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y separately published work icon JASAL periodical issue   peer reviewed assertion
Alternative title: Late Night Nerves : Poets of the 1980s and 90s
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... vol. 2 no. 18 2018 of JASAL est. 2002 JASAL
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The title allusion is to ‘Death, an Ode,’ by John Forbes, who died in 1998. The ‘nerves’ referred to in the poem are directed towards the advent of ‘our beautiful century,’ meaning the twentieth. Most of the poet subjects in this feature did not get to see how beautiful the twentyfirst is. The articles that follow are responses to a request for essays on the poets and poetry of the 1980s and 90s: there was no suggestion they all be about the dead. But that is what happened.' (Michael Farrell : Introduction)


* Contents derived from the 2018 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
When Person and Public Are Hard to Square : Transnational Singularity in Martin Johnston’s ‘In Transit’, Ann Vickery , single work criticism

'While a large amount of Martin Johnston’s poetry, reviews, and interviews were gathered and edited by John Tranter in a 1993 publication, there has only been a handful of critical works engaging with his poetry. During his lifetime (1947–1990), Johnston published three collections of poetry, a novel, and a collection of Greek translations. He appeared in The New Australian Poetry (1979) and is often viewed as a key member of the ‘generation of 68.’ While Johnston’s poetry could sometimes be long and highly experimental, its anthologisation has tended towards the least difficult. Brian Kim Stefans suggests that Johnston juggles the desire for a public with an alternative sense of solipsism in much of his work, even going so far as to argue that it is Johnston’s ‘private singularity or sense of himself as unassimilable detail [that] makes him distinctive among Australian poets’ (n.p.). This desire might be viewed more broadly as a desire for cultural belonging or what Petro Alexiou terms ‘a deep emotional connection and empathy with common experience and culture’ (n.p.). Alexiou suggests that this desire for connection is in tension in Johnston’s writing with ‘a very complex intellectual and artistic response to it.’ This constant analysis of belonging, of try to understand the self’s relationship to culture, leads to a sense of unassimilable detail in Johnston’s work that is often bound up with a sense of excessive and endless textuality.' (Introduction)

Reading Kevin Gilbert : Nuclear Weaponry, Media Ecologies and a Community of Memory, Matthew Hall , single work criticism

'Situating the poems ‘Won’t You Daddy?’ and ‘Seeds of Thought’ against Gilbert’s contribution to Imagining the Real, this essay will critique nuclear threats to Country as intertwined with racial power-structures, and as dependent upon the same genocidal logic as Australian colonisation. The nuclear imaginary, as identified by Gilbert, corresponds to a death event which is informed by and itself substantiates relations of subjugation for Indigenous people. It is the contention of this paper that the thematic focus on nuclear weaponry and the nuclear imaginary as present in Kevin Gilbert’s poetry—as well as his contemporary, Kath Walker—has contributed to a poetry-based, media ecology through which nuclear threats to Country are an inherited focus of Australian Indigenous poetry.' (Publication abstract)    

Jas H. Duke and the Chronicle of Avant-Garde Poetics, A.J. Carruthers , single work criticism

'The critical study of Australian poetics has often been unable to account for those more difficult limit-cases in neo-avant-garde and contemporary experimental poetry. This article examines the heterogeneous works of Jas H.Duke (1939-1992) as both resolving and opening up further contradictions around questions of "derivation" in antipodal experimental writing. Duke's poetics, performances and writing practices are informed by Dadaism, Expressionism, Suprematism and Concrete Poetry, but also rework these histories; sometimes sarcastically, but always with close attention to their aesthetics. I put a special focus on those works of Duke's that critique notions of Australian nationhood, public policy and cultural assumptions, poems which call for a localised yet transcultural avant-garde poetics. Implicit here is that critical study of Australian poetry must begin to make sense of its languages of invention, and to find ways of reading those poetries that call for a more total emancipation of disjunction.' (Publication abstract)

Undulating Separate : Locality and Nation in the Poetries of John Anderson and Lisa Bellear, Bonny Cassidy , single work criticism

