Six years ago I saw Overland for the first time on a bookshelf in Readings. ‘Progressive culture’ were the refreshing words that stood out, a vast contrast to the words ‘shareholder value’ being hammered into me as a corporate drone programmer.
Yes, that’s right everyone, I was once one of ‘them’ [evil cackle].
It was the closest I had been to literature in the nine years since I graduated high school. My reading had been reduced from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to mind-numbing textbooks like ‘Java Programming Advanced concepts’. I was starving for literature. I don’t recall any of the articles I flicked through on that day in Readings, but I remember being surprised by the content – it was full of my Dad’s radical theories, theories I found interesting but dismissed as conspiracy. After all, the Herald Sun or The Age never published articles even remotely close to his views. But here was an entire journal dedicated to Dad – very strange. There was even a word for it: The Left.
I didn’t buy Overland that day but I started taking Dad a little more seriously.
‘Dad,’ I would say, ‘America had to invade Iraq – Saddam was a dictator – he killed so many people – and what about the weapons of mass destruction?’ Comments like this would have him shaking his head, distraught at my naivety. There would be no escape from the lecture until I understood.
‘You dink if dey want to kill Saddam dey could no kill him anoder way?’
‘Well why did they invade then?’
‘Oil – everyding is for oil.’
‘America is a democracy – they protect the world.’
‘Democracy?’ he sneered. ‘Der is no thing ‘democracy’ – democracy is to control de people – to create fear in de people.’
‘So why don’t they say that on the news?’
‘News?’ he would retort. ‘Everyding on de news is propaganda.’
‘What’s that?’ I was surprised he knew such fancy words.
‘How I explain dis to you? You no understand.’ This was how most of our political discussions ended – Dad, walking away, frustrated he couldn’t articulate himself further. There’s always been a gap between what I understood and what Dad could teach – I only know so much Greek and he only knows so much English.
It was literature that saved my damned soul from the depths of corporate hell. A few years after seeing Overland the creativity I kept buried for almost a decade bubbled up and overflowed. I started writing my novel Misplaced in 2005. Hand in hand with this creativity was my need to be informed about politics and the world. It was too late for an arts degree.
Overland bridged the gap. Overland is my politics subject.
I would read the blog but I was too self-conscious to post comments (now that I blog for Overland I wish more people would comment!). I purchased issues of Overland and attended some of the public lectures. Dad and I would discuss politics more and more but our conversations finished with him satisfied I understood. Each issue of Overland educates me, challenges my views, and I want to be challenged – it’s the only way to learn. But Overland isn’t just about politics – it publishes a variety of fiction and non-fiction. Overland informs my writing.
When I was accepted into the Overland master class I couldn’t believe it. But what astounded me more was Rjurik giving up his weekend to teach a bunch of progressive writers because that’s what he believed in. The people that contribute to Overland don’t do it for the money – there is no money – it’s because they shudder to think of a world without Overland. There would be no place for progressive writers to be heard. This voice is drowning in the hype of mainstream media. If you care about that voice being heard, support it and subscribe.