Candy Royalle

unnamed-426x279-300x196Candy Royalle is an award-winning performance artist and poet who fuses cinematic storytelling, poetry and unique vocal rhythms with confronting, political and heart thumping content. She tackles topics ranging from sexual obsession to social injustice, illuminating the darker areas of the human psyche for her audiences. Few who see her can forget her intensity, her combustible blend of intellect, imagination and heart. Recent accolades include being awarded the 2014 Marten Bequest Traveling Scholarship for poetry, a highly commended award for the Queensland Poetry Filmakers Challenge, and winner of the 2012 World Performance Poetry Cup as well as the AIPF Excellence in Poetry Award in both 2012 and 2013. She has won numerous competitions and has been nominated and highly commended for a number of awards. Her work has been published and featured both in publications and online including Overland, Australian Love Poems, Radio National’s Poetica, AIPF’s Diversity anthology and many more.

In Australia, Royalle is a festival veteran – from the Woodford Folk Festival to the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, the Sydney Writers Festival to the Adelaide Fringe Festival to name just a small few. Her Butch Priestess Tour sold out in the UK and the USA.

Candy says:

“Through the art of poetry and story telling I have a unique privilege to rehumanise not just my own story, but the story of others.”  (ABC Radio Interview)

“I’m very pleased that you would like to run with “Stained”, it’s an important piece for me. I think the theme “Between Black and White” really speaks to me. I have always existed on the fringes – never quite Arab enough, never quite “Australian” enough. It’s like an embraced purgatory because I get to choose the parts I identify with. It also means I am comfortable being critical of both.”


Ivy Alvarez

imagesIvy Alvarez is the author of Disturbance (Seren, 2013) and Mortal (2006). Her latest chapbook is Hollywood Starlet (dancing girl press). Her poems appears in many publications, including Best Australian Poems, with several translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived many years in the UK before moving to New Zealand.


What Clara Bow Stole

Walking through Kowloon Park, I blow
to cool my gai-daan-jai — steamy treats
crunchy-sweet.      Ooh, that fool director’s so beastly!
Don’t speak, he’d said, look pretty.
Too easy. Winking, I opened wide,
facing his one dark eye. Boop-boop-be-doo!
We knew. I won.      Plunge fingers,
twist off pastry pieces and chew. A man,
his wife, sit, leaning on each other in the dark.
It scratches my heart. When I stole
my mother’s coat, after she held the butcher’s
knife to my throat, it scratched like that.
One more bite. Just like her, I’m committed
to my paper bag, my asylum of sweetness.


What Ava Gardner Delivered

Under the bridge, a dim lagoon.
Slow notes from a saxophone
glow in the trees. The pool
becomes a black sky, fallen leaves collapsed stars.

Angel, he calls me. Frankie’s name for me. I remember how he
stroked my skin, his wedding ring scratching my chin
as I stood to deliver us from the second gift
of my belly.      Afterwards, he gave me jewellery.

Here I am a raven calling out to borders, guards,
the staring crowds: goodbye.
A soldier looks into my eyes, murmurs
something low and kind to me.
I fold into my dark coat,
say thank you.

The Boy Who Believed in Magic by Zahid Gamieldien

bio2 (1)Zahid Gamieldien is a writer, tutor and former lawyer. In 2015, his fiction has been published in Overland, Tincture JournalBahamut Journal and Pantheon Magazine.




The Boy Who Believed in Magic

The camp gets attacked on a Monday afternoon. I’m in the antechamber of the medical tent, administering the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella to a young girl. She’s afraid of the syringe, and I tell her not to worry, that everything will be okay. Her mother soothes her in Manding language, probably Dioula, but even she seems tense. The girl is bawling and I call the Dutch nurse, Klaas, into the antechamber.

I’ll show you a magic trick, I say to the girl.

Klaas nods and I turn to a cabinet, on top of which is a Styrofoam cup. I make a small hole in the cup and push my thumb through it, and then I grip it with both hands. Feigning intense concentration, I lever my fingers and palms from the cup, which is held in place by my obscured thumb, and I shiver the cup through the air as if it’s levitating. The girl goes quiet. Klaas kneels beside her and swabs her upper arm with an alcohol wipe. He jabs her with the syringe. She begins to wail and I grab hold of the cup while Klaas and the girl’s mother apply a bandage to her puncture. Sighing loudly, I return the cup to the cabinet and listen to the girl’s crying fade from the medical tent.

You should give this doctor business up and get into the magic shows, Klaas remarks. We chuckle; I like the way he shushes his S’s.

I’m about to reply when I hear a convoy of jeeps in the distance. Klaas and I step out of the medical tent and stand there, watching. The camp is in chaos. People are running every which way: some roil the dirt as they sprint to nowhere; others dash into their tents, which are draped in white sheets like Halloween houses or Californian bungalows being fumigated. The sheets carry UNHCR branding.

Through a rust-coloured cloud of dust, I spy a man that I recognise. He’s barefoot, carrying a machete, leading his family toward the dirt road.

What’s happening? I ask.

It’s better for you to run, doctor, is all he says.

I don’t move.

The regular doctor at the camp, a South African named Sissy, sprints past me and into the medical tent. Klaas and I follow her. She heads for the tent’s main room, which has two rows of eight hospital beds divided by a narrow aisle. I realise that most of the patients must have fled behind my back: only four remain, and each of them is unconscious.

Too late to move them, Sissy grunts.

Klaas and I wear guilty expressions and now, close by, I hear peals of gunfire, the screech of brakes. My skin feels numb, tinnitus in my ears — no, not tinnitus: I can isolate the screams of individuals, of children, of women, of men, and they get cut short, these screams, abruptly, like when you press the mute button on a TV remote.

Klaas’s brow is moist; he wipes it with a shaky hand. Sissy, the only one of us with her wits about her, drags a sheet up over the face of one of the patients. Klaas and I realise what she’s doing and we follow suit, until the four patients are entirely covered. We head back to the antechamber and wait.

The footsteps on the ground are heavy, jackbooted perhaps, and I know immediately that the people sheltering in their tents are not going to survive: their choral screams rise and grow elliptical and fall silent, the tempo dictated by a grim layer of percussion. I dap my Adam’s apple in my throat and try not to picture it, but I can’t help it. Klaas whimpers; he’s pale as a waxwork and wet with sweat. Sissy places her hand on his back, as if to steady him in case he passes out. Her mouth is shut tight.

