Heide is an epic poem about history, painting, painters, patrons and the people who made art happen in Australia — from Louis Buvelot to Edith Rowan, Tom Roberts and Robert Streeton to Vassilief, Nolan, Tucker, Joy Hester, the Boyds, Mirka Mora, and Albert Namatjira, with a particular focus on the artists gathered around Sunday and John Reed at Heide in Melbourne.
It is a poem that explores the influence of art and poetry on the psyche, and the influence of social class on both, from the upper echelons and industrialists of Melbourne, to the struggle of the working class through such artists as Alisa O’Connor, Noel Counihan and Yosl Bergner. It begins with the foundation of Melbourne, and in its epic scope traverses an encyclopaedic range of subjects, assembled from facts, quotations, proverbs, definitions, historical documents, newspaper accounts and the author’s own reminiscences.
Heide is about the poets and artists who put their lives on the line, the Australian preoccupation with landscape, the dominance of a masculinist aesthetic, the sidelining and denigration of Indigenous art, the struggle of women artists to assert their influence and presence, and the impact of migration on Australian culture.
It is a long poem made up of almost 300 poems, each bringing to life characters and incidents that are fleshed out in vivid detail and with a dramatic intensity unique in Australian poetry.
Pi.O. is a legendary figure in the Australian poetry scene, born and bred in Fitzroy, the great chronicler of Melbourne and its culture and migrations, a highly disciplined anarchist who has worked as a draughtsman for forty years to support his art. He is the publisher of Collective Effort Press, a long-time magazine editor, a pioneer of performance poetry in Australia and the author of many collections, including Panash, Fitzroy Poems, Big Numbers: New and Selected Poems, and the two epic works 24 Hours and Fitzroy: The Biography. Heide completes this monumental project.