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This journal was created to reflect the activities of the APIRA 2010 conference. It encompasses the trips to and from, and the activities surrounding the plenary speeches and delegates' presentations. I have edited it a little from time to time since the original posting (just a tweak here and there).

Feel free to comment, and to post your own version of events!

Thanks are due to everyone who took the time to talk with me during the conference, to the delegates who attended the writing workshop and, of course, to James Guthrie for seeing the value in having a writer-in-residence in the first place.


Steve Evans


~ Leaving Home

Wake at five o’clock
The room dark, before birdsong
Roll in close to you

Our car shakes off frost
City sleeps in morning fog
We drive empty roads

‘You may be too late —
Runner, Flight 761!’
To the intercom

So I run and run
Apologise at the gate
(Guess who’s first on board?)

Big sleek bird waiting
An A320 Airbus
Swallow on its wing

The seating shuffle
Stuff bags in the overhead
Stoop, twist, dance the dance

Then a long delay
For the real last passenger
Shameless smile, dawdling

Crisp black uniforms
Stylish cabin staff so smooth
Weird militia charm

A chime like doorbells
That no-one answers at first
Cross-arm, double-check

Choreography —
Emergency procedures
Hands sketch belt, vest, mask

In physics we trust
(The next seat tells plane-crash jokes)
And, yes, maybe God

Jet lifts through the mist
Strange vacuum cleaner rumble
Rattle and whine, climb

There’s no room for legs
Mine’s the awkward middle seat
You want elbow-room?

What shall I read?
Not the conference paper
That can wait a while

Health mag on my left
A weddings mag on my right
Me? I’ll read poetry

The food trolley next
A billycart till on wheels
With prices sky high

So I will refuse
Deny my gurgling stomach
Late lunch today, mate!

~ Arriving in Sydney

Thrust and resonance
The engines drop an octave
The fuselage hums

We slip down, wheel wide
Cronulla’s crumpled water
A glimpse of harbour

Tip and jerk and slide
Long arc of a bumpy ride
Gliding back to earth

‘There’s no bad weather’
Says the Scot one seat ahead
‘Just the wrong clothing’

Crouch and strain and crush
Haul myself upright at last
Step out stiff and free

We’re Terminal 2
Then Carousel 4 for bags
Bus, taxi or train?

A train passenger
Says, ‘I like to be where you’re
Not supposed to be’

Rail map shows the sights
Neglects to mention the fact
We roll underground

Though a little peak
Of the coat-hanger teases
Before the tunnel

At Town Hall station
All escalators frozen
Drag my bag behind

Bump up/down/up stairs
Haul that unwilling trailer
Nipping at my heels

Walk to the hotel
Traffic plaits its rivulets
Light rain’s a blessing

A girl at the lights
Question mark tattoos her neck
What is she asking?

The foyer at last
‘Your room’s not ready yet, sir’
Two hours footloose. Yay!

My list of presents
Crowds on wet pavement swarming
I’m into the fray

No phone charger? Damn!
Lock myself out of my room?
So, what’s number three?

~ Emerging Scholars Colloquium

A room with a view?
A room with 36 views
Talking in circles

I’m fly-on-the-wall
(A fly in bright orange socks)
With fly mouth kept shut

Tell me your thesis
You mean the what, how and why?
Yes, I quite like Why

10 words or less, please
Too many variables?
Pretend I am dumb

Great reference list
Sad it has nothing to do
With your good thesis

Deflated? No way
They argue, laugh, take long notes
But some will resist

James talks of dinner
The room perks up and listens
Food’s universal

~ First Night

Hotel far from home
My world contracts to this room
The sky dreams darkness

Bottled water sucks
The tap looks quite inviting
When water’s eight bucks

I walk out for tea
China Town’s dragon breathes fire
On my take-away

Closed this Sunday night
The Entertainment Centre
Ain’t entertaining

Though kids through the day
Practised dance moves there
Mirrored in glass doors

TV news? Football
Dancing dogs and Dr Who
Where’s the real world gone?

