Issue 16 October 2015 – December 2015

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Stephen Hall, The Limner passes through the Eternal Battle, 2011, mixed media on paper. Pic: courtesy of the artist

Stephen Hall, The Limner passes through the Eternal Battle, 2011, mixed media on paper. Pic: courtesy of the artist


Teasing Threads

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Teasing Threads – Sundry Film and Literary Criticism: ‘Cartoon & Conspiracy Theory’ by Neil J Pattinson

Chris Palazzolo takes a look at Cartoon & Conspiracy Theory by Neil J. Pattinson Indifference Publications 2015

conspiracy theoryI wonder if there is a font for ransom note. Every time I read poetry like Neil J. Pattinson’s Cartoon & Conspiracy Theory with its street-rap abbreviations, obsessive compulsive columns and repetitions and (not) random alternations of capitals and lower case letters turning words and sentences into spiky things that rest on the page like badly made objects you have no use for, I feel like I’m a victim of literary blackmail. Consumer-citizen, I have the Truth! If you want to see the Truth again you’ll read this book!

Of course this is my consumer-citizen bad conscience speaking, because on closer examination the only ‘criminal’ thing happening here is lexical and typographical; the tics, fits and declamations of some homeless misfit whose Truth is as partial as mine. This is poetry from the social limbo of homelessness, but with an ethical clause inserted in the second poem, Cut – ‘tiller your heart for a lifetime of no regret/ Human frailty’s still intact/ Maybe it’s Yellow & Maybe it’s Grey/ Time walked Upon this earth as Purely You/ Maybe this is all one should expect come end of day.’ In a later poem, Go Figure, there is a declaration to the effect that the ‘author’ is not homeless, but is of independent means and has chosen to live in the grey limbo of the homeless, thus turning the ethical into a political act of renunciation – ‘I Earn a Wage of Nil Income/ and Complete a Return of Positive Tax/ I Deny Welfare to Remain two Steps/ Away from Homelessness Comfort.’ The rest of the poems elaborate on what’s involved in the day to day living of ‘no regret’ and being ‘Purely You’, that is to say participant/witness of homelessness. They attend Centrelink interviews, wait for busses outside of peak hours, loiter near shopfronts or corporate and government lobbies, muse on outside advertising hoardings, or the paranoia inducing interconnectedness of all the life sustaining assemblages of modernity from media, to powerlines, to flushing toilets (sewerage), to the ghostly always-there-on-shelves-therenesses of consumables which the homeless cannot and author will not consume.

A ransom note is a very particular kind of document. Its function is like that of a legal contract binding two parties together for the exchange of money or services. A unique kind of contract because it binds parties on opposite sides of the law; it is issued by an ‘illegal’ party to that of a ‘legal’ party and the exchange it proposes takes the form of criminal inducement – blackmail, like a corrupt form of indenture with a pair of scissors as teeth. Homelessness is not illegal in Australia, but being of no fixed address is to be reduced to little more than refuse in relation the economy and a shadowy non-person in relation to the law; a kind of twilight status.  The criminal lives in the deep night of economy and law but has the vivid definiteness of lurid tabloid colour and the violent cut-up of blackmail to define them. Cartoon & Conspiracy Theory isn’t blackmail because it doesn’t come from the criminal world, but is nonetheless a ‘contract,’ binding parties across the grey gradations of the law. But it’s a contract whose (non) legality is signified by its manic collage of misshapen words and arrangements; a manifesto for the de-legitimate Truth of the homeless now among us permanently.

 – Chris Palazzolo


Teasing Threads is Chris Palazzolo, novelist and poet, editor at Regime Books in Perth, radio host on 6EBA FM North Perth, and manager of one of the last video shops in the world – Network Video, Roleystone.

Cartoon & Conspiracy Theory is available from

United in Compassion and Support: Michele Seminara on the launch of ‘Beyond the Father’s Shadow’ a film by Saba Vasefi

Beyond the Father’s Shadow, a film by Saba Vasefi, was launched at NSW Parliament House on 26 August 2015.

Saba Vasefi is a human rights activist, feminist, poet, filmmaker and Asylum Seeker Centre Ambassador. She vividly remembers the day she first arrived in Australia seeking asylum, after being expelled from her academic position at Shahid Beheshti University for campaigning against capital punishment in Iran:

Five years ago, I arrived in Australia carrying only a red suitcase in one hand and my little girl in the other. I felt my hopes and dreams had been taken from me and I was left with little choice but to go into exile. But, before doing so, I had to relinquish all my possessions to my ex-husband so he would agree to give me full custody of my daughter. Divorce can be difficult for all women but in Iran it can be extremely debilitating and gruelling.

I fled the persecution, marginalisation, misogyny and corruption in Iran and sought asylum in Australia. When I arrived, other than the things I grasped in each hand, my only asset was my passion for human rights and art. And that was something I knew no one could take from me.

