Out of the Ordinary :
On Poetry and the World

A Carbon Neutral

Event

in Canberra December 5-7


Keynotes

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Katsushika Hokusai, “Picture of Land Surveyors" (Chiho Sokuryo No Zu) (1848). Colour woodblock print, diptych. 39.5 x 53.2 cm. British Museum. Public Domain.

 
 

 Keynote readers:

Paul Collis is a Barkindji man. He was born in Bourke, in far north/west New South Wales. His early life was informed by Barkindji and Kunya and Murawarri, and Wongamara and Nyempa story tellers and artists, who taught him Aboriginal Culture and Law. Paul worked in Newcastle for much of his young adult life in the areas of teaching and Aboriginal community development. He has taught Aboriginal Studies to Indigenous inmates at the Worimi and Mount Penang juvenile detention centres and in Cessnock and Maitland prisons. He also managed a homeless Aboriginal boys' hostel. Paul earned his Doctorate at University Canberra in 2015, for a study of Barkindji identity with a specific focus on masculinity. His first novel, Dancing Home, won the 2017 David Unaipon Award for a previously unpublished work by an Indigenous author, and the 2019 ACT Book of the year Award. Paul’s first poetry collection, Nightmares Run Like Mercury, was published by Recent Works Press in 2021. Paul is Director, Indigenous Engagement, in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra.

Olena Kalytiak Davis is, yes, a first-generation Ukrainian-American, born and raised in Detroit, and an autodidact barely educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. Everyone loved her first book, And Her Soul Out Of Nothing (University of Wisconsin Press 1997), especially Rita Dove, then stuff got... harder? She received a Rona Jaffe Award (so long ago), a Guggenheim (unearned), and several decent grants from the Rasmusson Foundation up in Alaska, but has applied for an NEA, for literally 30 years, to no avail. Wait, did she miss the last deadline? Kalytiak Davis now lives in Anchorage, in Brooklyn, sometimes simultaneously and depending on who is asking.

Olena Kalytiak Davis, a first-generation Ukrainian-American, was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. This is her fourth full length collection. Her first book, And Her Soul Out Of Nothing (University of Wisconsin Press 1997), received the Brittingham Prize. Kalytiak Davis’s honors also include a Rona Jaffe Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim. Kalytiak Davis lives in Anchorage and Brooklyn.

Omar Sakr is a poet and writer born in Western Sydney to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants. He is the author of These Wild Houses (Cordite Books, 2017), and The Lost Arabs (University of Queensland Press, 2019), which won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. He is the first Arab-Australian Muslim to win this prestigious award. The Lost Arabs was also shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award, the John Bray Poetry Award, the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award, and the Colin Roderick Award; it has been released in the US and worldwide through Andrews McMeel Universal. In 2019, Omar was the recipient of the Edward Stanley Award for Poetry, and in 2020, the Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Poetry. His poems have been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish. Omar’s debut novel, Son of Sin (Affirm Press), was published in 2022.

Lucy Van writes poetry and criticism. She is a Senior Research Associate in the English and Theatre Studies program at the University of Melbourne, where she teaches literary studies. She writes about contemporary poetry, historical photography, life in the colony, and global boredom. She was a writer in residence at Overland (2019-2020), and a Melbourne Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne (2018-2019). Lucy’s work has appeared in places including History of Photography, Katipunan, Journal of Australian Studies, Meanjin, Southerly, Australian Book Review, Axon: Creative Explorations, Liminal Review of Books, Cordite Poetry Review, Best of Australian Poems, Australian Poetry Journal, The Suburban Review, and Arc Poetry Magazine. Her first poetry collection, The Open (Cordite 2021), was longlisted for the Stella prize, shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore award, and highly commended in the Anne Elder Award. She is working on a book called The Beginning of the Poem.

 Keynote Lecture

Sylvia Plath: An Iconic Life

Heather Clark is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield and author of The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972 (2006), The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes (2011) and Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath (2020), which was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, shortlisted for the LA Times Book Prize in Biography and winner of the Slightly Foxed Prize for Best First Biography. A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year, Red Comet was listed as one the Best Books of 2020 by Oprah Magazine, LitHub, The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, The Times (London), The Times of India, The Daily Telegraph and Good Morning America Book Club. Heather’s awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship; a Leon Levy Biography Fellowship at the City University of New York; and a Visiting U.S. Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Harvard Review and The Times Literary Supplement, and she recently served as the scholarly consultant for the BBC documentary Sylvia Plath: Life Inside the Bell Jar.

