On being an Angry Penguin

11 Jan

Trawl Google, and there they are, all sorts of neo Angry Penguins.

It is impossible, without immense time and wealth, to protect properly the origin, meaning and legacy of a name. History, of course, will “out”, so to speak – and the original Angry Penguins are to be found properly recorded and documented in literary and history texts and authorities such as Wikipedia.

The original Angry Penguin.

The original Angry Penguin.

There it is to be found that the name Angry Penguins comes from a Max Harris poem, Mithridatum of Despair.

Max Harris did not just coin the name but he was the original Angry Penguin.

And Angry Penguins became a literary and arts magazine of the 1930s and 40s in Australia – very avant garde and controversial at the time.  The Angry Penguins were to become  more, much more – a veritable literary and arts movement. They were to define an era and bring Modernism to life in the Australian arts.  They were to spawn what many deem to be the greatest of all literary hoaxes – the Ern Malley hoax.

Max Harris, the original Angry Penguin, was my father. My life has been shaped by ensuing Angry Penguin events – and at this stage, in trying to ensure that the name is not lost amid the various newcomers who find it an amusing and appealing sobriquet with which to identify themselves or their work. These days there are random bloggers, bands, Tweeters, aspiring poets, composers and even companies claiming to be Angry Penguins.

I like to set the record straight from time to time.