At the heart of this collection of poems and essays is Anne M Carson’s short poetic sequence that traces the life of a young Persian slave, Theo, in ancient Greece. Anne’s poetry in recreating Theo’s voice on his path from servitude to release is measured. It lacks the poetic flourish that could easily ruin this form of dramatic monologue, recalling the mastery of verse novel proponents like Dorothy Porter’s The Monkey’s Mask or Les Murray’s Fredy Neptune: ‘The desk where I tutor, stylus and writing tablets, / even my own self, will pass from one hand to another.’ She traces the overlap of object and subject explicit in all master-slave relationships and paints a rich picture of Greek culture and life – a remarkable feat in such a small number of words. It’s a testament to both the poet but also poetry itself. That said, the context to the poems is just as engaging. The foreword by Anti-Slavery Australia’s Professor Jennifer Burn discusses the dimension and condition of modern slavery (embedded, sadly, in many of our product supply chains). Anne’s own background to the poem enriches many of the poem’s references, including the eponymous wall in Delphi where the names of freed slaves are inscribed.
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Writing on the Wall is a fusion of poetry and music, dedicated to the ending of slavery through the work of Anti-Slavery Australia – a specialist legal research and policy centre within the Faculty of Law.