Political Pasts, Political Futures, Political Poems
Bob Hawke sculling a beer, Paul Keating touching the Queen, the man floating in an inflatable pool ring in an episode of The Simpsons. George Bush and Bill Clinton and the first time I understood the word fellatio. Skits on The Comedy Company and Fast Forward and grotesque caricatures in newspapers. When I was growing up in rural Australia, ‘politics’—as it was relayed to me—seemed like the house for big jokes and absurdities. Secrecy, too, seemed like a key attribute—at primary school, I was told that it was impolite to ask an adult whom they were voting for in the next election. And we were made to remember the list of Australian Prime Ministers but not to engage with what they stood for, nor to understand current policies and debates that would have an impact on our futures. I wish I had asked more questions.
It is heartening to see young people all over the globe be so much more inquisitive than I ever was, to witness and read about them taking a stand against leaders who are doing little to improve (and much to exacerbate) the world’s ills. Thinking of this, I am reminded of a poem by young Korean student Soo Young Yun, published in the ‘Youth’ issue of Rabbit (#23). It begins ‘We specialise in last resorts, in erupting/ specks of flame…’ and its final lines note ‘decades and decades of patience and goodbyes.’ It is a poem that speaks to the history of protests in South Korea and to the ongoing strength of its people, despite numerous hardships. On re-reading the poem, I remember why it had such a strong effect on me—eight couplets on the page, each one attuned to tension and doubling; the poem reaches backwards into history, and forwards also, optimistic and ready, armed with a formidable inheritance and spirit. Such a poem leaves me hopeful, for the future of poetry and for the future of politics.
Much more could—and should—be said, but I’ll leave that for now to the capable poets of this issue and to the perceptive reflections overleaf of Alan Wearne and Ella O’Keefe, whom I heartily thank for their involvement in this issue as guest poetry editors. I hope Rabbit 28 inspires its readers toward new political thought or, at the very least, to provide a healthy antidote to today’s troubling tabloids and tweets.
—Jessica L. Wilkinson