Thursday March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. You may not have heard of the day before. It is commemorated in Australia as Harmony Day. Harmony Day was a creation of the Howard Government twenty years ago, a response to research conducted for the federal government about the causes of racism. It was a deliberate choice to not focus on ‘anti-racism’ but rather emphasise the importance and value of ‘harmony’. Undoubtedly people feel an attachment to Harmony Day as a celebration of cultural diversity that schools, workplaces and community groups can participate in. It is a […]
This summer I’ve been captured by three stories in particular. All have been caught up with the landscapes I reside in—particularly how memory seeps into my surrounds, bleeding and blending the lines between the literary and the literal. Books about landscape associate the external with the internal world, back and forth, one reinforcing the other. I can look out from the verandah to see the refractions of these tales, the memories I have created in the land, and the history of the country in which I live. The first of these tales is Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places. The book […]
I met you the first week I was in Athens. You were working as a waiter in the bar I liked so much, the one with the orange chairs. You walked over to my table and sat down, rolling a cigarette. ‘What’s your name?’ you asked me in English. ‘My name is Ainslie,’ I replied in Greek. ‘You speak Greek!’ ‘Not very well,’ I said, this time in English. ‘I am Dimitris.’ You took a long drag of your cigarette and stared at me, then jumped up and returned to the bar. I returned to my book. ‘I always wanted […]
During winter I live in a large room of bicycles and books and spidery imagination. I would love to live this season forever, but life threatens with boiling Christmases, unhealthily tanned beach-goers, loud talking and over-eating, all of which displace meditation, a meditation which slows down the recording mind, allowing reality to thicken and curdle and to form new sites of feeling. One must have ‘a mind of winter’ as Wallace Stevens wrote. It is this reflective process which builds, I believe, a consciousness of caring. A kind of proprioception of the other—inside oneself. It disturbs all the cobwebs which […]
In a 2016 Meanjin essay one of this country’s most celebrated writers, Alexis Wright, asked us a fundamental question in relation to storytelling and the role of the writer. ‘What happens when you tell somebody else’s story?’ she asked, in a thoughtful piece of writing that did not demand that white Australia not engage with the story of Aboriginal people (as some have concluded). In addressing the question, Wright asked of each of us, Aboriginal and ‘settler’ both, that we give deeper consideration to the act of telling stories and take greater responsibility for the decisions we make as writers. […]
After your world ended for the third time, you walked. The gold ring on your right hand heavy and the blue band around your left wrist even heavier. ‘Rip-off fitbits’ was how Intisar had described them three years ago, as the two of you sat on the couch in the living room of your then new apartment, staring down at your clasped black hands.
From a young age, names preoccupied me. As a child I didn’t like my name and I would often daydream about changing it. Na’ama (in Hebrew, נעמה) was too heavy for me.
We sat on the porch that winter and
talked of murder, imagined bodies trapped
beneath the breaking crust of the field.
The house whistled with broken windows,
the lead veins running through the glass…