This is not about theatre, but I am staggering in shock and dismay. Yes, I just read a poem by the inimitable (I hope) Patrick McCauley. It's the Australia Day Poem, prominently published to celebrate our national holiday in the Australian, our national broadsheet. It's written with the prosodical elan and metaphorical flair of a three-legged cat on crack cocaine, but that's not all: it's a document that, while dripping unpleasantly with self-pity, manages to combine racism, misogyny and homophobia into one glorious bile soup.
For example: "The skinny Aborigine," opines McCauley, "has grown big and fat / wandering native titles / in concrete cities with internet lines." (I beg your pardon?) Or try this one for size:
This is the underfathered
of the addicted
the extended multiple
the synthetic selection
the survival of the weakest.
...The domestic matriarchy guards the children
and the schools teach the boys
to become male lesbians.
And so it goes, for longer than you can believe possible. I feel like I've just been dipped in a bucket of catshit. Who the hell decided (a) that this was a poem and (b) to publish it? Aren't there any poets in this wide brown land?
Offshore, in New York - which suddenly seems a very desirable place to be - a much more fun time is to be had on TONY theatre editor David Cote's blog Histriomastix, where he has sparked some discussion on "critical distance", or the notion of objectivity in arts journalism. George Hunka buys in with some observations of his own at Superfluities, beginning with the provocative observation that "only shallow people do not judge by appearances".Depends what those appearances are, I guess. It appears today that Australians (and especially Australian poets) are fuckwits. Me, I like to think that's not entirely true.
PS: Perhaps I ought to have said that there is a history of dispute between Mr McCauley and myself. He attacked me (and all Australian woman poets) in a 2002 article in the right wing magazine Quadrant on performance poetry. I wrote a letter in response (as did others), which can be read here.