Queer Modes: New Australian Poetry

By | 1 November 2017

Tina FiveAsh | Queer Love | 6 x C-type photograph | 1997

I acknowledge that the land I live and work on is the land of the Kaurna people. Land where sovereignty has never been ceded. I pay my respects to elders past, present, and future.

Ellen van Neerven: in this community
Annabell Evitts: Spoken
Rosslyn Prosser: How to Make Whips
Adolfo Aranjuez: Motion
Molly Lukin: House
Ainslie Templeton: sun square on stomach
Cee Devlin: TIDE
Virginia Barratt: mMouth hHouse pPanic cCathedral
Quinn Eades: Binding
Romy Durrant: Sometimes we meet in hotels

Plenary: an introduction

I did not want to build a falling-down house of rhetoric
Or even one that could stand all the huffing and puffing

I did need something gentle
So many gentle things
To stick together the words of others
               To find some gentle
Rhythm to walkwork through words 
I seek I sought I see. 

I do not want your letter back in my alphabet.
Small as it is,
There’s no room.

Trip along the whip crack of associations
Reaching for open space 
Wound up, collected, in a no place no place
—would my skin make leather words? 
Working over, rubbing, and smoothing out lines
that are laughter, 
lines—history of touch, 
               sun-split               sun-kissed 
wearing the shore in corners of eyes,
It might be beautiful to grow old.
If I 
                              (ifs ands or buts) 
multiply the sweetness of experience
if we are alone and
bordered by suspicion     longing
beaches open and close
when there is no home to go to
just a line of sunset 
gambling luck and lycra
bad luck               deep curve 
lock and key 
the lack lack in
this place 
multiplied by grief 
               and the red dirt rift of memory on the body               on skin               on land 
               the road taken 
               slow motion bark 
               all red and blue and sand
Not here
It never happened (and then it always did). 

Every map I can’t read,
Unknowing names and places.
Skin unfolds in a dream, 
On a sun               square stomach.

Garden plump ripe with ache and promise
I read the wall again. 

And if I could borrow your panic
For a minute
To gestate this archaeology 
Of scribbles and correspondence 
I would unravel my intestines too 
And shake out that Freudian creed 
Knowing my debt
To words
To language
Falling out of every house
Trapped in the archipelago of light
And the pace of breath
In the travelogue of breath 
In lieu of an introduction 
Like Stendhal’s prefaces to Love
I want to trust you with the offering 
And break the cathedral prayer by prayer. 

All the while 
I go on reading
And drive my love in
Pressing my cheek to the tide 
Falling from grace I’ve never known.

In 2015, at the Experimentalies symposium convened by myself and Rosslyn Prosser at The University of Adelaide, Professor Marion May Campbell presented the plenary address. She performed a poem made of the titles of and observations about the papers given over the three-day event. I have taken inspiration from this in introducing this collection of work. ‘Plenary: an introduction’ souvenirs the works generously contributed here, and I would like to thank the writers for their insights and for being open to this process of collection and publication.

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