Five years on, that passion for human rights and the arts has taken Vasefi far and seen her achieve much. She has studied documentary filmmaking at the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and on August 26, well-known author and UNICEF Ambassador Tara Moss launched Vasefi’s documentary, Beyond the Father’s Shadow, to a sold out audience at NSW Parliament House. The film, praised by Moss for being powerful, relevant and timely, portrays the struggles behind politician Edith Cowan’s rise to power. Vasefi uses poetic imagery to depict how Cowan’s traumatic childhood motivated her to become a social worker and then the first female parliamentarian of Australia.

In her speech on the night, Vasefi explained that she was drawn to exploring the life of Cowan because —

… I wanted to find a story that resonated with my own narrative. After spending years campaigning against capital punishment in Iran, I hoped I might find Australian women dedicated to the same cause. Edith Cowan was seven when her mother died and fifteen when her father shot and killed his second wife. He was subsequently hanged for the crime…

Cowan championed women’s rights in parliament, pushing through legislation which allowed women to be involved in the legal profession. She succeeded in improving women’s rights in general and the rights of mothers in particular. And she was one of the first to promote sex education in schools. Edith Cowan gave voice to the long suppressed anger, grievances and hopes of the incipient feminist movement.

Many people wonder why I am interested in Cowan and ask me why I made Beyond the Father’s Shadow. I think it is helpful to consider the theoretical construct presented by Halifu Osumare, known as ‘connective marginality’. According to her definition, marginalised groups connect in a manner that cuts through linguistic, cultural and geographical borders. I felt I understood Edith’s pain, sorrow and her fight against political policies which neglected her rights as a woman. I connected to her feelings of isolation and loneliness as a woman in a world that doesn’t trust female voices.

Making the film also brought back memories of teaching art therapy classes for underprivileged children in Iran ten years ago. Arriving in Australia, I felt vulnerable in a new country and culture, and experienced setbacks that I never anticipated after leaving Iran. I became paralysed as a result of domestic violence in Sydney, and I too used art to overcome grief and trauma. Like the children I worked with, I found my inner strength.

A number of distinguished female speakers (who helped Vasefi launch the film and participate in a panel discussion on misogyny and politics) highlighted the fact that women’s voices are often still not heard or trusted. Tara Moss gave a darkly humorous speech on Australia’s ‘meritocracy’, bemoaning the fact that while statistics show women are achieving outstanding results in education, politics and the workforce, they are rarely promoted into senior positions or given the same opportunities as men — the excuse being that they do not exhibit adequate ‘merit’. As Moss archly observed, ‘merit’ seems to be a strangely specific quality, manifesting predominantly in white males.

Dr Mehreen Faruqi, who hosted the film launch, is one of a minority of women (and people of colour) who have managed to display enough of the selective quality of ‘merit’ to be voted in as a Member of the NSW Legislative Council. She recounted stories of her childhood in Pakistan, a country which has one of the worst gender equality gaps in the world, and attributed her own confidence and drive to succeed to the influence of a feminist aunt. She warned the audience that the equal rights women enjoy in Australia have been hard won by women like Cowan and, as our current government works to rewind the supports and freedoms necessary for true equality, that they must be vigilantly defended.

The panel discussion at the launch of Beyond the Fathers Shadow (left to right) The Hon. Linda Burney Deputy Leader of the NSW Opposition. Dr. Mehreen Faruqi Greens Member of legstilative Council. Senator Lee Rhiannon. Dr Wendy Michaels: Historian, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Newcastle; Director, The Women’s Club; Convenor, Rose Scott Women Writers’ Festival.

The panel discussion at the launch of Beyond the Fathers Shadow (left to right) The Hon. Linda Burney Deputy Leader of the NSW Opposition. Dr. Mehreen Faruqi Greens Member of Legislative Council. Senator Lee Rhiannon. Dr Wendy Michaels: Historian, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Newcastle; Director, The Women’s Club; Convenor, Rose Scott Women Writers’ Festival.

This sense that we are, as a country, moving backwards rather than forwards in our treatment of women, was a common refrain among the speakers at the film launch. Senator Sarah Hanson Young spoke passionately about the plight of marginalised women such as refugees, paying tribute to the character of those she had visited in detention, saying, ‘We have no idea of the strength it takes to move your family and leave your homeland to go to another country’. She reminded the audience that such women choose to resettle in Australia because they believe it is a free country that treats women well; often, however, traumatic experiences such as sexual violence in detention make a mockery of this belief.

