With Audio Overland, a major Australian literary journal has found its way to publishing a literature previously beyond its scope. That there is a new venue for great Australian literature is something for all writers to celebrate. That the literature in question is aural text, in a country where so few opportunities exist for the creators of aural poetry to be recognised in terms on par with their less vocal poetic comrades, makes the occasion all the more significant.
As for my part as editor, what an honour to set an ear – the repeat button, a dreamspace, a headspace – to the soundtrack of spoken word in this country, if only a slice of it.
The final poems in Audio Overland differ considerably in tenor and delivery, length and lyric, tone and theme. Taken as a collection there is something, perhaps evasive at first listening, which connects them all: Qian’s tale of the two-cultured tongue, Jackson’s curt cut-through of the lies hidden behind suburban weatherboard domesticity , Solah’s blood-fingered boys escaping over the barbed wire like it’s nothing, like it’s nothing, Jacky T’s small town anti-anthem, Whelan opening the hotel room door to Hutchence’s surreal rock ‘n’ roll death, the levee breaking in Nicholls’ relationship post-script. There is something refreshingly, unavoidably, unpretentiously and unpatriotically snap-shot about these pieces which leave me feeling that Australia’s forked and winding narratives, and indeed contemporary Australian poetry, are on fine, fierce and honest lips.
In Omar Musa’s apocalyptic ‘What Will Be Left of Us?’, various versions of our history battle it out for prominence on the deserted streets backdropped by a collapsing city scape. Racist speeches by Alfred Deakin and Edmond Barton / backflip over school textbooks with dick jokes in the margins. Among the devastation, Musa concludes, what will be left of us?