'Akhenaten was a fascinating, shadowy figure in Egyptian history – archaeologists have discovered attempts to eradicate all traces of his brief reign, but enough remains to tell a remarkable story of incest, heresy, androgyny and a massive cult of personality.
'Like Albert Camus celebrated Caligula, Dorothy Porter's Akhenaten is an attractive warped megalomaniac who attempted to construct an heretical religion around one Sun God, with himself at the centre.
'Akhenaten is a novel in verse that captures the obsessive, erotic nature of its central figure. It is a towering achievement.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Picador ed.)
'Dorothy Porter wanted to make poetry popular again, to bring r back into the mainstream and attract the readers that had abandoned it in the twentieth century, as the novel became the dominant literary form. She expressed that desire when discussing the mood and melancholia of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. She said, "I want to break away from that modernist fatigue. I want some green leaves to growl want poetry to get people intoxicated and drunk again. I want poem!' to be seen as something festive, fun and dangerous" (Digby 39). One way to capture some new ground for poetry was to challenge the relative domination of the lyric, which eventually resulted in Porter writing five verse novels. This chapter examines the successes and the limitations of these novels as narratives and as poetry.' (Introduction)
'This article stages an 'imagendering' of Akhenaten, a contemporary collection of poems by Australian poet Dorothy Porter. Surviving sculptures of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten depict a hermaphroditic subject who is, for Porter, a muse of transgression. Her fascination is with his challenge to long-held creative conventions of Egyptian art, depicting himself with a combination of breasts, swollen belly, rounded thighs and a penis. This collection of poems is thus a site of gendered reinscription made possible by the death of Akhenaten's physical body. His bodily absence allows for Porter's textual presence. Operating in this speculative historical space, a space in which the body of work physiologically cross-dresses and engages in sexual play across the boundaries of masculine/feminine, history/poetry, symbolic/semiotic, this poetry demonstrates that language itself can never evade embodiment.'