Poetry as Presence: Working with Personae

A survivor's manifesto on poetic practice

This piece adopts the voice of public declaration to assert poetic practice as survivable resistance to abuses of power. It proposes that poetry is the best means to identify, expose and reconfigure what is implicit in dominant discourses that discredit the way a survivor of sexual assault may communicate. It is found that a poetic use of language that is allusive, evocative and associative can reinvigorate annihilated perspectives so as to add them to public discourse. Poetic methods can be employed to resist and subvert the supposed supremacy of linear and logical narrative structures considered essential for sense making and validity. Furthermore, they can be employed to excavate family and state histories to resurrect, sometimes from fragments, the perspectives of those that have been silenced.

Stitching Art Practice: As action and metaphor for care and repair

This paper examines the sewing needle as a tool for reparation within art practice, and reflects on the capacity for art to heal aspects of self, culture and the environment. Through my multidisciplinary art practice – stitching, installation, writing, and walking – I consider how attentive care and repair can transform grief and trauma; specifically, in the wake of the 2019/2020 fire season on the east coast of Australia; and to a lesser extent, the global pandemic that quickly followed. The work at the centre of the paper is the creation of a blanket wrapped rock cairn, built in my studio during the months-long Greater Sydney 2021 lockdown. The action of stitching remnant pieces of blanket around rocks builds upon Louise Bourgeois’ concept of the needle as an object of psychological repair, bringing individual fragments of creative practice, grief and trauma into conversation. Walking as art practice is both the medium that underpins all the others, and the journey I begin in the fire’s wake. Unable to prepare for a long-planned durational walk while still in lockdown, I instead walk by stitching steps through wool, temporalities and across landscapes, real and imagined, demonstrating how I see walking and the needle as synonymous.