Friday, July 2, 2010

Fiona Capp on Judith Wright

Yesterday I bought Fiona Capp's new book My Blood's Country which celebrates the life and work of Judith Wright, arguably Australia's greatest poet. I have been waiting for this book for some considerable time after reading Capp's earlier piece in The Monthly.

There are few Australians I admire more than Judith Wright. There are many reasons- her poetry, her social and environmental activism, her integrity, the dignity and humility with which she lived her life, her commitment to the ideals of justice and her uniquely Australian world view.

Judith Wright was without doubt one of the finest and most prescient intellectual minds this country has seen. So much of what she predicted and wrote about has come to pass.

A great deal of writing about Judith Wright, understandably perhaps, focuses on her poetry and her life. But her greatness should be viewed through more than her poetic achievements. It seems to me that her poetry was just one part of a life committed to principles of social justice and political and environmental activism, and reflected a radical intellectual and political worldview that was critical of capitalism and unjust power and domination.

It is those "radical" aspects of her life that, with the exception of Veronica Brady's biography and recent writings about Judith Wright and books written on Australian environmental campaigns (such as Martin Mulligan's Ecological Pioneers) have not been given the same recognition. I wonder if this somehow reflects the natural suspicion and skepticism about radical social and political activism in Australia's literary and artistic communities.

I will be interested to see how Fiona Capp's book brings these threads together. The little I have read of the book so far is beautifully written, evocative and deeply affecting.

A longer review of Fiona Capp's book will appear on this blog soon. Other blog pieces I have written on Judith Wright can be read here.

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