Cover image of the review
π.o., *Heide* (Sydney: Giramondo Publishing, October 2019). Cover image by Sandy Caldow

π.o., Heide

15 Aug 2020

In Ian Burn’s near-perfect essay ‘Is art history any use to artists?’ (1985), he argues that artists have their “own sense of art history” that is derived primarily from an oral history of “stories shrewdly selected and edited to make the most telling points.” Heide, the recently published, epic poem by Melbourne poet π.o., is the greatest ode to local art history ever written and is itself a kind of radical art history in the terms that Burn imagined. So far, some reviewers have misunderstood Heide as a retelling of the history of John and Sunday Reed’s Heide circle, just with a bit of extra kick and gusto (as if π.o. parrots irreverently what academics have chronicled solemnly). It is, instead, an anarchist’s history written by a poet, an art history that shouts passionately about people and place in free-verse. Open Heide, and say hello to ‘John’ and ‘Sunday’ and ‘Barrett’ and ‘Sweeney’. Spittle lands on you.

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