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Writing murder: Elements of Gothic horror in Matthew Milat’s ‘meat axe’ poetry
journal contributionposted on 15.06.2018, 00:00 by Nicole AnaeNicole Anae
Eighteen-year-old Matthew Stephen Milat, the grand-nephew of convicted serial-killer Ivan Milat, wrote a series of poems while in custody for the murder of seventeen-year-old David Auchterlonie in 2010 in the Belanglo State Forest, New South Wales; the same bushland in which Milat’s great-uncle had killed seven backpackers throughout the 1990s. Matthew Milat’s choice to narrate the aftermath of David Auchterlonie’s murder in the genre of poetry quite literally draws this form of writing about death, specifically from the perspective of a real-life teen-killer, toward the macabre fringes of literary and popular culture. This examination of Milat’s verse-writing – ‘Your Last Day,’ ‘Cold Life,’ and ‘Killer Looks And On Evil Side’ – situates an analysis of his poetry against the broader journalistic trend to write the nature of Milat’s crime utilizing elements of both the Gothic family tradition and the monstrous. Shared blood-ties between great-uncle and grand-nephew provided a rich site in framing the perverse convergence of heredity and monstrosity within the teen-killer/serial-killer narrative. In the absence of Gothic literary tradition focussing attention on this form of poetry – by a teen-killer, by a teenkiller with blood ties to a convicted serial-killer – this examination of Matthew Milat’s verse-writing also aims to offer a contribution to this scholarship while simultaneously tracing the contemporary emergence of the Gothic into new sites as an idiosyncratic form of writing murder by a real-life adolescent killer.