Although we are ostensibly a land of equality, vulnerable refugee and immigrant women experience a different kind of marginalisation in Australia than they did in their homeland. Van Badham, outspoken columnist for The Guardian, spoke powerfully about the way economic inequality contributes to the disenfranchisement of immigrants to this country. She argued convincingly that over the past twenty years there has been a systematic transferral of wealth from the poor to the rich, with the wealthiest 1% of Australians now owning 60% of the country’s assets, while the major social institutions which were in place to support people in need have either been privatised or simply shut down. She pointed out that if your work and security are always under threat you are not a democratically enabled person, and that fear of lack can lead people to scapegoat the minorities who live among them. In relation to asylum seekers, Badham claimed that the current government are using the age-old political strategy of blaming ‘them’ for economic inequality, thereby inciting unfounded fear and hatred. She praised Cowan, who worked to organise education, childcare and healthcare for women, and in doing so established the mechanisms which enable real economic and political equality.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the launch of Beyond the Father’s Shadow was the panel discussion hosted by historian Dr Wendy Michaels. Here the panellists had the opportunity to express their personal responses to the film, as well as to share some experiences from their own lives. Linda Burney, Deputy Leader of the NSW Opposition, pointed out that, just as in Cowan’s day, contemporary politics is a tough and patriarchal business, and revealed that it is still challenging, as a woman, to bring your own way of working into such a male dominated environment. She confessed that when sitting in Parliament she often feels like ‘breaking out and gasping for air’, as Cowan was depicted doing in the film. Dr Michael’s (who narrated and appeared in the documentary) pointed out that Cowan never wanted women to ‘take over’; rather, she advocated that they work alongside men, believing that only through working together would change be possible. Senator Lee Rhiannon (who also appeared in the film) fondly recounted her own childhood growing up in Australia in the 50’s and 60’s, crediting her practical father — who always encouraged her to learn new skills — with being a huge influence in her life. She fondly recalled how his favourite response to any problem was ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’

Besides the impact and importance of the documentary itself, the most outstanding aspect of the launch of Beyond the Father’s Shadow was, in the end, not just what was shared, but the atmosphere in which this sharing took place. Panellists, presenters and audience members alike were united in their acceptance, compassion and support for one-another, and for the cause of women’s well-being in general. As Vasefi explained when asked about her reasons for choosing film as a vehicle for social change:

In the twenty-first century male politicians still make decisions that affect women’s bodies, sexual preferences, marriage and employment. We need more feminists in politics, and consciousness-raising through artistic expression is a form of political action which can be used to elicit discussion about sexism.

Or as Dr Mahreen Faruqi simply proclaimed: ‘Women do belong in the house —Parliament House!’

An excerpt from Beyond the Fathers Shadow (from Adam Lynch’s website

 – Michele Seminara


Michele Seminara is a poet and yoga teacher from Sydney. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Bluepepper, Tincture Journal, Regime, Seizure, Plumwood Mountain and Social Alternatives. She is also the managing editor of on-line creative arts journal Verity La. Her first collection of poetry, Engraft, will be published by Island Press in early 2016.


Murray’s Eclectic World of Musings: Patrick McCauley Reviews ‘Waiting for the Past’ by Les Murray

Waiting for the Past by Les Murray Black Inc, 2015

waitingforthepastIf one were to wish that our great creative minds, could assume the ancient art of prophesy, we might hope that we could ‘remember the future’ – even if we might find ourselves ‘waiting for the past’. Yet through our surrender to ‘waiting for the past’, we suddenly find ourselves ‘remembering the future’… and this slim handsome hard backed volume, which Stephen Edgar notes has a “Tardis -like quality of being larger on the inside” than it is on the outside, becomes another piece of ordinary magic by the inimitable Les Murray.

The book is dedicated to “the glory of God” with no preamble, preface, or afterword. It just goes straight into the deep – with the four quatrains of the opening poem leading the reader through the geological process of making coal – in shrunken time – “ all afternoon”. Then we are traveling in Australia, a thousand miles or so to Hahndorf – for ‘boiled lamb hock’ and to Hindmarsh Island without even mentioning the women’s business:-

Saw careers from the climbing bridge,
the steel houses it threw
all over Hindmarsh Island,

‘The Canonization’ (of Mary Mackillop) may wish to “heal the education of poor children” but is more a private votive which may have been included to throw off the easily distracted. Murray is at his best as witness to natural phenomenon, such as in “Nuclear Family Bees” where he describes the little native bees which mate in pairs rather than hives and make “gold skinfulls of water” In the poem “I wrote a Little Haiku” we get an idea of the Tardis-like quality of the poem and the vision of the poet’s imagination, as he describes the lead bullets from the American civil war which may even now dribble out of burnt wood and farmyard timbers:-

might still re-melt and pour
out runs of silvery ichor
the size of wasted semen
it had annulled before.

In “Raising an Only Child” Murray enters one of his common themes of childhood and solitude – describing himself in the second person “…you tell stories of yourself to the hills” and you hear the great lifelong solitude of this poet, which may be something that is needed by any poet, but is particularly strong in Murray’s work, and describes a deep genius of childhood ( and adulthood) that can isolate a human being from the tenderness of love. The poem arrives at the line “ and I, the only true human” … after which I can be in no doubt about the level of separation required.

