We Will Disappear, David Prater
" David Prater's We Will Disappear is a full tilt swerving syntax for a crazy world - speedy, accurate, satiric, tender, intense, visceral, engaged. It's chocked with wake up calls and rhythms for the new century, sounds of cities, seas, planets, spinning and disappearing, and a lament for what's passing. All along Prater pitches a dark destabilising line then subverts it with an explosion of pure lyric joy. Formally inventive whilst also dropping beats of pop media jargon and all the transitory idioms we live in, this is a new language for all tomorrow's aching parties. Exciting, highly charged, and affecting. "- Jill Jones
The first full-length collection from poet and editor David Prater, We Will Disappear navigates the landscapes of loneliness and solitude, drawing upon ten years of Prater's transformative travelogues and engaging elegies. With its central preoccupations of global politics and power, We Will Disappear is a snub to the self-perpetuating philosophies, particularly in relation to war and terror, of Western 'empires', tempered all the while by the poet's gentle sense of acceptance and hope, as he maps the mysteries of mortality in a strange and fast-disappearing world.
About the book
We Will Disappear is Melbourne-based poet and editor David Prater's attempt to make sense of mortality and the essential questions of life and existence. From the mysteries of birth to landscapes of loneliness and solitude; from the inevitably political nature of human interactions to the seeming pointlessness of death and passing; from imaginary constructs of the mind to the transformative power of language in a strange and fast-disappearing world, this inventive, long-awaited and funny first collection overflows with references to pop cultural icons like Punky Brewster, Justine Bateman, James Mason, Woody Harrelson, Tintin and Mohammed Ali, and bands including Tortoise, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Slowdive, Bjork and AC/DC.
"The poems collected here were conceived over the period of ten years," said Prater. "The collection embodies several significant time periods and places, from its late twentieth century beginnings to more recent times. A good number of these poems were written while travelling in Asia, the United States and Europe, while some of the more significant elegiac pieces contained within the collection were written in response to Australian writers and writings. If I had to name significant time periods they would include for starters the late 1990s, when the title poem and several of the more elegiac pieces were written; it was at this time that I first travelled overseas, to Thailand and Laos and experienced the world as a tourist (or 'farang' in Thai); much of my writing is therefore written from the point of view of the stranger, or outsider; it is from this perspective that I reflect upon the chaos and destruction wrought by Western 'empires' in the name of their own self-perpetuating philosophies, particularly in relation to war and terror."
"Leading on from this, another significant period of writing was from roughly 2002-2004, in the 'post 9-11' world, during which my central preoccupations became more explicit. In hindsight it's no coincidence that I travelled to places like New York, Berlin, Hiroshima, and Ho Chi Minh City during this time, as my writing and thinking during these trips was focused on making sense of the atrocities and horrors that have come to be associated with such places. As an Australian, I am aware of the naivety of the position that these events are 'distant' from us, or have already disappeared into history - the fact is that as a human being I am inextricably linked to the workings of global politics and power."
"The third and perhaps most significant period of writing represented in this book is 2005-2006 when I was lucky enough to receive a New Work Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, and was able to complete some more thematic poems to round off the collection. These poems can be characterised by a perhaps greater sense of urgency and anger, although the two poems that 'bookend' the collection - 'Abstract Moon' and 'We Are Living' - do contain a more gentle sense of acceptance and hope."
Informed by the knowledge that human life is short and complicated, the poems of We Will Disappear constitute an attempt to write these truths in a language informed by the realities of 21st century life, as well as the passing of close friends and family, famous and not-so-famous poets, even animals and ideas. One famous poet whose spirit haunts this collection is Bruce Beaver, for whom the poem '(On the Tomb of) Victor Bruce' was written, shortly after his death. "I was fortunate to meet Bruce in the early 1990s when I was writing my Honours thesis on his work in relation to that of Rainer Maria Rilke, and I can't stress enough how much of an impact that meeting, and his astonishing ouvre of poetry, has had on my poetic development. He was an everyday god, and his passing is a great loss. He was also, however, ultimately aware of the transience of all things and of the inextricable link between what Rilke referred to as celebration and lamentation - two words that, I hope, sum up what I am trying to do with my poems in the all-too-brief time I have left in which to write them. My poems are ultimately aware of their own transience, in an imaginary sense. The poems will disappear. We will disappear."
Excerpt from the book
NORTHERN RIVERS PASTORAL
clunk-unk clunka-clunk ge-dung gedung-dung!
that's how the cane-toad leather road north of
grafton talked the humid summer bridge into
catapulting us high across that river bursting
its banks with the tide led straight down again
to a sign at the edge of town said so & so many
people lived there but no one was really alive
like the streets the way they changed shape &
grew i remember it started with a kiss & this -
my dad & eddie in a house after sunset drinking
the daddyo! there's whiskey & christmas beetles
in our jars but eddie would cry if someone sang
that song he kept cages full of frenzied bantams
heard the bloodied chopper blade's thwunk! in
the thigh-deep grass (he didn't say this but his
memory does on the bridge near the river mouth
brown silt from the rain (tide-water seeping out
through the bar like a vomit-stain on the ocean
softly softly through our krystallnacht
geyser bowser crack pop-offs just relax
black north face seventies teevee slack
hostesse with remote test tubes bivouac
jack in at five with first asthma snaps
vacate laps tool the tried anagrama bat
an independent way a roadsteads whack
in maple lanes the seaside pretzel flak
emergency hammer laden with an axe
sue me sonny walk man pow wow attack
we know the atlantic like no other mac
disaster prediction no longer paperback
David Prater is a Melbourne based writer and editor, born in 1972. Since 2000 he has edited Cordite Poetry Review, an online poetry and poetics journal. His work has appeared in many Australian literary magazines including Meanjin, Southerly, The Age, Going Down Swinging, Best Australian Poetry 2003, Overland, and papertiger: new world poetry, as well as numerous international anthologies and magazines. In 2005 he was awarded a New Work grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, and also traveled to Seoul (ROK) as an Asialink resident. He holds a BA with Honours in Australian Literature from the University of Sydney, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne, and is currently studying towards a PhD at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. We Will Disappear is his first book.