Constitution – Amelia Dale, poet interview

Constitution

In late August Mascara Literary Review ran an article by myself where I reviewed Amelia Dale’s latest book “Constitution” and that piece contained a few comments from the poet herself. I interviewed Amelia Dale about her latest book, and naturally only used a portion of what she had to say in the review itself. As I am building a collection of Australian poet interviews here at Messenger’s Booker, I thought it prudent to publish the full interview with Amelia Dale here.

If you are interested in the review at Mascara you can access it here:

As always I would like to thank the poet for giving me their time, being open and honest in their replies and for their contribution to my “archive” of interviews. Amelia Dale and I conversed, via email, in early July and the unedited version of our “discussion” is below.

Her book “Constitution” can be purchased at the following locations, Melbourne: Collected Works, and Readings (Lygon), Sydney: Gleebooks, Hobart: The Hobart Bookshop or you can email the publisher, details at their website

Again, thanks to Amelia Dale for her time, and of course her book….

Q. Is the unrelenting rhetoric of your text taken from actual interview snippets from the ‘7.30 Report’? Who are the speakers?

Yes the text is edited transcriptions of interviews with Malcolm Turnbull from the 7:30 report. There are no other speakers. It is all Turnbull. I’ve deleted some words but all the text, the weird phrases, the odd metaphors are all his.

Q. The demeaning condescending talk to “Leigh” appears as an “interlude” throughout the text, did you purposely use this as a buffer to the “confusion”?

Again, this is Turnbull’s work, not mine. We can all speculate on his own reasons for needing the buffer, for needing an interlude. I just wanted to make the convolutions of his speech visible.

Q. “The truth is that all of us are a bit liberal and a bit conservative in differing degrees”, the right side of politics may think so, do you think so?

Claims for a sensible or objective “centre,” the idea that the grown-up place to start is compromise makes me nauseous. Turnbull of course markets himself as a kind of socially “progressive” left-of-right figure. We’re supposed to be happy that he doesn’t commit Abbott-level macroaggressions and not be angry that his policies kill people. Before I “wrote” the book I experimented with a twitterbot @democraticteddy, a markov chain bot that used as its data source the party documents from major Australian political parties. The idea was that it would end up being the tweets of an ideologically confused teddy bear politician, determined to claim the pragmatic, sensible middle ground #sensiblesolutions You don’t have to write a bot to get this language though. It’s everywhere in Australia you’re too bored to listen, its the language of cold neoliberal power.

Q Given you match the format and flow of the actual Constitution I need to ask where did this interest come from?

Being an “Australian poet” with all that entails it seems to me that the starting point has to be to try, as much as you can, to undo and damage “Australia” the nation state. This is not to say that I have any delusions that my book will enact in real terms political change. But I turned to the Constitution because to vandalise the Constitution seems like the sensible, the only thing to do.

Q. As you know I ask all my interviewees this, and in your case I hope it isn’t the “Tax Act” but what are you reading at the moment and why?

While I am typing up these answers I have been enjoying Buzzfeed’s Harry Potter anniversary content. I just did the quiz “Tell Us Seven Of Your Literary Preferences And We’ll Reveal Which “Harry Potter” Character You Are” (Luna Lovegood). Off screen, I’m reading the brilliant Rabbit 21 “Indigenous” edited by Alison Whittaker, love it all, especially Natalie Harkin’s interview, by Corey Wakeling and Damien Shen’s artwork throughout the issue, including his pictures of Abbott and Brandis. I’m also reading Melody Paloma’s In Some Ways Dingo (again Rabbit) which I’m excited about launching in Sydney in late July. Also looking forward to getting into Dave Drayton’s book of P(oe)Ms.

Q. And finally as I ask all my subjects “what’s next” is there something you are working on that you can tell us about?

I’ve determined that all my poetry for the rest of my life will be inspired by, about and against white male politicians. I’m about to move to Shanghai, so Kevin Rudd might be an appropriate muse.

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