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Issue Details: First known date: 2008... 2008 'Our Own Way Back' : Spatial Memory in the Poetry of David Malouf
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Much of David Malouf's writing enacts what may be referred to as 'spatial memory'. His poetry utilises a uniquely 'layered' time-perspective in which Malouf repeatedly revisits places of personal significance over numerous collections and, through memory and imagination, imbues these spaces with mythological significance. This process can be seen as a direct response to what Malouf perceives as 'the need to remap the world so that wherever you happen to be is the centre'. Although it may at first appear as simply an autobiographical phenomenon, this process of 'spatial memory' is also revealed as significant on a broader social level, as part of Malouf's longstanding project of redefining Australia, in the eyes of its inhabitants, as a significant cultural and literary centre. When Malouf began publishing in the nineteen-sixties, his poetry, as well as his first novel Johnno, focused on the tension between the perceived 'provinciality' of Australia and the 'exoticism' of the cultural and colonial centres of England and Europe. It is arguable that Malouf's literary remapping of centre and edge is still pertinent today, though now in relation to the increasing cultural dominance of the United States. This essay examines the role of 'spatial memory' in Malouf's poetry, focusing in particular on his numerous poems devoted to the area around Moreton Bay. It demonstrates the process by which these poems of personal memoir become significant on the broader level of social memory, and draws this exploration into a discussion of Malouf's politics of space and memory. (Author's abstract)


  • Epigraph: If it is true that time is always memorialized not as flow, but as memories of experienced places and spaces, then history must indeed give way to poetry. - David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (218)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon JASAL Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature no. 8 2008 Z1523769 2008 periodical issue 2008 pg. 92-106
    Note: Includes end notes and list of works cited.
Last amended 14 Sep 2010 18:30:04
92-106 'Our Own Way Back' : Spatial Memory in the Poetry of David Maloufsmall AustLit logo JASAL
  • Moreton Bay, Brisbane - South East, Brisbane, Queensland,
  • Brisbane, Queensland,
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