo of a people’s harmonic,
which cannot be bounded nor weakened.
Here lies the camouflage that protects the
ancient matrix, the silent memory of our
blood’s journey and sound leads you to it.

A Simple Tale

On the destruction of two giant, ancient Buddha statues, near
Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, by the Taliban militia in the
Year of Our Lord, March 12, 2001

In this stark country where light can be yellow
it is difficult to measure time.

Bare mountains, seemingly carved, overlook
ancient sea beds called deserts.

The Silk Road, or a tributary of it, drifted
this way past the cliff face—

for a generation men on rickety scaffolding
worked at the sandstone

to fashion the image deep into the cliff’s face
of a fifty metre high statue.

The mountain became grotto to the Buddha
homaged by 1,700 years of dawns

and sunsets until the coming of the Iconoclasts
in a drought-stricken land.

In two unhurried afternoons, much like any other,
between the braying of donkeys,

with mortar fire and dynamite, they turned to
dust and rubble the false idol.

The last piece to dissolve before dusk, which is
the traditional time for prayer—

was the impassive smile of the Buddha, and 500
tons of face fell under the blast.

King Hit

In the dark, unbounded warehouse that
is nothingness, God snapped his fingers like a
match, the universe unfolded in the cup
of his hand to glow forever, fathomlessly, until
we saw by light leakage—it close to a fist.

Stephen Oliver

Stephen Oliver grew up in Brooklyn-west, Wellington, New Zealand. He has travelled extensively and up until recently lived in Australia for 20 years. Previous to his collaboration with Matt Ottley on King Hit, his most recent collection of poetry is Either Side The Horizon (Titus Books, Auckland/Sydney, 2005). He  has worked in the broadcasting industry in Australia and New Zealand, freelancing as production voice, newsreader, feature writer, copywriter, producer, etc.



The dripping Gorgon’s head
over the sands of Iraq, spittle of snakes flame out

from a thousand gun barrels—

at last! the two worlds unite in the death struggle,
the two as one to make a third:
fantasy is reality is fantasy.

America has become its own horror cartoon,
each thought locked within its renegade cell,

Bugs Bunny holds forth in the senate on
the bankrupt dream-stocks buried at Fort Knox.

Donald Duck meantime jerks off in disgust
over the American flag—quacks
the country’s been bushwhacked,

‘ain’t worth a hill of beans’

in archaic colloquialisms of a nation near claim
jumping the Middle East.

The last capitalist gasp v the last medieval groan;
eventually, to make way for the eco-terrorists whose

motto: destroy what you cannot save: will sound
the retreat to a history vaporized—a memory erased.

So we come to inherit “Our Common Loss”.

The space shuttle Columbia makes
its long wave good-bye

bright finger nails tearing at the sky (like)

‘morning Lucifer, that star that beckons all
mankind to daily rounds’

scratching down God’s blackboard
as seven souls fly away
toward the Pleiades.

So we make our omens to live and die by

Weight 110 g
Dimensions 140 × 120 × 120 mm

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 3 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    King Hit is a diverse selection of poetry beautifully read by Stephen Oliver with musical accompaniment by Matthew Ottley … The editorial quality of the product is excellent.“

    – ABC Enterprises

    July 17, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Elsewhere has always had a soft spot for poetry/spoken word and interesting writing, and in the past has posted from the likes of Selina Tusitala Marsh who is a compelling Pasifika voice, and from the AUP book/double disc Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance, as well as posting interviews with, or articles about, writers such as Beat legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti, black-British reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, revolutionary US writer Amiri Baraka and others.

    In fact we have a whole section of this on-line magazine dedicated to Writing in Elsewhere.

    Perhaps this collection by writer/broadcaster Oliver could more correctly be in that section, but the music by Australian multi-instrumentalist Matt Ottley is so integral to the conception that we acknowledge it here.

    Oliver has spent so much time in Australia (and elsewhere) that although he is much published, he is barely known here — yet there is something immediate familiar about his voice: it has the authoritative tone of a news-reader (well, one from days gone by I suppose) and indeed he has made a living doing voice-overs and the like.

    But his words — delivered in a masculine, assured, compelling manner — reach from evocations of ancient poetics to images from the contemporary world with an ease which is admirable and can, at times, be usefully disconcerting. He wastes little time on niceties and although there maybe wisps of nostalgia they are fleeting.stephen

    This is poetry with the impact of a news report (“Emblem for Dead Youth”), base politics grabbed by the throat and shaken (“Stalin’s Cotton Socks”), descriptive phrases which are instantly memorable (“a Delft-glazed moon”) and references with a global reach (“Hania”, “A Simple Tale”) which never talk down to the listener. Earthy but intellectual, considered and gripping.

    And with baroque piano figures, rock guitars, driving percussion, cello or exotic oud from Ottley –as well as soprano Hester Hannah in a couple of pieces — this is poetry as music in your ear. Not always easy, never pretentiously arch, this is a collection that reveals its many layers slowly — and will take you on many (and diverse) journeys.

    July 17, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    It works beautifully: the music is entirely
    appropriate to the mood of the poems in every case, and the readings are often superb. I particularly liked ‘Braidwood’, “Gaudeamus Igitur”, and the low, jazz rhythms .. of the “Ballad of Miss Goodbar.”

    – Dr Nicholas Reid

    July 17, 2023

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