Poetry and Breathing

Beyond Subject and Object

This paper will consider the ways in which the poetic form echoes a visceral experience of embodiment that re-imagines the relationship between subject and object. Through a focus on poetic elements such as the rise and flow of line, the vital pauses of punctuation and white space together with the slip of association and metaphoricity, this paper contends that the lyric poem in particular not only recreates the experience of the respiring body but offers us an inhabited insight into an interplay of inside and outside, self and other, what sustains and what speaks. In this way, both poetry and breath can be seen to provide a deconstructued paradigm for subjectivity -- a subjectivity that emerges from the flow of overlap and connectedness rather than differentiation. In this sense, the poem speaks the body as well as the body speaking the poem. Informed by a conceptual framework that includes Thích Nhất Hạnh’s concept of ‘interbeing’ as well as Levinas’ notion of the face as it meets the breathing face of the other, this discussion references the work of eco-poet Anne Elvey in addition to my own poetry project, ‘Remarkable as Breathing.’

Archives as 'Thin Places'

Resurrecting ghosts of Australia's earliest refugees through poetics of resistance

Drawing on the Irish notion of a ‘thin place’ (where the veil between us and the spirit world is so thin that we can sense those on the other side), this paper outlines an approach to archival research and creative practice which seeks to reawaken and give voice to the ghosts of some of Australia’s earliest refugees. This work uncovers new connections between the Great Irish Famine, a humanitarian crisis which halved Ireland’s population and the cyclical incarceration and abuse of young women in New South Wales in the 1860s and 1870s—to highlight a small but significant, yet largely unwritten, chapter in Irish-Australian history. Employing poetics of resistance incorporating elements of these young women’s outlawed native Irish language and culture, this work seeks to decolonise their memories and restore voice to those who suffered the brutal consequences of colonisation in both their native and adopted countries.