Two soldiers, dressed in black shirts and camouflage pants, enter the antechamber. Both have AK47s. One of the soldiers is tall, not yet twenty; he’s wielding a machete as well as a gun. The other is pubescent, a boy, although he has no laugh in him and his brow is as creased as a forty-year-old’s. The tall soldier raps something in a Kru dialect, directing his question at Sissy. He jerks his rifle toward the main room. Sissy stares at him dumbly and he repeats the question in French.

C’est une morgue, Sissy responds. Allez jeter un oeil. She’s defiant, but her voice quavers. Squinting dubiously, the tall soldier issues a command to his accomplice, the boy, who adjusts his aim.

The tall soldier ambles into the main room. He pauses near a covered patient and slings his AK47 over his shoulder, and then he takes out his machete and drives it through the patient’s chest. There’s the crack of a ribcage and the gurgle of blood in a throat, the strain of ungreased bedsprings. I stifle a scream, Sissy’s eyes go to her feet, and Klaas holds his breath. We don’t watch any more. The tall soldier returns to the antechamber, dragging behind him a white sheet with which he wipes the stains from his machete. He shrugs and says something to the boy, before he drops the sheet and exits the medical tent.

The boy’s forehead grows more serious and he’s yelling at us in Kru which, of course, none of us can understand. He’s becoming frustrated and I realise that he’s asking us — no, ordering us — to turn around so that he can shoot us in the back. We comply, slowly.

Don’t do this, Sissy pleads. We’re doctors. Médecins.

I glance over my shoulder: the boy is unmoved, or otherwise, he doesn’t understand. I see that Sissy and Klaas are holding hands. Klaas is muttering a prayer. They’re resigned to their fate.

I’m about to clasp Sissy’s other hand when I spot the Styrofoam cup on the cabinet, and I don’t know why, but I grab it and push my thumb through the little hollow in it.

I’ll show you a magic trick, I offer.

There’s confusion on the boy’s face, yet I press on with the routine, releasing the cup from my hands, leaving it perched on the end of my thumb, giving the illusion that it’s defying gravity.

See, it’s magic, I say.

Mah-jik, the boy repeats.

That’s right, I say. Magic.

He takes a couple of paces back and glances outside of the tent. I crush the cup in my hand. Sissy’s expression betrays her puzzlement, Klaas’s his relief. The boy mimics turning a key in a lock, and I’m confused.

Unlock? I ask uncertainly.

I think he wants a car, Klaas observes.

I take my keys from my pocket and jangle them, as if I’m performing another trick. The boy beckons with his rifle and I cant my head to the others, indicating that we should follow.

In single file we step out of the medical tent. In Dutch, Klaas recites the Lord’s Prayer. The camp is a Golgotha of corpses upon which dust is settling like ash, like in the aftermath of a volcano. The tents are silent and riddled with buckshot. Sissy’s hand is over her mouth. I also want to vomit. The boy prods me in the side with his AK47 and we walk — the three of us now in front of him — toward the dirt road, past booted and barefoot soldiers, and the dead, and firewood that is being kindled for a pyre. In the shade of a palm tree is a group of armed men, who laugh out of the sides of their mouths, gravely, or as if they’re chewing tobacco.

As we reach the dirt road, I can hear yelling from behind us. It’s the tall soldier. He’s about thirty metres away, striding toward us and waving his hand to call the boy back to the camp. I expect the boy to stop, but he presses the AK47 against my spine, forces us to quicken our pace. We get to my four wheel drive, which is near the parked convoy of jeeps, and the yelling is getting louder, closer.

I jump into the driver’s seat and the boy gets in the other side, pointing his gun at me. Sissy and Klaas hop in the back.

Make it fast, Sissy urges.

Ja, ja, ja, Klaas adds.

They buckle their seatbelts. I start the engine and immediately my window smashes. The tall soldier is opening fire on us. I reverse and lose the back wheels in a ditch, and I hear them spin unavailingly, and the spittle of bullets against the side door, and then the tyres gain traction and we’re away.

Once we’re out of sight, I move to switch on my GPS and the boy stays my hand.

Where do you want me to go? I ask, and he shuts his eyes in meditation.

He doesn’t know where he’s going, Klaas says.

He saved our lives, Sissy replies quietly.

The boy opens his eyes and yawns. Miles of dead road drift by, and when we reach a fork he indicates that we should take the road to the left.

The other way goes to the city, I suggest, pointing. He sits up straight and places his finger on the trigger; he’ll brook no argument. I say, Okay, okay.

After we’ve been driving for ninety minutes, the boy straightens his fingers. I bring the car to a halt near a village that’s been burned to the ground. There’s no sign of life; only the outlines of the dwellings remain. The boy taps his chest and blinks back tears.

I think he was kidnapped from here, I say. We drive a little farther down the road and then get out of the car. Beside us is a dried up cocoa plantation, the trees forked like dowsing rods that have lost the art of divination.

As we enter the plantation I notice that there’s a camp there, hidden from the road. Tarpaulins are tied to the branches of the cocoa trees and curious people with sunken eyes begin to emerge, to study us as we approach. The boy says something to a middle-aged woman, who nods approvingly. He guides us between rows of trees to one of the campsites near the end. It’s sheltered by a faded tarp and there’s an old man seated there. He’s fanning flies from the face of a woman, an elderly woman, who’s lying on the ground; she has a severely infected wound on her neck and her lips have gone white. The boy puts down his weapon and holds her hand in both of his.

He gazes up at Sissy. Dok-toor? he implores.

The breath flows heavy through her chest. She shakes her head. Sorry, she says. There’s nothing I can do. Désolée.

The news sinks in, and then the boy’s eyebrows rise with hope as he looks to me. Mah-jik, he says, and I begin to sob, and I see that Sissy’s jaw is tight, and Klaas has his head tilted to the sky, and I watch as the boy realises that there’s no such thing.







Harriet McKnight interviews Laurel Fantauzzo

LaurelLaurel Fantauzzo is a writer and teacher. Much of her work finds her studying appetite, identity, the signals for real love, and the search for home. She is largely a nonfiction writer and an essayist, but she also writes young adult fiction. Laurel Fantauzzo was born in Southern California to a Filipina mother and an Italian-American father.


Laurel Fantauzzo on identity, writing, and finding a way through.
Born in Southern California to a Filipina mother and an Italian-American father, Laurel Fantauzzo has called Brooklyn, Manila and Iowa City home. Currently, she lives in Singapore and teaches literature and creative writing at Yale-NUS.

Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Manila Review, and Esquire Philippines to name a few. She earned a 2011 Fulbright research scholarship, a 2012 Iowa Arts Fellowship, and a 2013 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature. Her unpublished non-fiction manuscript, The First Impulse: Notes on Love, Film, and Death in the Philippines, is an investigation into the unsolved deaths of two young film critics, and she is currently at work on a memoir.

There is an undercurrent to Laurel’s work that is hard to define. An acknowledgement of the complexities of the emotional and social worlds she finds herself in, a consideration of the intrinsic nature of social and political discourse and the everyday, and an intelligence that would make approaching her in an interview context potentially intimidating. But in person, Laurel is a lot like her writing: generous, sharp, and affecting.

Harriet: Do you consider your work to be political?

Laurel: Yes!

Harriet: Can you define the political nature of your work? Would you consider it to be political in terms of critiquing the broad, social structures of society or in terms of it subscribing to the second-wave feminist concept of ‘the personal is political’?

Laurel: Again: yes. Ha!

But it’s true! When it comes to writing, I don’t necessarily believe in the application of “either/ or.” I avoid dichotomies, because if dichotomies were broadly applied, I, a hybrid person, would not exist! And (today, anyway), I rather like existing.

I do critique the broad social structures of society, and I do it through my documentation of small, personal gestures. Where do we feel oppression most intimately? I’d argue that we feel it the most in quiet interactions, where we assume ourselves to be safe, and / or innocent. A writer whose work I follow, Elaine Castillo, paraphrased Frantz Fanon when she told me we should examine our privileges with as much passion as we examine our oppressions. I’m interested in examining how we both suffer from, and perpetuate, damaging social structures in our day-to-day decisions. It’s a weighty examination, but I think it’s important to be conscious.

Harriet: You write often of being an outsider in your motherland, the Philippines, but particularly in the beautiful essay ‘Under My Invisible Umbrella’, you discuss the complexities of being white-skinned in a brown land. Would you consider the ability to espouse politics to be a position of privilege? And how do you negotiate that within your work?

Laurel: Yes, it is a position of privilege. I was born in Southern California and speak American English. Growing up with a frequently frustrated Filipina mother and a Filipina grandmother with limited English, I became somewhat fluent in code-switching, subtly changing my reactions and language around groups of Filipinos versus groups of white Americans. The language I know best, English, is the world’s favored linguistic currency of business and power. My pallid complexion is still associated with high beauty standards. I try to name the relevant, unearned advantages I hold as the writer and narrator. But I am sure I make errors, fail, and carry blind spots of my own.

A friend teased me for feeling annoyed at pale foreigners who come to the Philippines, often men who drone on and on to Filipinos with their so-called outsider expertise. “But you’re white!” she said, and laughed. Yes, in the Philippines, I am considered white; in the US, my race is a question mark, and in Romania I was asked if I was from China or Japan. I said to my friend, “Don’t worry. I have plenty of contempt for myself as well.” It’s a difficult balance, in nonfiction: making confident assertions while carrying a modicum of humility and a sense of humor. I try.

Harriet: As is the case in your essay ‘The Animals in My Home’, there is a real weaving of your life in the Philippines with your past in the United States, including your use of Tagalog words mixed in with the English. Is this “code-switching” between cultures something that you find challenging to translate into your non-fiction? At a craft level, was it ever something that you had to reconcile? Or in your opinion, is the written word a space you feel most allows for a fluidity of identity?

Laurel: No, it’s not challenging. It’s just my life.

I never had to reconcile any of my cultural subjects on a craft level. I mostly had to reconcile with myself on a psychological level before I was able to write the stories I have inside me. I felt apologetic and sheepish about identifying as Filipina and claiming the Philippines as a home. Now I am more inclined to embrace my sense of unbelonging. I’ve let go of the idea that any one country or any one label will ever offer me a complete sense of home, much less a complete sense of self. The hyphen is where I live.

Harriet: That is a really beautiful answer. I’d be interested to know however how much you feel that you draw from your environment. Outside the usual progression with your craft, do you think your writing has changed since your move to the Philippines?

Laurel: Yes. In the US I was laboring under the unspoken assumption that my ultimate audience would be white Americans who have very little patience for hybrid people and stories from abroad. Whether or not it was ultimately true, or just my own fears, I think this assumption weighed on me, making me feel a bit hopeless and constrained about the worth of my work. In the Philippines I was somehow able to realign my conscious and unconscious priorities and free my voice. In both graduate school and from Manila, I was also fortunate to work with supportive teachers and editors.

Speaking of privilege, the cost of living in the Philippines, while unjustly burdensome to the vast majority Filipino citizens, is also unjustly easier for persons from abroad. So whereas in the US, I would have had to have several roommates and jobs to support myself as a teacher and a writer, I was able to have my own apartment in Metro Manila and even a cat. The space of my own was, and remains, important.

Harriet: Which is sort of a tricky emotional space to inhabit at times I’d imagine. Do you feel a sense of conflict between your privileged “white” background and your less privileged “non-white” backgrounds? As a writer who is conscious of exposing social oppression and differences, do you feel it difficult to reconcile your own lifestyle in comparison to those around you, and does this complicate your writing process?

Laurel: This line of questioning gives me a tension headache!

Harriet: Oh no! Sorry about that! The summary of your thesis/ first non-fiction, full-length manuscript The First Impulse: Notes on Love, Film, and Death in the Philippines describes it as your “attempt at literature as a form of justice”. How far do you see literature can go towards obtaining justice and “writing” wrongs?

Laurel: I think literature can be both a first and last resort. In a society where justice and the truth are elusive, accurate storytelling can be nothing less than an act of revolution. But the kind of revolution that leads to repair, not more violence. That is my hope at least.

Harriet: That’s my hope also. It would be lovely to finish on a lighter note. Can you talk a little about what is exciting you at the moment?

Laurel: You can leave in my response about the tension headache! But I’ll return to your earlier question now.

In a world that requires binaries and absolutes, those of us with mixed identities are often looked at with assumptions that do not have room for our realities. As the scholar Alex Orquiza says, it is very dangerous and usually a mistake to use absolute terms when discussing identity. I suppose that’s what makes me wince; the premise of your question. I feel it assumes that as a mixed race, mixed culture person, I transform in manipulative ways. That I am inevitably the perpetual traitor and outsider in whatever space I occupy. There is a trope in popular 20th century fiction that mixed race people are inevitably tragic, not able to fit anywhere. I don’t think I’m particularly tragic. Most days I simply am. Or try to be.

I suppose you’re right, though. Clearly I do feel a sense of conflict! But unresolvable conflicts can be healthy for essayists, even if they cause pain and frustration.

