At the end of November I presented a paper at Truth or Beauty: Poetry and Biography in Wellington. It was useful and interesting to hear a range of views on biographical poetry (or verse biography as it was sometimes referred).
I presented on my own works-in-progress but mostly on Dennis Cooley’s Bloody Jack. Bloody Jack, which is loosely about the life of the early twentieth-century Manitoban outlaw John Krafchenko, has two editions. The first was published in 1984 with the second edition—which includes alterations to poems, additional poems and poems moved within the sequence—published in 2002. What is fascinating about the two editions of Bloody Jack is how the representation of John Krafchenko’s life story in them is unstable.
Read Truth or Beauty and Bloody Jack
As I push more of the site into operation with real data it is apparent that certain design choices may not have been as great as I would have liked them to be. The advantage of using Django is, so long as I do not do anything weird with primary keys (I already did something weird with the primary key on one of my models and had to rebuild the whole database), I can use migrations to change the structure of the models.
Early on, one of the biggest compromises I made was to make the data fit the very loose data structures I was getting from Zotero. It is both strangely over specified, there are only certain item types you can have, and underspecified, there is no restrictions to the data going in a field, date can be “Spring”. Python is great at converting date data if it knows what it is getting so I manually (and still do for new references and sources coming in) converted the date data on all my Zotero items to ISO 8601.
Read On Building The Code of Things
I recently received from the National Library of Australia electronic versions of the letters William Denton sent to Alfred Deakin. When I initially asked about the letters I was told that item 1/11 was missing though there seems to be two lost letters. The first letter 1/11 is absent or perhaps never existed as noted by the file image but item 1/15 is also does not have a document associated with it though it has not explicitly identified as being a lost file. It is not the first time that I have come across astray archives.
Late last year when I was attempting to find more information about the Melbourne Argus expedition in New Guinea on which Denton died I was told by a librarian at the State Library of Victoria that the whereabouts of the Argus administrative archive are unknown. So while copies of the newspaper have been digitised all other documents that the newspaper might have had, like correspondence, are lost or even destroyed.
Read Missing Archives