Category: Found material

Found text manipulation by Alison Whittaker

Hello poets and readers,

In an earlier blogpost about the work of Gomeroi poet and lawyer Alison Whittaker, I discussed her work with trigrams and the process behind the creation of poems like ‘the skeleton of the common law’ from her collection Blakwork, which Alison expanded on in our podcast. Thanks to her generosity in sharing her work, we’re now able to reproduce that poem so that our readers can see how she used the technique based on search engine optimisation, commenting on the law, as she says, without doing further injustice to the people affected by it.


the skeleton of the common law

‘This Court is not free to adopt rules that accord with contemporary notions 
of justice and human rights if their adoption would fracture the skeleton of 
principle which gives the body of our law its shape and internal consistency.’

Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1

The forty-nine most common three-word phrases in the Mabo decision, ranked.

The Murray Island –
The Murray Islands.
The common law
(By the Crown
Of the crown).
New South Wales,
The Meriam people
(Of the Colony
Of the Murray)
Rights and interests
Law – native title
Common law native
Of New South
(In the Crown)
The Privy Council
(Of the Island)
The Land Act
(Of the Meriam)
Governor in council
(The Governor in
The Aboriginal inhabitants)
The colony of
The Crown in
that. The Crown
Act of State.
Lands of the
Inhabitants of the –
– to the Crown.
Interests in land
(Of the Aboriginal
Of the Islands)
Consistent with the –
– the Common wealth
Title of the –
– the Crown to
The rights of –
V Attorney General
For the purpose
Of native title.
Vested in the
The indigenous inhabitants
The native inhabitants
In relation to –
With respect to –
The Crown, the –
Of the native
Racial Discrimination Act
By the common –
The Racial Discrimination
Alison Whittaker

Alison Whittaker and law

Hello poets and readers,

I came across a fascinating interview with Indigenous poet Alison Whittaker in a recent issue of the Melbourne-based journal Rabbit. Whittaker is both a lawyer and a poet. She believes that poetry and law have much in common, since they both “litigate meaning and try to persuade people,” and both have rules and codes. They differ in their degree of formality, and Whittaker’s progress in both domains has become less about balancing and more about harmonising. This has resulted in the emergence of an intriguing process at work in some of her poetry.

Found text manipulation by Melinda Smith

Hello poets and readers. Have you listened to the podcast with Melinda Smith yet? Don’t forget we’d love to hear any comments about what resonated with you. Today Poetry in Process is excited to bring you one of the found text poems Melinda referred to in the interview, about Ernie Ecob. Hope you enjoy it!

Ernie Ecob . . . was arguing against providing bathroom facilities in shearing sheds for female shearers because he said women only want to be shearers for the sex. My mind melted at the number of levels on which that was the weird and wrong thing to say. Melinda Smith

Poetry in Process Podcast, 28th February 2019

Ernie Ecob as a Bare-Bellied Yoe

Podcast: Melinda Smith’s process

Australian poet Melinda Smith discusses her writing process
in an interview with Owen Bullock.

Melinda Smith makes a lot of art. She is a poet willing to experiment, and, invariably, the experiments pay off. Whether with form, or seeking out incisive and vital new content, her work interrogates language and society. It’s reaped the rewards of recognition in the form of the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry and in being viewed as a poet who balances openness and play with a concern for social justice.

We have a society . . . in which artists are free to do and say mostly what they like without being . . . thrown into jail for it, and we should celebrate that fact and use it to aspire to be a society in which there is a lot of art for everyone.

Melinda Smith

Poetry in Process Podcast, 28th February 2019
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