Found poem: As Whitlam wrote

Some fun follows.

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the University of Canberra, at a poetry symposium organised by UC’s new International Poetry Studies Institute (or ipsi for short). It was a very thought-provoking day with a number of papers addressing various aspects of ‘Poetry, Creativity and Knowing’.

In between taking actual notes and scribbling down ideas to chase up, I also composed a found poem with various phrases taken from the papers and from audience questions.

Given the poem’s title, you may wonder why we were talking about Whitlam* at a poetry symposium. Ah. That would be because one of the speakers, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, made a slip of the tongue for ‘Whitman‘.

I know for certain that other poets present were also scribbling away, including PS Cottier and Lizz Murphy. I wonder if they’re game to share what they came up with ?


Whitlam Pic

‘Well may we say…’

As Whitlam wrote:

It goes without saying

I am going to offend most of the people in this room

I am a concrete, time-bound entity

I want to say something in favour of resurrection

Steady yourself against me here

To whom will I offer this witty little book ?

I acknowledge the elders past and present

I am what you say I am

I am, more often, not to be found

(These are not two stages, but one)

Everybody knows that in fact men think but rarely

Always first press ‘ESCAPE’


*For non-Australian, and younger Australian, readers: ‘Whitlam’ in the title refers to Gough Whitlam, an ill-fated former Australian Prime Minister. No, not the one who drowned, the one who was removed from office, along with his government, by the Queen’s representative, the Governor-General, in November 1975 – a dramatic event still known as The Dismissal. Hence his interest (in the poem, at least) in resurrection, stability, rarely-thinking men, and escape.