DAMON YOUNG — RED ROOM POETRY MONTH
Red Room Poetry features Hobart-based poet Damon Young this weekend as part of Poetry Month. And as I read his lines
‘… publisher / with a passion for bold voices / like his.’
… I wondered whether (interpreting the words ‘like his’) I might read myself into them, and decided — regrettably — I could. And found myself returning to fallout from the Peter FitzSimons / Jacinta Price interview (behind a paywall) in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of a week or two ago. Is Price a conservative? Definitely. Do I feel on side with FitzSimons with his view that Aboriginal Australians have been wronged? Definitely. Have I sympathy for Price’s statement that she’s entitled to her views as a Black conservative woman? How can I not? As a result, I’m not at all sure where that leads me, or leaves me…. I’ve never particularly understood the attraction of being ‘politically conservative’, though I remember an experience back in 1982 handing out ‘How to vote’ cards for Labor’s John Cain in the Victorian state election, and offering one to a young, sharply dressed woman in the street. I distinctly recall the look of sheer displeasure that crossed her face—as if anything left of liberal was simply too painfully repulsive to contemplate.
Martin Flanagan reflects on current and future currency of the term ‘conservative’ in his book ‘The Art of Pollination’, relating an exchange with Malcolm Fraser. Flanagan writes,
‘I visited Fraser’s city office shortly after I wrote my essay against torture. It was on his desk when I entered his office. “Read your essay,” he said, in his clipped, patrician way. “It’s good, but I think you’re too late.” And on that subject, as on all subjects of public import that I discussed with him, his knowledge was encyclopaedic. To my mind, he was a conservative humanist. One of the political battles facing us in the immediate future is wresting the word conservative back off people who are actually reactionaries wishing for twentieth century certainties that no longer exist.’