As for what’s exciting me at the moment: fresh squash blossoms, sold curbside, roasted with cheese in my little toaster oven. My cat, asleep with her face in the palm of my hand. The Legend of Korra, with its sense of humor, strong female physicality, scenes of terror and post-traumatic stress disorder, and its development of a sweet, genuine lesbian love story at its apex.

That about covers it!

You can read Laurel’s wonderful essay, ‘How To Survive A Super Typhoon’ here. 


!cid_7E11896E-DBBD-4EE9-B60E-E10B8E938126@telstra_comHarriet McKnight currently lives in Melbourne. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Her work has been published in The Lifted Brow and The Suburban Review digital editions and she has worked since 2013 as the deputy editor of The Canary Press.

Sumedha Iyer reviews Home After Dark by Kavita Nandan

home after dark_bigHome After Dark

by Kavita Nandan

USP Press. Fiji

ISBN 9789820109216

Reviewed by SUMEDHA IYER

Early in Kavita Nandan’s
Home After Dark, the protagonist Kamini meets V.S. Naipaul and tells him that A House for Mr. Biswas is her favourite book. He asks her where she is from; when she says she is Fijian, he simply says “Ah, that’s why you like the book.” This congruence between Fiji and Trinidad, two island nations that were former British colonies, is deeply frustrating to Kamini: “Yet we knew very little about the specifics of each other’s lives, content to exist in our separate worlds.” The protagonist’s deliberation on the specificity of postcolonial experience seems indicative that this is something that Nandan’s novel aspires to.

If J.M Coetzee’s assertion that “all autobiography is storytelling, all writing is autobiography” is true, then it finds especial resonance with Home After Dark. The novel reads as though there is a lot of the author’s own life being traced out in the narrative. On paper, there are elements of Nandan’s life that are in common with the novel’s protagonist. Nandan has spent her life between Australia, Fiji and India, and she is also an academic. But the synonymy between Nandan’s biographic details and the narrative plotted out for Kamini are not of themselves interesting. Nandan’s storytelling skill relies on the weaving together of various cultural, personal and geographic spaces and endowing them with engaging detail, and she does this well.

The initial chapters lay a strong foundation for the rest of the novel, and the novel begins with an arresting incident: Kamini recounts choking on her own mother’s milk as a child in Delhi. Ironically, her rescuer in this instance turns out to be the very same man who takes her father hostage in Fiji eighteen years later.  The details of her father’s imprisonment during the Fijian coup of 1987 are skilfully woven together with the young Kamini’s intimate experiences of home and anxieties about her life outside of it. There is a lot for Kamini to take in. The violence that her father is subject to in the coup is painful to contemplate, and is coupled with the unnerving distractedness of her family in light of the situation. Nandan cites Yeats to capture the sudden reality that is thrust upon Kamini as she enters adulthood: ‘the centre cannot hold ‘. In describing the new found chaos of Kamini’s life, Nandan makes implicit the previous part of this line in Yeats’ poem  – ‘things fall apart;’.

After Kamini’s formative experiences are described the main story arc is introduced. The middle thirds of the novel mainly moves between her relationship with her family and her relationship with her Australian husband, Gavin. When she moves to Fiji she is happy to be among her relatives, and finds a comfortable place in their lives. Within these familial spaces she is able to sift through the various pieces of her past. These parts of the novel make for deeply satisfying reading. Nandan deftly draws small incidents so they have symbolic significance: “If I saw a coconut lying at the bottom of one of the trees, I called out to my father so he could slice through the husk to reach its heart… I was eager to replace my small island for the vast unknown world. But only when I thought I had the luxury of possession.” This movement outwards from metaphor to broader postcolonial implications gives the story specificity in the nexus of place, culture and experience.

Ultimately though, the novel moves to a crescendo along the narrative lines of her relationship with Gavin, and for this reason it warrants some unpacking. The reason why Kamini moves to Fiji is primarily for an academic position, and she brings Gavin with her. However, Kamini’s relationship with Gavin is far from ideal.  The emotional isolation that her relationship with Gavin threatens to cause is brought in contrast with the support that she gets from her family.  Gavin has been unemployed and suffers from depression. After initially being enamoured with the newness of Fijian life and the sights of Suva he becomes bored, and his unhappiness becomes even more apparent.

The confidence of Nandan’s lyrical prose and weighty metaphor gives way to a different style of writing. Nandan’s rendering of Gavin is still highly detailed, but they are also matter-of-fact, more quotidian than flowery: “[h]e had packed two pairs of shorts, three T-shirts, a Sydney FC jumper, a grey cosmetic bag with toothpaste smeared on the zipper, his medications and the adoption folder in its special plastic casing.” But these unadorned descriptions are no less interesting than the lush imagery that Nandan deploys in relation to her family and past. Nandan simultaneously sketches Gavin’s low emotional ebb and Kamini’s ambivalence towards him. Revulsion, pathos and love move together with breathtaking economy as Nandan describes the inner world of Kamini and Gavin. Although less assured than Nandan’s writing on Kamini’s family and childhood, Kamini and Gavin’s fragile emotional world is just as engaging.

The book ends a little hurriedly; Nandan ties together the loose ends of the Fiji-oriented plot too quickly as she tries to circle back to the themes that she began with. It is as if the novel has taken a long walk in a particular direction before trying to rush back to the point of origin along the very same route. The novel could be a little longer; after taking the time to go along with Nandan’s unpacking of various geographic places, relationships and cultural spaces it isn’t unreasonable for the novel to take a little more time to reach its conclusion.

But the slightly abrupt ending is not nearly enough to take away from the joy of reading Home After Dark. As Nandan deftly ties together various aspects of Kamini’s reality – the everyday, the intimate, the cultural and political – what comes through is an imaginatively complete novel that is greater than the sum of its parts.
SUMEDHA IYER is a PhD candidate in English at the University of New South Wales. Her thesis examines works of contemporary Australian fiction in terms of multiculturalism and transnation.

Geoff Page

photoGeoff Page’s 1953 (UQP) was shortlisted for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for poetry. He lives in Canberra and has published 21 poetry collections, as well as novels, memoir and biography. He edited The Best Australian Poems 2014 and 2015 (Black Inc.)


The Back-off
for two good friends

Forty years or so ago
the same straight back of conscience had them
fleeing the police.

