Poetry has a long history of disruption, resistance, and revolution, overlapping the concerns of politics with literature and the boundaries of language.
A line from 1855, first published by Walt Whitman in the poem ‘Song of Myself’, appears again at the beginning of a film produced during a Creative Arts Fellowship at the Australian National University in 1969
The first line of this fragment by poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite opens philosopher Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation. ‘The unity is submarine’.
‘Shipwrecked on the shoals of contingency’, Australian poetry is haunted by Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem Un Coup de Dés. Its publication in Cosmopolis in Paris in 1897 struck a nerve or, rather, a vessel within Australian poetry bloodlines,
Yet, as literary theory in the intervening decades has shown, no individual can speak for the collective per se, bound as they are by the confines of their culture, gender, race, class, as well as the inherently constructed nature of that self that defines lyric poetry (which, as Maria Takolander has recently argued, is in turn bound by the technology that writes it).
In the context of John Ashbery’s long career it is possible to a claim a particular significance for that book. Published in 1970, it was the first volume he wrote after re-settling in the United States in 1965, having lived in Paris for the best part of a decade. It was also the book in which he arrived at a kind of poem – ‘Soonest Mended’ is an example, but so are several others, ‘Evening in the Country’, say, or ‘The Bungalows’ – that established a way of configuring voice, narrative trajectory, human relations and cultural reference that would become recognisable as characteristically Ashberyan.
In 1966 John Ashbery published Rivers and Mountains. The departure from the fractures of The Tennis Court Oath (1962) are immediately apparent: it is a return to a language still distinctly marked by Ashbery’s usual probing and misdirection, but without the direct dislocations committed to denotative meaning, form and syntax in the earlier book.
Mina Loy’s book-length poem Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose (1923-25) essentially presents an alternative, revised understanding of the modernist figure of the artist through a ‘polyglot’ language and avant-garde form (Perloff, English as a Second Language, online.). I argue in this essay that each of the characters within the poem is constructed through a Vorticist model, which also encompasses elements of Futurist and Cubist theory, as well as structurally incorporating Steinian poetics.
I will first attempt to develop one possible reading of ‘On the Concept of History’, taking for granted that any such reading exists alongside – and may even contradict – other more familiar interpretations. The second part of the article will follow this line of thinking in approaching Jorie Graham’s Sea Change, a collection of poetry that explores the catastrophic possibilities of global warming.
In his prose poem ‘The Eyes of the Poor,’ Baudelaire stages a Parisian tableau that brings together the disenfranchised poor and the privileged bourgeoisie in an awkward moment of encounter. The lyric / narrative ‘I’ and his female companion were …
‘The birds of paradise sing without a needing a supple branch’: Joseph Brodsky and the Poetics of Exile
During his lifetime, Joseph Brodsky – political prisoner, exile, Nobel Prize winner – was virtually unknown in his native, Soviet-era Russia. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the early 1990s Brodsky’s poetry became officially available to the public for the first time in the country, which had hitherto so furiously rejected him. By then already an established poet and essayist in the West, his quick (albeit posthumous) homecoming fame shortly followed, positioning Brodsky firmly in the minds of first-time Russian readers as a political martyr, poet-iconoclast and a major symbol of the Russian dissident literary world.
The death of Dimitris Tsaloumas (1921-2016) invites us to revisit and re-evaluate his poetry without the critical anxiety to place him within the historical taxonomies of Australian literature or the hermeneutical suspicion about its belonging. The task of situating his poetry will take time as the canon of Australian literature is still fluid and its main parameters are not yet finalised.
In a book on comedy, philosopher Alenka Zupančič has inadvertently discovered the key to the correlation of late twentieth century Australian poet John Forbes’s mastery of cultural imitation and his deconstruction of the mechanics of national identity so often queried in his work.
The subject and practice of translation has long been a feature of my poetry. It is a way of enacting bilingualism; the splitting and doubling of words, ideas, images and meanings that comes about in the processes of translation reflects my identity as someone who is in constant movement between cultures, split and doubled by my twin allegiances to different languages and places. In particular, I am interested in exploring my own practice of self-translation, to more fully understand the relationship between my poetic practice of writing across English and Italian and my subjectivity.
To read poetry in translation, no matter how ‘close’ the rendering is to the original text, is to necessarily involve another figure in the reading and interpreting process. Readers of translations are not only receiving the work of the original …
‘MUSIC OF SHAPE’ | from, HOW TO BE EVERYWHERE, 2007 | Warren Craghead III | pencil on archival paper In 1979, Cecilia Vicuña (Chilean poet, activist and artist) tied a red string around a glass of milk and spilled it …
Black stone is both a figurative and literal reference to the (vanua) of Vanuatu, specifically, its black solidified lava base. Like many Pacific Islands, Vanuatu is founded on dormant and live volcanoes that impact upon the daily reality of its inhabitants. This essay examines the poetry of Grace Mera Molisa and how black stone is deployed as a key metaphor in her work as both poet and politician. Like black stone, Molisa has been a foundational creative and critical force in the formation of Vanuatu as a postcolonial nation, one based on an indelible Ni-Vanuatu spirit.
This paper is concerned with ‘making sense’ in Peter Larkin’s ‘Leaves of Field’, a long poem that articulates a post-pastoral poetics based on ethical valency activated by attention. ‘Leaves of Field’ directs questions at us: How do we look at ‘natural’ objects? What is adequate poetic description? Can there be ethics without an apparent subject? How can we avoid instrumentalising nature poetically and ecologically after human intervention? What is the ‘value’ of human-and-non-human relations? Creating a lyricism not based on self-expression or explicitly only-human community, Larkin answers the challenges of writing innovatively with ethical consciousness by attending minutely to poetic texture and to ‘attention’ itself.
In 1966 Prynne emphasised the necessity for poetry to ‘emphatically reclaim the power of knowledge for each and any of us in our common answerability as the creatures of language.’[1. Keston Sutherland, “Hilarious Absolute Daybreak,” Glossator: Theory and Practice of the Commentary, 2 (2010): 115-148, 117.] The ekphrastic, proprioceptive and dedicatory analysis that Prynne demanded of his readers through Kitchen Poems and The White Stone reaches a point of crescendo with Brass in 1971.
I was out drunk with friends one night in Perth, Western Australia. My father had just died. We were walking home, so to speak, and our path took us past the Church of Christ. At that, I launched myself at the wall of the church, found a toehold and lunged up into the air. I grasped the ‘t’ decal and with all my weight managed to prise it from the wall. The Church of Chris looked down upon us all. I continued on my way home, or rather to here, but not without the occasional somewhat gratified memory of the incident. I cannot help thinking of the sudden appearance of the Church of Chris as a sort of revelation, with something to say about the truth of something. That is what reading Finnegans Wake is like.
The immediate target of the Malley hoax was Max Harris and those associated with Angry Penguins, but McAuley and Stewart also had ‘bigger fish’, as it were, in mind. Herbert Read in particular, the English poet and critic—whose writings were a significant influence on Max Harris’ own poetry and aesthetics—was very much in the hoaxers’ sights.