Amanda Stewart

is a poet, writer and vocal artist. Much of her work is informed by ideas from linguistics, philosophy and science. She has created a variety of publications, performances, radio and visual works in Australia, Europe, Japan and the US. During the 1980s and 90s she also worked full time as a radio producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and, with Nicolette Freeman, co-wrote and directed the award winning film, Eclipse of the Man-Made Sun. Since 1995 she has divided her time between Sydney and Europe working as a writer and performer in literature, music, theatre, dance and new media contexts. Her book and CD set of selected poems and vocal works, I/T won the Anne Elder Poetry Prize at the Australian National Literary Awards in 1999. She is a cofounder of the Australian text-sound ensemble, Machine For Making Sense and the Netherlands trio, Allos. Recent works appear in Beckett Pause, Sondersahl, Vienna, 2007, New Chamber Music CD, WDR, Cologne, 2007 and La Barque No.5, Paris, 2008.





absence was written in 1995. This oral rendition was recorded in 1996. The poem juxtaposes psychoanalytic, scientific and mythological approaches to ideas of ‘being’. Through abrupt shifts in form and rhythm it traces different historical and linguistic residues using a range of techniques including truncation, amphiboly, ellipsis, aposiopesis and conflation. Psychoanalytically, absence  makes reference to Freud’s ‘fort-da game’, Kristeva’s theory of phoneme acquisition in infants and Lacan’s ideas concerning language and lack. In the strange world of this poem, mythological conceptions of the cosmic egg and order/existence /land emerging from chaos/void/sea coexist with other narratives-the ‘Big Bang’ theory, the quest for a Grand Unified Theory, from split atoms to the uncertainty principle, from dissection to genetic splicing and back again to the Babylonian myth where the goddess Tiamat is split in two by her great, great, great grandson, Marduk to create the earth. The poem reflects on the silent transfer of forms, the residues of age old assumptions and structures that permeate contemporary models and ideas. A tracing of different framings of western subjectivity leads back into our farthest imagined past, so intimately present. These shards of language and the remnants of forms, "the foretelling in the signs/ that already speak us…a tasted cosmos rolls off the tongue….matter in the mouth/ and in the making/ ethos us"