Writers, said Overland’s founding editor Stephen Murray-Smith in one of our early issues,
record the storms of history as they rage through the lives and minds of people. They must respond to the storm from whatever direction it is blowing. You cannot face one and turn your back on another.
This year is the anniversary of a number of tempests. It’s been one hundred years since the First World War began and seventy-five years since the Second. The Berlin Wall fell twenty-five years ago, Apartheid twenty. In a few months, it will be a year since Australia set-up internment camps on Manus Island and, once again, Nauru.
It is also Overland’s sixtieth year of publication. At four editions a year, that’s 240 issues, and somewhere in the vicinity of 6.5 million words (not including our digital magazine’s output). When I tell people I work at a magazine started in the 1950s by members of the Communist Party of Australia, I always feel a spark of audacity: who would’ve thought that humble, earnest quarterly would still have things to say about the way the world works and our place within it all these years on? Overland remains a magazine that encourages dissent, interrogation and craft: a beacon for writers and readers not content with the way the world is.
We’re kicking off our anniversary year with a fetching new design, and an issue filled with compelling columns, essays, the winning poems from the Overland Judith Wright prize, and ‘Fancy cuts’, a project by fiction editor Jennifer Mills that invites writers to revisit fiction published in our early issues. This edition covers storms we won’t turn our backs on: detention centres, national identity, forced adoption, notions of truth and representation.
It is the ‘hour for courage’, as Anna Akhmatova wrote, and Overland is still facing all the storms. Get set for an audacious anniversary year.