Scientist-in-residence

Lindell Bromham is a Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the Australian National University. Her research focusses on connecting evolutionary processes across all levels of change, from the genome to the biosphere, and on developing new ways to answer challenging questions regarding the “tempo and mode” (pace and mechanism) of evolutionary change. Most of her work focusses on molecular evolution (rates and patterns of change in DNA) or macroevolution (processes of biodiversity generation in time and space), but in the past five years, she has extended this general approach to other evolutionary systems, such as language and culture. She has engaged in interdisciplinary research over several decades, working with artists, philosophers, linguists, mathematicians. Lindell was awarded the 2021 Eureka Prize for Interdisciplinary Scientific Research for work in collaboration with linguist, Felicity Meakins, mathematician, Xia Hua and Gurindji woman, Cassandra Algy. Their work focuses on a new Indigenous language emerging from a mix of Gurindji, a traditional language of the Northern Territory, and Kriol, an English-based Creole language widely spoken in northern Australia.

Keynote Performance:

Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters

Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök is currently working on The Xenotext — a project that requires him to encipher a poem into the genome of a deathless bacterium, able to survive in any inhospitable environment, including the vacuum of outer space. Bök is a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, and he works as an artist in Melbourne.

 
 

Magic Lantern Show

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The Last Shilling: A sequence of 25 original slides based on W.A. Eaton's circa 1902 pro-temperance poem, "The Last Shilling," projected through an authentic magic lantern with accompanying live recitation of the poem,  and music. Performance team: Martyn Jolly, Alexander Hunter, Rachael Thoms and Charles Martin.

 

In the early twentieth century, The Last Shilling would have arrived at the local church or temperance hall as a multimedia package — a set of hand coloured glass magic lantern slides and a printed poem with the verses numbered to synchronise to each slide. Then, an amateur lanternist, an amateur elocutionist, and an amateur musician could together produce a powerful melodramatic experience for their audience, hopefully convincing them to give up the drink.

 

As Marian Wilson Kimber notes in her book, The Elocutionists: women, music, and the spoken word, performances like these brought the formerly private into the public sphere. The recitation was composed to be voiced, more often than not by a woman, in a space of feminine power such as a temperance hall.  It was also designed to propel the slides, in which ‘life models’ struck rhetorical poses in front of painted backdrops, into a visual story featuring the narrative suspense and ‘parallel editing’ usually associated with subsequent cinema.

 

We are historians, composers, musicians, and vocalists. We directly mesh contemporary technologies and performances with past technologies and performances. Through our historical interoperability we don’t supersede past experiences but seek to collapse different modes of experience — from ancient oral traditions to emerging electronic technologies — into the one time.

Martyn Jolly is an artist and writer, and Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University School of Art and Design. In 2015 he received an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant to lead the international project 'Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World'. Since 2015 he has developed a series of collaborative magic lantern performances around Australia. In 2020, with Elisa deCourcy he co-edited The Magic Lantern at Work: Witnessing, Persuading, Experiencing and Connecting.

https://martynjolly.com/

Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World

Alexander Hunter is a composer with Scottish, German and Red River Métis heritage. He is currently the Composition and Undergraduate Convenor at the Australian National University School of Music on unceded Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country. He studied composition, double bass, viola da gamba and ethnomusicology at Northern Illinois University, and received a PhD in composition from Edinburgh Napier University. He has taught composition, music journalism, multimedia performance, theory and history, founded the ANU New Music Ensemble and Experimental Music Studio, and co-founded the ANU Laptop Ensemble (LENS). His work as a composer is based on open works, which encourage a fluid relationship between composer, score and performer. Hunter’s current performance-led research is based on collaborative multimedia works, most recently with visual artists Mike Parr, Martyn Jolly, Ngaio Fitzpatrick, Andrew Quinn, John Carolan and Janet Meaney; and dancers Jack Riley and Liz Lea. He is also half of the electronic music duo 'Andromeda is Coming...' with Charles Martin.