Re-read my paper
Does it still make any sense?
Whose story is this?

Come on, brain! Think! Think!
Are there any new ideas?
I’ll get back to you


~ To the Conference

Low grey sky outside
Stirring from a Sydney sleep
iPod plays the blues

Shower, shave, and iron
Papers sprawled across the bed
Spell out the new day

Long walk across town
Talking theory in traffic
Telling tall stories

~ Plenary: Barbara Czarniawska

PowerPoint turned on
Two identical screens loom —
Plenary 3D?

First Barbara says
I am not an accountant
But fascinated

She tells us true tales
Of narrative and the bourse
As a movie script

You want femmes fatale?
Here are heroes and villains
Sexy and ruthless

I’m losing the plot
Past futures were always wrong?
Are new ones better?

Don’t look for Rambo
On the trading floor just yet
Only Gekko charm

~ Plenary: Chris Chapman

Want health care outcomes?
The life and death binary?
Or subtler measures?

A quality life?
Can you afford to be well?
£30k? Bargain!

You wanted answers?
He has some questions instead
Let us quantify

Got some great data!
Just tell me what you’ll assess
I want to look good

Comfort in numbers
I want to measure measures
And their measurers

~ Presentations Glimpsed

Failing company
Sold at inflated prices
‘A gift from Heaven’

Friends in high places?
Well, directors in common
Is all that you need

Acronym city
I’m losing my appetite
For alphabet soup

60 slides later
My head is cluttered with words
Mad rush for coffee

~ Afternoon Tea

Exquisite pastries
It’s time for afternoon tea
That’s my kind of show

‘You wrote that paper?’
Some serious networking
Two business cards swapped

Max has a poem
We hold it like a baby
But it wriggles free

~ The Blog Awakes

Angry electrons!
Half an hour at the keyboard
And still I can’t see

Ah, push that button?
Now it all makes sense to me
Here goes; pressing Send

~ Lunch & Beyond

A cathedral lunch
Pies and sauce in the Great Hall
Watched over by saints

Then my own paper
Is a passionate shambles
But fun to recount

~ Drinks in the Museum

Parking inspectors?
Suddenly all the cars move
Empty space appears

Among the death masks
And other ancient relics
Champagne and oysters

Sacred souvenirs
Drinks flow in the museum
Who’s accountable?

His polite excuse
‘I was going to your talk
But I got waylaid’

‘A gentleman is
A person who knows how to
Play bagpipes, but won’t’

Then an exodus
The vice regal car awaits
Leads us to dinner

Jacket, shirt and tie
Eating in the library
Long shelves of fiction

Prime ministers rowed
In stiff portraits around us
Why stop at Keating?

Salmon, lamb and wine
Then truffles sweet as kisses
O’ the misery!

Call me a taxi
I need my bed and some blues
Pour me into sleep


~ Day Begins

Background music swells
Tuesday’s orchestra of cars
And hotel showers

Then it’s a whole day
Plenaries and talks ahead
What can I write now?

Only the third day
And it’s brimming with ideas
What’s ahead for you?

~ Plenary: John Roberts

Transparency true?
Where’s the invisible man
To disprove that claim?

We see the actors
In transparency’s Noh play
And they still wear masks

After the clamour
The theatre of performance
Is a stage left bare

The illusion’s clear
What can transparency hide
When it’s stripped naked?

~ Plenary: Dean Neu

Accounting makes us —
From school to work to the grave
A life in modules

Accounting makes us —
Choose a personality
But which you is you?

If it is true that
Naming makes fields visible
Can they be unnamed?

I’ll be nameless then
My being purely action
Sweet body of work

~ Presentations Chatter

She’s presenting next
We swap the ages’ wisdom
Over a coffee

Make your talk stand out
Luther said sin bravely, right?
So crash though or crash!

Pliny the Elder
Said fortune goes to the brave—
He died the next day

Luther and Pliny
Aren’t presenting a paper
Under these sharp eyes!

She’s quite nervous now
Maybe she’d prefer to read
A haiku instead

~ Lunch Chatter

Lunch locked in plastic
I can see, but can’t touch it
What’s the trick to this?