The war was wrong. They wouldn’t go
though both had army fathers.
One torched his card in public;

the other did a week in Goulburn
before the draft was dumped.
Today, here in our group of five,

they’re meeting over coffee,
one, flat white, the other, black,
one still fresh from picketing

some notably obnoxious mine,
the other fired with new results
disproving warmist claims

from vaticans of scientists who
will brook no heretics.
Each man is well aware the other

knows his slant on carbon.
Their temperaments are of a kind.
One starts to talk about the forest

his open-cut will tear away.
The other counters ‘Well, you know’
but finds he’s trailing off.

They share a slow, reluctant smile;
we’re all too old for this.
Minds at our age don’t shift much.

They both look round to check the weather:
two of them and three of us.
The argument they’d planned to stage

would probably have proved uncivil.
Seamlessly, without intent,
we move to something different.

Rebecca Allen reviews Stories of Sydney Ed Michael Mohammed Ahmad

storiesofsyd-poster-imageStories of Sydney

Ed by Michael Mohammed Ahmad


ISBN 978-1-921134-26-5


Soaring white-tiled sails curve up into the cloudless sky. Below, foamy tails of boats criss-cross that famous stretch of liquid blue. Waves glitter in the summer sun. A post-card city.

Sydney shows off the same made-up face in thousands of glossy snapshots sold down at Circular Quay. Though irrefutably beautiful, there’s no denying this iconic image we so love to promote is, in fact, a fundamentally two-dimensional representation of a much more complex, multi-faceted reality.    

The anthology Stories of Sydney, (2014), turns away from such stereotypes in favour of a more diverse – and authentic – representation of our city. A collaboration between Seizure and SWEATSHOP, two dynamic, community-minded literary platforms, the collection brings together a culturally varied group of fifteen published and emerging writers. The ratio of five writers from inner Sydney to ten from the Western suburbs was deliberately chosen to better represent the geographical spread of the city, and lend a voice to writers from migrant backgrounds. As a consequence, Stories of Sydney offers a refreshingly contemporary perspective of the chaotic sprawl that this cosmopolitan metropolis has become.

The anthology opens with Sanaz Fatouhi’s “Ceydny”, the moving story of two Iranians who meet by chance at Campsie Woolworths in Sydney’s west. While the narrator has lived there for fifteen years, Ceydny the refugee has only recently fled persecution in Tehran, seeking, without success, a romanticised Sydney where “‘I would wake up everyday and see the Opera House’” (9). The poverty and isolation he meets, however, convinces him that this is far from “‘the city of my dreams’” and it is this sense of deep disillusionment and displacement that leads him to determine that Sydney is a “‘place where I have to construct myself’” (9). He thus adopts the name Ceydny, a deliberate misspelling which conveys the way in which his sense of self is defined by a rejection of the glamourised Sydney and shaped, instead, by the personal reality of his new life in Campsie: “‘Sydney with an S with its perfection is not my city. Ceydny, the way I write it, is the city I live in’” (9).  

The fourteen stories that follow echo this idea, making Fatouhi’s story the ideal opening piece. The concept of the intersection between the self and the city, identity and place, is explored in all the texts, albeit through different thematic lenses. For example, experiences of growing up in Sydney are examined in the childhood snapshots of George Toseki’s “The Primary Years” as well as Sophia Barnes’ “Fellow Travellers”, while Sunil Badami questions what it means to be a middle-aged Sydneysider in “Swings and Roundabouts”. Differently, passing time and the role of memory in our relationship with the city is the focus of both Benny Davis’ “Two Wheels” and P. M. Newton’s “Aqua”. The importance of family as well as cultural ties and obligations also features at the centre of many of the stories – in “The 25th Paragon of Filial Piety” by Amanda Yeo and “Chrysoula” by Susie Ahmad, to name but two. Sexuality, gender, class and disability appear as other key concerns, while realism – often of the grittier variety – dominates as the overarching stylistic choice, lending unity to the anthology as a whole.      

On second reading, certain pieces stand out as particular highlights.

In “Chrysoula”, Ahmad represents the clash between cultures in Sydney’s suburbs to comedic effect. The Muslim Lebanese narrator is nagged by her Greek Orthodox beautician Chrysoula about getting married: “‘Settle down,’ is what I would like to say, but then that’s exactly what people want me to do, because I’m such a wild Lebo who travels to New York and wears vintage clothing and prefers a burrito to a falafel” (103). The short story parodies cultural stereotypes, particularly through Chrysoula’s grand generalisations as she advises against marrying a Muslim: “‘They won’t let you eat bacon…’ I hear her take a big breath, like that would be a deal breaker for her” (109). While the narrator feels compelled to yell, “‘Pigs eat their own shit’”, in defence of her culture’s conventions, she can’t help but project her own assumptions on to Chrysoula’s community in turn, reflecting on how if she was to marry a Greek, “I would rather a Greek from Earlwood. Greeks in Earlwood are taller, speak better English, don’t wear G-Star jeans and go to Newtown Church” (106). The story also underlines the conflicting identities within the Muslim community, as the narrator is careful to differentiate herself from Dima, a fellow TAFE student and “your typical ‘Look at me, I’m a real Muslim because I wear a hijab’ girl from Bankstown” (108). The narrator is, instead, an Alawite Muslim from Marrickville: “We don’t wear the hijab and we don’t have fancy mosques that take up the whole street. Some of us like to drink champagne at weddings and take Johnny Walker for a belly dance… I think Dima is in training to become one of the seventy two virgins” (108-9). Beneath the humorous overtones we see a Sydney that is chaotically multicultural yet curiously fractured, with neighbourhoods typecast as cultural subdivisions and a narrator who fiercely defines her sense of self not only by religion and culture, but also by a circumscribed geographical location.

