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Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 When Person and Public Are Hard to Square : Transnational Singularity in Martin Johnston’s ‘In Transit’
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'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)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon JASAL Late Night Nerves : Poets of the 1980s and 90s vol. 2 no. 18 Michael Farrell (editor), 2018 15402884 2018 periodical issue

    '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)

Last amended 11 Jan 2019 11:29:54 When Person and Public Are Hard to Square : Transnational Singularity in Martin Johnston’s ‘In Transit’small AustLit logo JASAL