Rank, rate, judge, assess
Can our journal stand the test?
Let’s be creative!

They say a picture
Must be worth a thousand words
What’s a pixel worth?

Ramp up visuals
Make our paper really bright
Let’s go digital!

~ Presentations Glimpsed

Illustrations fade —
Are all Hong Kong’s fierce lions
Running out of ink?

In CEO speak
There’s a touch of Narcissus

The Council of Ten
Kept accounts of its death plans
Secret secretiss

It’s a lucky dip
Conversations overhead
Small treasures glisten

~ Plenary: Roy Suddaby

Our liberal ed.
Is bought at business school now —
We’re cream of the crop

We’re global, unbound —
Professions mind professions
Honouring no state

Medical tourists?
Face-lifts on holiday trips?
Straight economics

That space is brand new
No-one else has spotted it
So it must be mine

Let’s be rational
The market tells us what works
I’ll worship that god

~ Plenary: Jane Broadbent

What’s Impact’s impact?
Is it safe to go looking?
Scratch where it itches?

Consider things like
The difference that you make
The things you create

Real accountants hide
When that game is being played —
Fake accountants rule

Don’t add up your peers
That’s like talking to yourself
And it’s not allowed

What’s visible now?
Tales of finance on the stage
Make friends in the arts!

So be more clever
Seek reach and significance
Through poems and scripts

Befriend a playwright
Writer, dancer or poet
Buy her lots of drinks

Now your great idea
Is a tale of sex and shares
Impact? Home and hosed!

~ Conference Dinner

In Hogwart’s Great Hall
We set the whole world to right
No magic needed

Bourdieu here, and there
We find Bourdieu everywhere
(Are we all Pierre?)

Can accountants dance?
You bet, and boogaloo too
Another champagne?

Frock stars and networks
Negotiating courses
Main course arbitrage

The next APIRA
Is off to Kobe we hear —
Blossom covered streets?

Quick, strike up the band
Before Lee decides to sing —
And farewell Sydney


~ City Walk (Hurry up and slow down)

Pack both my bags tight
Farewell to the hotel room
A long walk through town

Where the kids practised
Pavers are under repair —
Break-dancing to blame?

Streets are fashion shows
Teetering heels and flash suits
I try my catwalk

Homeless on corners
Sit like raggedy Buddhas
Supervise coin trays

I bless the ferries
Circular Quay and the Rocks
Yes, Harbour Bridge too

Wine in a front bar
Toast to my wife’s late father
Who haunts these sites still

Chinese tourists mill
In identical jackets
Snapping each other

My camera’s home
My scrawl fills a notebook though
Much typing to do

~ Airport Departure

At the airport queue
Every desk is a QuickCheck
So where’s the slow lane?

It’s on the tarmac
Where the plane taxis so long —
Are we driving home?

Drop-down screen so small
The size of a paperback —
Think I’ll read my book

Three seats in a row
Three sets of headphones playing
All of us alone

‘The Promised Land’ plays
Food trays are desks for laptops
Mobile phone Patience

Then the message comes
‘Turn off all devices please’
Little lights go out

So those in our row
Forsake electricity
We all take out pens

Other lights below
Sequins? Beads? All the clichés
The wet streets’ lacquer

Engines rumble low
We slow to a jet’s dawdle
Galumph to the ground



What came at the start
(Prologue meeting epilogue)
Here too at the end

The shimmer of days
And the long nights of typing
Stitching the paper

The ghost of those hours
Second thoughts and revisions
Third thoughts and more change

My before and after
Merge like one strange daydream —
The real habitus?

Here are some haiku
(One hundred and forty eight)
To anchor it all



Tomorrow morning my local fire station
will test its siren at 8:00am,
and the neighbour’s dog will harmonise,
respectful of the great voice that calls to it,
and I will lie in bed
(lazy start)
with a cup of coffee and look back —
the flights, the taxis, the long walks,
the long talks,
the company of thinkers.

Thank you.