There are many thoughts which pass through the mind of a reader as he passes through Murray’s eclectic world of musings. The reader is taken through about eight poems about food, together with historical reconstructions, natural world re-descriptions and psycho social observations. He describes the making of two roads with crow bars and shovels during the depression. Hard yakka is hard to write, yet he builds a poem around the narrative and finds a line we would have never heard from Manning Clarke:-

None of the cutters joined a union
or talked of freedom. Independent, was the word

murrayThe sepia portrait of Murray on the back cover of the book shows us the man himself. A laughing Buddah with the thick wrists of inherited hard physical work (which he was mostly spared), dressed in country best with polished boots. The bald headed, wide toothed, laughing Buddah of Bunyah may not be the image of Australian poetry that the progressive literarti had imagined. Yet this man and this mind, with all its gentle genius, is the poet that we have somehow formed – which talks to all the world – perhaps to Ireland and England, Europe, more than the United States of America.

Murray elicits difficult ideas from a distance through compressing time. In “Persistence of the Reformation” he likens the leaf matter lining the floor of a creek bed to “saucepans of wet money”. And “four hundred years of ship-spread jihad” seems to merge with “the Christian civil war” and then the “bitter chews of an old plug/ from Ireland and England” – arrives finally at “the local dead /still mostly lie in ranks/ assigned them by denominations” The poem itself without one stick of punctuation apart from the six line stanzas, a capital letter at the start and a full stop at the end of the seventh stanza which has nine lines. Yet, somehow after reading the poem I seem to know that the term ‘reformation’ persists as a continuing thing, as a ‘form’ … and must continue to persist on the brutal path to enlightenment. I hear the words of Geoffrey Lehmann declaring the sonnet dead, yet somehow, here is one slightly re designed.

This is a gem of a little book which no library of Australian literature can be complete without. It contains a traintrip of highly compressed poems using syntax, sound and cadence, in tercets and quatrains, even sonnets, to produce what Clive James claims on the jacket cover as “Seeing the shape or hearing the sound of one thing in another, he finds forms”

Perhaps “Forms” as Plato saw the meaning of the word as much as in its ordinary sense. I think Murray knows the shape and ‘form’ of Australia and whatever it means to be ‘Australian’, more than any other poet writing in contemporary Australia today. Because he dares to be human he elicits compassion. Yet Murray is often (and openly) vilified by an urban progressive Australian literarti. He is authentic rural working class who does not fix what is not broken. One claimed recently that he was not worthy of the Nobel prize because he had not suffered enough. Hows that?

 – Patrick McCauley


Patrick McCauley writes poems and essays, grows tomatoes and goes fishing around Clunes Victoria.

Waiting for the Past is available from


Where Ugliness Bides its Time: B. J. Muirhead reviews ‘Breaking Beauty’ edited by Lynette Washington

Breaking Beauty edited by Lynette Washington MidnightSun Publishing 2014

breaking beauty.
The presentation and elucidation of beauty ceased being a primary aim of literature and visual art over one hundred years ago. This dismissal of beauty as a subject worthy of serious aesthetic consideration was new for visual artists, but not so new for writers, who always have peered deeply into the more unpleasant aspect of live, those areas, in fact, where ugliness bides its time.

In her introduction to the collection, Washington wrote that beauty is everywhere, but added the caveat that

Dualities allow us to understand things that are otherwise meaningless. There is no beauty without ugliness. We need to crack beauty open, we need to break it, to really understand it.

It may be true that there is no beauty without ugliness, but this seems to me to be erroneous, to be an attempt to state a matter of fact when no such statement is possible. Beauty, as with so many aspects of our experience of life, is relative to everything which surrounds it, and to the person experiencing it; but in these stories there is precious little beauty or understanding of what is beautiful within the ugliness. Unfortunately, Washington’s proposition appears to be a justification of the presentation of unpleasant stories which focus on relationships which haven’t worked, dead babies and school friends, the somewhat tedious mini-drama of demanding that a builder live up to the conditions in his contract, and more. The result is a collection of stories which verge on the pathological in their almost overwhelming negativity.

Amy Matthews, for example, in ‘This is the Body of Wonderful Jones’, presents us with a first person narrative about the narrator’s porn star twin sister, and the effect her existence has, especially when a man calls out wonderful during sex. Wonderful Jones’ body is watched, desired and surgically manipulated into a big breasted fantasy of beauty against which the narrator feels compared, against which she cannot compete. Moreover, at the end of the story, I had no sense about whether the narrator actually had a porn star sister called “Wonderful”, or if she suffered from a psychiatric problem, a delusion about a fantasy woman.

In Stefan Laszczuk’s ‘The Window Winder’ the narrator reflects on a fatal accident caused by his attempts to pick up the window winder handle of the car he was driving. The difficulty in doing this caused him to ram into the side of another car, and the impossibly sharp ladder he was transporting flew from the top of his car, through the open window of the other car, and decapitated the driver and passenger. What bothered the narrator still was the way the heads, rolling in the rear seat, came together and kissed, and how their hands were clasping each other when dead, but not prior to death. In the final paragraph Laszczuk writes:

Sometimes you just have to take what life gives you and try to remember that it is possible to find beauty in the worst tragedy.

