Reel to Real

Dennis Garvey


When you roll the old Sanyo reel-to-reel

recorder you hear her crackly, but flat un-

emotive voice outlining the position of her

people on having their images stolen when

photographed for anthropological purposes …


‘We split / the way you see us’

‘we split’/ your portraits of black faces’

‘we split’ / you pinning us to race an’

not language, law, culture, country’


‘why not you show black bodies in chains?’

‘black heads split? black heads chopped off

an’ sent to museums ‘round the world?’


‘we split those photographs of black heads’

‘we put white space between two halves

of those black heads in photos you take’


‘we spilt your gaze so you don’t know where

to look when you see black faces split in two’

‘all those black photos in books and museum

we send their gaze back to your white eyes’


‘each black face you see now splits your gaze …

do you see black faces have new power?’

‘do you see the real – do you see you too?’


Dennis Garvey lives in rural Western Australia and has written on assorted topics and in assorted forms for many years without too much to show for it other than the occasional journal publication. What is now termed ecopoetics has been a longstanding preoccupation of mine.

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