Overland 54 was a special edition dedicated solely to poetry about the Vietnam war. Part of the introduction ran as follows:
The Australian presence in Vietnam was born in deceit. It was a shabby attempt to buy insurance concealed behind a smokescreen of cold war rhetoric.
The purpose was not to protect South Vietnam; it was to preserve Australian conservatism. And our leaving was shrouded in lies just as was our going.
The Australian people were not told the truth about why we had entered nor why we had left, nor that we had lost.
Poets contributing to the collection included Judith Wright, Denis Kevans, Bruce Dawe, James McAuley (!), Rodney Hall, Clem Christesen, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Graham Pitts, Len Fox and Mona Brand.
The foreword (by guest editor R.H. Morrison) opened like this:
Anyone studying the Australian poetry of our time will be struck with a signficant fact: the anti-war ranks in the community have enlisted some of our finest poets, but the pro-war elements are poetically silent. Is this because those who, even with the best of patriotic motives, welcomes, supported and justified Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war know at heart that they have stifled something in their conscience? A poet who has maimed his own humanity becomes mute.
What would a similar edition about Iraq look like? Who would the contributors be? Could you write a paragraph like the one above, with a similar conviction?