In “More Handsome than a Monkey”, Peter Polites gives us a much more sombre perspective on Sydney – his modern noir piece exposing the city’s underbelly of drug-fuelled corruption through a distinctive, clipped narratorial voice. Polites’ Sydney is claustrophobic, the narrator having only just kicked his drug addiction and “Moved out of the single-brick and fibro shack of my parents’ and into some shoddily built high-density apartment” amid “canyons of flats” (142, 148). He passes his “short and shitty” days in “purgatory”, working at the local bowls club where “Viet launderers rode us … Black moula went through slots and transgressions went over shoulders” (142, 143). Suspended in a monotonous in-between space, his life becomes a routine of “Getting home late. Sleeping in late. Waking washing ironing work” (157). As a consequence, when a new face appears at the bar he becomes smitten, attracted to “Nice Arms Pete” by the alternate world he symbolises: “A wheat-fed kid I could see swimming in billabongs near a farmhouse. Sandy hair, skin smooth but slightly sun-aged. You could see clean living on him” (144). As the narrator’s feelings grow, so Pete’s interest in him wanes, and it isn’t until he travels to Orange to visit Pete’s hometown that his heartbreak takes effect. Beneath the “Vistas of green” and “Quarter-acre blocks and red roofs”, he realises there is the same “old racket” going on; that, in effect, the countryside is as equally tainted as the city: “Import the labour. Get a cut from the farmers looking for cheap workers. Dealers kept contact. Selling the farm workers drugs. A bloke married to a nurse mumbled about overdose spikes” (159, 158). Polites frames the narrative with a sense of self-searching. In the opening lines the narrator reflects that, from his mother’s point of view, “I was her thirty-three-year-old that moved out of home… A substitute for the love of her husband, someone to cook for, clean for and complain about,” while at the story’s conclusion he realises that “To Nice Arms Pete I was trade with lamb eyes and something to pass the time. His beer stooge, occasional root and sometimes driver” (141, 159). The narrator is left bereft, having found no connection to country or city, and, lacking any clear sense of his own self, he slips back into a drug-induced haze.

Reading Newton’s “Aqua”, we find a totally different representation of Sydney – one that anchors the city within the historically framed debate surrounding the Vietnam War. Sophia, the story’s narrator, is deeply attached to North Sydney Olympic pool through the memories it triggers of a happy, unified family before the death of her teenage brother in Vietnam. Revisiting the pool for aquarobics classes, she finds Luna Park’s “round-eyed stare fringed in thick black plastic lashes” is “a taunting reminder” of happier times (195). With a child’s tone of wonderment, she remembers night-time swimming carnivals there, the “ferries and trawlers lit up like houses… the city lights twinkl[ing] like every Christmas tree I could ever imagine” and carefree summers spent “Dog paddling across [the pool], bumping into Mum’s thighs… clinging to Dad’s back, watching Johno dropping straight as a bullet’s flight from the very top platform of the diving board” (190, 196). Nostalgic reminiscence of these pre-war holidays is contrasted to memories of later summers, spent at an altogether different location: the Marrickville army depot. As the arguments increase between a mother who wants to “Save our Sons” and a father who encourages his own son to enlist, Sophia finds “The army depot in Marrickville becomes a regular destination” for protests (202). Her mother takes her and their placards “to stand silent in the sun as parents give their sons up to the army with varying degrees of pride and fear” (203). The fracturing of her family’s collective identity mirrors the socio-political breakdown of the times, underscored by the tragic death of her brother in Phuoc Tuy province. Although haunted by the image of his drowning, (“the last thing his mates see is his gun, his fingers still wrapped around it before they both disappear”), Sophia’s visit to North Sydney Olympic also recalls those summers Johno spent diving from the tower. The images of drowning and diving coming together as an interesting parallel; one horribly inescapable; the other marked by a sense of agency, of fun (208). As the title suggests, water plays a major role in the narrative – reflected, on a stylistic level, by the fluid temporal shifts between past and present: “I leave the four-year-old girl… and feel my body reframing itself from memory into the shape of me” (193-4). While the pathos of the narrator’s loss is apparent, a sense of release is also powerfully evoked as she moves her “arms in time to the Aqua teacher’s instructions, not far, not fast, just enough for the muscles and memories to loosen” (201). Revisiting the pool could thus be read as a type of catharsis – a way of reconciling her adult self to the traumas of her child self, and, perhaps, a way of ultimate acceptance.  

While it must be said some stories are not as strong as others, lacking as compelling a narrative or as memorable a conclusion, Stories of Sydney is, as a whole, a unique offering that explores our contemporary city in all its diversity, aiming to bridge what the editors describe as the “the divide between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ Sydney” (248). As readers, we come away with a greater sense of the ‘complete’ city, how we define ourselves as Sydneysiders and what it mean to live in Sydney today.  

REBECCA ALLEN is a freelance editor living in Sydney, with an Honours degree in French language and literature. Her writing has appeared in The Australian and Honi Soit. She has edited Hermes, the Sydney University Student Union’s literary journal, interned as part of Mascara’s prose fiction editorial team and continues to volunteer for Contrappasso Magazine, a journal for international writing.

Melinda Bufton reviews Drones and Phantoms by Jennifer Maiden

Maiden-cover-front-for-web1-198x300Drones and Phantoms

by Jennifer Maiden


ISBN 978-1-9221-46-72-4


Jennifer Maiden’s Drones and Phantoms is her 19th poetry collection, the most recent in a list of titles published with marked regularity since the early 1970s. Her work is frequently noted to contain recurring themes that circle violence and war, her bio on The Poetry Foundation website neatly summarising this as occurring ‘…through multiple voices, including those of public figures, family members and fictional or mythical characters’(1). In Drones and Phantoms this technique is the defining logic. The poetry adopts the voices in order to disrupt, and to decouple expectation from experience; from the expectations a reader might have regarding the treatment of violent themes, right through to the expectations of reading contemporary poetry (the jump-cut effect of a conversational multiverse that tantalisingly suggests the famous can access a kind of secret mentoring scheme). The question of exactly who is speaking is fantastically fraught; the question itself is an elastic and provoking device that never lets up, is eerily relentless. The other side of this – also stretching each poem to its fullest tension – is who are the poems speaking to?

‘Uses of..’ is a motif used in many of the poem titles throughout the book, in most cases with less macabre resonance than others: for example, ‘Diary Poem: Uses of Sparrows’, ‘Diary Poem: Uses of Silence’, ‘Diary Poem: Uses of Judith Wright’. The recurrence of the phrase suggests that the elements housed by each poem are interchangeable nodes for the purposes of a well-built poem. Alternatively, each is a selection of sharp highlights taken from of our world that require actual (almost verbal, real-time) response. In ‘Diary Poem: Uses of Dismemberment’, the reader is offered a selection of narratives that illustrate the 2012 killing and dismemberment/autopsy of Marius the giraffe at Copenhagen Zoo (it was widely reported that this took place in order to comply with the zoo’s policy of not retaining animals unsuitable for use in breeding programs. Subsequently, zoo staff dismembered and fed parts of the giraffe’s carcass to other zoo animals in a public viewing area of the zoo, which was described by the zoo as an educational opportunity for children to understand anatomy.)

