Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Armidale poets - beginnings

I watch the greying, hazy air
drifting from gardens like a pall,
winter my sister died in pain
Gwen Kelly
This Autumn
(For Edna)

This begins the story of the Armidale poets that  I warned you about in Introducing the Armidale poets. Under the influence of the poetry, I then wrote a further post Hockey and the Armidale poets.

But what makes an Armidale poet?

By their nature, most are in some ways expatriate, brought to the city from some other place. Armidale is a university city, drawing people for study or work not just from other parts of New England but well beyond.

This does not of itself make them an Armidale poet as opposed to a poet from Armidale. Other things are involved as well.

According to the Kardoorair Press web site, the Kardoorair Poetry Society was established in 1975 by a far flung group of external students at the University of New England.  By 1979 founding member, Anthony (AJ)Bennett, had a regular community radio show and ran a monthly series of readings at the Wicklow Hotel in Armidale.

I think, I stand to be corrected, that the Society marked the embryonic start of the Armidale poets.

In 1979 Kardoorair Press was established as the publishing arm of the Society to serve primarily as an outlet for poets based on the Northern Tablelands region of New England or writers with an affiliation with the region.

Kardoorair's first publication, Loose Federation, was released in January 1980 and featured the work of Michael Sharkey and Julian Croft. Croft subsequently was a Commonwealth Poetry Prize winner and Sharkey a much published poet and respected literary critic. Kardoorair now has over 60 publications.

At the same time as Kardoorair started publishing so did Michael Sharkey's Fat Possum Press, both joining with each other and other small presses. All wanted to promote an alternative view. 

Did they achieve this? I do not know.

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