The Influence of Lorca in the Outback

Where they once ate camel grease (and before
that I don’t know), they now eat moon butter. Where
they once drank electric guitar (and sometimes
acoustic guitar) they now drink lightning. They
talk about the Spanish Civil War as if it happened
just around there, just over there. The Outback’s
too large a temple for a Christ. They’re always
writing poems about the hot snow of suffering –
or odes to roosters. These are the reports we hear.
They go looking for bones to talk to, like Lorca
was a character in Hamlet. Of course, it could just
be a living analogy: a clinamen in attempts at Indigenous
and European reconciliation. At one school in South
Australia, the girls were so taken with the House
of Bernarda Alba that it became a cult, enacted
day and night, its themes and narrative infecting
the girls’ mothers and other women. There was
much wearing of black (or green, with straw) of
stylised repressive and rebellious gesture (but mercifully
no shooting). It’s said that elderly Aboriginal women
would suddenly run into the street saying they wanted
to be married and have lots of children. The play
had become a feminist masque, and spread across
state borders. In one town in New South Wales
the whole male population donned Southern European
mourning drag in order to not be left out. But this
attracted too much media, and the women all went
into the hills until the men put their jeans back
on. The many graves of Lorca scattered throughout
the desert and in oblique spots on towns’ outskirts
have become shared sacred places. Even in the
cities it’s known the Outback is no monoculture;
whispers have been heard of resistance, especially
by men who find Lorca too feminine. It’s said that,
here and there, the influence of Rimbaud is beginning
to show. That the Paris Commune is referred to
as a local moment; while many teenagers wear
wrist bandages, and travel the continent on foot.
Still others are living more reclusive lives in the
style of Dickinson: collecting native flowers, wearing
white, and making packets of poetry.

Michael Farrell

Originally from Bombala, NSW, Michael Farrell is a Melbourne-based poet, with a collage practice which can be seen on instagram @limechax. Googlecholia is out now from Giramondo.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays