Australia’s modern-day mask

Type
Editorial

Colonialism is generally considered something that we are past or post, as historical or theoretical. Cultural theorist Stuart Hall described colonialism as the ‘outer face’ of Western modernity from 1492 on, its features expansion, conquest and hegemonisation. Australia’s modern-day mask looks an awful lot like colonialism, many of the pieces in this edition observe.

OL227 cover
Tiso column
Type
Column

On the books I kept

You shall know me by the books I kept.

I realise that it is a romantic and questionable notion, applying only to some people and in limited ways. But I live by the example of my parents, for whom books and reading were tools of emancipation.

Croggon column
Type
Column

On acts of solidarity

What makes me burn are those times when I should have been kind and wasn’t, when a gesture might have made a difference and I didn’t make it. Perhaps it would have made no difference, but that’s not the point. I know that in those moments I betrayed something fundamental in the contract of human relationship.

Birch column
Type
Column

On recognition

In June 1916, my great-grandfather, Boota Khan, decided to return home to Punjab on a family visit with his wife Betsie and their five young children. But this presented a problem for Boota. He had migrated to the British colony of Victoria in the early 1890s, when the Australian nation did not exist.

Campbell column
Type
Column

On getting ideas

Literary audiences can’t help asking, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ It’s as if an idea is a magic bean: something precious from which stories grow. A thing that can be got, somewhere. Neil Gaiman says people don’t like it when he reveals, truthfully, that his ideas are made up in his head. ‘They look unhappy, as if I’m trying to slip a fast one past them.’

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Araluen image
Type
Essay
Category
Activism
Decolonialism

Resisting the institution

Earlier this year, a campaign started at the University of Sydney, where I work and study, calling for the renaming of the Wentworth building and for the removal of a statue of William Charles Wentworth from the Great Hall. Wentworth is one of the founders of the university, honoured in colonial memory for his 1813 expedition with Gregory Blaxland and William Lawson across the Blue Mountains, a journey that precipitated the pastoral exploitation of Wiradjuri country. Less known is Wentworth’s interference in the 1838 trial of seven white stockmen who massacred up to thirty unarmed Gamilaraay people at Myall Creek, in which he prevented Aboriginal witnesses from giving testimony that would have likely resulted in conviction.

MacDonald_OL227
Type
Essay
Category
Racism
Science

Richard Berry’s disgrace

Among the jumble of papers in my desk drawer are some disturbing notes I made in the Wellcome Library a few years ago. I was in London researching how medical scientists took possession of the dead for dissection during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was proving to be a dark tale: I found accounts of body-snatching and of mutilated corpses being unceremoniously disposed of in crude coffins alongside rubbish and animal parts. As my research continued, I noticed that details that had initially shocked me no longer did – until, that is, the day I read about Richard Berry’s activities at the Stoke Park Colony for Mentally Defective Children, near Bristol.

MacCarter essay
Type
Essay
Category
Micro-presses
Poetry

They will oxidise before you even finish reading

We must also avoid fixating on who is appearing where and in what publisher’s singularities and for how many pages. I will mention author names, but will make no judgements on the quality of writing being produced. I want to further constrain my focus to standalone typeset publications, whether they eventuate on paper or in portable document format. Once I cut into and explore the ensuing projects, they will oxidise before you even finish reading this. That is what makes micro-press publishing, specifically of poetry, exciting.

Dixon essay
Type
Essay
Category
Addiction
Journalism

Money against eternity

According to a recent article in The Economist, Australia is, per capita, the world’s most lucrative gambling market. As a nation, we lose $20 billion per year, and poker machines account for more than half these losses – around $11 billion. A 2010 Productivity Commission report recommended introducing a range of safeguards including a maximum bet limit of $1, arguably a reasonable measure, and one supported by Andrew Wilkie, Nick Xenophon, the Greens and various lobby groups. In New South Wales, the current maximum bet limit is $10, meaning a player can lose an average of $1,200 per hour.

Cartwright essay
Type
Reflection
Category
Reproductive rights

Pregnant in Mexico

I suddenly felt nauseous. The classroom’s lime-green tiles washed with afternoon light reminded me of a bathroom. I turned away from my students, grabbing at the windowsill where the dried-up whiteboard markers rested cap to end. The ceiling fan churned; outside, a car horn bellowed, followed by the call, more a lament than a sales pitch, ‘Aguaaaa, aguuuuua’. I sat down and waited for the nausea to pass.

It was 2011 and I was living in a tiny town in Mexico’s Jalisco state. My plan had been to teach English for a year and then return to New Zealand better prepared to teach secondary Spanish.

