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Rewriting Australia feature

Pam Brown

Rewriting Canonical Australian Poems

A Brief Introduction

‘… an icon is an icon is an icon, and can be moved about the temple without too much trouble’ — Michael Farrell

Five contemporary Australian poets rewrite major figures from the poetry canon:

From the early twentieth century: Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson, the popular balladeer, journalist and horseman, well-known for writing ‘Waltzing Matilda’, whose role in Australian culture has been celebrated on the $10 note, and Bernard O’Dowd, radical socialist and parliamentary draughtsman. From the twentieth century: the invented modernist icon Ern Malley, and the female poet who, not too long after the publication of her early ‘heroic’ poem ‘Bullocky’, became a dedicated conservationist and indigenous land rights campaigner, Judith Wright.

And now, one younger poet rewrites his ‘elder’, Laurie Duggan, postmodern chronicler of the complexities of the Australian ‘way of life’ and its landscape.

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