Of the Australian poetry to which I introduced him, Kokoy seemed to be most taken with the work of TGH Strehlow, and with Martin Harrison. The very same day that I mentioned Strehlow in conversation, Kokoy found a library in Manila with a copy of Aranda Traditions (1947). Clearly, there was a relationship between antiquity, translation and poetics in Strehlow with which he very closely identified. With Harrison, however, it seemed to be something much more primal, as if in Harrison’s rigorously considered, essayistic poetics Kokoy had found an older version of himself. Their synergies weren’t formal or cultural, but were on the level of method, where poetry is an investigation into fabrics of meaning and perception. Wild Bees (2008) became one of Kokoy’s most treasured books, and he was planning a book-length interview with Harrison to follow the one with Goldsmith. Uncannily, and painfully, however, Martin died only two months before Kokoy; the pair never had the chance to speak.
The Reddest Herring is only one book, but it exhibits a poetics that is unceasingly connective and generative. No less importantly, it is also a beautiful memorial to a restless, inquisitive life.