The below article is a reflective essay I wrote at the end of last year/beginning of this year. It’s been sitting in Island’s slush pile all year, but given the lamentable slashing of public (read ‘government’) support to Island this year, Island recently decided to release everything that was on the pile. Since I can think of nowhere else that an article like this is likely to find a home, I have decided (not without regret) to self-publish it. If I’m hasty, it’s because it concerns two books that you will have been hearing about a fair bit recently and might like to know more about. They are The Broad Arrow (first published in 1859), which has, just this year, been re-published in a new scholarly edition by Jenna Mead. If you were lucky/sensible you will have heard her speak about it at the 2019 Hobart Writers Festival, or the book’s launch, with Amanda Lohrey. And Bridget Crack has (I am happy to have learned) been shortlisted for the Tasmanian Book Prize 2019. All the shortlisted works are great, but I hope I can convince you of Bridget Crack’s particular worthiness!
Apart from being a critique of these two novels, (as well as Robert S. Close’s Eliza Callahan, 1957), this essay is essentially about the different languages we use to communicate between ourselves and with the world – ordinary, words based languages, and other languages, which I term ‘excessive languages’ – these are sensory and emotional, and are often conveyed through visual art, music and performance, but also through poetry, because poetic language can use words in unconventional ways.
I hope you will enjoy my essay, and I’d love you to contact me if you have any feedback about it, so please don’t hesitate.