Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Poet Who Never Lived But Who Lives On

If you're going to do a job, do it well or so the old saying goes and the blokes behind the world's greatest literary hoax certainly lived up to that maxim.

Ern Malley was a sickly young chap who passed away at the tender age of 25 leaving a handful of poems and a grieving sister behind.
His sister contacted Max Harris who proclaimed the poetry as that of a genius; he launched the posthumous legend of Ern Malley upon the world and the world sat up and took notice.

Except there never was an Ern Malley .

2 young chaps, who thought modernist poetry, as espoused by Max Harris, to be pretentious nonsense, set out to debunk and expose the publication The Angry Penguins and the people behind it.

A fantastic episode in Australia's cultural and social history often overlooked in recent years, it encapsulates an emerging individual identity of Australian art and literature against that of the more traditional and readily accepted literature of the past.
With the Second World War raging in the background, it highlights, even more so, the speed of which social changes were taking place in every area of Australian life and the unravelling ties to Britain.
Whether you love or loath modernist poetry, Ern Malley is an episode that needs further scrutiny to appreciate the emotions and changing ideals that fuelled both The Angry Penguins and the Ern Malley hoax that ended up as a prosecution trial.

The Official Ern Malley Website can be found HERE


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