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O'Shea essay
Type
Essay
Category
Inequality
Technology

Reclaiming the future from the digital colonialists

The Juicero story exhibits all the excesses of the technology industry in one neat bundle: the assumption that technological development is inherently good; the overly clever design with shortcomings that appear patently obvious to outsiders; the zeal for throwing vast sums of money at a brazenly ostentatious product in a time when many struggle to meet their basic needs. How did we get to a point where inane products are designed and financed by a community that fancies itself the repository of the globe’s brightest minds?

Ng essay
Type
Essay
Category
Activism
LGBTQI

A compromising position

I’m thirty-seven this year – irrefutably old by gay standards. However, age has its benefits. As much as I grumble about how homophobic and transphobic this country is, I’m also able to appreciate how much easier it is to lead a queer life now. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, I felt utterly alone. Singapore was more repressed then, both in terms of freedom of speech and expression.

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Kovan essay
Type
Essay
Category
Culture
Music

Subsistence years

the all too public ‘lyrical age’: a decade of ironised nostalgia. (Cf. Kundera’s Life Is Elsewhere, Kerouac, Hesse. Films of G van Sant, G Armstrong, B Ellis. East of Eden, the origin myth. All ‘those indies.’ The music, the music – too profuse to list. Retro R & B on the car stereo: the late 60s, the 70s, all over again.) Life is always elsewhere, especially when it most palpably isn’t. The emergence from crepuscular puberty into the high self-romance that follows.

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Nakata Brophy Prize
Type
Short Story Prize

Nakata Brophy Prize: Judges’ notes

An extraordinary piece of writing from the first line to the last, this story really stood out for the judges. The hyper-lyrical, dreamy quality is thoroughly immersive, giving a sense of the inner life in a way that’s reminiscent of Eimear McBride. Some of the lines send shivers down the spine: the narrator’s ‘mouth full of ghosts’, the library that is ‘heap and broken image’. It is no surprise to us to learn that the author is also an accomplished poet who was a runner-up in the poetry section of the Nakata Brophy Prize last year.

Araluen_NBP fiction
Type
Short Story Prize

Nakata Brophy Prize, first place: Muyum: a transgression

When I crossed there was only little light darkly.

This place where I have been told to find you is light and floor-stained tea tree, as my sister who dreams has described, she who sees still water when she hears my name. It is she who should be here to lay down in you and listen, but I was the one who was unravelled by silence.

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Haddad story
Type
Fiction

Broken zippers

The first question in the performance review asks: Describe the most rewarding task you have completed in your role in the past three months.

I think: ‘Robbing dishwashing tablets from the cleaner’s cupboard for home.’ I write: ‘Finding a suitable foster carer for the Wilson siblings was very rewarding because I managed to keep them together …’

Clements fiction
Type
Fiction

Magpie

Seventeen weeks after they moved to the city, Sofia stole her boyfriend’s mouth. She’d been toying with the idea, on and off, for months. She knew it was the lazy way out. She didn’t want things to just be handed to her – she wanted to work, to grow. She had been to the Volkshochschule and sat on a hard chair for three hours waiting to be given a number to be given a lesson.

MacCarter poem
Type
Poetry

Cyan 0%, Magenta 69%, Yellow 100%, Key 6%

US Coast Guard U-turned to Pier Thirty-nine

August DeMont co-produced daughter number one

Carol DeMont was her name

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Atherton poem
Type
Poetry

Faulkner

My mother is a fish. I have buried her three times already, but the water table is high and she floats to the surface. I cleaned her, using scissors to cut anteriorly through the bones attached to her pelvic fins

Umar poem
Type
Poetry

On his portrayal of Coach Boone in Remember the Titans

‘… memories don’t work the way we want them to. when i’m lifting my daughter to the clouds, facing the football coiling towards my nose, catching my reflection in a pane of glass –

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Beesley poem 1
Type
Poetry

Spotless

To try and write say like Mallarmé ah malted tie anodyne or

write it. I had a notice envelope inside and I went into the kit.

The bag had an antidote to my own, or own poem, which was

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5621249984_5011a23cf1_z
Type
Poetry

Syndromes and a century*

Don’t star/t anything. Keep your _and

on a pencil the film will follow. Lift

your arms. French for the snack of water

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Yee I_lann internal crop
Type
Art

Guest artist for Overland 227: Yee I-Lann

Artwork for this edition by guest artist Yee I-Lann.

I-Lann studied at the University of South Australia and at St Martins School of Arts in London. Their photomedia-based practice speculates on issues of culture, power, neo-colonialism and historical memory.