On September 6, I delivered the Peter Steele Lecture at the Melbourne Writers Festival. An excerpt from the lecture is below.
I have spent a large part of my working life in and around politics. I have seen what political factions can do. I have been directly involved in leadership contests. I have dirty hands.
But—despite all that—I still prefer political factions to poetry factions.
Here are three reasons why I prefer political factions: one, they are more organized (political people know what they’re meant to be doing); two, they are more honest (political people don’t claim purity, they just hope, as Gough Whitlam put it, to not be afflicted by impotence); three, as nefarious as they can be, political factions have, on occasion, actually helped drive progressive change.
The same can’t be said of poets, by and large. We’re disorganised in our collective endeavours. We’re dishonest with each other about our ambitions. And, collectively, we have shown ourselves disinclined to confront the spivs who have hijacked public language and debate.
Go to Meanjin for the full lecture.