Radical Literature

Michael Mohammed Ahmad explains the genesis of this event by asking how many Lebs it takes to change a light bulb.

White Fantasies and Arab Fictions

For the last two decades the representation of Arab-Australians has been coloured by media reports of sexual assault, drug-dealing, drive-by shootings and terrorist conspiracy. This has made it difficult to understand a community which plays an important role in contemporary Australian society. In this unique and urgent dialogue, distinguished anthropologist, Professor Ghassan Hage and award-winning author Michael Mohammed Ahmad come together to discuss the images and realities of the Arab-Australian narrative. From depictions of the September 11 attacks on New York City, to the 2005 Cronulla Riots, to the recent terror-panic plaguing Australian streets, Hage and Ahmad unpack the various representations in media, politics, film and literature that have shaped our understanding of the Arab-Australian identity. Chaired by Professor Greg Noble.

Ghassan Hage on racism and the mob

Audio: Listen to Part 1 of White Fantasies and Arab Fictions (right click and "save link as" to download), Listen to part 2.

Ghassan Hage is Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne. His books include White Nation (Routledge 2000), Against Paranoid Nationalism (Pluto Press 2003), Waiting (edited collection, Melbourne University Press 2009), Alter-Politics (Melbourne University Press 2015) and Are Racists Responsible for Global Warming? (Forthcoming, Polity Press 2016).

Michael Mohammed Ahmad is Director of SWEATSHOP: Western Sydney Literacy Movement and a doctoral candidate in the Writing and Society Research Centre, Western Sydney University. Ahmad received the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award for his debut fiction, The Tribe (Giramondo 2014).

Greg Noble is Professor at the Institute for Society and Culture, Western Sydney University. His books include On Being Lebanese in Australia (2010), Bin Laden in the Suburbs (2004) and Kebabs, Kids, Cops and Crime (2000).

TT.O. – The Bard of Fitzroy

П. O. on the importance of geography

П. O. has been working at the frontier of contemporary Australian poetry, as a poet, publisher, editor and performer for forty years. Greek-Australian by background, anarchist by conviction, he has contributed to the development of a poetry community through his Collective Effort Press and the editing and publication of such magazines as Migrant 7, fitzrot and 925. His 'lengwich' poems dramatised the voices and gestures of the common people of inner city Melbourne, and marked the migrant presence in Australian poetry for the first time. His layouts, and his visual and number poems, take poetry into the spaces beyond words, and contribute to the international traditions of concrete poetry. More recently, his 'everything' poems revitalise the stuff of common knowledge – court reports, newspaper articles, proverbs, facts, statistics, records, definitions – embracing an encyclopaedic range of reference, and a universal curiosity. He has published many collections, including Pi.O. Revisited (1976), Panash (1978), The Fitzroy Poems (1989) and Big Numbers: New and Selected Poems (2008). His two master-works – 24 Hours (1996), and just last month, the 700-page Fitzroy: The Biography (2015) – are both epic celebrations of the people and places of Fitzroy, the smallest and most densely-populated suburb in Australia, and home to the Antipodean descendent of Pythagoras. In this rare appearance in Sydney, П. O. will be in conversation with critic, editor and publisher Ivor Indyk, and will read from his poetry and take questions from the audience.

П. O. (or Pi O, born 1951) is a Greek-Australian, working class, anarchist, poet. Born in Katerini, Greece, П. O. came to Australia with his family around 1954. After time in Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre, the family moved to the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. П. O. was inspired to start writing poetry in 1970 when he heard Johnny Cash reciting (religious) poetry while tuning his guitar. П. O. thought he could do as well or better. His work ranges from standup-type rants to 'conceptual' page poetry and concrete poetry, with a heavy emphasis on wordplay and capturing the vitality of everyday speech. Thematically, he commonly portrays the issues of non-Anglo-Celtic working class life.

Ivor Indyk is founding editor and publisher of HEAT magazine and the award-winning Giramondo book imprint, and Whitlam Professor in Writing and Society at Western Sydney University. A critic, essayist and reviewer, he has written a monograph on David Malouf, and essays on many aspects of Australian literature, art, architecture and literary publishing.

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