Recently Australia has rediscovered an old crime, one it intends to charge Indigenous people with: identity fraud. Apparently the ‘white blacks’ of Andrew Bolt’s imagination are back. Somewhere in Australia there is a mob of pretenders who are lining up to claim the privileges of Indigeneity.
In that sense, then, #freshinourmemories can be seen as exemplary rather than anomalous – a reminder that there’s no human misery from which someone won’t try to make a buck and that profiteering was widespread during the war years. Indeed, Woolworths’ specific slogan actually tells us more about the Great War than the anodyne rhetoric of the official commemoration.
This is not only an argument for ‘representation’ – that is, the idea that if we decentre whiteness and increase representation of non-white poets everywhere, racism will be solved. But representation within poetry is a practical reality: who gets books published? Who gets asked to read or speak on panels? Who is offered residencies at major art/writing institutions? Whose books are added to teaching courses?
It is not just a matter of ‘white over black’ as Fulton tends to stress. The judges and winners are solidly Anglo-Celtic with a few minor variations. It is also notable that they are nearly all creatures of the academic world at some level as are poets of the award-eligible class in Australia generally.
In tracing this early history, it is important to acknowledge the women who were present throughout, such as the human computers of the 1940s, or Ada Lovelace (responsible for significant early contributions to the understanding of computer programming), or Veronika Megler (who co-created the critically acclaimed 1982 video game The Hobbit). But the existence of these women does not render the field less patriarchal – that is, open to men and often closed to women.
The popularity of gifs, memes and listicles underscore our fragmented, and simultaneously, overloaded visual culture, which flourishes with an excess of images, videos and visual media online. It is now with great pleasure that many of us turn to BuzzFeed lists and indulge in an article or two.
But if the literary left sometimes hesitates to defend literary value, the right might be more alert to its radical potential. It is possible to view the 2014 demise of the Literature Board within the Australia Council structure, the cutting of the Get Reading program and the shift of resources from individual grants to an industry-based Book Council as a series of ideological gestures.
Over 130,000 students voted to strike, with more student associations to hold votes in the coming weeks. Organisers are hoping for the return of the famous ‘Maple Spring’ a student movement in Quebec in the summer of 2012. It successfully prevented 75 per cent tuition hikes, overturned an unpopular anti-protest law and brought down the provincial government.
It’s very common. It happens to millions of women. It’s hard to talk about because you feel culpable. It must have been your fault – you are the slut those men said you were. Or you feel the shame of being made a victim. I never wanted to be made a victim. I am a victim. I am not a victim. It took me a long time to work out that I had agency in relation to men. I was raised to please a man. My mother told me I should take care never to appear more intelligent than a man.