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A Political Radio Poetics: Ouyang Yu’s Poetry and its Adaptation on ABC Radio National’s Poetica

by Prithvi Varatharajan
‘Ouyang Yu’ was an episode that aired on ABC Radio National’s Poetica, a weekly program broadcast across Australia from 1997 to 2014. The episode featured readings of poetry by the contemporary Chinese-Australian poet Ouyang Yu, read by the poet and by the actor Brant Eustace. These readings were embedded in rich soundscapes, and framed by interviews with the poet on the thematic contexts for the poems. In this article I treat ‘Ouyang Yu’ as an adaptation of Ouyang’s work, in Linda Hutcheon’s sense of the term. I examine how Ouyang’s poetry has been adapted for a national audience, and pay particular attention to how contemporary political discourses of nationhood have influenced the episode’s adaptations. For Poetica existed within an institution—the ABC—whose culture had a bearing on its programming, and the ABC was in turn influenced by, and sought to influence, the wider social and political culture in Australia.

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