The latest issue of US-based online literary journal Wordgathering includes an essay of mine about the writing of Aidan Coleman, Antony Riddell and Mal McKimmie. Here’s how it begins, but I’d urge you to go to the source, and check out the rest of the issue…
If I have one preoccupation in poetry, it is the body — this thing that is continually changing in a dance of regeneration and deterioration, this object that is in fact innumerable objects as well as subject, that generates our consciousness. These bodies are often taken for granted or underplayed, but they always makes themselves known in one way or another in poetry.
I have gathered here three contemporary Australian writers who speak with unique and powerful voices reflecting on embodiment and experience (sometimes directly, other times in enigmatic or convoluted ways). This essay is not an attempt to analyse or categorise them from a theoretical, stylistic or rhetorical perspective. I’m not interested here (though believe me, I could be elsewhere) in where they fit in the world of literature or the world of disability. None of these poets self-identify as “disabled” (one, we’ll see later, has attached a more provocative label to himself). Which I personally find more interesting. The self that is evoked in these poems isn’t straightforward or labeled, but slips between definitions, and in doing so, seduces the reader into places of productive doubt about their own embodied position.
Here, I simply want to place two poems and one novella together, hold them up to my ear, and listen. Of course, how they speak to me is very much shaped by my own experience and predilections, and I am fascinated by where the mind sits in the body and how we reach out towards other bodies, other people — these “others” that are perhaps not so separable from ourselves.
If anyone can find a link to more information on Antony Riddell online, I’d appreciate it…. (can’t even find an image of the “Fingerprints” cover…!).