Lyricism in the World of George Sand

Lyric poetry’s metier is figurative language – metaphor, simile and imagery -- used to represent happenings at human/world intersections, and within the world and the individual, covering, as Jane Hirschfield writes, “both senses and psyche” (2015).(1) These affordances render it particularly suited to the writing of character in poetic biography. The creative artefact from my creative writing PhD is a poetic biography of 19th century French social radical and prolific author, George Sand. As a work of ‘restitution poetics’ it proposes to contribute to repair of a creative, literary women’s lineage damaged by the exclusion or misrepresentation of women. Sand’s multiple milieux lend themselves to lyric representation both in the variety of roles and settings she chose for herself, and in her own rich lyric representation of those worlds in her various writings. She straddled political worlds -- lunch with the first minister, urgent correspondence with Napoléon’s nephew -- as well as more personal settings – conversing with famous artists, writers, and musicians, love trysts, as well as the world of her country property. “The language of the poem”, Mary Oliver avers, “is the language of particulars”(2) and particulars feature in the lyric and narrative modes I employ to hone in on Sand’s world, seeking to capture camembert-and-rough-red, chicken-ammonia, heart-piercing nightingales, rough Berrichon, and lined-foolscap-blue ink worlds. These are conveyed as strategies both to honour her, and to communicate her life in compelling visceral, sensory, and I hope, impactful ways.

'Crazy link-ups all over the place'

Notes wandering towards a research choreography

This essay discusses the revival of a failed creative/biographical poetry project, on Australian ballerina Lucette Aldous. I had begun this project in 2015 but, despite several years of research—both archival (Ballet Rambert and Victoria & Albert, London; Australian Ballet archives at the Arts Centre, Melbourne) and through interviews with Aldous in Perth—I was unable to find a way to structure and convey the ‘life’, and the project was put aside in 2018. Lucette Aldous passed away in 2021, and this loss was followed by Australian poet Jordie Albiston’s unexpected passing, in February 2022. In part, it was the proximity of these two losses that sparked the revival of the Aldous project, fuelled as I was both by a sadness that I had not been able to deliver a completed manuscript to the retired ballerina before she died, and also by my revisiting of the poems in Albiston’s wide-ranging oeuvre. Albiston’s poems, often documentary in nature, and ruled by mathematics and constraint yet open to possibility, multiplicity, irony, opened a way for me to move forward with the Aldous project.