Labour History

Performance Poetry and Counter-Public Spheres: Geoff Goodfellow and Working-Class Voices

Labour History (2000), 79, (1), 71–91.

Abstract

This article explores the role of poetry in working-class counter-public spheres by examining the work of South Australian working-class performance poet Geoff Goodfellow. Goodfellow’s performances at venues like construction sites, maximum security prisons, and pubs create a public space for groups of people usually seen as excluded from literary culture and from the institutions of the dominant public sphere. Goodfellow’s readings allow for communal self-reflection and deliberation on such subjects as domestic violence, labour issues, racial questions, and other topics significant to the changing nature of working-class life and identity, and they have had an impact upon corporate and governmental policy in areas like prison reform and labour disputes. His performances suggest the need for working-class studies not only to examine literature by working-class writers, but also to explore issues of reception and performance, and to ask how this literature functions in the social contexts of its production.

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Author details

Morrisson, Mark

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