In this poem, there is no easy path through these ‘Uses of’, although poetic consideration is given to what players in this tableau have offered as moral, scientific and political reasoning that underpin the act: ‘The team dissecting Marius look as proud as nurses’ (p 65), ‘On the internet, Danes attack those mourning Marius saying their priorities should be human or the improvement of animal species’ (p 65), ‘Looking up “Bestiality in Denmark” on the search engine I found that there really are many successful working brothels which provide animals for the customers’ (p 63). And, just before the end, musing that Marius must have been relieved at the offer of rye bread so early in the morning, ‘That is as close to grief I will go on this’ (p 66).

Should we as the readers, go closer? Is that what is being asked? The work seems to say ‘I will not pretend to be impartial, and you will not pretend to ignore’. This is perhaps a very modern blueprint for how political poems can work; and by work, I mean leaving a stain in your thoughts for many days to come, because when the insufferable is jammed up against the absurd it must be unknotted carefully. Which is to say, the lines ask us how we will consider the close juxtaposition of bestiality – and the faint suggestion that this is particularly popular with the Danish – with the idea that ‘..Only the best med students carve cadavers’, this latter phrase preceded by the directive ‘You should remember, too…’. We are being told we need to consider all aspects, and not be knee-jerk – as by a patient teacher – while a patrician tone slides in from the side: ‘Only the best med students’ (emphasis mine) contains echoes of other societal markers, such as class, or authority within society. This in turn may subtly remind the reader to ask questions regarding who makes the decisions in our worlds; who is speaking, and who are they speaking to? That this has been achieved with poetic shifting voices rather than overt statements of protest or defence illustrates the way in which this densely-packed poetics operates.

Adoption of voices within this work is overwhelmingly conversational in tone (irrespective of the speaking position or adoption of voice/s). The conversational language also operates as a bait-and-switch mechanism. The neat trick of here-now-Queen-Victoria-but-wait-Port-Moresby-Tony-Abbott…? (‘Victoria and Tony 3: Woods and Feathers’ p 26). We don’t (most of us) know the political figures featured so pervasively in this work, but we are familiar with ideas of them. In the past, perhaps we would call this ‘use of popular culture’. In Drones and Phantoms it allows us a moment of scene-setting before the dialogue and musings of politics, war and human nature begin in at us.

Jane Austen woke up in smoky Sydney.
Tanya Plibersek was on TV, and in
her lounge room watching herself, a form
of self-consciousness Jane thought might
always prove promising for wisdom

Maiden has previously indicated that this is their intended function, stating ‘They [the famous or known figures] are recognisable entities with a cluster of connotations and derivations around them, that the reader knows who they are and what to respond to’(2).

It is exactly the right thing to do, in this age when poetry has need to be heard in a noisy world. Subjective (poetic) voices fit with the zeitgeist; everybody has an opinion – or not even, more often fragments of such a thing – broadcast amongst the myriad platforms allowed us. This poetry speaks to us with its assured voice(s) of reason(s) but relentlessly ask us to step up to the stage with it. It is as wise as casual as (our collective idea of) Helen Mirren, yet repeatedly suggests we be mindful of attempting to pin things down:

In what seems neither simile
nor metaphor but maybe economy
of a proud if whimsical nature
The Good Spirit of the Universe will re-use
sounds and patterns.
(p 59)

Maiden’s statement that the reader knows ‘who’ they’re dealing with when presented with famous names is reassuring and the device can operate this way – there is no denying that a familiar figure provides an entry point – however, it would be too neat if it were as translucent as all that (and, it could be argued wouldn’t be poetry without textual layers present, at a variety of depths).

To take this further in self-reflexivity, another feature of Drones and Phantoms is references to other poets, who are not exclusively contemporaries of Maiden. At the centre of the collection lies a poem entitled ‘Diary Poem: Uses of Frank O’Hara’. It takes us through a porthole of recollections of being compared to other poets and O’Hara – without having yet read him – to an extended conversation with O’Hara on a twilit New York evening in a different paradigm. The ‘Maiden’ voice says:

I’d say, ‘I would like to read you, but
of course now there is my current worry
that influence might be retrospective,
and that I’ll recognise your hand
In everything I’ve written, anyway’.
(p 35)

Having also been compared to O’Hara before having read O’Hara, I am temporarily taken aback; inadvertently joining her in this category is puzzlingly good, despite it being nothing more than coincidence. (The prism deepens as I read on; Maiden has written an Anne of Green Gables poem. I had never seen one of these before, but I’d written one…)

It’s an indication of the effectiveness of the work that I find myself thinking ‘What does this mean, this breadcrumb trail of messages of me?’ Pushing aside my own worries about plagiarism-in-advance/recognition-of-influence, it seems as though being somehow interpolated into the text is the natural outcome of being interrogated – indirectly – by its many voices.

Although it could be argued that only poets will feel a jolt of recognition at being compared to poets you haven’t read (and the awkward conundrum this generates), and that the poems featuring Australian politicians will have more resonance for those living in Australia, in the end – that is, at the point of writing yourself in – this doesn’t matter. Drones and Phantoms is a compendium of philosophical dioramas that, through its determined call-to-think and multi-dimensional ethical puzzles, goes way beyond any necessity of knowing the characters’ names.

1. The Poetry Foundation, accessed on September 21, 2015.
2. Maiden, J. Interview by Jason Steger, Sydney Morning Herald, January 28, 2014

MELINDA BUFTON is the author of Girlery (Inken Publisch), and PhD candidate in the nonfictionLab at RMIT University. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Southerly, Rabbit, The Age and Cordite.

Andy Jackson reviews The Blind Man With The Lamp by Tasos Leivaditis (trans NN Trakakis)

Blindman_website_cover_a6The Blind Man With The Lamp

by Tasos Leivaditis (trans. N N Trakakis)

Denise Harvey

ISBN 978-960-7120-32-8

Reviewed by ANDY JACKSON

Ever since its emergence, the prose poem has been a uniquely potent embodiment of paradox. While a poem, arguably, could be defined as the literary form which declares itself to be “not prose”, a prose poem has it both ways. It moves with the energy of poetry, yet fills the page, withholding from the reader the relief of the line-break pause. No wonder spending any prolonged period of time within this space tends towards claustrophobia and anxiety. Poet Gretchen Henderson has written, “the prose poem, boxed as it is, for me seems to embody a want of movement – physical, aural or otherwise, made apparent by the limitations and liminality of its boxed-in body” (353).

In The Blind Man With The Lamp, Tasos Leivaditis takes up the haunting paradoxical temperament of the prose poem, and carries it into a register of existential fatigue and disquiet. The poems were originally published in 1983, when the poet was 61 years old and in declining health. Yet these precise and fluid translations from the Greek by N N Trakakis – the first English translation of a complete collection by Leivaditis – emphasise that while the biological kernel of these poems can hardly be denied, the book clearly emerges in the shadow of failed political visions. Behind it lies a questioning not only of political dogma but of humanity itself.

