Monash University
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Longing to Belong: Judith Wright’s Poetics of Place

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-21, 04:59 authored by Jenny Kohn
It has often been noted that Judith Wright struggled with two opposing ideas: her love of the land on which she was raised, and her knowledge that her family’s ownership of that land was preceded by the dispossession of indigenous Australians. The presence of dualities in general is strong throughout all of Wright’s work – from her early “The Twins” to “Patterns,” the last of the ghazals. This duality in particular, however, is such a preoccupation in her work that, in some ways, it superimposed itself on Wright’s life, or rather the way Wright’s life has been represented. So, we have, on the one hand, Wright the celebrator of all things Australian. This Wright is the writer of “South of My Days” and “Bullocky,” the poet who was instrumental in forging the Australian poetic conception. This is the poet who is, in the words of Jennifer Strauss, an “Australian poetic institution.” On the other hand, we have Wright the activist, the campaigner. This is the Wright we see in poems like “Nigger’s Leap, New England,” and later, more overtly political poems like “Two Dreamtimes.”


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