Issue 27 – Transitions
Issue 27 Transitions: Ecopoetics from the Global South arrives at a time of uncertainty—which is perhaps a cliché to say now— but also at the titular time of transitions. Extremely rapidly, the earth and our climates are changing and we are adapting the way we live in order to sustain life. As writers and creators, we are attempting to make sense of these transitions, to deconstruct our human damages, to imagine futures, and discern meaning and hold a lens to the current and the past. This collection of ecopoetry, fiction and nonfiction offers fresh insights on climate and environmental discourse from across Australia and the global south.
Our guest poetry editor Caitlin Maling, shares her insights on this issue’s poetry collection:
In the call out for this edition, the editors specified they/we were looking for work ‘from those whose connection to land, culture and community are often silenced’ to ask ‘how can we use writing to explore the complex relationships between the natural environment, human experience, culture, place, urbanisation, colonisation and climate change?’
We received hundreds of very good poems submitted, but the ones I’ve chosen for the issue, I chose in light of these incitations. I was interested in work that pushed into the uncomfortable spaces of ecopoetics, whether thematic or formal, so Greg Page asserts that ‘B\barbed Wire’ is ‘no bigger symbol of the invasion / … the continent is still covered in the stuff’ and Ojo Taiye asks ‘What is it that makes me see myself / more loving than the capitalist world?’, while Rachel Mead reworks Terrance Haye’s in the form of a golden shovel to state ‘the answers are needed the world staring down its own destruction / and here I sit twiddling around with rhythm and the fall of a word’ and Craig Santos Perez puts the sonnet to use to show us ‘California / where fire is harvesting four million acres / of ash’. This is not to say there is not beauty to be found in the ashes of these poems; we have many poems that insist on specificity, on valuing the minutiae of the extra-than-human world; Debbie Lim brings us the blue-ringed octopus ‘flashing its blue halos’, while Vinita Agrawal offers us what has been lost of the ‘Splendid Poison Frog’ with its ‘skin, brilliant coral, eyes, kohl black’.
What I found in each of the poems selected was a complexity of thought, one that consistently implicated language – the poem – in the patterns of power linked to ecological destruction, but conversely also offered us language as a productive creative force. They are not peaceful poems, because these are not peaceful times, but they are poems from which we might draw solace, even respite, and above all they are poems that insist on joining, bringing together times, themes, forms, places and species.
— Caitlin Maling
Following similar thematic concerns, our fiction and nonfiction decentre the anthropocene or deeply embed ecological life and destructive climatic consequences with human realities. Ruminations of the past, the future, displacement and colonial dominance permeate these stories, as well as a sense that all life forms are fundamentally connected and dependent. We are invited to see from nonhuman beings: Zoë Meager’s koalas clinging for life entangled in hedonistic human entertainment, and an ageing Fig Tree in Dinasha Edirisinghe’s Vesak which fluidly shifts between human perspectives and the tree in connecting contemplations. Jenni Mazaraki and Juanita Broderick reflect on the ongoing repercussions of natural disaster, loss and rebuilding life. Broderick’s Cathedral Thinking in particular provides a unique link between environmental destruction for Iceland and Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Moving beyond Australia, Sushma Joshi’s essay offers a rich and sharp insight into the damaging environmental impacts of Nepal’s communist rule on daily life.
We also have glimpses of the near future: Isabelle Quilty imagines an evocative planet of absence, while April DeMoyer constructs a catastrophic dystopian near future filled with corruption, synthetic substances and a new-world climate largely incompatible with the plants we know today. And lastly, the intimacy and tenderness of Megan Cheong’s narrative is an opportunity to reflect on our role as parents or nurturers of vulnerable humans on an ever more vulnerable planet.
This issue also features two new reviews alongside seventeen reviews published throughout the second half of the year—the collection spanning a broad and fresh range of ideas and critical considerations. We are very proud to continue our partnership with the Deborah Cass Prize and publish the winning entry: Bryant Apolio’s ‘Independencia’. It is also a pleasure to publish the two runner ups: Ira Frolova and Patrick Arulanadam. Congratulations to the winners, and to another year of these integral awards celebrating writers from migrant backgrounds.
We are thrilled to feature Stickmob artist Alyssa Mason’s stunning ‘Rainbow Serpent’ as our cover art. The human-animal-environment interaction in her work opens up deep considerations.
Finally, we offer our congratulations and a warm thank you to all our talented contributing writers, our guest poetry editor Caitlin Maling, our founding editor Michelle Cahill for her guidance, and our wonderful readers.
Editors Monique Nair & Anthea Yang