The Greece of Leivaditis’s childhood and adult life was dominated by war, economic depression, and ongoing internal conflict, the nation for many years subject to military dictatorship, ostensible democracy returning only in 1974. The Left which held Leivaditis’s sympathies was subject to ongoing and ruthless persecution. In 1948, the poet himself was arrested and imprisoned for three years. His poetry evolved from its modernist and surrealist beginnings, through overtly polemic political writing, to the poetry we find in The Blind Man With The Lamp – philosophical and religious in tone, yet wrenched with yearning and fatigue.

The poems inhabit a profound disillusionment, yet always leaning over the precipice rather than falling into it. The opening poem begins, “It was night and I had made the greatest decision of the century – I would save humanity – but how?”; then the titular blind man with the lamp appears. “’My dear brother’, I said to him, ‘God has sent you’, / and with zeal we both got down to work…”. The final poem of the book, “Lethal Game” has Leivaditis wake into a room “with the blinding light”, playing a seemingly endless game of cards, the stakes of which appear to be life itself. Suddenly he is alone in an abandoned and ruined city. “’Sweet mother of Christ’, I whispered, ‘at last all is finished. / Now I can start over again’.” At this point, we are back with the “blind man” – to my mind an unfortunate metaphorising of an embodied condition, yet emblematic of Leivaditis’s sense of loss and inevitability.

It comes as no surprise, then, to read in the excellent introduction by his translator Trakakis that in the middle of his career Leivaditis published a collection of “Kafkaesque” short stories. His poems invariably begin in the middle, with narrative momentum and a growing sense of confusion and dread, yet also with a kind of wonder. Perhaps analogous to the ghazal form, they are energised by an intense desire that can never be consummated, or rather they are fulfilled only in their own frustrated travel through the maze which has no exit.

While they are prose poems, the usual “box” shape of the form invariably breaks off, usually at the end, reminiscent of the form of a written letter. Some are truncated to the brevity of the aphorism – “I never would have imagined that so many days go to make up so short a life” (“The Deceptions of the Calendar”). Even the longer poems are shot through with long dashes, and drift off at the end with ellipses, either actual or implied. Leivaditis conjures the existential texture of moments of transition and frustration. Here is “Wayfarers” in its entirety –

         We are those who have been on their way – we never had a place of our own – where  are we going? where
are we coming from? On occasion we stay somewhere for a while, but
Fate quickly remembers us again and we leave.
         And only on occasion, at the time when dusk falls and the few violets shudder amongst
the hedges, we are overwhelmed by a strange awe, a feeling as though we are returning to the
place from which we had been forever banished.
         Or perhaps the twilight is our only homeland…

The liminal is a recurring trope of the book. Time and again, Leivaditis returns to images of dusk, night, outcasts, doors, dreams and silence. Though what is perhaps most striking about The Blind Man With The Lamp is how this sense of potential and inevitable night is combined with an acute theological yearning. Leivaditis seems to recognise that an entirely new world is not possible. His God seems to dwell, suspended, in absence.

I spent much of my teenage years and early adulthood in thrall to Christian evangelicalism, so I appreciate the existential and social engine behind the religious impulse. As time went on, though, the concepts and structures became transparent and suspect. I was left with only a kind of awe at the ineffability of life, and a sense of grief at injustice and suffering. This is the origin of Leivaditis’s poetry. Its paradox is that it sustains a deep piety hand in hand with its despair.

I should emphasise, though, that The Blind Man With The Lamp is no monochrome paean to resignation. These poems read as merciless confrontations with the real, but they are essentially elegies for existence. Leivaditis reminds me here of another master of the prose poem, Franz Wright – both exhibit a kind of cruel tenderness. In “The Birth”, Leivaditis enters the room of a crying man, who points out a crucifix on the wall. “’You see’, he said to me, ‘compassion is born’. I then bowed my head and I too cried, / for centuries and centuries would go by and we would not have anything more beautiful to say than that”.

In his short and potent book The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance, Franco Berardi asserts

Only if we’re able to disentangle the future… from the traps of growth and investment, will we find an escape from the vicious subjugation of life, wealth, and pleasure to the financial abstraction of semio-capital. The key to this disentanglement may be found in a new form of wisdom which harmonizes with exhaustion. (80-1)

I wonder if perhaps we will only survive (and reclaim the pleasure that is possible) by listening to the body – our own, others’, and the body of the earth. These bodies are tired of the impossible unceasing growth that is demanded of them. Leivaditis’s poetry emerges out of this fatigue, this bodily disavowing of the current paradigm. It sees clearly the dilemma of the present era, yet it also sees the pitfalls of our innumerable attempts to resolve this dilemma. In “The City”, “the protest march had just finished and the police officers were erasing an entire revolution that was written on the walls…” For Leivaditis, poetry is a place where we may hear God “walking heavily inside my words, eager to surmount the limits of the world” (“Conversations”). But it is also “another form of dying” (“Unknown Debts”), a reconciliation with the irreconcilable.



Berardi, Franco “Bifo.” The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance. Los Angeles, CA : Semiotext(e),   2012.
Henderson, Gretchen. “Poetics / ‘Exhibits.’” Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. El    Paso, TX : Cinco Puntos Press, 2011. 353–5. Print.
ANDY JACKSON’s poetry collection Among the Regulars  was shortlisted for the 2011 Kenneth Slessor Prize.  He won the 2013 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize with the thin bridge, and his latest collection is Immune Systems (poems and ghazals on India and medical tourism). Andy has performed at literary events and arts festivals in Australia, India, USA and Ireland.  He writes about the poetry of bodily difference at

Emily Stewart

emily StewartEmily Stewart is a poet and book editor based in Sydney. She is the author of Like (Bulky News Press 2015). Some of her recent poems are published or forthcoming in Overland, Cordite and The Age.



Memory palace

Crisis of affection—a tulip, the flower—artificial yellow
composite on weekend. I saw the crush—early stream—
then never without you, on remix, on repeat, this heart.
Midday’s haze worsening into pale linked cubes.

A soft texture resisting folds. Like weekend or song
yellow repeating its shape. No vice in voice alone. Yellow’s
cold clock accenting nude lives—layers heaping
over at lapse—spinning to thread then yawning dot.

Flower—a sunflower—the yellow memory.
Long bright afternoons in afterimage.