‘Poetry’s unnat’ral; no man ever talked poetry ’cept a beadle on boxin’ day, or Warren’s blackin’ or Rowland’s oil, or some o’ them low fellows; never you let yourself down to talk poetry, my boy.’
But we have disregarded Tony Weller’s advice to his son, Samuel. In an age governed by the stomach-and-pocket view of life, and at a time of war and transition, we still strive to ‘talk poetry’. For we believe that it is our duty to do so.
We believe that it would be a grave error to suppose the nation can drop its mental life, its intellectual and aesthetic activities for three or five or more years, neglecting them and those trained to minister to them, and then pick everything up again as though nothing had happened.
Literature and art, poetry and drama do not spring into being at the word of command. Their life is a continuous process growing within itself, and its suppression is death.
Therefore, we determined to commence publication of the Meanjin Papers. Media for similar expression are sadly lacking in this country. It is hoped to continue publication of this brochure throughout the war period—and perhaps well into the Peace. Prose, as well as verse, will be included.
Clem Christesen (1911–2003) was born in Townsville, Qld. A poet, writer and editor, he founded Meanjin in 1940. He moved to Melbourne as editor of Meanjin at the invitation of the University of Melbourne in 1945. His publications included The Hand of Memory: Selected Stories and Verse (1970), The Troubled Eyes of Women (stories, 1990) and the poetry collection Ebb-tide (1997).