Social platitude says that he is correct, but the story said nothing about beauty, nor was beauty his subject. Rather it conveyed a sense of somewhat flattened horror throughout, a sense that was not relieved by the simplistic, platitudinous comment at the end of the story. The subject, love and the presumption that it survives even the most tragic of deaths, was poorly developed in terms of the overall theme and provided no sense of satisfaction or narrative resolution.

Many of the stories in Breaking Beauty are the same: their subject is love, relationships and sex, with the unspoken presumption that beauty is lurking in the shadows of the situations presented, that they should be beautiful but in fact are not. In itself this isn’t a problem except that the book’s title, introduction and editor’s comments have led me to look for insights into beauty, for conceptual cracks, affirmations and evocations of both. Unfortunately these rarely appear in the stories, but when they do, the result can be quite chilling.

One such story is ‘O Lucky Man’ by Lesley Beasley. Richard, an apparently ill man, has driven to the beach for what may be the last time, and sits leaning against a child’s sand castle, trying to enjoy himself despite his pain and the rain coming down. From her beach house, Liliana is Listening to Chopin while thinking about her life—how long it has been since she played golf, why she had sold her husband’s business, her irritation with a new age spot. When she sees Richard watching the waves from the old hut, she makes a grand gesture:

A lucky man, she said to herself, no arthritis, no heart attacks. I spare you them all, she pronounced grandly, waving an imaginary wand. I give you wealth and health and a happy life. I give you love. And with a final theatrical flourish—I give you eternal youth.

We don’t know what is wrong with Richard, but we know enough to be certain that this blessing already is meaningless.

More directly focused on beauty is ‘The Beholders’, by Sean Williams. This story takes place in “the early days of d-mat,” when people were concerned that matter transmission would result in “a world of freaks and giant flies, or whatever.” At this time there was a system hack that, when installed in one’s home d-mat booth, slowly made the user more beautiful. In the year after Art had installed the hack, he noted that none of his friends complimented him on his increasing good looks. It was only when he confronted his friends directly that he discovered that they perceived none of his good looks, but thought he was aging and shabby. On investigating, he discovered that the d-mat hack produced an alteration in the brain which caused a change in self-perception so that the user thought they were beautiful, irrespective of their actual appearance. Art found others who had been tricked, forming a group called “The Beholders”, who found the man, and hacked him in return, so that he could see himself only as a “hideous freak.” Williams ends the story with a moral, which is a dangerous thing to do these days:

…in the time The Beholders had taken to catch the hacker, they had realised something very important. They were all getting older, like everyone else, no matter how they try to cheat. We all sag and lose our looks. We all shrink and fade away. But The Beholders will never stop thinking they’re beautiful.

This, to my mind, is the best of the stories which deal directly with beauty, if only because of the shock I experience when I look in a mirror and see just how far my experience of myself veers from the exterior. It also is one of the few stories which completely fulfils the editorial brief in a direct manner.

Equally compelling is ‘Thank you, Jean Harley’, in which Heather Johnson writes a sixty-one year old woman talking to her husband, Stompy, about their daughter while sitting at his grave. Pearl, the old woman, remembers the first time their daughter left home “for real”, how she had left Pearl a note saying Find love with Dad again. Let it in. Hold onto it. At the end of the story, Pearl acknowledges life itself, the life she lived with her husband, the life she is living as she talks to his absence:

This was her life, troublesome as it was, but here on this picnic blanket, talking with Stompy and remembering Jean, she knew it to be a beautiful thing. ‘Let’s both thank her, Stompy.’

The story conveys the sense of a satisfied, if not entirely fulfilled life, and provides the reader with a similar feeling, an understanding which the phrase “she knew it to be a beautiful thing” almost succeeds in destroying simply by being an unnecessary statement of what should have been obvious from the story, had it been developed a little more carefully.

More than anything else, the stories in this collection display an urge to see and experience unpleasantness and despair in the mundane, without taking the extra step that would bring beauty out of the background and into some focus. At the same time, and somewhat irritatingly, most of the stories are well enough written, in a technical sense, that they all are readable. Where they fail, and many of them do fail, is in the development of the ideas, in relating these to beauty and its failings in a satisfying manner. For this reason, the collection is less compelling and enjoyable than it should have been.

 – B. J. Muirhead


 B.J. Muirhead is a writer and photographer living in rural Queensland. He has published online and in print journals, and was included in an anthology of Queensland poetry (1986). He has published art criticism and was photographic reviewer for the Courier-Mail newspaper in the 1980s. His writing and recent exhibitions, Primary Evidence (2011) andFlesh (2014), continue his lifetime interest in the human body and its relation to the inevitability of age and death. He can be found at   and

Breaking Beauty is available from

Karen Le Rossignol Launches ‘The Vine Bleeds’ by J M Yates

The Vine Bleeds by J M Yates, Brolga Publishing 2015, was launched at the Burwood Campus of Deakin University 28 November 2015 by Karen Le Rossignol.

vine bleedsThis is a special day….the culmination of what feels like a birth process – we are here to celebrate the birth of a very special book, this memoir by Jenny Yates, The Vine Bleeds.

