Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology (AJE), Vol 1 (2011)

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‘Singing Up’ the Silences: Australian nature writing as Disruption and Invocation.

Noelene J Kelly


There is a strong, though not uncontested view, that a tradition of ‘place’ or ‘nature’ writing has, until relatively recently, been largely absent in Australia. This essay examines the veracity of this claim, and suggests reasons for this alleged gap or ‘silence’ in our literature. It also considers the distinctive characteristics of Australian place writing as it has emerged over more recent decades and the ways in which this writing disrupts early representations of the continent as ‘empty’, particularly of Indigenous presence, but also of sound, of speech, of agency. This essay also suggests the potential for Australian nature writing to function contrapuntally, as both a form of response to this lively and expressive land, and as a means by which this same land may be invoked or ‘sung’ into the communicative space.

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