Friday, 28 February 2014

on the archive

There are writers who seem to keep everything including receipts and others who systematically destroy any data outside the published work itself. On this spectrum there are those who hold onto some material and those who tend to lose or misplace things (like John Forbes). I fit somewhere in the retentive end though I can understand those who want nothing but the authorized work to be available. Most of us will leave at least some work out of later collections: this is how we wish to present ourselves. At the same time anyone can go back and find the discarded items if they want to, and I have no problem with this. With writers whose work I love I want to see as much as I possibly can; even the failures can be of interest. But if I had to put together an edition of another author’s work I would feel (unless the edition was ‘scholarly’) that I was doing the author a disservice in including second-rate work.

All of this indicates that I am in favour of the archive. There are some very fine ones in Australia, notably those at the Australian National University, the National Library, the Mitchell Library (though this wonderful research space is currently under threat) and the University of Queensland’s Fryer Library (where my own work is held along with that of John Forbes). What these archives can offer is a kind of mapping where the intersections between the works of various poets can be uncovered. Cambridge University is in process of assembling a collection (the Cambridge Poets’ Papers Project) that focusses on the work of a generation of modernists connected with the University who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s. The perceived usefulness of this collection generates further sale or donation of material that in some cases has been rescued from precarious states. Such is the case with the archive of John Riley (1937-1978). Ian Brinton’s talk to the Library indicates as much and is worth perusing. That’s Ian above left with Peter Riley (no relation, though himself one of the broad group of poets).

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

salute to the ratbags

Another issue of Pete Spence’s ETZ has appeared (with the next one on the way). This one has photos by Bernard Hemensley on the cover. ETZ, if Pete doesn’t mind my saying so, belongs to a great Australian tradition of ‘ratbag’ magazines. By this I mean other long running low-tech productions like Rae Desmond Jones’s Your Friendly Fascist and Pi O’s 925. All of these mags punche(d) well above their weight and are worth tracking down for much of the work that appears within. Each has, to a greater or lesser degree (greater with YFF, lesser with ETZ) a retro appearance that was/is a challenge to the reader. If you couldn’t stand the heat you needed to stay well away from the kitchen.

Sheldwich, 26/02, 10.52

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tuesday, 11 February 2014