Memoir can be defined simply as a history of people or events from personal knowledge.
Why write rather than simply tell others? It is to explore memory, the whole urge to tell stories, and the need for resonance or ongoing meaning for others. Memory drives memoir, ‘…but it can take writing to realize that while we thought we were just living, history was unfolding’. This is a quote from the TriQuarterly website, which debates issues of creative nonfiction and memoir.

This book, The Vine Bleeds, provides delightful and graphic descriptions of several eras – World War Two, living in Ormond and its shops, doughnut vans and the fairs and circuses, going to dances on Saturday nights, getting a job as a young single mother, the early days of IT… But it also does more than these evocative descriptions.

‘Nonfiction often achieves its momentum not just through narrative – telling the story – but also through the meditative intelligence behind the story, the author as narrator thinking through the implications of the story, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly’. Phillip Gerard wrote this in 2005, and it has become a major interest in exploring why we write – it is worth asking what purpose Jenny had in writing this book.

Vulnerability is a part of the answer. What is the link between confessional literature and memoir? There are literary and historical links between ‘confessional’ literature and memoir that originate in the writings of Augustine and Rousseau. Confessional writing, Sala argued in 2013, demonstrates vulnerability, and is thus a useful tool for engendering trust and engagement with the reader, who perceives the ‘vulnerable’ writer as being ‘earnest to the point of compromising himself’. While we find the term ‘confessional’ problematic when discussing the modern memoir form, and suggest alternatives such as an ‘openness’ or ‘frankness’ when revealing expressions of human frailty, it may be useful to think, as Sala does, of the effect of frank and revelatory first-person writing as ‘decentering the authority’ of the memoirist, engendering vulnerability in the writer and her narrator/protagonist, and thus creating a connection with the reader (Sala 2013).

Memory is being interrogated by The Vine Bleeds. Memoir, as the process for interrogating memory, is the interpretation of events through the lens of experience that enables understanding of an individual consciousness within a context of the wider world.
Truth is an important consideration for the memoirist. How much to tell? Gerard writes of the responsibility of the writer in crafting that truth as:

Giving the reader a clear signal about exactly what kind of truth you’re claiming – literal truth of event, emotional truth, truth by hypothetical illustration, approximate truth of memory, or merely the truth of intuition guided by special insight. (Gerard 1996: 123)
Jenny unleashes her vulnerability, she is interrogating her memory to find her forms of truth. She does so with a special insight into family violence and childhood memory. This book, and her purpose, is a search for emotional truth within the literal truths she describes. It is a great pleasure to declare The Vine Bleeds launched and ready to share that emotional truth.

 –  Karen Le Rossignol.


Karen Le Rossignol is Senior Lecturer and Course Co-ordinator in Professional & Creative Writing at Deakin University.

For information on how to purchase The Vine Bleeds go to

J M Yates discusses the writing of The Vine Bleeds 

J M Yates discusses the writing of her memoir ‘The Vine Bleeds’

The Vine Bleeds, Brolga Publishing 2015. This is the text of speech J M Yates delivered at the launch of her book at the Burwood Campus of Deakin University on 28 November 2015. 

cropped-vine-bleeds_the_cover__brolga1I never intended to write a book. However two things steered me down the path. After my mother died, I realised how little I knew about her earlier life. I found some writing she had done when she was at U3A and it gave me some insight to her thoughts, but there was so much more I now wanted to know. It saddened me that this wouldn’t be possible. I didn’t want my daughters to feel the same. Secondly, I was having difficulty with my own life and sought professional help. My counsellor suggested that when memories surfaced, I should jot them down in a journal – just a few lines. Doing this was quite liberating. Once it was on paper it just didn’t seem so bad. Lacking confidence with my writing I attended a Saturday afternoon writing class which I enjoyed. Then I enrolled at Holmesglen TAFE and 5 years later I obtained my diploma. I’d come a long way from the person who found writing a letter difficult. While I was at Holmesglen the assignments prompted me to consider working on a book. The little snippets in my journals, which were so badly written, became paragraphs which became chapters.

Then my grandchildren started arriving. Still most unhappy with the way the book was written, I popped it in the bottom drawer. For the next seven years I helped out looking after babies. What a magical time. I had to work when my daughters were young and wasn’t able to be with them as much as I wanted. It was really enjoyable having this time with my grandchildren. Eventually, I pulled that book out of the bottom drawer.

One of my dreams when I was young was to go to university. That, and why I didn’t go, is in the book. I decided if I wanted to write this book well, I needed to obtain skills I didn’t have so I applied to Deakin University as a very mature age student. Over the next three years I used parts of my book in some of my assignments. Workshopping was a large part of all writing assignments. I agonised airing my life to my tutors and fellow students in class. When my writing was being workshopped I’d sit and squirm. The students didn’t hold back, some liked my writing some didn’t. However, I took on board what they, and my tutors, said and these sections of my book improved substantially.

