Caren Florance completed her PhD at the University of Canberra in 2017. Her teaching focus is book arts and typography. She uses the imprint Ampersand Duck, and is an artist whose practice centres on the book and the printed word, using traditional letterpress and bookbinding processes along with more contemporary technologies. Her work is collected by national and international institutions, mostly libraries.

Melinda Smith won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for her fourth book of poems, Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call. Her work has appeared widely in Australia and overseas. She was Poetry Editor of the Canberra Times from 2015 to mid-2017. Her latest collection, Goodbye Cruel, is published by Pitt St Poetry.

Be Spoken To

A boundary-crossing art/poetry project

This paper presents a cross-disciplinary collaborative project between a poet and a book artist. A site-specific residency project in 2014 for MoAD in Old Parliament House, Canberra, gave rise to two other publishing artifacts: a chapbook (for a poetry audience) and an artists’ book (for a visual arts audience). The collaboration produced original poems, ‘cut-ups’ composed from in situ sources, poems composed of key-word anagrams, and erasure poems sourced from Hansard speeches and newspaper articles from the year 1962. 

Each mode of publication offers different affordances for the source texts, offering them variable states of print-performance. The project also explores poetry’s relationship to public culture and institutions and the language these use. The poetic component in the project is an exercise in re-voicing and speaking back to the concept of a parliament, while the artistic component of the project is an exercise in close reading, both of the space itself and of the words inside it.