Samuel Wagan Watson Night Racing Essay

Words: 1204
Pages: 5

Construct a close reading of this poem that demonstrates your awareness of the poet’s body of work.

1,207 Words

Cars and roads traverse the poetry included in the anthology, Smoke Encrypted Whispers, by Samuel Wagan Watson, a self-identified aboriginal man of German and Irish descent. The narrators of the poems are frequently on or beside the road, and the bitumen itself becomes a metaphor for everything from addiction and memory to the search for love. The poem Night Racing is present in the second half of the anthology, in a section that deals primarily with race and issues surrounding racial tension. The car in which the narrator rides facilitates an attack on the colonisation of Australia by the “white man” in the 18th century,
…show more content…
Thus, the appropriation of cars and roads, existing in the embodiment of the car with the dingo, a predominant animal in aboriginal culture, by the aboriginal peoples, present in this poem and throughout the anthology, can be read to be a challenge to the dichotomy of the mobile white man versus the immobile black man, and rejects the creation of the stereotype that the aboriginal man is off-road, and separated from technology. In relation to the world having a “dying heartbeat”, the utopia-like neighbourhood crumbles, as the villainy in the “white stucco” suburbs is exposed, and the reader identifies that these houses are built upon land that was stolen from the Aboriginal people, and has drowned out the spirit that was previously vested in it. This serves to further criminalize the neighbourhood, denouncing its occupation of the aboriginal culture and justifying the “invasion” of the Aboriginal youth into the white neighbourhood.

Throughout the anthology, many poems deal with issues surrounding racial discrimination, and the abolishment of Aboriginal culture, as well as the impact that it has had on the Aboriginal youth of today. This is examined in the poem strongly in the third stanza, as the reader can identify that, as indigenous Australians who have been separated from their culture, they can no longer identify as an Aboriginal. This is exemplified through the repetition throughout the collection of