The end of 2015 is an unusual time politically – a period when the International Brigades are invoked as justification to bomb Syria, even as transgender rights are finally central to debates about identity. Are we on the precipice of transformation or in the eye of the storm? These are the questions elicited by the writings in this edition, such as in Sam Wallman’s reportage about refuge and its refusal in Europe, which calls to mind Dorothy Hewett’s ‘Exodus’:
this unmourned multitude who trudge
across earth’s thunderous surface
Belgrade to Kosovo to Baghdad burning.
Elsewhere in the edition, Ben Eltham weighs up the correlation between arts funding and ‘excellence’, Eliora Avraham pens a manifesto for transgender justice, and Sophie Cunningham documents inequality and resistance in America’s most expensive city. There’s also Lauren Carroll Harris’s interrogation of art in the academy, Simon Gennard on Guglielmo Marconi’s slippery self-mythologising, and Laurie Penny’s expose of Facebook’s identity issues.
This edition contains the winners of the 2015 Victoria University Short Story Prize – Barry Lee Thompson, Jennifer Down and Genevieve Poetka – and this year’s Story Wine Prize, Melissa Manning.
The poetry here is Peter Minter’s last selection for us. Peter has been a magnificent editor – his sharp eye, aesthetic and political sensibilities, and indefatigability will be missed, but he leaves behind a thriving poetry community.
On a sad note, we also pay tribute to Professor John McLaren, former Overland editor and patron, and founder of the modern Australian Book Review, who died on 4 December. He was a man of letters and the Left until the end.
In the coming year, let us continue to resist indifference, or as Natalie Harkin puts it:
I think of the women
who fought and loved so hard
I raise my hand catch their last breath