My contribution to Overland’s ‘200 poem’ project

Australian literature

Australian literature and politics magazine Overland is on the verge of celebrating its 200th issue. A special feature of said issue will be a 200 line poem composed of lines written by twenty Australian poets.

I’m lucky enough to count myself amongst that select group, thanks to an invitation from ‘poem-master’ Derek Motion to send ten lines.

Following the example set by Adam Ford, who posted his ten lines as well as an explanation of the process leading to their construction, here’s my ten lines in their ragged pre-mix state.

On second thought, I decided to act like a hivemind,
a super-conscious eye patrolling wild perimeters, my
role akin to that of those who first rejected me, namely
: exclude some, & keep the others looking busy. But
then (and this is the strange part) I began to display &
/or exhibit signs of a new dispensation: i.e., exclusion
now being the new black; or white. Speaking of post-
/modern conditions, like a pompous twit I recall that
when I raged against the latrine, nobody bothered to
clean up afterwards. This, I leave to you - & to fate.

Unlike Adam, I’m in no real position to expound upon how these lines were written except to say that in Derek’s original invitation he gave the prompt: ‘on a role: then / now / when’ and I responded by including elements from this prompt in my lines.

One thing I can say for sure, having seen the remixed 200-liner in raw form, is that it’s going to be a doozy. Can’t wait to see the whole thing in print.

UPDATE: my copy of Overland 200 has now arrived, and I have to admit I’m in love with the Benson & Hedges Extra Mild colour of the cover (which looks nothing like the image I’ve posted above). Also, as you’ll see below in comments, Louise Waller has blogged her ten-line contribution.

UPDATE: the full text of the poem, which is entitled ‘Before Elapsing’, is now online.


  1. hi Dave,

    thanks for posting on this,and including your ten line contribution. i’ve posted my own ten line poem (with title) which was my take ‘on a role’ over at my lou-waves blog.i’ve included a little detail about how i got there as well.

    i’ll pop along now and visit Adam’s blog. i hope that some of the other poets publish their individual lines and methods, always enjoying reading about the ways and means and challenges or not of stringing words together…


    now that Overland 200 is published and in my hands so to speak, it smells very fresh. the poem is a wonderful, strange and curious thing.

  2. Thanks for popping by, Lou! Yes, it is a strange and curious thing! I think there should be more of it. Certainly beats reading the same old staid fare by the usual suspects in a number of Ozlit magazines I wouldn’t care to name.

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