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February 20th 2014 print

Joe Dolce

This Judge Doesn’t Scan

Judge not lest you be judged -- it's a piece of advice Overland's Peter Minter would have done well to heed. After banning poets who also publish in Quadrant, the impeccably leftist arbiter of art must now pick from a shortlist the winner of a poetry prize. Two of those contenders have published in Quadrant

minter bwI call for Peter Minter to step down as poetry editor of Overland  and to disqualify himself immediately from judging any future poetry competitions in Australia, including the current Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize.

Caitlin Maling and Mark Mordue are two of the shortlisted finalists in the current competition, which comes with a $6000 first prize awarded by Overland poetry editor Peter Minter. Both Maling and Mordue had their poetry published in Quadrant, and Minter has made his political bias clear regarding poets who publish in Quadrant:

“Notwithstanding the history of the magazine [Quadrant], I don’t wish to have any association with the authors of a journal edited by Keith Windschuttle.” – Peter Minter, Jan 16, 2014

“[to] publish in Quadrant while simultaneously presenting sympathy for Aboriginal rights or multiculturalism or green politics, for instance, is utterly hypocritical and ethically corrupt. I suppose for some the ego-actualization of seeing one’s name in print can outweigh higher-order moral fibre.” – Peter Minter, Jan 16, 2014

Personally, I had a good laugh at the assertion that publishing in Quadrant, while showing ‘sympathy’ for multiculturalism, is ethically corrupt. Minter was about thirteen years old when my song Shaddap You Face was headline news in Australia. Minter really ought to do his homework or else take the good advice in my song:

“Maybe you recall Shaddap You Face as just a novelty song of 1980, but Dolce’s hugely successful singalong was more than that. It summed up the change in Australia when multiculturalism displaced the derogatory label ‘New Australian’, when colourful Immigration minister Al Grassby regularly graced the national stage, and SBS was about to take to the air. It caught a social current and gave voice to it in about three minutes.” –  Sydney Morning Herald

I also understand that Mr Minter has now written a letter of apology to Les Murray for the vile analogies he made about him. But apparently, Minter did not actually tell Mr Murray how he had insulted him, so Les had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t ask. But we know what he said in a recent Facebook forum:

“Lets Live on the Teats of Les Murray (Les Murray) Roast” – Peter Minter

“Let’s imagine we are in Germany in the 1930s. We are writing what we think are good poems, free of any overt political substance, and we decide to send them to the ‘Nazi Literary Weekly’ for publication, because the poetry editor loves poetry and everyone thinks he is going to win the Nobel Prize and so they all suck up to him in order to gain the satisfaction of feeling that they are being ordained by the holy poet. The Big Poet publishes the poems and everyone feels nice. Nevertheless, and this is the crux, history will shine its irrevocable truth upon the poets who submitted their poems to the “Nazi Literary Weekly” and they will be forever stained by the association. . . so you can say whatever you like about how wonderful it is to be published by Les Murray (those of us who know also know that this is not what it seems!!) the fact remains that those who choose to publish in Quadrant will be forever stained by the association…” – Peter Minter

Ironically, another of the outstanding writers affected by the Minter-blackball also has had poetry published in Quadrant, including an entry in Best of Quadrant Poetry 2001-2010.  The poet is the former chair of the Australia Council Literature Board 2001, Peter Goldsworthy,  recipient of the Order of Australia and winner of the Robert Helpmann Award and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.