'As Troy Bramston writes, ‘By the end of 1992, [Paul] Keating had asked Australians to think about their history and their long-term future more than any other prime minister had. He was giving voice to a new nationalism for Australia at home and abroad.’ Politically speaking, this national ‘reorientation’ away from supposed cultural ties to Europe was partly reliant upon a strengthened relationship with North America as well as Asia (437); but a ‘new nationalism’ was being activated in the culture: what Anne Brewster terms a ‘new political imaginary’ that, ‘positions indigenous and non-indigenous people in a space of co-existence and co-habitation, where hierarchy is replaced with a sense of the coevalness of contemporary indigenous and non-indigenous modernisms’ (‘Brokering Cross-racial Feminism’ 218). A significant example of this is John Anderson’s long poem, the forest set out like the night. It was published in 1995, the year before Keating’s defeat as Prime Minister. Between the terms of Keating and Howard there emerged a constant public discourse about cultural identity. Lisa Bellear’s collection of poems, Dreaming in Urban Areas was published the year of Howard’s 1996 election win, and stands out as a voice of its moment. This essay considers these books together, against the background of their political era: not as historical artefacts, but rather, as works that try to act upon local and national culture through language. In light of growing commentary on, and contribution to decolonised poetics, this discussion suggests how that tension between the two books takes on a new, timely significance. ' (Publication abstract)

"Infinite Shall Never Meet" : Perspective in Martin Johnston's "In the Refectory of the Ognissanti", John Hawke , single work criticism

'Martin Johnston's late poem,"In the Refectory of the Ognissanti", is considered in particular relation to Yves Bonnefoy's conception of perspective in The Arriere-pays (2012) and related essays, and in the light of Modernist re-evaluations of perspective in non-Euclidean geometry. The elegaic concerns of the work are foregrounded in relation to Christopher Pollnitz's characterisation of Johnston as a "new Mannerist" poet, with the poem distinguished from apparently similar postmodern poems in this style, such as those of John Ashbery.' (Publication abstract)

Confessional Surrealist Feminist : Vicki Viidikas’s Poetics and Politics, Prithvi Varatharajan , single work criticism

'This essay seeks to illuminate the entwined aesthetics of Vicki Viidikas’s poetry. Viidikas was a Sydney poet: she lived in Balmain, and spent long periods of time in India later in life. She was part of the generation of ‘68, which revelled in the countercultural spirit of the 1960s and 70s. Viidikas published three books of poetry in her lifetime: Condition Red (1973), Knäbel (1978), and India Ink (1984), as well as a book of short stories and prose poems, Wrappings (1974). Between 1985 and 1998 she published only a handful of poems in journals; India Ink would be her last book.

'The essay uses formative aesthetic, political, and material influences to read Viidikas’s work from 1973 to 1998. I argue that there are three major aspects in Viidikas’s poetry: the confessional, the surrealist, and the feminist. By contextualising her work in the confessional poetry genre, the surrealism of André Breton, and second wave feminism, I show that these aspects interact and overlap in subtle ways in her poems. Viidikas was steeped in feminist ideals for women’s writing, and was committed to representing female subjectivity in highly personal and uncensored ways. I show that in her poetry, a feminist ethos energises both her confessional voice and her surrealism. I also pay attention to the material circumstances of her poetry’s production, and the social and aesthetic practices of the generation of ‘68. This situated reading of Viidikas’s poetry allows me to look to the last 14 years of her life, when she retreated from publishing. While critics typically focus on her drug addiction in explaining her later marginalisation, I posit that the anti-capitalist values that Viidikas absorbed in her youth played a significant role in her withdrawal, in the 1980s and 90s, from the literary networks that had previously sustained her.' (Publication abstract)

Poet, Tree : Martin Harrison's "Red Gum", Brian Reid , single work criticism

'This essay argues that Martin Harrison's "Red Gum" (1997) showcases a phenomenological approach to natural and built environments that anticipates later developments in what would now be called ecopoetics. First, the essay analyzes the poem's rhetoric, imagery, and intertextuality, especially its half-buried allusions to David Campbell's Branch of Dodona (1970). Then, it explores the possible impact of the digital communications revolution on "writing ecology" by comparing "Red Gum" to a more recent poem, Fiona Hile's "Stripes" (2013).' (Publication abstract)

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Last amended 11 Jan 2019 12:01:26