This issue of the Axon journal investigates ways in which contemporary poetry speculates about the world, modes of being, reality, creativity, writing itself and ways of understanding the quotidian.
The theme for this issue of Axon emerged during a conference in late 2019, where paper after paper combined coherent research with impassioned critiques of the state of the university, the state of the environment, and the state of politics. Evident in these presentations was both a determination to generate positive change, and impatience at the apparent slowness of senior members’ responses to the what-is of the current moment.
-- In preparation, this issue of Axon went under the title of Poetry on the Move, the name of the poetry festival initiated by the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) in 2015. Since that first year, however, the festivals have had distinguishing themes. In 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the theme — and title of the festival symposium — was ‘Small Leaps, Giant Steps’, and this issue brings together a number of papers presented at the symposium, as well as contributions from poets who were not able to attend the event.
Canberra is home to a surprising number of creative and research-oriented events, and two of them are reflected in this issue of Axon. The first is the product of the 2018 annual DESIGN Canberra festival, which centred on the generative contributions of the architect Enrico Taglietti and the built environment he helped create in this city. The second event addressed the natural environment, with particular reference to the marriage of science and poetry, and what affordances this provides for the building of knowledge and understanding.
Members and affiliates of the International Poetry Studies Institute at the University of Canberra have, for some years, been visiting the United Kingdom, and collaborating with colleagues at universities across the country in symposia and other creative/research events.
When discussing metaphors of inhabitation and dwelling and their relationship to language, Heidegger’s enigmatic claim in his ‘Letter on Humanism’ (1946), comes to mind:
Language is the house of being. In its home human beings dwell. Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home. (239)
The contributions in this issue have been gathered together from various sources including a number of events addressing the themes of this issue. Primarily, these were the Turning Point: Creative Arts and Trauma symposium (University of Canberra, 7 June 2017), and the Narratives of Health and Wellbeing Research Conference (CQUniversity, Noosa campus, 26–27 October 2017).
Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock writes, ‘Our contemporary moment is a haunted one’ (2013: 61). Weinstock attributes the ‘spectral turn’ in contemporary cinema, television, literature and academic inquiry to a ‘general postmodern suspicion of meta-narratives accentuated by millennial anxiety’ (ibid.: 62, 63).
Material poetics is not a new concept. The last century has seen the boundaries between creative genres dissolve, allowing attentiveness to materiality — once the exclusive concern of sculpture and craft — to pervade and tantalise less tangible practices. The development of a digital realm has not destroyed materiality, as originally feared, but served to foreground it; and the collaboration that can take place between digital and analogue, verbal and visual, is what drives this issue.
Axon: Creative Explorations, Capsule 2 (Special Issue), February 2018
When we first announced the international symposium, Inside/Outside/Carnival, that took place at the University of Winchester, UK, in June 2017 (a collaboration between the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) at the University of Canberra, and the University of Winchester, with invited guest speakers from the USA, Australia and the UK) we prefaced it with, ‘Into the cauldron of 21st century writing - Tipping a hat at Bakhtin the word Carnival is ambiguous.