I continued on with my studies and finally obtained a Batchelor of Arts, majoring in Creative and Professional writing. The book still wasn’t finished and needed a lot of work. After graduating, I applied what I had learnt and then, Jo, one of my past tutors, assessed my manuscript. This resulted in another six months work. Thanks Jo. The voice wasn’t right in places, chapters needed to be moved around and so on. Finally I felt the book was ready to be edited. Stu, another of my past tutors, took on the job and for the next three months more changes took place. Both Jo and Stu are here today. I am so ever grateful to each of you, because without your help the book wouldn’t be what it is today. Finally, two years after I graduated, it was finished, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get it published. Today, it has being launched by yet another of my tutors, Karen. I would like to thank Karen and Deakin for the help and support I’ve received with this launch. So you see, Deakin has had quite an impact on the completion of this memoir.

The book itself, set in Melbourne, spans fifty years or so from the 1940’s. It commences when I was four and ends soon after the death of my mother. Although the book contains domestic violence and highlights the contradictions it presents, the main focus is the effect on children subjected to it, and the subsequent life choices they make.

The results of both physical and emotional abuse affect the way you feel about yourself. Seeing your mother assaulted affects the way a person trusts, their self-confidence and self-esteem. It becomes their reality and it terrorises them. When you are emotionally abused yourself, you come to believe you are less than you are and it changes your life. So my life has been a mixture of vulnerability and strength. I read somewhere that ‘the little kid that lives inside us won’t leave us alone until we give them a voice.’ I’ve given the little kid a voice and I now know it’s not what happens to us, that matters, it’s what we do about it

My brother and I embarked on different journeys and lead vastly different lives. Although sad in places the book definitely has its lighter moments that will make the reader smile. It shows the repercussions of the silly errors of judgement my brother and I made. It also illustrates that everyone’s journey is different and that difficult situations can create positive outcomes.

Domestic abusers have a perceived sense of entitlement and as Rosie Batty said they view women and children as possessions they control. This was certainly the case in my childhood home. It has taken courage to tell my story and confront my past but it has released me and allowed me to rest my mind. I’m now in an extremely happy place with a wonderful supportive and cohesive family. I hope you enjoy reading my memoir.

 – J M Yates


For information on how to purchase The Vine Bleeds go to

Karen Le Rossignol Launches ‘The Vine Bleeds’ by J M Yates

Annette Marfording’s Best Reads of 2015

Annette & bookThis is the time of the year that everyone publishes their “best of 2015” list – mainstream and social media has been full of the 10 best coffees of 2015, the 10 best red carpets and of the course the ten best books. Not wanting to be left out Rochford Street Review turned to Annette Marfording for her views on the best reads of 2015.

Annette is perfectly positioned to provide such a listing having been a voracious reader all her life. After arriving in Australia in 1985 Annette fell in love with Australian writing. In 2007 she became a broadcaster at Bellingen’s community radio station 2bbb FM, where she created a program on Australian writers and their work. From 2011 to 2015 she was Program Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival. Her book Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors features 21 in-depth conversations with Australian authors on their books, central themes in their body of work, writing methods, central tips for aspiring writers and more.

Annette’s top reads of 2015 were all reviewed on her radio program and are focussed on Australian fiction. She points out that a list of top reads will always be subjective, and while she read about 100 books during 2015, there will always some that are still on “to read pile”. Joan London’s The Golden Age and Tony Birch’s The Ghost River, for instance, are high on her list of books yet to be read.


Annette Marfording’s Best Reads of 2015

alex millerBook of the Year: Alex Miller, The Simplest Words: A Storyteller’s Journey
(Allen & Unwin), a collection of novel extracts, memoir pieces, short stories and passionate essays, plus a wonderful novella linked to Conditions of Faith and a surprise poem   ( general-books/literature-literary-studies/The-Simplest-Words-Alex-Miller-9781743313572)




soulsGregory Day, Archipelago of Souls (Picador), the dualist story of Wesley Cress as a soldier under British command on the Greek island of Crete in WWII, and his life on King Island after his return, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. (





chimesAnna Smail, The Chimes (Sceptre), by a NZ author who has drawn on her skills as a poet and classical violinist to compose a symphony in a dystopian world and society ruled by “the Order” through its vast musical instrument, the Carillon, which has the effect of destroying people’s memories and making it impossible for them to form new ones. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. (




where's there smokeWhere There’s Smoke: Outstanding Short Stories by Australian Men (Black Inc), which presents the crème de la crème of short fiction written in the last fifteen years or so by Australian male authors. (





the world without usMireille Juchau, The World Without Us (Bloomsbury), set in an alternative community in northern New South Wales (






