Proposed Preamble single work   prose  
Issue Details: First known date: 1999 1999
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

The text of the proposed constitutional preamble written in 1999 by Les Murray and Prime Minister John Howard. The preamble was released for discussion on 11 August 1999.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Poetry and Public Speech : Three Traces David McCooey , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , no. 9 2009;

'Poetry is routinely seen as 'marginal' to public culture, especially in terms of it having lost its status as a form of public speech. Such a condition is often noted in nostalgic terms, in which a golden era - bardic or journalistic - is evoked to illustrate contemporary poetry's lack. But traces of poetry's instrumentality, especially as a form of public speech, can be found in various extra-poetic contexts.

'In this article, three examples of poetry operating in 'extra-poetic contexts' will illustrate the different, sometimes troubling, ways in which traces of poetry as a mode of public speech can be observed in contemporary culture: the poem-cartoons of Michael Leunig; the role of the poet Les Murray in the drafting of a proposed preamble to the Constitution of Australia; and the quotation of William Ernest Henley's 'Invictus' as the final statement of Timothy McVeigh (the 'Ohio Bomber') prior to his execution. These examples illustrate that poetry-as-public-speech engages with political discourse in diverse, incommensurate ways.

'Leunig's occasional cartoon-poems, appearing in the metropolitan press, are examples of poetry at its most public and politically engaged state. And yet, even Leunig's most 'political' work gestures towards a realm beyond politics, where the poetic, the comic, and the existential coexist as a way of making life in the political realm more bearable. Les Murray's role as a 'national' poet in the failed attempt to introduce a preamble to the Australian Constitution illustrates the vestigial role that poets can play in nation building. Lastly, McVeigh's quotation of Henley, made without any explanation, shows the unpredictable and potentially volatile condition of poetry-as-public-speech.

'In addition, the examples variously engage in arguments about the relationship between the individual and the state, private identity and national history.' (Author's abstract)

A Draft Preamble : Les Murray and the Politics of Poetry Helen Lambert , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , no. 80 2004; (p. 5-14, notes 231-232)
In answer to the question 'Can poets or their work ever escape the political?', Lambert aims 'to explore the problematic relationship between poetry and prose' by turning 'first to Murray's draft preamble to the Australian constitution, as well as his draft Oath of Allegiance for the then federal government.' She then examines Murray's poetry 'to see whether his politics can be kept separate from his poetry' and finally argues 'that poetry cannot be explicated from the political, and that Murray's work only furthers this claim.' (p.5)
Mates Lost and Saved : Drafting the Constitutional Preamble Les Murray , 2002 single work prose
— Appears in: Constitutional Politics : The Republican Referendum and the Future 2002; (p. 81-87)
Point of Preamble Has Been Forgotten in Posturing 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 9 May 1999; (p. 6)
Two Preambles Is Stretching the Mateship Mark McKenna , George Winterton , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 22 April 1999; (p. 13)
Flawed, Yes, but It's Better Than Nothing Michelle Grattan , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 24 March 1999; (p. 10)
Mateship Is a Myth Jeff Corbett , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Newcastle Herald , 29 June 1999; (p. 8)
Murray Rewrites His Preamble for the Constitution Tony Stephens , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 10 April 1999; (p. 3)
A Draft Preamble : Les Murray and the Politics of Poetry Helen Lambert , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , no. 80 2004; (p. 5-14, notes 231-232)
In answer to the question 'Can poets or their work ever escape the political?', Lambert aims 'to explore the problematic relationship between poetry and prose' by turning 'first to Murray's draft preamble to the Australian constitution, as well as his draft Oath of Allegiance for the then federal government.' She then examines Murray's poetry 'to see whether his politics can be kept separate from his poetry' and finally argues 'that poetry cannot be explicated from the political, and that Murray's work only furthers this claim.' (p.5)
Mates Lost and Saved : Drafting the Constitutional Preamble Les Murray , 2002 single work prose
— Appears in: Constitutional Politics : The Republican Referendum and the Future 2002; (p. 81-87)
Poetry and Public Speech : Three Traces David McCooey , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , no. 9 2009;

'Poetry is routinely seen as 'marginal' to public culture, especially in terms of it having lost its status as a form of public speech. Such a condition is often noted in nostalgic terms, in which a golden era - bardic or journalistic - is evoked to illustrate contemporary poetry's lack. But traces of poetry's instrumentality, especially as a form of public speech, can be found in various extra-poetic contexts.

'In this article, three examples of poetry operating in 'extra-poetic contexts' will illustrate the different, sometimes troubling, ways in which traces of poetry as a mode of public speech can be observed in contemporary culture: the poem-cartoons of Michael Leunig; the role of the poet Les Murray in the drafting of a proposed preamble to the Constitution of Australia; and the quotation of William Ernest Henley's 'Invictus' as the final statement of Timothy McVeigh (the 'Ohio Bomber') prior to his execution. These examples illustrate that poetry-as-public-speech engages with political discourse in diverse, incommensurate ways.

'Leunig's occasional cartoon-poems, appearing in the metropolitan press, are examples of poetry at its most public and politically engaged state. And yet, even Leunig's most 'political' work gestures towards a realm beyond politics, where the poetic, the comic, and the existential coexist as a way of making life in the political realm more bearable. Les Murray's role as a 'national' poet in the failed attempt to introduce a preamble to the Australian Constitution illustrates the vestigial role that poets can play in nation building. Lastly, McVeigh's quotation of Henley, made without any explanation, shows the unpredictable and potentially volatile condition of poetry-as-public-speech.

'In addition, the examples variously engage in arguments about the relationship between the individual and the state, private identity and national history.' (Author's abstract)

Point of Preamble Has Been Forgotten in Posturing 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 9 May 1999; (p. 6)
Two Preambles Is Stretching the Mateship Mark McKenna , George Winterton , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 22 April 1999; (p. 13)
Flawed, Yes, but It's Better Than Nothing Michelle Grattan , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 24 March 1999; (p. 10)
Mateship Is a Myth Jeff Corbett , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Newcastle Herald , 29 June 1999; (p. 8)
Murray Rewrites His Preamble for the Constitution Tony Stephens , 1999 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 10 April 1999; (p. 3)
Last amended 16 Jul 2009 15:31:06
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