In this statistics driven world, here are some figures from the Austlit database of Australian writers’ publications. The first figure is for overall text publications, while the second figure is for poetry publications specifically. Granted, the good people of Austlit don’t always find every publication, review or award that an author receives and actually need writers to email them with publication details to make their listing even more accurate.
Below are the 8 Queensland poets chosen by Sarah Holland-Batt for this year’s 2016 The Best Australian Poems ranked according to their number of poetry publications. All excellent and award-winning poets and Holland-Batt should be applauded for ensuring this significant Queensland representation. I’ve included Felicity Plunkett and Tom Shapcott in this list; Shapcott because his genesis was in Queensland and Plunkett because of her publication and editorial role with UQP. Of course quality overrides quantity every time, and as Holland-Batt has also pointed out – there are always more than 100 best poems published in any one year and editors are restricted to this number.
I’m fine with not being included for the last three years in this anthology; living in Queensland, away from the editorial, academic, generational and cliquey powerhouses of Sydney and Melbourne, I’m sure that Geoff Page doesn’t even know who the fuck I am. I’ve never been published in ABR either. Or in Quadrant. Or in Jacket.I’ve learnt to be patient, resilient and just to keep on writing, as without a doubt, existing on the margins and in the regions of the art form is a serious impediment to national reputation and publication, unless you’re playing the scene I suspect.
*Thomas Shapcott – 1520 (1053 poetry)
*M.T.C. Cronin – 943 (898 poetry)
*Lionel Fogarty – 637 (634 poetry)
*Liam Ferney – 149 (140 poetry)
*Jaya Savige – 157 (115 poetry)
*Bronwyn Lea – 130 (108 poetry)
*Felicity Plunkett – 166 (46 poetry)
*Ellen Van Neerven – 30 (14 poetry)
Furthermore, I have included the list of the Queensland poets published in ABR’s Queensland – ‘States of Poetry’ project edited by Felicity Plunkett. The 5 italicized poets have had poetry collections previously published by UQP. The double asterisked poets are included in both anthologies. Felicity Plunkett, herself a UQP poet has been the UQP poetry editor since 2010. Three of the selected poets had new UQP collections out this year. No conflict of interest here I guess in cross-promoting authors but, was this anthology really the ‘state of poetry’ in Queensland, or more the ‘state of UQP poetry’ in Queensland?
** M.T.C. Cronin – 943 (898 poetry)
**Lionel Fogarty – 637 (634 poetry)
Stuart Barnes – 123 (112 poetry)
Sarah Holland-Batt – 108 (96 poetry)
Nathan Sheperdson – 54 (52 poetry)
**Ellen Van Neerven – 30 (14 poetry)
So according to this comparison, when Felicity Plunkett edits an anthology she chooses Sarah Holland-Batt, and when Sarah Holland-Batt edits an anthology she chooses Felicity Plunkett. Poetry editors keeping things tight. Both chose Lionel Fogarty and Ellen van Neerven, supporting established and emerging Indigenous poets from Queensland which is a good call. I have no beef with that.. At best, however on paper this looks to be a homogenization of Queensland poetry , a select few being promoted, almost a closed shop and unless you’ve signed up to the union…..At worst it looks like pure nepotism and favouritism amongst a select coterie of editors and their stable of poets.
My bitch is that Queensland poetry is far more diverse in nature than is represented by either of these two new anthologies. Plunkett assured us at the recent 2016 Queensland Poetry Festival that there will be a second round of the ‘States of Poetry’ series for Queensland poets. Holland-Batt assured me that she, ‘excluded many poets who [I] have known in Queensland, including most of the poets recently published with UQP. Hopefully, some of my concerns about inclusion will be addressed in 2017.
Oh, and for the record my publication details are;
B. R. Dionysius – 525 (513 poetry)