The mis-translations, mis-quotations and bricolage poetry of Sydneysider Chris Edwards has made several appearances in Jacket magazine.
In 2001 Jacket published three of his poems that are recombinations of David Baratier talking with Simon Perchik and Ward, Lock & Company's illustrated Great Inventors and other poems made from diverse sources including Isaac Asimov, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Arthur C. Clarke, Marilynne Robinson, Richard Wright, Roland Barthes and a number of other writers. There is a terrific sense of play in Chris's work and unlike many experimenting postmodern projects it is always uncannily engaging. Chris is also a typographer and graphic designer (designing, among other things, many of the books published by the irrepressible Vagabond Press) something that is evident in the careful arrangement in cascading poems like 'Aha!', from his own recent Vagabond collection People of Earth -
Time for a change of gear, I think. Curnow’s and Baxter’s poems seem designed to wrestle with the big questions, to provoke that “You must change your life” epiphany Rilke got from his Archaic Torso of Apollo. There’s a sense of mission about both of them as writers.
I’ve just finished a semester of teaching documentary poetry to a group of graduate students. This mixed form proved extremely generative. Student projects focused on women in prison, a homeless woman, a forgotten city, a planned town and its secrets, tourism, food and activism, and a lost grandfather. All of these projects (chapbooks and one on-line text) worked like accordians, moving back and forth between material and abstraction, between persons and communities. If a drawer can said to be an accordian, then Donovan Kūhiō Colleps’s project, which takes as its central artifact a filing cabinet containing his late grandfather’s papers, breathes its histories in and out. (See the project above: “from The Files of Curtis P. Ah You.") Another of the central images in his chapbook, made out of file folders, is the Pulmo-Aide Respirator, whose instruction guide he uses in the central poem. As the respirator is put together, according to the instructions, we learn about his grandfather’s links (broken and sustained) to his past, and of his love for — among other things — University of Hawai`i women’s volleyball. (A cultural marker if there ever was one.)