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Program note: War and Peace

  • Colin Bright
  • Source: The Song Company War and Peace New Music Series 1994 12-18 June 1994

War and Peace* Colin Bright (b. 1949)
"Jas Duke's poetry appeals to me because of its witty social insight, its directness of
expression and all-embracing honesty and not least íts humour. There is also a'musical'revelling
in the pure sound of words whích is most evident in the Sound Poems. It is this interest in Sound
and Daily Life
that give him a unique place in Australian poetry - an Australian Dadaist if you like!
I have grouped the songs thematically although they may be performed in any order:
Positive Poem - having been told he was 'too negative'this is the ultimate response to such glib criticism.
Presentations, Mirror Man, Alphabet Action, Sexism in 1972, Poets Are Not Good Lovers - a cross
section of the erotic with honesty and humour
So many people still view sex as a taboo subject unless it is couched in
Fuzzbug - just for the love of sound.
Stalin - a sound poem conveying, in Jas Duke's words - "both the terror and the
betrayal of hopes and the mediocrity and the self-confidence. 'Uncle Joe' wasn't a
man to trifle with. Those that laugh at him now were shit-scared of him when he
was alive. Try to get that across. You're dealing with a species of evil spirit. Try to
remember that."
The Pope - not exactly a religious statement - rather a socio-religious comment
relating to 'humanity'. Nevertheless, I have set the this using three minor chords
which may have an 'echo' of the religious.
The Real Hero of Eureka, Happy Birthday Australia - biting socio-political insights.
It seems to me that Jas Duke's poetry is 'for the people' in that they 'define the culture' in an
uncompromising and non-pejorative sense. These songs, I hope, reflect the same spirit."
Colin Bright

*World Premiere.  Commissioned by The Song Company with assistance from the Australia Council


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