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Mapping the Indian Ocean : poems of a South African migration in dialogue with Australian art
Conference of The Australasian Association of Writing Programs (15th : 2010) (25 - 27 November 2010 : Melbourne)
Cole, Catherine; Freiman, Marcelle and Brien, Donna Lee. The Strange bedfellows or perfect partners papers : the refereed proceedings of the 15th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, 2010
Since the 1960s, mainly white South Africans have migrated to Australia and New Zealand. I am one of these immigrants, and my creative practice is generated by the ambivalence of a diasporic sensibility. This paper will pose a reflective question: how can I position my creative writing practice of poetry as a contribution to literary studies and research? How does my particular narrative of migration from South Africa, and a family history of migration from pre World War II Europe to the Commonwealth, map a narrative across continents – from Europe to South Africa, then to Australia – as I write in Australia? What might this map of my personal and historical tracking contribute to a conversation with other Australian writing? The paper’s focus is on my creative writing as a process of ‘coming to know’ born of ambivalence and conflict – a knowledge construction emerging from creative practice that starts with a state of ‘unknowing’, towards a textual mapping of poems in a narrative of settlement and displacement. The paper argues that as poetic writing engages with other creative art works, with literature and with re-membered ‘stories’, a provisional narrative of settlement is mapped, its process constructing a new ‘knowing’ as it straddles an Australian present and South African past.