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The Tour

192 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published August 2023
ISBN 9781922725769

The Tour


A chronicle of the early days of performance poetry, presented as a road trip in verse by one of its greatest practitioners.

π.O.’s new collection of poems tells a story about what is dubbed ‘The Dirty T-Shirt Tour’, in which a group of Australian poets travel to cities in the United States and Canada to give readings. It is composed as a diary, written from the point of view of one of the poets, who finds themselves at odds with the others by virtue of their class and migrant background, and their commitment to a poetry, usually lampooned as ‘performance’ poetry. It is his first visit to America, which he views with both wonder and alarm. Isolated in the group by his commitment to a poetics of ‘utterance’, he finds friendship and acclamation in the audiences and the people he encounters on the street. The tensions portrayed extend beyond the group to encompass issues of racism, sexism and class, as the book offers snapshots of American society, viewed by an outsider, which are in themselves an expression of his poetics. The Tour stands as a chronicle of the difficulties and triumphs of performance poetry, of which π.O. was one of the pioneers, long before it became the popular form it is today.

LONGLISTED: 2024 ALS Gold Medal

What strikes me above all else in π.O.’s thought is that he engages so earnestly with the world around him…π.O. is advancing a radically new and delightfully anarchic method, not just for Australian poetry but for our entire age.
Elese Dowden, Meanjin

[π.O.’s] invigorating use of punctuation and phonetic spelling reminds us that language is always vocal, accented and political…Increasingly disarming and affecting…The Tour is a kind of ars poetica, an implied manifesto of engagement and dissent.
Andy Jackson, The Saturday Paper

I can hear π.O.’s voice clearly from the outset (he inspires me to colloquialisms, parentheses, dashes, slashes, exclamations): his deliberate Greco-Aussie intonation, his conversational voice, the emphases, and rising hysteria, or is it performed rage? π.O. is both poet and protagonist, performer, and public persona…
Francesca Sasnaitis, Australian Book Review

What makes The Tour the achievement of π.O.’s life, however, is that it actively bears the burden of the orders and disorders of our national poetry. This permits a reflection that was not available at the time, and aids a rescue – not simply of π.O.’s own experience on tour, but of the conditions in which Australian poetry has been written and lived, in our lifetimes and since it first began.
Lucy Van, Sydney Review of Books

About the Author


π.O. is a legendary figure in the Australian poetry scene, the chronicler of Melbourne and its culture and migrations, and a highly disciplined Anarchist. He is the publisher of Unusual Work by Collective Effort Press, a long-time magazine editor, a pioneer of performance poetry in Australia, and the author of many collections. His latest book is The Tour.

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A kind of ars poetica, an implied manifesto of engagement and dissent.

The Saturday Paper

LONGLISTED: 2024 ALS Gold Medal

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