This issue brings together various explorations of assemblage theory with a number of critical and creative works that relate to it in subtle and surprising ways.
The pull towards poetry is strong. Owen Bullock approaches the theme with reference to Sylvia Plath, Page Richards offers a close reading of Derek Walcott, and Dennis Haskell brings in T. S. Eliot, Kenneth Slessor and Stephen Carroll. Lachlan Brown investigates the meeting of poetry and computer games.
Of the newly published poetry, Carolyn Abbs’ work, with photographs by Elizabeth Roberts, shows poetry’s inclination to assemble its own ‘images’ in conjunction with those made by visual artists. Dominique Hecq’s annotated poem presents the poet’s critical redrafting as a simple visual assemblage of ‘original’ and subsequent critical thought. In the case of John Saul and Jan Pulsford’s contribution, it is word and music that come together, a time-honoured pairing that is presented here as an assemblage of sound and text. This type of artistic ‘conversation’ is represented too by extracts from Fay Zwicky’s journals, as selected by Lucy Dougan, demonstrating how the fragments of a writer's reflections on craft – combined with thoughts about music, film, and so much else – can add significantly to their body of creative work. Assembled extracts of Π.O.’s conversation with Amy Brown prove similarly illuminating.
The less ‘conversational’ pieces published here make the case that poetry’s amalgamation of disparate experience, to use Eliot’s phrase, is itself an assemblage. We are pleased to feature poems by Katharine Coles (who was poet in residence during the University of Canberra’s poetry festival in September) and from a number of distinguished British poets: Jean Sprackland, Nigel McLoughlin, Oliver Comins and Simon Armitage. There are highly adventurous poems too from Kent MacCarter, Kevin Gillam and Page Richards, with Dan Disney showing how even the stately form of the villanelle can play host to creative disruption.
All this, for those who teach writing within the academy, is given sharp focus by Kevin Brophy, whose essay articulates the challenge for writing programs still inclined to be conservative in what they teach – and research. Mike Ladd’s ‘Dream Tetras’ exemplify the ‘unclassifiable’ nature of the literary works that are assembling all around: a set of instructions, emerging from a dream, steers us through a waking/writing life before pitching us headlong into a google search. Homogenised creative writing this is not.