Extimate Subjects and Abject Bodies in Australian Poetry

By | 16 March 2016

The landmark anthology 30 Australian Poets edited by Felicity Plunkett which included several migrant poets needs to be mentioned. University of Queensland Press has given us verses from the late Dimitris Tsaloumas, as well books by Lidija Cvetkovic, MTC Cronin, Peter Skrzynecki, Vlanes, Rosanna Licari, David Malouf and Ali Alizadeh. Overall however, the press seems historically dedicated to diversifying Caucasian Australian poetry, adjunctive to which is a select Aboriginal list.

Has race changed poetry irrevocably or has poetry’s biopolitics forged the demarcations between ‘them’ and ‘us’? Transnational communities have in the past year witnessed and responded insurgently to the Marjorie Perloff-Kenneth Goldsmith controversy as it escalated in the United States as well as to disparagement from conservative elements within the United Kingdom when British-Chinese poet, Sarah Howe won the prestigious TS Eliot Prize. Such social media-fuelled incidents link the struggle by marginal groups within the global capitalist economy. By focused interceptions, by digital communications which can be transmitted across borders, by alternative formations and solidarities, we can be assured that gatekeeping and racist constructions within Australian poetry, whether explicit, concealed, or enacted in complicity with establishment may be actively resisted, to unravel a dimension where, as extimate subjects, CALD poets might inhabit a more equal, embodied space within our national poetic imaginary.

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