Making Space: Writing into an Australian Poetics of Place
This creative project together with its exegesis proposes that poetry is a valuable technology in translating Australian place and space. I argue for a poetics that incorporates multiple registers, including lyric, technical and symbolic language, and that operates as a space in its own right rather than as mimetic representation. I suggest that when poetry embraces its potential as an unstable space, it has the capacity to contain a complex of historical, social, political and cultural meanings; a network of systems and environments that are inextricably bound to place.
This work maintains a local focus; however, it does not strive to achieve, or believe it is possible to achieve, a purely “homegrown” Australian voice. Instead it is hyperaware of international thinking, technologies and influences and how these voices are reconstructed and departed from, to create something new. Specifically, this critical exegesis traces the development of an Australian ecopoetics as connected to and departing from Romanticism. It discusses relevant examples of innovative local poetics, and draws conclusions about what these offer to a reader’s and a writer’s encounters with poetry in Australia.
This critical position has informed and been informed by, my creative process as a poet. Following initial engagement with criticism that called for a layered perception of place, I spent two months travelling through Australia by car. The poems exist in concert with the various inland, regional, urban and littoral places I visited, however they do not seek to represent them. The poems were crafted alongside my critical research while I travelled, in Melbourne and on writer’s residencies;
so that while they converse with particular places, they are not de ned by them. Instead these poems hope to build new spaces that are layered, fragmentary, and embrace multiple relationships with and understandings of Australian place and space.