Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Late Australia Day Meme

In response to popular demand, ie two people have said it would be kind of nice, and as a late gesture to Australia Day, I here reprise the Australian Literature meme I made up and posted over at A Fugitive Phenomenon shortly after I took up blogging. It's been tweaked a bit, but most of my answers are the same as they were in December 2005 -- nice to think there are some things I'm consistent about.


1) Which Australian poem are you most confident you could recite from memory?

Gwen Harwood's 'Suburban Sonnet' -- only because Robyn Archer set it to music and I used to have the album ('Wild Girl in the Heart', title taken from a Dorothy Hewett poem). We're talking vinyl here.

2) Which of the Seven Little Australians are you?

Bunty. No question.

3) Which is your favourite Patrick White novel?

The Eye of the Storm.

4) Which is the best Patrick White novel?

Gah. Um -- A Fringe of Leaves or The Tree of Man, I think. [UPDATE: I don't know what I was thinking about here. Clearly the answer to this question is Voss.

This week.]

5) Which Australian fictional/dramatic/poetic character do you fancy most?

There's a sailor in a Dorothy Hewett poem called 'Go Down Red Roses' that I always rather liked the sound of.

6) And which do you identify with most?

Shannon in Ride On Stranger.

7) If you had to read five Australian poems to a heterogeneous unknown audience, which five would you choose?

John Shaw Neilsen's 'The Orange Tree', Gig Ryan's 'If I Had a Gun', all of Kenneth Slessor's 'Five Bells', all of Les Murray's 'The Buladelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle', and all of Judith Wright's 'The Shadow of Fire: Ghazals' ("There's altogether too much I know nothing about.").

And I'd allow breaks for meals.

8) Which five Australian books would you take to a desert island?

Voss, Come In Spinner, Carmel Bird's Penguin Century of Australian Stories, David Marr's bio of P White, Nadia Wheatley's ditto of Charmian Clift. This is about memory -- these are the books that would elicit the greatest breadth, depth and variety of memories to contemplate as I sat on the beach getting skin cancer.

9) If you were a guest at Don’s Party, would you be
(a) naked in the pool
(b) upstairs having sex
(c) outside having sex
(d) sulking with a headache
(e) huddled round the TV
(f) crying
(g) more than one of the above (please specify)
(h) other (please specify)

(g), namely (d), (e) and (f) -- I'd be huddled round the TV with a headache, sulking and crying.

10) Tim Winton or Christos Tsiolkas?

Gotta be Christos.

11) Banjo Paterson or Henry Lawson?

Gotta be Henry.

12) Henry Lawson or Barbara Baynton?

Gotta be Barbara. The blacker of two options, every time.

13) What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen at a writers’ festival?

Edmund White saying to a fellow-panelist as they climbed onto the stage to do their thing: 'What is it that we're supposed to be talking about?'


Genevieve said...

Just realised I really don't think I've read Come In Spinner - the teev adaptation was so good, I tend to go for a rerun. Must read it soon, must do that.
I've just enjoyed re-reading my own responses to the earlier version of this meme - maybe I need to do the desert island choices question again! I've read some good stuff recently - still not enough White though.

TimT said...

I'm an inveterate AD Hope supporter, and would definitely have slipped in his name into that list of five poets. (I could once recite most of his 2nd Song to Chloe, and still remember parts of several of his poems). Mary Gilmore at her best, I'd say, is definitely worth inclusion too.

It's a pity in a way that popular discussion about poetry so often centres around Patterson and Lawson; while what they could be fine craftsmen, they were never really much more than that. They're popular perhaps because they wrote in the Federation period, when Australians first really started to define themselves as a nation. The wrong poets at the right time?

I have only ever read Voss, and a few White short stories.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ah, but TimT, it wasn't a question about favourite poets. It was about poems rather than about poets, and it was a very specific question about giving a reading to an assorted bunch of people -- the point was to find poems that (almost) nobody could possibly be bored or alienated by, even if they knew nothing about Aust Lit. My favourite Australian poems ever are Les Murray's Translations From the Natural World, but I wouldn't try to read them to an unknown audience in a blue fit.

Can't share your enthusiasm for Hope, whom I find pompous and sexist, but I would say that, wouldn't I! Of those two canonised conservatives I much prefer McAuley, who has a sort of unpredictable feral qualty I like.

Genevieve, I'll never forget the day I really learned (as distinct from in theory) the degree to which money circumscribes cultural production -- the late and much lamented Nick Enright, who wrote the TV screenplay/adaptation, was talking about the call he'd had that morning from the ABC, who'd told him there wasn't enough money after all to produce Come In Spinner as a three-part series (two hours each), and could he please take his finished six-hour adaptation (of an 800-page novel with a cast of thousands) and cut it down to four hours.

TimT said...

The thing I like about Hope is his deep awareness of culture, the way he can incorporate references from Latin, Greek, Sumerian into his poems; and also his knowledge of the sciences - it's a truly universal poetry.

Why is he sexist? I'm curious - when I think of Hope and relations between the sexes, all that comes to mind are his erotic poems.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, that's refreshing; most people (wrongly in my view) regard a broad range of reference in a writer as exclusivist rather than the reverse. I'll never forget one of my fellow Hons students, an unusually narcissistic and solipsistic young woman, whingeing about the scraps of French and German and Greek in The Waste Land, and how very elitist it was of TSE to have put them in. (Implication: surely he must have known she wouldn't be able to read them.)

As for the 'sexist' part, I don't know where to start, especially as I'm sure you want to get a tutorial in Feminist Critique 101 even less than I want to give one. In one sentence, the Hope poems follow a long poetic tradition of constructing the male as active subject and the woman as passive object. Strangely, women readers tend to be alienated by this world view.

elsewhere said...

I remember you making that comment about
_Come in Spinner_ in our tutorial!

I re-watched the adaptation the other night, as the second series of the Sopranos *still* hadn't been returned to Blockbusters (I know that makes a lot of sense). It was still as good as I remembered it being -- and intriguing to see a very young Justine Saunders as Monnie. I think it's a fine adaptation and over the years, I have become quite used to the idea of Claire [spoiler follows] dying from the abortion, tho I thought that was a terrible deviation from the original when I first saw it.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I can't remember which year the tutorial was, but the conversation took place in (I think) 1988 so it must have been comparatively fresh in my mind -- but it's the sort of story one remembers. Yes, Claire having the abortion instead of [insert name of correct character here] was a direct result of Nick having to cut the script from six hours to four -- the original six-hour script was much closer to the book.

Ampersand Duck said...

Oh, Genevieve, you must read it! I'v got both the full version and the original abridged jobbie. I'm sure Dymphna and Florence would have had a similar reaction to Nick's when told by their publisher to cut the story by two-thirds...

I didn't do this meme first time around, so I might give it a go tonight if I can drag myself away from the first series of Love My Way that a friend lent me recently. Ripper stuff!

(and I hate your $%^^&!! doorbitch too)

genevieve said...

Do you know, hearing about the abortion death has jogged my very very faulty memory - and I have read it, it's just all mished together with lovely visuals of all those lovely actresses. I do remember that now, also I remember the last few pages, of all things.

God it was a great show, how the fuck could they justify cutting it? Incroyable.
(Didn't realise that was Justine Saunders - also little Rebecca Smart was very fine.)