Devils in the Details

Next Tuesday 23 June I’m giving a 10-minute presentation as part of the Time, Text and People group’s ‘Devils in the Details’ research event. My presentation is entitled The whole is greater than the sum of the details: emergence in a non-linear text. I will present a poem, then pose some questions about it in the hope of generating discussion.

Devils in the Details: When the small things make all the difference in Humanities research

Edith Cowan University Mt Lawley, Room 10.307/308
Tuesday 23 June 2015, 1-4pm

In a world of increasing spectacle, instantaneous social media, and 24-hour infotainment, the detailed work of scholars has for some come to seem archaic and quaint – yet remains essential for the advancement of human knowledge and self-understanding. From little-known facts, parallax views and technical errors, to close-readings of texts and events, when have small details been vital to illuminating and clarifying aspects of your work, or revealed the fundamental flaws in accepted interpretations?


1.00pm – Dr David Robinson – ‘Welcome and Introduction’.
1.10pm – Dr David Robinson – ‘Rebels in the Footnotes – the Comoro Islands and the Mozambican Civil War’.
1.30pm – Dr Leigh Straw – ‘A Woman’s Record: Mary Ann Sweetman’s Life of Crime’.
1.50pm – Prof Quentin Beresford – ‘Defamation and Biography: When the Details Matter’.
2.10pm – Break
2.20pm – Jackson (PhD Candidate) – ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the details: emergence in a non-linear text’.
2.40pm – Dr Susan Hart – ‘Vital Statistics: Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates’.
3.00pm – Ben Hale (PhD Candidate) – ‘The ANC as Winner or Loser?: A closer look at the 2014 South African national elections’.

Attendance is open to all interested researchers.

My PhD proposal seminar

My PhD research proposal seminar is on Friday 19 June at 11am in room 10.308 at Edith Cowan University Mt Lawley.

Sangam: a book of poems


light is a word for connection light
is a word light
is a word for relation

grow a text-organism that enacts connection grow
a text-object that invites relation grow
a text-body that embodies light

see [un]Theories of Everynothing in the between between the lines see
in the stanzas be-twain the space see
in the difference in the words write

an [un]work on [un]consciousness in poetic [un]thought

The project will explore how well poetry, particularly experimental poetry, can bring together scientific ideas and Eastern spiritual and philosophical ideas in the context of 21st-century society and its members’ lived experience.

Writing experiments will be used to generate text. Experimental and traditional techniques will then be used to evolve form and grow connections.

The writing will be a meeting place — sangam — where ideas, methods and texts that may be seen as oppositional will come together.

From a systems perspective a text may be considered an organism: a complex entity with emergent properties. A reader-organism connects with a text-organism, creating a new organism with its own emergent properties, such as interpretations and affects.

What will emerge from the sangam?

Supervisors: Dr Marcella Polain and Dr Ffion Murphy
Reviewers: Dr Paul Uhlmann and Professor John Kinsella

The Hokusai tree

A painting by Hokusai, the ragged tree
curves out and over the water, dipping the tips
of its long fingernails. Beneath its elegant gnarl,
night rain has wet the riverbank. I can’t sit. I squat
then stand. It’s hard

to have a routine, walk, contemplate, what
with children, friends, the weather, the screaming
of power tools, the hammering machine
in my head

This morning’s light is filtered by cloud
but the Hokusai tree is silverlit
by a thousand tiny moons. At the tip of every needle
and the lowest point of every twisted twig
is a round tinkle of rain

The Hokusai tree sings with tinkling moons
of spent, gathered rain
I was going to say it sings
to me, but it just sings

The river is molten glass, scattered
with froth-bits and flotsam

Later I’ll get into my little car
with its ‘No jobs on a dead planet’ sticker
and drive along bare new highways
past bare blocky new houses
to the Christian school
where they’re waiting
for poetry

They’re still building suburbs here
According to the billboards, every family
should own a little estate
even if they don’t
grow any food

My ex installs curtains, primps and paints
the house that was once half-mine,
that one day he hopes to sell

I rent, move when I want
The thin curtains let in the light
Nothing matches, everything’s old

My ex works overtime to pay for the house,
the curtains, TV, pizza maker,
Ipad, pool pump, outdoor setting,
eleven rooms of toys and chairs,
shed of dusty power tools

if I get here
I’ll bring a mat to sit on
beneath the Hokusai tree
by the riverbank

First published as “power tools” in Poetry Matters