https://www.alexanderhunter.com.au/ 

Rachael Thoms is a hybrid vocalist, singing voice expert, and Aural Skills lecturer. She is one of a new breed of versatile singers, uniquely accomplished in jazz, classical, music theatre, and popular music performance. She has studied with many internationally renowned pedagogues and shared the stage with a diverse range of acclaimed artists including George Benson, Vince Jones, Song Company and Lior. A graduate of The Australian National University with degrees in both jazz and classical performance, Rachael now teaches aural skills, music theory and voice at ANU School of Music while conducting doctoral research into vocal pedagogy and improvisation. Her research focuses on expert approaches to teaching vocalists to improvise, and examines the impacts of gender, biology, psychology, and sociology on performance, participation and achievement. Rachael performs regularly in various projects, including her jazz quintet, The Fringe of Squaredom.  

 

 https://rachaelthoms.com/

 

Charles Martin is a computer scientist specialising in music technology, creative AI and human-computer interaction at The Australian National University, Canberra. Charles develops musical apps such as MicroJam, and PhaseRings, researches creative AI, and performs music with Ensemble Metatone and Andromeda is Coming. At the ANU, Charles teaches creative computing and leads research into intelligent musical instruments. His lab’s focus is on developing new intelligent instruments, performing new music with them, and bringing them to a broad audience of musicians and performers.

https://charlesmartin.au/ 

Keynote Panel:

The Beginning of the Poem

Theoretically, a poem can begin in any way. What does it mean that in practice, poems often begin in a particular way—that is, by returning to a fragment of some prior thing? We see this in the encore of John Milton’s opening to Lycidas (‘Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more’); differently, we see this in the widely used, though under-researched convention of the poetic epigraph (for instance, T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ begins with six lines from Dante’s Inferno). While there is an established model for understanding the beginning as an act that invokes poetic precedent, this keynote panel seeks to expose the beginning’s logic of return to a broader sense of language that is beyond the remit of poetic tradition as such. This panel thinks about the everyday existence of poems and about how this existence relates to ordinary language, asking, how do these different modes of language function together? In what sense does a poem exist in a world of language that is mostly not poetry? How does ordinary language collude in the creation of poetry? In its enactment of the passage of language from one mode of existence to another, the beginning of the poem might offer some answers to these questions

Justin Clemens is an Associate Professor in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He has published three collections of poetry, including The Mundiad (Hunter 2013), and writes about contemporary Australian art and poetry for a range of publications, including Meanjin, The Monthly and The Sydney Review of Books. Justin’s scholarly work focuses primarily on the relationships between poetry, psychology and philosophy in Romantic and post-Romantic writing. He has written extensively on figures such as Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Alain Badiou, as well as on themes of slavery and technology. His books include the monograph Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy (Edinburgh UP 2013) and Lacan Deleuze Badiou (Edinburgh 2014), co-written with A.J. Bartlett and Jon Roffe. Justin has also co-edited many anthologies on such writers and thinkers as Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan and Jacqueline Rose, as well as aided in translations of French language philosophy, most recently Englishing Kostas Axelos’s epic treatise The Game of the World (Edinburgh UP 2023) with Hellmut Monz. With Thomas H. Ford, he has just completed a book about Barron Field, the colonial judge who published the first book of poetry in Australia, slated to be published as Barron Field in New South Wales: The Poetics of Terra Nullius (Melbourne UP 2022).

David Macarthur is Associate Professor in Philosophy at The University of Sydney. He adopts a skeptical approach to metaphysics; as well as exploring the ways in which aesthetic experience provides orientation for our thinking about the world and others. He has published widely on liberal naturalism, skepticism, metaphysical quietism, pragmatism, common sense, perception, ordinary language, and philosophy of art – especially architecture, photography and film. He has edited Hilary & Ruth-Anna Putnam, Pragmatism as a Way of Life (Harvard, 2017); and with Mario De Caro co-edited Naturalism in Question (Harvard, 2004); Naturalism and Normativity (Columbia, 2010); Hilary Putnam, Philosophy in an Age of Science: Physics, Mathematics and Skepticism (Harvard, 2012); The Routledge Handbook of Liberal Naturalism (Routledge, 2022); and Hilary Putnam: Philosophy as Dialogue (Harvard, 2022). He also co-edited with Stephen Hetherington Living Skepticism (Brill, 2022). 

