Sunday, August 16, 2009

Introducing the Armidale poets

In Sunday Essay - obsessions with reading I reported on my growing obsession with reading and then writing. This was not my first post on this topic nor, I suspect, will it be my last!

Today I had to take youngest to hockey at Little Bay. To help while away the time in breaks in the game I grabbed three small poetry books of my shelf, all published in Armidale in 1980 or 1981. Between them, they provide a snapshot of a part of New England poetry at a point in time.

One of the problems an area like New England faces is that its cultural life is rarely re-presented. There are few local publishers, few journals analysing cultural activities, no platforms. Even within local areas people do not get to see patterns, to re-interpret past material in the light of current events. The problem becomes greater as we look at the broader New England. Similarities and indeed differences are lost within the melange of metro or national models.

At the time these books were published the Armidale poets were consciously challenging what they saw as the metro dominance. More precisely, I should say, the dominance of Sydney's Balmain push with its often contemptuous rejection of anything outside their own collective or, more broadly Sydney, as provincial, second rate.

What do I mean by Armidale poets? They came from many places and to some degree had different interests and approaches. The unifying element lay in the fact that they were in Armidale at that time. This created a shared bond.

You will not find material on the Armidale poets if you Google search, although you will find material on poets from Armidale. There have been a lot.

Over the next few posts I thought that it might be fun to explore the world of the Armidale poets, using the three small poetry books I grabbed from my shelf as a base. Who were they? What did they write about?

I hope that you enjoy the series.

The Books

Wilfred Belmont, A J Bennett & Michael Sharkey, No Standing :12 Poets, Kardoorair/Fat Possum Press, Armidale, 1980.

Gwen Kelly & A J Bennett, Fossils and Stray Cats, Selected Poems, Kardoorair Press, Armidale 1080?.

Michael Sharkey, Barbarians, Fat Possum Press Armidale & Canberra, One Eyed Press, Auckland, 1980.

The Posts

Linked Posts

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