Read Michael Farrell's introduction to Crankhandle.
Crankhandle is the latest part of an ongoing Notebooks series, the first part of which was published as Sidetracks: Notebooks 1976–1991 (Auckland University Press 1998). Between Sidetracks and Crankhandle comes a longer unpublished section, Melbourne Journal: Notebooks 1998–2003, begun when I first came to Australia. From the beginning, these writings were never seen as notes or sketches towards poems that were yet to be fully realised – each entry was intended to be as finished an act of writing as any other, longer, individual work.
Over the nearly forty years of this endeavour, there have of course been gaps, but the Notebooks provide a way for me to be quickly attentive to my environment, and to circumstances of wherever I might happen to be sitting, standing, waiting, travelling at any time. Perhaps one could speak of the individual pieces as ‘fragments’, but they are not fragments in the way that ancient Greek poetry has come to us on torn, worn, eaten, half-destroyed bits of papyrus. If these works are fragments, then each of Ezra Pound’s cantos are also fragments, placed against the totality of all poetry, from all over the planet, and from throughout recorded world history. In this sense, fragments are all we have, and will ever have. If some are very long and some very short, then that is simply how things are.