Over the next few weeks there are two poetry conferences you shouldn’t miss…unless like me you are in Sydney and the conferences are being held at the University of Auckland and the Melbourne campus of Deakin University.
First to Auckland…next week, on the 29th and 30th March I will be missing Short Takes on Long Poems: A Trans Tasman Symposium at the University of Auckland hosted by the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc). This is the sixth symposium nzepc has organised (the others being Auckland 2004, Christchurch 2005, Bluff 2006, Auckland 2010 and Sydney 2010).
According to the conference organisers Short Takes on Long Poems will focus on “short long poems and long short poems; in epic and seriality; in the book-length or site-specific poem”. They continue: “we like the challenge of folding the universe into a matchbox. We like matchboxes made of dark matter. We want to be surprised, diverted and delighted by what we can bring to points of exchange, and we want to bring those points – before, during, and/or after our symposium – into digital renditions”.
Some of the highlights, from an Australian perspective include John Tranter talking about his poem ‘The Anaglyph,’ collected in Starlight: 150 Poems (UQP 2010). Also on the program is Pam Brown who will presenting Kevin Davies’ long poem ‘Duckwalking a Perimeter’, the penultimate section of his book The Golden Age of Paraphernalia, Philip Mead on John Kinsella’s 400-page Divine Comedy: journeys through a regional geography, Hazel Smith on ‘The Film of Sound’ – the contemporary long poem exists not only on the page,” but has also evolved off the page through performance, intermedia work and new media writing”, Sam Moginie and Andy Carruthers on Jas H. Duke’s Destiny Wood and Australian Experimentalism, Toby Fitch reading from his work ‘Rawshock’ a long poem in 10 parts, Martin Harrison on the question of endings, Jill Jones on the intersection of the long poem with “other art practices, other modalities”, Ann Vickery on on a series of collaborative longish poems written and performed by Australian poets Pam Brown, Carol Christie, Jane McKemmish and Amanda Stewart, Ella O’Keefe on John Anderson’s book-length poem the forest set out like the night and Jessica Wilkinson on her long poetic-biography of early cinema actress Marion Davies, And this is before we start looking at the New Zealand and other international presenters.
Even before I will be able to start to get over my disappointment at missing Short Takes on Long Poems, I’m going to have to confront even more disappointment when I wont be able to make the trip to Melbourne for The Political Imagination: Contemporary Postcolonial and Diasporic Poetries at Deakin University (Deakin Prime in Melbourne) on 12th and 13th of April 2012.
According to the organisers ‘The Political Imagination’ will bring “together some of Australia’s leading poets and poetry scholars to investigate the state of contemporary postcolonial and diasporic poetries. It aims to explore the contentious, at times controversial, issues surrounding the production and discussion of poetry and poetics in work that engages with the politics of the postcolonial, the transnational and the diasporic. Among the topics addressed by symposium participants will be opposition, identity, subversion and hybridity”.
One of the potential highlights, as we approach the 39th anniversary of Michael Dransfield’s death later in April, is Michael Farrell’s presentation on ‘‘a needle spelling XANADU’: Reading Michael Dransfield’s ‘Courland Penders’ through the Neobaroque’. To quote from the abstract to this paper:
The neobaroque, also known as the colonial or counter-baroque is posed, in Latin American literature, as a counter-conquest mode. In this paper I attempt to reframe what has been seen as Dransfield’s romantic myth of Courland Penders as a neobaroque space: one that extends, critiques and parodies the colonial. As Alejo Carpentier writes in the Latin American context, ‘Let us not fear the Baroque, our art, born from trees, timber, altarpieces, and altars, from decadent carvings and calligraphic portraits, and even from late neoclassicisms’. Is this art foreign to Australia, or does it exist in imaginary inventions (or ‘folds’) like Courland Penders?
Two more quotes are relevant: Cuban critic Severo Sarduy writes that ‘Baroque space is superabundant and wasteful. In contrast to language that is communicative, economic, austere, and reduced to function as a vehicle for information, Baroque language delights in surplus, in excess, and in the partial loss of its object’; Irlemar Chiampi describes the neobaroque as ‘the aesthetic of countermodernity’. The former rejects the economic model of settlement; the latter affirms the former’s style. The specific poems I consider in seeking to read Dransfield as a producer of Australian baroque are ‘Portrait of the artist as an old man’, ‘Courland Penders: going home’, ‘Tapestry at Courland Penders’, and ‘Birthday ballad, Courland Penders’, all from Dransfield’s first book, Streets of the Long Voyage.
The other presentations look just as interesting:
- Adam Aitken “(un)becoming hybridity in my poetry”
- Ali Alizadeh on “Metapolitics vs. identity politics: (re-)radicalising the postcolonial”,
- Michelle Cahill on “The Poetics of Subalternity”
- Danijela Kambaskovic-Sawers on “A migrant poet and the fine art of escapism”
- Bridie McCarthy on” Border Protection: Neo-Colonialism and the Canon”
- Lyn McCredden on “Poetry and the Nation”
- Peter Minter on ‘Toward a Decolonised Australian Poetry’
- Lucy Van on “‘Why Waste Lines on Achille?’: Tracing the Critical Discourse on Postcolonial Poetry
- Ann Vickery on “Postcolonial Lovetypes: On Doing and Not Doing Her Kind in the Poetry of Juliana Spahr and Astrid Lorange”
- Ania Walwicz on “cut tongue”-fragmentation, collage and defence”
- Sam Wagan Watson on “Fight Club”
If, unlike me you are able to make the trip to Auckland or Melbourne, or if you are already in those cities, then it would be almost unforgivable not to make an effort to attend these conferences. For further information check out the relevant websites and book your tickets!