Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ice Station Zebra and the poetry of Michael Dransfield

Yesterday I picked up a second-hand copy of Ice Station Zebra by Alistair Maclean, with a beautiful dustjacket of the nuclear submarine Dolphin under the green Arctic ice. My earlier speculation that the eponymous Ice Station may have been established in during one of the International Polar Years (1883 and 1931) was wrong. It is a new one. Reading it at the moment, eyes peeled for good Cold War quotes.

There is more on the literary front too. Last year I attended a mini-conference at Deakin University, Melbourne, on Landscapes and Memory. One of the presenters quoted a poem by Michael Dransfield (legendary Australian poet who very properly died of drug overdose at age 25) about the Australian landscape. As I listened, I realised with a shock that the landscape which he described was Woomera. The poem evoked red sand tracks, mushroom clouds, open desert. On Friday I decided I needed to track this poem down and went into the Special Collections room at UWA library and read my way through every single bloody Michael Dransfield book they had. To my great frustration I could not find the poem I remembered. Unless it was published in another collection, or even unpublished. By strange coincidence, the partner of Alicia, the Special Collections desk person, is a Dransfield expert. She promised to ask him for me. I did find another top space poem though, so my afternoon was by no means wasted.

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