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Forgotten Corners: Essays in Search of an Island's Soul


Hay, P, Forgotten Corners: Essays in Search of an Island's Soul, Walleah Press, pp. 1-175 (2019) [Published Creative Work]


It’s 18 years since Walleah Press published Vandiemonian Essays, since when the times have changed – and the publishing landscape, specifically, even more dramatically. Twixt then and now the digital revolution has arrived, and publication options for the essay writer have snowballed. Under such circumstances, can a case be made for a retrospective collection? On paper, between hard covers? As opposed to a modest, undemonstrative scarcely-regarded posting on the web? Here today, digital dross tomorrow?

It may be so. It may be that an old-fashioned collection of essays in book form is an authorial indulgence, and to be resisted. The trouble with this is that I’m old school, and I can’t change. A dinosaur with, at best, only a few short years of literary output remaining. So I hope you’ll cut me some slack. Here, then, is my old-medium collection. A sort of next generation Vandiemonian Essays, thought by its author a fit companion to rub alongside that earlier volume on a bookshelf.

Is there a theme that connects these essays? Well, yes – they all, separately and collectively, seek to shed light on a certain grain within Tasmanian life, the various creative and dissident currents that even now bear the tenacious Vandiemonian spirit. ‘Dissident’? Indeed so – as James Boyce so brilliantly demonstrated in his modern classic, Van Diemen’s Land, there is a stubborn current of resistance to the political economy imposed upon us by those who wield power (those people and institutions with little understanding of our island’s vernacular ecologies and communal folkways). It amounts to a cleavage between those who see the island as raw material awaiting the uncaring inscription of capital – without value until such inscriptions have been made – and those whose ways of acting within and understanding the island are driven by a pure, intrinsic love, and are, hence, unavoidably oppositional.

In one of the essays contained within these pages, this is argued explicitly. But even when such is not the case, even when there is no apparent cultural/political ‘point’ to a particular essay, that resistant spirit remains the thread that binds these pieces into a themed collection. The people of whom I have written are those who bear, sometimes without any great awareness of same, a counteractive mode of being Tasmanian. This can be overtly so. Or it can simply be found within the sum of who they are, of what they say, of what they do.

Which brings me to the other reason why I have gathered this collection together. I’m starting to feel lonely. And wanting to lay down a manifesto. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a sense that the Vandiemonian trope no longer energises island creatives to the extent that it did not very many years ago. And if that is so, to my mind therein lies tragedy.

Anyway, 18 years’ worth of a poet’s essays follow. And I hope you enjoy them.

Item Details

Item Type:Published Creative Work
Keywords:Tasmania, place, intangible heritage, art, Burma railway, books, work, indigeneity, politics, wilderness, Descartes, industrial decay, Queenstown, home, Gondwana, photography, extinction
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Social geography
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Heritage
Objective Field:Conserving intangible cultural heritage
UTAS Author:Hay, P (Dr Peter Hay)
ID Code:141111
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2020-09-25
Last Modified:2020-10-13

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