Easttown is a weathered Pennsylvanian nook, the kind of place that presses its community together without much room for trees. It has sturdy houses built by great-grandfathers that people in the 90s would’ve said will last forever, but are just now falling apart. Crime dramas often rely on the claustrophobia of tight-knit neighbourhoods to force interaction between suspects, but even so, the people of Easttown are unusually close. This is just one of the many ways Mare of Easttown over-feeds our gluttonous expectations, only to poke at our bellies when we’re full. In the first episode we are taken to… [Read more]
Australian public health campaigns are rarely discussed without reference to the Grim Reaper commercial. In the late 80s, the National Advisory Committee on AIDS released a series of shock ads: one with a baby-faced Russell Crowe playing Russian roulette in a drug den, another with some amusingly awkward condom conversations. The most memorable one had the Reaper ten-pin-bowling over people and dire data delivered in a doomsday register. Like the torrent of Transport Accident Commission ads that followed, the Grim Reaper ad presented a ‘scared straight’ message: AIDS or drink-driving or speeding are all gonna kill ya so we need… [Read more]
I am drinking tea, made in a blue enamel teapot. It is lukewarm. I need to either finish or reheat it. I live on Wurundjeri country. Today, this week, I am on Darug and Gundungurra country. I am mindful of having a safe place to read and write while devastation racks India, and Palestine. Because I’m doing a PhD, I am reading a lot of different things all at once, greedy for the thoughts of others. I was drawn to study because I’d entered a cycle of disaffection with my writing that felt untenable. I needed a breath. I wondered… [Read more]
Arab-Australian Literature is having a moment. A few months ago, the poet Omar Sakr walked away with a Prime Minister’s Literary Award for his stunning collection, The Lost Arabs (UQP, $24.95), and Randa Abdel-Fattah launched her Coming of Age in The War On Terror (New South Books, $34.95). A few weeks ago, writer and activist Sara Saleh won the prestigious Peter Porter poetry prize for her poem A Poetics of Fo(u)rgetting. A few days ago, I launched Sara Haghdoosti’s debut novel, Sunburnt Veils (Wakefield Press, $24.95) at an in-conversation event at Readings. In a few months’ time, I will be… [Read more]
ARTICHOKE ‘FISH’: You meet again at a restaurant which serves artichoke broiled and seasoned to taste, feel, smell, exactly like fish. She will not be intimate with a meat eater she says, leaving the impression of her lips in orange on the rim of her wine glass. Outside: the sound of car tires slicing through water; the glint of light rearranging itself on the asphalt as the puddles settle. Your salvia glands are in overdrive. She looks, in some green wrap-around complexly secured, her hair piled upward, black eyes without apparent irises, beautiful. Starting this story is simple. JIM’S… [Read more]
I must have been around 14, Hamza’s age, when the words Palestine, Gaza and war became etched in my memory. It is 2014 and dad is glued to the TV, providing a running commentary. My social media feeds are full of the red, green, white and black colours. There is comfort in seeing these colours albeit the vibe in these designs is different, sombre and unfamiliar.
You can’t read Hamlet. Try taking it out of your bag in a doctor’s waiting room or sitting on a train. There is no edition out there that can ambiguate that heavy-weight six-letter title or ameliorate the feeling you are somehow being silly and somehow up to something, the ultimate milquetoast pretending to read. I don’t think you could even take it out near the office of your favourite English professor without sensing you’ve committed a grave social error. Hamlet is the kind of thing only Hamlet would read (surely someone has said this before). Perhaps Hamlet would read Hamlet… [Read more]
It hit me one day last year. Time is running out. My plans to travel to Palestine in 2020 with my father and children were cancelled. I had to face the reality that my father will never enter a free Palestine in his lifetime nor likely walk the streets of his village with my children holding his aged, calloused hands, listening to him narrate the stories of his childhood as he did to me ten years ago. All I have is an oral history sealed in the body of a man dispossessed and denied his homeland. So I showed up… [Read more]
My phone was buzzing all night on the eve of Eid. But it wasn’t receiving the annual barrage of annoying tag messages of Happy Eid, greeting cards and videos of a crescent moon with a catchy dance tune. My phone was buzzing with updates on where the bombs were falling, which buildings were erased, which relatives were hiding where. I tried to keep up through the night, as if staying awake will keep my loved ones alive. Humans are funny like that, they think they can fend off death and destruction just by staring at a screen and wishing for… [Read more]
Full employment is suddenly the mantra of the Liberal Party of Australia. After more than a decade without a sustained period of unemployment below 5%, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced as part of his May 11 budget that the jobless rate will “need to have a four in front of it” if the economy is going to get back to full speed. But the Australian government has no intention of driving the unemployment rate lower than that. Frydenberg has promised to stimulate the economy until only 95.5% of Australian workers have a job. The remaining 4.5% will be required to remain unemployed.