Taking off Tony Abbott’s Clothes in Strathalbyn


A friend recently raised the subject of nudity in poetry, as an offhand email remark. It got me thinking about the Billy Collins poem “Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes”, which is an irreverent tribute to the great female poet whom he metaphorically undresses.

I quite often find it easier to write a poem modeled on another poem. So it got me thinking and I came up with the unsavoury idea of undressing Australian Prime Minister (God those last three words sound so wrong) Tony Abbott. The poem spilled out fairly quickly. I performed it last Sunday at the most anarchic, no-holds barred poetry gig in Adelaide, “Spoke n Slurred”. I read the poem early on, whilst the audience was relatively sober, which is probably a good thing, because if they’d been drunk I think there might have been some vomiting. However, I later heard that I’d been awarded half of the cash prize for ‘poem of the night’ or something, sharing it with that other man who knows all about drinking and vomiting, Dick Dale.

I’ll be reading “Taking off Tony Abbott’s Clothes”, tomorrow (26th January 2013), in a 20 minute set I’m doing at the ArtsFeast in Strathalbyn. So be warned, you may want to stay away, or bring a bucket.

Here’s Billy’s more savoury version:

and here’s a link to the ArtsFeast programme, which has loads of great performers and workshops. I’m on at 4:10 p.m.



2 thoughts on “Taking off Tony Abbott’s Clothes in Strathalbyn

  1. GM,

    I’ll leave it till Sunday morning to decide, as I’m going to a 50th birthday party tonight so it depends how I pull up, but I’m planning to come to Strathalbyn on Sunday.

    In the meantime, three things:

    1. In your post, a small typo – you spelt it “Dickenson’s” instead of “Dickinson’s”

    2. It’s a terrific poem. Haven’t seen it before. Look forward to hearing yours, though I suspect (& hope) it won’t be as adoring.

    3. I’m doing Poem-A-Day at the mo with Jude, Louise & Joan Fenney. For Jan ? I sent this prompt: “I’ve shamelessly pinched this idea from Mike Hopkins. Write a poem about taking off a famous person’s clothes.” For mine I did Scott Morrison. I didn’t have that model, so it’s v different.


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