I’m writing this after news that W S Merwin has died. His Selected Poems still sits on my bedside table, never far away in case of a spare moment.
William Blake pinches himself. Yes! He is alive, not in heaven or hell for all eternity, but on earth, for just as long as I need him for the purposes of this essay. In the almost two hundred years since William Blake died many things have changed.
One Sunday, when I was an art student in London, I got on my bicycle and left my parents’ vicarage in Surrey for my room in Murray Mews, going along the River Thames and through London’s parks: Bushy Park, Richmond Park, Hyde Park and Regents Park. I was stung by a bee or wasp somewhere around Shepperton which got my blood up and I raced towards the city, perhaps a little too fast for my own good; a reaction to adversity.
The poem is from page 37 of Michael Farrell’s latest collection, I Love Poetry. The poem on page 37 has no title, so I will refer to it from here on out as ‘37’. Not only is 37 untitled, but it is also without words.
I can’t think I am living large if the home we live in is a mess while my own room is spotless. I want a beautiful mansion for all of us. Yes, I realise this is not a seamless nor an especially artful allegory.
While these pre-federation tropes of settler colonial Australia’s multifaceted and at times contradictory pastoral modes seem to recognise something of their incompatibility with Aboriginal land, they seek their resolution from burial, rather than reciprocal encounter with Aboriginal presence.
I invited you to lean into this DOMESTIC sphere in all its homely undoing; to rupture the masquerading shape of cosy bliss; to plant seeds and haunt with your words; to unsettle and shape what survival looks and feels like – and you did.
The last time I saw Kathy Acker was in London, in July 1997. I wasn’t sure how she felt about me at that point. I had failed to drop everything to be with her in San Francisco the year before, and I had failed to make a job materialise that would have brought her to Sydney, as she wanted.
‘Dispatch from the Future Fish’ is a visual poem that is deliberately referential, opening up conversations and foregrounding the notion of writing into certain traditions: those that are given to us and those that we choose. The first lines, I …
I was radicalised in my youth. I came back from a year in Paris in ’68-69 with my parents, and went to Monash University, a ‘radical’ campus when it was new. I was not a leader; I was still too young for that, but being radical was a trend.