Monday, 6 October 2008
I think it’s true that hoaxes have a habit of achieving goals other than the ones they set for themselves. Ern Malley is as shining an example as any: initiated as an attempt to discredit modernism the poems ended up outliving their authors’ own works and inspiring further generations of writers. It’s an example that Ron Silliman might find amusing in that the Malley poems in turn illuminate the poems of their authors as merely (for the most part) well-wrought containers of meaning. Harold Stewart wasn’t very good at it; James McAuley was a lot better (though even he succumbed to the tedious affliction that led Australian poets in the 1950s to write long and turgid works about explorers). Every hoax has its unintended consequences and I’m sure the author of Issue 1 wouldn’t have been expecting his own mailbox to crash with irate responses . . . or would he? In my own case I let ‘Skull’ Murphy respond for me and he’s a little more hot-headed than I am (years of TV wrestling ensure this). I’d agree with Jill Jones that Issue 1 is a harmless exercise though I don’t know that I’d want to claim ‘my’ particular poem. I doubt that financial gain is involved (though someone ought to be paid perhaps for all that cut and pasting). As for 'identity theft'? That’s something for the graduates of ‘professional’ writing schools to worry about.