(Hardly) anyone listening? Writing silent geography


  • Bill Boyd




experiential geography, geographical poetry, J. Douglas Porteous, geographical displacement, metageography


In 1984, J. Douglas Porteous challenged the geography world to silence. True geographical appreciation cannot be expressed in prose; the logical conclusion is for geographers to be silent. Given that they cannot be silent, Porteous advocated nontraditional writing, such as poetry. In 1994, Paul Cloke illustrated the power of reflective narrative for a geographer grappling to understand the world. In 1998, I started writing geographic poetry. In 2012, I draw these strands together in this reflective essay, drawing on a poetic journey over a decade old now. Can I reflect a sense of place or place-making that transcends traditional geographical expression? Did Porteous truly open a geographic window otherwise closed to me? I conclude the poetry does create geographical sense and sensibility, but more as constructed possibilities than as objective realities. The poetry provides glimpses into the experiences of geographical displacement encountered by many New Australians, and thus may best be considered as metageographical expressions.

Author Biography

Bill Boyd