Professor David McCooey teaches Literary Studies and Professional & Creative Writing in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University, and supervises Honours and postgraduate students. David’s work has been published in both national and international journals. In 1996, David’s critical work Artful Histories: Modern Australian Autobiography won the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award.
David’s current project, February, 2016
Life Lines: Poetry in the World
Why bother with poetry? Poetry is routinely seen as (or dismissed as) ‘marginal’ to public culture. It has a minute readership, and it is often seen as having lost its ability to function as a form of public speech. But poetry is ‘in the world’ in numerous ways, visible in everyday life, popular culture, and the political realm.
For instance, in 2001 Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber, used the poem ‘Invictus’ as his final written statement prior to being executed. Poetry is also used in other media such as films and novels; it is put to political ends (such as when the Australian government commissioned the poet Les Murray to write a preamble for the Australian constitution); it is used spontaneously as a form of public speech in times of crisis (such as the popular turn to poetry in the immediate aftermath of 9/11); and it is used in everyday rituals such as weddings and funerals. Public culture and contemporary history, as this list suggests, are haunted by the marginal discourse of poetry.
Life Lines: Poetry in the World will give an account of this haunting, uncovering the ambiguous vitality of poetry—and the figure of the poet—in extra-poetic contexts.