Modelling Australian Poetry

by Michelle

The townhouse I’ve moved to has the feel of a terrace in suburbia, and though there is a lot less storage than I’ve been accustomed to, I think it might be big enough to keep my library, though perhaps not all my journals. The renovations have kept me on my toes and distracted me from my writerly responsibilities and pleasures for a spell. I did amuse myself however penning a sonnet that Gig Ryan accepted for The Age yesterday. Appropriately it’s titled “Renovations” :

I’m also delighted to be included in the beautifully illustrated Transpacific issue of Cordite edited by Josephine Rowe and Michael Nardone. I recommend a fine essay by Bonny Cassidy in which she clarifies theoretical points of similarity and difference between archipelago poetics, transnationalist frameworks, ecocriticism and a more defining, (confining?) nationalist poetics. Place and locality is emphasised as outcrops or multiple zones. This anatomical approach is recognisable for its revisionary and imaginary capacity.

An interview by Ali Alizadeh with Paul Kane, a leading critic in Australian poetry, reminds us of an unfinished conversation with ‘our’ past, though this begs the question of whose past is being recorded or analysed in aesthetic terms and by whom. It is most interesting to consider what the terms “aesthetic and historical depth” might mean or what the concept of “homeostasis” might assume. Kane is always careful, rigorous, precise and provocative of thought. I really enjoyed reading his book Australian Poetry: Romanticism and Negativity for its theoretical reach and elegance, which is seductive as a beautifully researched idea of Australian poetry. Critical writing may engender within its larger framework of a master discourse a kind of architectural complacency or structural plasticity, a limitation which Kane acknowledges. An aspect of this is relevant to the critical/creative disjunction, which is also discussed in the interview.

My guess is that we need to keep talking and thinking about these ideas, theories, histories, narratives and possibly be open to a fluidity as they are shaped and reconfigured from varying perspectives. And those of us who may feel marginalised need to speak through the settlement cracks, renegotiate history and not be afraid to disrupt the waterproofing membrane that theory has a tendency to paint. It’s pleasing that Paul Kane, Bonny Cassidy and others like Adam Aitken and Peter Minter are doing just that.