This issue of Axon is the second to relate directly to Poetry on the Move, the series of festivals run by the International Poetry Studies Institute based within the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.
The theme of the festival in 2017 was Boundary Crossings, and it was offered – in a slightly expanded version – as a focus for poets and academics to interpret in their own fashion within this issue. Some but not all of the contributions here were presented within the festival; equally, not all festival contributions were shaped for journal publication; there are boundary crossings but divisions and distinctions remain.
As festival keynote talk, Glyn Maxwell's moving letter to his mentor, the late Derek Walcott, leads us into a remarkable variety of scenarios in which boundaries are addressed. The boundary of death might be considered an absolute, yet Maxwell manages to speak, poetically (albeit in prose), in such a way that we believe in the communication. Similarly, Oz Hardwick, writing about the house where he grew up, seems to defy the commonplace progression of time, offering a commentary on poems that have emerged from a reinhabiting of the past. Other contributors here address boundaries of or within the self, and the relationship of voice and location. Further consideration, notably in Reneé Pettitt-Schipp's focus on asylum seekers, is given to the impact to the self that is caused by migration. The impact is on the writer, too:
I saw how metaphor in my work and the work of my students worked as a form of resistance through its capacity to bypass the biases and prejudices inflamed by media and national politics and instead connect with the emotional life of the reader. (Pettitt-Schipp)
In section 2 (Poetics), Katharine Coles, with reference to her own poetry and a wide range of other writers, offers a detailed investigation of how time operates within poems – and vice versa. Rupert Loydell's connects with this, quoting Ann Lauterbach:
The idea that a poem can be granted the status of an event that shifts the course of cause and effect in a writer’s or reader’s life, has little to do with the idea of a poem as a bauble of verbal expressivity. (Lauterbach 2005: 61-62)
Loydell touches upon ekphrasis, too, the subject of which informs a whole section (Word and Image), including an account of collaborative work by Caren Florance and Melinda Smith. The interplay between art forms has been a consistent theme within Poetry on the Move, often registering how poetry is particularly effective in unexpected settings. For Ross Gibson, his commissioned work ‘was not meant to stop people in their tracks or make them behave, spatially and ergonomically, as if they were in an art gallery.’ And Stephanie Liddicoat describes the significance of poetry within the teaching of architectural design. ‘Translation’ is surely a key concept in all these discussions, and it is fitting that Subhash Jaireth provides a further instalment of his reflections on the translation workshops that have featured in the Poetry on the Move festival each year.
As ever, there are new poems here interspersed with the essays, creating new neighbours and dialogues. I have mentioned here just a few of the intriguing contributions – and boundaries – that readers will no doubt negotiate in individual ways.
For three years, Poetry on the Move has been funded by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, to whom the whole Canberra poetry community owes a considerable debt of gratitude. By publishing articles deriving from the festival, and bringing yet more international contributors into the frame, we are crossing further boundaries and extending the scope of the discussion – between poets, academics, and general readers around the world.
Paul Munden, Director, Poetry on the Move