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'There has been much conversation, in the last few months, around the question of what it means to be Australian. This is to be expected in an election cycle, and particularly in the context of contention over policies on various social and environmental issues. When connected to the larger container of ‘nation’, ideas of place become politically loaded. There is a responsibility, in this, for writers. With the power and privilege of voting comes the ethical demand that the publishing writer be conscious of what they are contributing to social discourse.' (Publication introduction)
Only literary material by Australian authors individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:
Two Excerpts from The Shouting in the Dark & other southern writing - Elleke Boehmer
Epigraph: And out from the flood plains of Lake Frome (the white glare of its granules), a falcon maps the valley and sweeps above the dots of spinifex, you eyes primed for the swoop. - 'The Earth Will Outshine Us' Kathryn Fry
* Contents derived from the 2019 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
'I grew up in Kamilaroi country, the land of the goanna. I grew up bathing in and being sustained by the river system and artesian tracks. I grew up knowing of my Murri heritage, of the old people living in tin huts on the banks of the Mehi, but not of the deep knowledge embedded in land all around; for me, it took many years of different kinds of reading and listening to learn how to pay attention to this knowledge.' (Introduction)
'What is poetry? I no longer ask such questions. Instead, every time I begin a new term with new classes on writing in English, sometimes creative writing, I tell myself and them: Forget what poetry is. Instead, write down your first poem on a blank piece of paper, in English, a language you have spent years learning. (Introduction)
'In 2016, the Indigenous author Melissa Lucashenko delivered the Barry Andrews Memorial Lecture, a speech that was published the following year in JASAL as ‘I Pity the Poor Immigrant’. This remarkable text bears the following epigraph: ‘Dedicated to all refugees currently imprisoned by the Australian State’ (1, original italics). The obvious context for Lucashenko’s statement is the ongoing political discussion about the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers, centred around the draconian practice of imprisoning refugees in off-shore processing centres such as Nauru and Manus Island. Australian literary authors have been particularly vocal in their criticism of the injustice of these policies: in 2015, for instance, Tim Winton published ‘Start the Soul Searching Australia’, a Palm Sunday editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald in which he pleaded for a change of heart based on a mixture of Australian and religious values; in 2017, Felicity Castagna published the novel No More Boats, set during the 2001 Tampa crisis when a Norwegian cargo ship carrying 438 refugees was refused entry into Australia, an incident that shaped that year’s federal election and the policy that later became known as the Pacific Solution; while in 2018, Michelle de Kretser used her speech accepting the Miles Franklin Award for The Life to Come to excoriate Australia’s politicians for the use of detention centres on Nauru and Manus. The literary moment of greatest impact, however, has been the publication in July 2018 of Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, a blend of memoir and poetry written in Farsi that Boochani wrote in prison, then secretly transmitted to his translator, Omid Tofighian, via text messages.' (Introduction)