Rachel Kaufman argues the ‘archival poem brings to bear the rhythms of the past through the language of the present’ (2021: 21). Indeed, it is a unique genre for its ability to ‘hold in balance discordant images and thoughts’ (26) in its presentation of dissonant simultaneities—a quality critical to representing historical traumas, particularly those related to slavery and race. Through processes of disassembling and fracturing, archival poetry exposes the silences and redactions within ‘official’ histories by marking and blurring the borderlines of past and present, subject and object. Examining M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong!, poetry grounded in the materiality of archival sources, this paper explores how the past might be defamiliarized to reveal that which is hidden or suppressed. In doing so, it contends that creative practice engaged with the archives offers the subversive potential to resist totalising historical accounts, whilst conveying the complex horrors of racial violence and oppression.
Poetry is one way of documenting what is missed, excluded and neglected by institutionalised archives. Smaller cohorts of migrants and refugees with a reliance on oral stories to record their existence risk minimisation of their impact, influence and contribution to the collective memory of Australia. The experiences of migrants and refugees from Cyprus are recorded mostly through the prism and value-system of two dominating cultures: a British-centric culture and a Hellenic (Greek) culture. This paper seeks to show an alternative documentation of the Cypriot-Greek Australian-based diaspora. Through interviews with several Cypriot-Greek poets and a study of their poetry, a poetic biography of Cypriot-Greek diasporic identity can be created, one that is nuanced and memorable.