'Reading the Country is a journey into Roebuck Plains, near Broome in Australia's far north-west; it is an exploration of the meaning of place, an attempt to chart the relationships between people and those specific places in which they must find a place to live. It is a journey through landscape into language and ideas, and personal and cultural location.' (Source: Publisher's Blurb, 1996 Revised Edition)
Speaking the Earth’s Languages brings together for the first time critical discussions of postcolonial poetics from Australia and Chile. The book crosses multiple languages, landscapes, and disciplines, and draws on a wide range of both oral and written poetries, in order to make strong claims about the importance of ‘a nomad poetics’ – not only for understanding Aboriginal or Mapuche writing practices but, more widely, for the problems confronting contemporary literature and politics in colonized landscapes.
The book begins by critiquing canonical examples of non-indigenous postcolonial poetics. Incisive re-readings of two icons of Australian and Chilean poetry, Judith Wright (1915–2000) and Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), provide rich insights into non-indigenous responses to colonization in the wake of modernity. The second half of the book establishes compositional links between Aboriginal and Mapuche poetics, and between such oral and written poetics more generally.
The book’s final part develops an ‘emerging synthesis’ of contemporary Aboriginal and Mapuche poetics, with reference to the work of two of the most important avant-garde Aboriginal and Mapuche poets of recent times, Lionel Fogarty (1958–) and Paulo Huirimilla (1973–).
Speaking the Earth’s Languages uses these fascinating links between Aboriginal and Mapuche poetics as the basis of a deliberately nomadic, open-ended theory for an Australian–Chilean postcolonial poetics. 'The central argument of this book,' the author writes, 'is that a nomadic poetics is essential for a genuinely postcolonial form of habitation, or a habitation of colonized landscapes that doesn’t continue to replicate colonialist ideologies involving indigenous dispossession and environmental exploitation.' [from the publisher's website]