David Musgrave has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent being his Selected Poems (Eyewear, UK). His 2016 collection, Anatomy of Voice, was awarded the Judith Wright Calanthe Award for Poetry. He is also the recipient of the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry for his collection Phantom Limb, and individual poems have been awarded many prizes. David’s novel Glissando was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction in 2011. David was formerly CIO for a health industry fund and now serves as Deputy Chair of Australian Poetry, an organisation which he helped found in 2011. In 2004, he founded Puncher & Wattmann, an independent press which publishes Australian poetry and literary fiction. The press has issued over 200 titles to date. David teaches Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle, and has published on Menippean satire, Alexander Pope, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Patrick White, Structuralism and myth. He lives in Newcastle with his family. 

 

 https://davidmusgrave.com/

Lucy Van writes poetry and criticism. She is a Senior Research Associate in the English and Theatre Studies program at the University of Melbourne, where she teaches literary studies. She writes about contemporary poetry, historical photography, life in the colony, and global boredom. She was a writer in residence at Overland (2019-2020), and a Melbourne Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne (2018-2019). Lucy’s work has appeared in places including History of Photography, Katipunan, Journal of Australian Studies, Meanjin, Southerly, Australian Book Review, Axon: Creative Explorations, Liminal Review of Books, Cordite Poetry Review, Best of Australian Poems, Australian Poetry Journal, The Suburban Review, and Arc Poetry Magazine. Her first poetry collection, The Open (Cordite 2021), was longlisted for the Stella prize, shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore award, and highly commended in the Anne Elder Award. She is working on a book called The Beginning of the Poem.

James Joyce's Radio Tower of Babel

 

Gabrielle Carey is a non-fiction author of ten books, including Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and my Family, which jointly won the 2014 Prime Minister’s Award for Non-Fiction and was shortlisted for the National Biography Award. In 2020 Carey was shortlisted for the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship for her biography of novelist Elizabeth von Arnim, Only Happiness Here (UQP, 2020). Her essay ‘Waking Up with James Joyce’ was chosen as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2019 edition. She has coordinated Sydney's Finnegans Wake Reading Group for the past 18 years. Carey's next book, James Joyce: A Life, will be out March, 2023 (Australian Scholarly Press). 

Nicci Haynes is a visual artist whose roaming practice includes print, drawing and installation. Performance-drawing along with experimental film and animation have become significant components, acting as vehicles for capturing liveness and movement, and accommodating assorted collaborations with dancers, musicians and poets.

https://niccihaynes.com.au/

Paul Magee studied in Melbourne, Moscow, San Salvador and Sydney.  His  ethnography of travel in the far South of South America, From Here to Tierra del Fuego was published in the year 2000 by the University of Illinois Press. Paul has published two books of verse, Cube Root of Book, 2006, and Stone Postcard, named in Australian Book Review as one of the books of the year for 2014. He teaches poetry and the philosophy of writing at the University of Canberra. Suddenness and the Composition of Poetic Thought was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2022. Paul is Chief Investigator with Paul Collis and Jen Crawford on We Come from the Past: Indigeneity, Orality and the Flow of Culture, which is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

https://imaginingfutures.world/projects/we-come-from-the-past-orality-indigeneity-and-the-flow-of-culture/

https://www.paulmagee.online/

Billy O’Foghlu's PhD (ANU) involved working with Traditional Owners to study North Australian late holocene archaeological sites (Earth Mounds). Born in Sligo, he also studies Irish iron age music, and has published in Emania, The Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology and Serenade Magazine.  

Russell Smith lectures in Modernist Literature and Literary Theory in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the Australian National University, Canberra. He has published widely on Samuel Beckett, and recently completed an essay on the French linguist Émile Benveniste for the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Literature.

https://oxfordre.com/literature/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.001.0001/acrefore-9780190201098-e-1058

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