A Cosmopolitan Jindyworobak: Flexmore Hudson, Nationalism and World-Mindedness

By Regan, Jayne | Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature : JASAL, May 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

A Cosmopolitan Jindyworobak: Flexmore Hudson, Nationalism and World-Mindedness


Regan, Jayne, Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature : JASAL


In 1948 Julian Huxley delivered his outgoing speech as the retiring Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). He emphasised that 'UNESCO fills a vital need in the present circumstances of our planet . . . the world has become ripe for the emergence of an international organization dealing with things of the mind and spirit' (Huxley 6). Huxley advocated a 'One World' mindset, believed governments should not just think of 'national problems' but 'a single world problem,' and thought that particularly gifted individuals could transcend national boundaries as 'citizens of the world' (9-10). In that world-minded moment during the immediate post-war years, South Australian poet, editor, and school teacher Flexmore Hudson echoed Huxley's sentiment when he explained his desire for world peace and the ideal of a 'world state.' Also writing in 1948, Hudson hoped that Australians might be 'unified by a concept of world-citizenship' rather than a strengthening sense of nationality ('Prophet' 85). Interestingly, Hudson's comments appeared in the Jindyworobak Review 1938-1948, a collection of reflections on the first ten years of the nationalist Jindyworobak poetry movement. Hudson's outlook, which I will characterise as world-minded, was often at odds with the literary nationalism at the heart of Jindyworobak, yet it is his long-time association with Rex Ingamells's poetry movement for which he is best remembered. This article will introduce some of Hudson's little-studied literary output as an example of world-mindedness in the Australian context, and interrogate how Hudson negotiated his internationalist outlook as part of a literary community preoccupied with nationalism.

Flexmore Hudson

Flexmore Hudson was born Wilfred Frank Flexmore Hudson in 1913 at Charters Towers, Queensland, to Baptist missionary Wilfred Flexmore Hudson and his wife Irene Maud Hudson. As a child Hudson was well-travelled within Australia and New Zealand as his father's career moved the family frequently; he attended at least thirteen primary schools before the family settled permanently in Adelaide in 1924 (Hudson, Interview). When interviewed by Hazel de Berg in 1969 Hudson recalled that his 'was a colourful, good kind of childhood for a poet, because it enriched the senses.' Moreover, as a student of Mr W.R. Tynan of Thornleigh Public School in Sydney, Hudson was encouraged in his poetic pursuits, and particularly to take the Australian bush as a subject (Hudson, Interview).1 Despite this early interest in poetry, when he finished his secondary education at Adelaide High School Hudson wanted to join the army but was persuaded by his disapproving father to become a teacher instead (Hudson, Interview). Hudson trained at Adelaide Teachers' College and attended Adelaide University for a short time, but did not finish his arts degree. Between 1936 and 1945 Hudson taught in a handful of small primary schools in rural South Australia.2 It was from here that he launched his literary career.

In 1937, when his first collection of poetry Ashes and Sparks was published at his own expense, Hudson entered a literary landscape preoccupied with the various political crises of the 1930s: Depression, the rise of fascism, and the threat of another major world conflict. As David Carter points out, these crises were not seen as external to Australia but considered 'symptomatic of a deep crisis in its national culture' (Carter 25). Since the end of World War One, many writers felt stifled by Bulletin-dominated literary conservatism and a politically disinterested suburban population (Walker 148), but were fired by the atmosphere of crisis to politicise their writing and emphasise the social role of the writer (Carter 25). For Drusilla Modjeska part of what characterised the work of many Australian writers in the 1930s was a 'pattern of moving towards a self-conscious exploration of the social situation of the writer and of the social function of literature' (98). …

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