'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)
This is the script for a play written by Peter Yeldham in 1961 and televised on the BBC in 1962. Although it is about an Anzac Day in Sydney, it was never shown on Australian television.
Includes forward pp.1-2.
'Competing post-Federation representations of mysticism as bold or passive, masculine or effeminate, dogmatic or independent, Australian or foreign, drove the shifting critical notions of this era culminating in the generalist designations of John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) as Australia's all-purpose mystical poet. Neilson is a mystical poet; yet the basis for this has been subject to a number of distortions from Neilson's time until the late 1990s. This article examines how an understanding of both Western Christian mysticism and its often erroneous critical applications in Australia might inform new studies of the mystical Neilson.'
'In much of Francis Webb's poetry "the tale brings death" ("A Drum for Ben Boyd") but death remains largely off-stage. The poetry eschews the space of death and seems unwilling to explore the possibility of nothingness. There is a significant change, however, that is particularly noticeable in Webb's last three published poems. This paper focuses on the naming of death in "Sturt and the Vultures" but it traces first a progression in Webb's poetry - from "A Death at Winson Green" through "Socrates" and "Rondo Burleske: Mahler's Ninth" - in which the poet seems increasingly ready to contemplate the possibilities of the void.'