Poetry on the Move 2015
  • Paul Munden


Poetry on the Move was initiated in 2015 as a three-year poetry project hosted by the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) based within the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research (CCCR), Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra (UC), and funded by the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research.

The project is centred on an annual festival and explores poetry’s ability to move from—and interrogate—its conventions, including its place on the printed page. In 2015, the eleven-day series of events in September was preceded by a symposium in May, ‘From Darkness into Light’, which took its title from the keynote talk I was privileged to give as my first public engagement as Postdoctoral Fellow in Poetry and Creative Practice at UC. This first special issue of Axon, Capsule 1, includes all the papers delivered at the May symposium and many of the contributions to the subsequent festival. The explorations range from interpreting poetry’s oldest manifestation as an oral art to its latest interactions with computer technology. The Capsule represents the variety of Poetry on the Move 2015 and is published to coincide with the festival in this its second year.

There were several emerging themes, deriving from—but also extending—the scheduled sessions. In this respect, the festival took on an investigative life of its own, particularly in the area of collaboration. The attention to ‘material poetics’ resulted in further collaborative work between poets and visual artists, something that features strongly within the festival program in 2016. The poets in residence, Philip Gross (UK) and Katharine Coles (US), who gave so generously of their time to the festival as a whole, were among those involved.

The festival included the first public presentation of the Prose Poetry Project, initiated by Paul Hetherington. Based around the principle of collaborative play, the project has gone from strength to strength and now involves poets not only at the University of Canberra and elsewhere in Australia, but also at Bath Spa University, Leeds Trinity University, and the Universities of Gloucestershire and Winchester, all in the UK. The international reach of the festival was also evidenced in subsequent connections with the University of Utah, the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Macau University, Nanyang University, Singapore, and the Singapore Management University.

Another ongoing collaboration featured in this Capsule is that of the poetry translation workshop led by Subhash Jaireth. A number of poets met for a second workshop in May 2016 to discuss their translations of Anna Akhmatova’s poem ‘Tri Oseni’ (‘Three Autumns’). Their translations are accompanied here by reflections on their translating process. The workshop continues in Poetry on the Move 2016, with attention to ‘The Garden’ by Marina Tsvetaeva.

The festival featured the launch of IPSI’s chapbook series, the first titles coming from the poets in residence. Poems from each are included here, and the chapbooks are available from Recent Work Press. The festival culminated in the announcement of the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, with first prize awarded to Elisabeth Murawski for her poem ‘Iconic Photo: Lee Miller in Munich, April 1945’, which heads the ‘Poetry’ section of this Capsule. A number of poets who gave readings during the festival, and who are not represented by academic papers or conversations, are also featured in that section and elsewhere. They demonstrate poetry’s ability to address the full spectrum of human experience, from terror to delight.

Another Axon Capsule will be published next year, featuring contributions to Poetry on the Move 2016.


Paul Munden

September 2016