What is the speaker doing, wandering in a patch of remnant coastal bush close to a large new shopping centre? And what does he mean by that final statement/ realisation, that 'in this place/[I'm] talking with Yagan's head.'?1 What I'd like to suggest in this paper is that 'talking with Yagan's head' can be fruitfully seen as a defining predicament for the poetry of John Mateer, and, to the extent that 'this place' can be taken generally as contemporary Australia, that it is a predicament which provokes far-reaching questions about the nature of our poetry and its audience.
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Published 1 October 2000 in Volume 19 No. 4. Subjects: Human body, Migrant literature & writers, Poetic creative process, Poetic techniques, Self expression, Self perception, South African literature & writers, South African people, Use of language, Writer's inspiration.