Introducing Overland 232

Type
Editorial

Once upon a time, there was a first sentence. I wasn’t sure what to write after that.’ There isn’t a contributor here (or perhaps anywhere) who wouldn’t concur with Mel Campbell’s sentiment on beginnings.

All the columnists in this edition muse on startings and endings. How do we begin anything, asks Campbell. What if endings are no longer quite so … final, asks Giovanni Tiso.

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croggon
Type
Column

On memory

One of my earliest memories, dating from before I was four years old, is of lying down in a darkened room. I can hear footsteps inside my ear canal. Thump. Thump. Thump. Finally I sit up, and a tiny witch on a broomstick flies out of my ear.

I am not in the least surprised. I knew she was in there.

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Type
Column
Category
Writing

On the beginning of writing

The field of ‘writering’ – writing about writing – conceptualises the uncertainty before writing as a hostile territory to be hacked through as efficiently as possible using either mindfulness or careful planning. The pedagogues would have you approach writing with the ruthless efficiency of an army invading hostile territory.

Toso col
Type
Column

On remembering to back-up grandpa

You won’t even bother to call it a funeral. ‘We are disposing of my grandfather’s body today,’ you will say. ‘Family only.’ Later that evening, on the car ride back home, you will switch on the digital copy of grandpa and the two of you will resume the conversation you were having the night before on his deathbed.

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Type
Column
Category
Reading

On Kes

I always hated school. Hated the teachers who beat us at the first nervous twitch of the morning. Hated sitting in a box of a room, watching the hands of a clock crawl across its own face. Hated being barked at by teachers: ‘Look this way, Birch!’ they would yell whenever I became transfixed by the river flowing outside the window. But I did love reading.

Synnott
Type
Essay
Category
Violence
Writing

The bird you are holding

By writing stories about ‘issues’, I was trying to respond to what I saw as urgent social and moral crises. The problem was that the more I wrote, the less satisfied I felt with my mode of response, the less confident I was about fiction’s capacity to do the job. At the same time, I was becoming increasingly concerned that I was using other people’s trauma for my own benefit.

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Giblin illo2
Type
Essay
Category
Copyright
Writing

Fat horses & starving sparrows

But the bullshit I’m interested in right now is that populating Australia’s copyright reform debates.

A great deal of this bullshit is motivated by good intentions – most notably, the desire to sustain writers’ incomes in an era of precipitous, disastrous decline.

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Type
Essay
Category
Race

The hypocrisy of hybridity

The contradictions of my heritage would raise more questions than I felt comfortable discussing with a stranger. It’s considered bad manners to decline questions, yet apparently it’s reasonable for my identity to be an object of curiosity and scrutiny. These encounters were like a game of confessional dodgeball, with me trying to sidestep questions and steer the conversation away from my ‘exotic’ heritage.

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Type
Essay
Category
Colonialism
Israel

‘Making the desert bloom’

I write this article in the seventieth year of Israel’s existence, from the perspective of a Jewish anti-Zionist activist and scholar. I remain highly critical of both Israel and the JNF, an organisation that maintains an almost unchallenged prestige and normalcy among Australian Jewry. The JNF has also received the endorsement of the Australian government, having been granted the status of an environmental, gift-deductible charity, despite overwhelming evidence that its activities contribute to Bedouin dispossession and suffering.

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Type
Essay
Category
Activism
Left politics

Against apologies

Before becoming a writer, I trained in anthropology, a discipline traditionally concerned with ritual. This training has served me unexpectedly well over nearly ten years of involvement in left-wing organising: the left is a space heavy with codified language and actions, and governed by a set of intricate, unwritten rules usually viewed by outsiders as mysterious, ridiculous, or both. In particular, I have recently found myself considering the ritualistic way in which people on the left feel compelled to offer apologies for having a relatively stable, relatively plentiful life – often glossed as various forms of ‘privilege’.

Klein illo 2
Type
Essay
Category
Inequality

Breaking the spell of labour

This settler nation was built on the norm of waged labour. Participating in the formal economy was and still is the only way that someone can be counted as a productive member of society. This norm is reflected in attitudes towards welfare: access to social security was always conditional on whether you were deemed to have contributed to the country, such as through work or taxes. This is why some academics refer to Australia as a ‘workers’ welfare state’.

Que illo2
Type
Essay
Category
Activism
Art

Securing the state art museum

On Saturday 14 October 2017, the moats outside Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria ran red. The protest, conducted by a group of artists and art workers known as the Artists’ Committee, was part of a campaign to highlight the NGV’s unethical commercial relationship with Wilson Security. As well as providing security services for the gallery, Wilson was the security contractor for the Australian government’s offshore detention facilities on Manus Island (2014–17) and, still, at Nauru (2012–?).

Butler illo 2
Type
Essay
Category
Inequality
Reading

Everything that is courageous & beautiful

Unapologetically sentimental, romantic and popular, Gallico wrote commercial fiction with humanist messages. In Flowers for Mrs Harris, a domestic cleaner on low wages decides she wants a Dior dress. She saves her money and travels to Paris to buy one, but the compassion and generosity she is met with come to matter far more.

Gallico was not literary, nor was he cynical. He was a storyteller for the masses – and he was hopeful.

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Type
Short Story Prize
Category
Writing

Judges’ notes | VU Short Story Prize

In the 2018 Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize, 863 entries were divided between us, the four judges. From a pooled longlist of thirty stories, we selected a very strong shortlist of thirteen. Then came the difficult task of choosing just two runners-up and one winner. We are thrilled to announce the three stories that placed this year.

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Type
Short Story Prize

Dear Ophelia | Runner-up, VU Short Story Prize

I see body bags every day. That same ugly, non-porous, blue plastic becomes so monotonous, so easy to forget the contents, negating countless lives. The unzipping takes me back to childhood days spent camping. You hear it? That early morning surfacing from the tent, tearing the mosquito netting open to eagerly set out for a new day of adventure and exploration. Easy, carefree days.

Synnott crop
Type
Short Story Prize

Nothing in the night | Runner-up, VU Short Story Prize

The boy is running again. You can tell by his feet that’s what he is doing. It takes you some time to understand he is running – in the beginning the sound of those feet isn’t any way peculiar to the other morning sounds. I was once a boy myself but I was never like that: my steps never made that small smacking sound, smacking in their little rhythm along Sadlier Street.

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Type
Poetry

Strawberry dawn

The current sluices through her toes, rendering them in duck shit.

She picks at a whitehead on her shoulder.

She wears a bra with solid black straps, sheer cups – expensive.

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Type
Poetry

Ghosts

I can’t think of a time she uses it. The word. Ghost.
My difficulty. Believing this. There are ghosts
everywhere in her words. She just uses other.