The end of the year and the lay of the land

ngaliwehlu yanbay yang.

ngaliwehlu jahnadah kulin jagan, wurundjeri, woi wurrung, bunurong nyuyeh. jagan mubang, kulin ngundadjindi gunu jagan dagal miyi. ngali yuwa gihn-gu kulin budjarahm, dugan, balun, bunbar. ngaliwehlu kulin.gur, ngah ngali gihng wangah bumilehla-koories ngundadjindi jagan. ngaliwehlu kulin.gur, ngaliwehlu gung durigan.

Friends, it’s getting dark. gumbih bundahng juhm. Australia is burning, the streets of its cities choke with miasmic smoke. junugur nyabay? A smirking unprincipled marketing executive rules the land, and an amoral fop has just been handed the biggest conservative majority in Westminster since Thatcher. The climate is incontrovertibly warming with perilous rapidity, and as we write the minister apparently responsible for Australia’s environmental policy is in Madrid attempting to swindle the world into endorsing the shamefully dishonest accounting by which we appear to meet our Paris targets while emissions continue to rise. The Indigenous people of this country continue to be incarcerated at horrifying levels, and they continue to die in the custody of a brutally indifferent police force. jang ngay ganngalehla. Our farce of a government continues to use our LGBTQI+ siblings as scapegoats in cynical culture wars orchestrated to divide us and distract us from collaboration. ngaliwehlu dulungwan.

Under the Coalition’s sweeping and poorly considered restructure earlier this month, federal responsibility for the arts will lie with the Department of Infrastructure, and the responsibility for emissions reduction has been transferred from the Department of the Environment to that of Industry. It’s a spectacular demonstration of apathy.

We see the same things you do. It’s easy to look at the state of the world and despair. yagambeh ngadjuy ganngahla nyangbih ngadju. It’s easy to look at the Trump White House – to take one example – and wonder whether principle, intellect, political integrity, debate, critical thinking, literature, any of the noble causes literary journals were ostensibly meant to serve – have any real meaning today.

In preparation for taking this job we did some hard thinking about what a literary journal is and what it can be. The old Arnoldian idea of culture and literature as an inherently redemptive or ennobling pursuit of perfection was steeped in white supremacy and bourgeois class consciousness. But there might be something we can salvage. ngaliwehlu duhyiny-djam. What endures as we see it is that a literary journal is first and foremost a different way of coming and being together, a way of connecting and sharing ideas and voices – it’s an exercise in community, and in solidarity.

Our twenty-year relationship with Victoria University is at an end, and Overland is leaving home to foster new connections in a new year. It’s an uncertain time for us, as for so many, but political change begins in altered perceptions of the real, and uncertainty can be transformative. As the reality of climate change brings stifling heat and ash to the white-collar suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne where our political elite take their aperitifs, we bite down on the radical hope that the visceral uncertainty facing us all will stimulate real political will, and bring real change. ngaliwehlu gale jambanggehla nyahlela.

We thank Jacinda Woodhead for her years of service and leadership, and we are deeply grateful for her support and generosity during transition. She leaves great shoes to fill. bugalwanah yanah, bugalwan.

Things do, occasionally, change for the better. Today we write to you from the masthead of one of the oldest literary journals in a settler-colonial society, and one of us the first Indigenous person ever to hold a permanent editorial position in Australian literature. nai jan.gam.

yagambeh mahnyuni wadji-wadjehnyi yagambeh mahnyulu ganngahny. It’s getting dark, but what we cannot change we will witness, we will critique, and we will remember. We will continue to hear you, to publish dissent, and to connect the many different marginalised voices of this struggling society.

bugal.wan. ngaliwehlu yagambe gubali wahlu kulin
wanah dulung-wanah. ngaliwehlu ganngalehla
Solidarity and hope

Evelyn Araluen and Jonathan Dunk
Overland literary journal


Evelyn Araluen

Evelyn Araluen is a poet, educator, and co-editor of Overland. Her Stella Prize winning book DROPBEAR was published by UQP in 2021. Born, raised, and writing in Dharug country, she is a Bundjalung descendant. She tweets at @evelynaraluen

Jonathan Dunk

Jonathan Dunk is the co-editor of Overland, and a widely published poet and scholar. He lives on Woi Wurrung country.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays

Contribute to the conversation

  1. Excellent. Thank you. This is the kind of thing I want to read everyday. Multilingual, multi-perspectival and multiplayer.
    Keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *