The Truths of Places

 

This is part of a series of ekphrastic poems presented alongside ‘Hyphenated’ at The Substation. ‘The Truths of Places’ responds to Hoang Tran Nguyen’s work.


 

The Truths of Places

 

Now that the idea of West no longer frightens (or is all they can afford) they’ve come
To hollow out the truth of old sullen places, where once, under sour skies
Transients, indigents, migrants – all the piled up people – lived, refracting
Thin dry light against hopes for the children and memory. The tatters of home flutter

To hollow out the truth of old sullen places, where once, under sour skies
They worked hard with cracked hands, sang with unchecked spirit:
A thin dry light against hope. For the children and memory, the tatters of home flutter
Faint as a moth wing beat, bleak with the same futility.

They worked hard with cracked hands, sang with unchecked spirit, so
It’s strange to watch the cranes erect the new apartments to the sky.
Faint as a moth wing beat, bleak with the same futility
They clean the songs the smells the wicked spirits of the past.

It’s strange to watch the cranes erect the new apartments to the sky
Now that the idea of West no longer frightens (or is all they can afford) and they’ve come
To clean the songs the smells the wicked spirits of the past:
Transients, indigents, migrants – all the piled up people who lived, refracting.

 

About the Artwork

 

Episode 11 Chapter 5
2012
Video
4:13min

A montage of head shots from an episode of the 1980’s TV series 21 Jump Street. The show starred Dustin Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee migrant, who plays an undercover youth police officer, Harry Aoki, of supposed Japanese heritage. After hiring Nguyen the show’s producers learned of his personal history and decided to incorporate this into the character’s biography. The resulting episode tells of Harry’s struggle to reveal his identity, clear his legal status and regain the trust of colleagues and the institution for which he works.

The audio is ‘sound dust’ from a reading of the script for the film Mad Max (1979). In this iconic film officer Max Rockatansky loses his family through outlaw violence, forcing him to question his profession and identity. Abandoning his badge Max seeks revenge through lawlessness.

 

About the Artist

Hoang Tran Nguyen (b. 1974) Vung Tau, Vietnam Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. He was born in Vung Tau, Vietnam, 1974. As part of the Vietnamese post-war exodus his family left Vietnam as refugees and was resettled in Australia in 1982. Hoang grew up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and studied Industrial Design at RMIT (1998).

Author: Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer and community radio broadcaster. Eleanor Jackson is a former Editor in Chief and Poetry Editor of Peril and currently Chair of the Board.

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