Peripheral knowledge and feeling: the Perimeters poems

Paul Hetherington, Cassandra Atherton

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A great deal of what any of us know and feel is elusive, and much of what we ‘know’ is at the periphery of consciousness. Sometimes this (often subversive) knowledge or feeling is composed of nearly inaccessible memory material; sometimes it consists of bodily knowledge still being formed into mental concepts and searching for the language in which it may be expressed. This knowledge is often situated on the outskirts of our usual modes of apprehension and – to the extent that we access it at all – is experienced as an intuition, intimation, mood, hint, inkling, suggestion or glimpse. In the right circumstances, writers are able to bring such knowledge into their creative compositions – and, indeed, there is occasionally a sense that art is the medium that finally permits its full expression. As a way of exploring some of our ‘peripheral’ knowledge through an intuitive creative process, in early 2018 we embarked on a collaborative project to write prose poems (which we exchanged as text messages) exploring the idea of perimeters. To date we have produced a series of prose poems for this ongoing collaborative project. Biograpical notes: Paul Hetherington has published and/or edited 27 books, including 13 full-length poetry collections and nine chapbooks. Among these are Moonlight on oleander: prose poems (UWAP, 2018) and Palace of memory (RWP, 2019). He won the 2014 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards (poetry) and undertook an Australia Council for the Arts Literature Board Residency at the BR Whiting Studio in Rome in 2015-16. He was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize in the 2017 New South Wales Premier’s Awards and commended in the Surprise Encounters: Headstuff Poetry Competition 2018 (Ireland). He is Professor of Writing in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra, head of the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), and one of the founding editors of the international online journal Axon: creative explorations. He founded the International Prose Poetry Group in 2014. Cassandra Atherton is an award-winning writer and scholar of prose poetry. She was a Visiting Scholar in English at Harvard University in 2016 and a Visiting Fellow in Literature at Sophia University, Tokyo, in 2014. Her most recent books of prose poetry are Pre-Raphaelite (2018) and Leftovers (forthcoming) and she received a VicArts and an Australia Council grant to work on a book of prose poetry about the atomic bomb. Cassandra co-wrote Prose poetry: an introduction (Princeton UP, forthcoming) with Paul Hetherington and is co-editing The anthology of Australian prose poetry (Melbourne UP) with him. She is a commissioning editor for Westerly magazine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs
Issue number57
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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