The poetics of relation in Carpentaria

Castro-Koshy, Estelle (2018) The poetics of relation in Carpentaria. In: Ng, Lynda, (ed.) Indigenous Transnationalism: Alexis Wright's Carpentaria. Giramondo Publishing, Sydney, NSW, Australia, pp. 118-135.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


In her essay entitled 'On Writing Carpentaria, Alexis Wright evokes a series of writers and thinkers who influenced her work. Among them is Martiniquais writer, Edouard Glissant, whom Wright acknowledges for his Poetics of Relation and its endeavour to theorise and describe an imaginary for the Caribbean, 'mingling centuries, and continuing through the whorls of time'. Wright also highlights how the French-Caribbean writer suggested that through a relationship with the poetics of relation, 'which is a relationship with all of the senses of telling, listening, connection', a writer could aspire to 'transform mentalities and reshap[e] societies'. This essay demonstrates that Carpentaria can be characterised by its poetics of relation: relation, on the one hand, referring to relationship and the act of relating a story, and, on the other hand, as defined by Glissant as 'the overstepping that grounds the unity-diversity [of evolving cultures]'. This essay shows how Carpentaria allows the reader to apprehend a poetics of relation through an Indigenous perspective, anchored in a place, and "where the spiritual, real and imagined worlds exist side by side" (Wright). The first part examines the Francophone reception of Alexis Wright's work and of Carpentaria. It leads to an analysis of the distinctive 'imagining role of language’ (Bachelard) and of the use of ‘ancestral realism’ (Mateata-Allain) in the novel. Connections between Carpentaria and Patrick Chamoiseau's Texaco – another source of influence for Wright – are also drawn in this second part, with particular regard to the importance given to memory and to the creation of a language from the place depicted in each novel. While Wright was influenced by Glissant's poetics, this essay also shows that French and Francophone philosophy and thought have been influenced by Aboriginal thought, narratives and concepts. The final part turns to the humour in Carpentaria, which is often used as a device to invite readers to rehumanise situations and see them anew, as well as to highlight processes of exclusion and distancing.

Item ID: 50965
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-925336-42-9
Keywords: Alexis Wright, Aboriginal literature, Indigenous literature, poetics, relation, memory, decolonisation, ancestral realism, Francophone literature and philosophy, humour
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 02:06
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450109 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature, journalism and professional writing @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 60%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 40%
Downloads: Total: 7
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page