From Georgetown, Guyana to London, England, sugar and ideas have long circulated. But the history of the Booker prize is itself imperial, its funding originating from agribusiness conglomerate that has its routes in the nineteenth century sugar trade. Where many are aware that Cecil Rhodes owned large swathes of what is now Zimbabwe, fewer recall the Booker’s reliance on slavery in Guyana.
Over and over again, this pandemic has offered a simple lesson that we have refused to absorb: that precarious work with low pay and few, if any, protections is a blight on individuals and societies. Like our punitive welfare system, it distorts and dehumanises, makes individuals acutely vulnerable to health and financial stressors of all kinds, and is a disease vector.
In the weeks to come, we should expect a concerted campaign to minimise, excuse or justify the crimes the Brereton Report exposes. It’s critical to push back against it, to ensure that some sort of legal accountability takes place. If we don’t, we’ll be laying the grounds for future atrocities. But it’s even more important to insist on the connection between these atrocities and the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
Why subscribe? Because this year we survived a pandemic and ruthless cuts to arts funding, but we’re going to need your help to survive (and thrive) in 2021. Because we will continue to do whatever we can to make sure that all voices are heard, to resist and destroy the systems that deny them, and to drown out the drone of the status quo. Because there’s nothing more satisfying than the first time you open a new issue of Overland and you can smell, touch and hear the pages and pages of hope, fury, joy and revolution printed in neatly set, size 12 font.
In the first half of 2020, Overland received a small grant to help the magazine provide writing and publishing opportunities during the pandemic lockdown, part of a broader scheme by Creative Victoria to save the arts sector when so many jobs and gigs completely disappeared for so many artists. ‘Poetry in Lockdown’ is one outcome of this—