The HandsStephen Orr, The Hands: An Australian Pastoral (Wakefield Press), a novel set on a cattle farm in South Australia, experiencing severe drought, and featuring an extended family undergoing tragedy and betrayal. (





certain circlesElizabeth Harrower, In Certain Circles (published in 2014 by Text Publishing), her first published novel since the famous The Watch Tower in 1966, tells the story of the son and daughter of a wealthy academic couple and an orphaned brother and sister, and once again demonstrates her great psychological insight. (




eye of the sheepSofie Laguna’s 2015 Miles Franklin winning novel, The Eye of the Sheep (published in 2014 by Allen & Unwin), a story about domestic violence, general family dysfunction, social disadvantage and a mother’s strong love for her autistic and difficult son. ( browse/books/fiction  /literary-fiction/The-Eye-of-the-Sheep-Sofie-Laguna-9781743319598).




joe's fruit shopZoe Boccabella’s memoir Joe’s Fruitshop & Milk Bar (Scribe), in which she plays tribute to her Italian ancestors, the first of whom migrated to Australia in 1926, and which is a fantastic record of social history. ( /joes-fruit-shop-and-milk-bar)





a piece of my mindProfessor Gordon Parker, A Piece of My Mind: A Psychiatrist on the Couch (Macmillan), the 2012 memoir by the founder of the Black Dog Institute, which is an eye-opener about mental illness and how it should be treated. (





 –  Annette Marfording


Annette Marfording runs a program on Australian writers and their work on 2bbb FM (Bellingen, NSW). Her book, Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors, features 21 in-depth conversations with Australian authors on their books, central themes in their body of work, writing methods, central tips for aspiring writers and more. Authors interviewed include literary authors and poets (David Malouf, Cate Kennedy, Peter Goldsworthy), crime writers (Michael Robotham, Barry Maitland), commercial fiction authors (Di Morrissey, the late Bryce Courtenay), and narrative non-fiction authors (Robert Dessaix and Kate Howarth). All profits from the sale of the book go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors is available in Sydney from Gleebooks, Berkelouw Books, Better Read than Dead, Abbey’s Bookshop, Dymocks George Street, as well as the city, Uni Sydney and UTS branches of the Co-op Bookshop and online at It is also available at Bookface in Port Maquarie, the Book Warehouse in Coffs Harbour and Lismore, and at the Alternative Bookshop in Bellingen.It can also be purchased from

Teasing Threads – Sundry Film and Literary Criticism: David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’

Chris Palazzolo revisists Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher 2014.

Gone.GirlFor thousands of years, male (and sometimes female) thinkers have banged their heads against the enigma of woman. Socrates disparaged woman as the opposing principle of everything he considered rational, even as he awaited execution on trumped-up charges brought against him by jealous enemies (all men). Freud, in a lecture late in his career, famously announced that after decades of studying female psychic processes he was still none the wiser about how such beings could possibly exist and that from now on they could sort their own problems out. Nietzsche, in one of his aphorisms, denied woman any qualities at all, even shallowness.

David Fincher’s Gone Girl is in the genre of a domestic thriller (crimes of marriage and property), but, like Hitchcock’s Vertigo, its structure serves to position us over this unbridgeable fissure bedevilling all the systems and programmes of men, not unlike those apparatuses which position a high resolution camera over bottomless trenches found in the ocean. Woman incomprehensible, woman anomalous. At the centre of this narration, the very thing impelling it is this vacuum or black hole of female motivation; what the hell is she doing? And why the hell is she doing it?

When Nick Dunne’s wife Amy disappears one morning from their nice, childless, middle class St Louis home, suspicion immediately falls on him. He denies any wrongdoing, but clearly has things to hide. Questions turn on what was going on in their apparently trouble-free marriage; was he abusing her, was he having an affair, did he want to kill her? All the evidence, including her diaries, seem to point in that direction. The answers to these questions come in a spectacular info-dump half way through the movie where we find out that Amy has staged her own disappearance, and framed her husband for her murder. She’s done this for 2 reasons; 1, he was slobbing around the house playing PlayStation and not living up to the brilliant ambitious writer he made himself out to be when he was courting her, and 2, he was having an affair. It’s an extreme case of ‘hell hath no fury…’

There is a serious disjunction here between the motivation (chastising a negligent husband) and the methods. Amy is not an ordinary woman; she is beautiful, brilliant and utterly ruthless. She plans and executes her disappearance like a master criminal. She exploits another man who wants to possess her, by a calculated use of what the feminist philosopher Catherine Hakim calls her erotic capital, murders him and then fakes rape by injuring her vagina with a wine bottle. But why? All to get her slobby husband to clean up his act so that they can continue to maintain the appearance of a perfect couple (an appearance she makes clear in the info-dump she despises)? Why? Why? Why? If her husband is such a disappointment, why not just divorce him and go and marry some hot shot who’s going places? Or, even better, do it on her own; she’s brilliant and ambitious enough to do anything. Instead she does it all for the appearance of marital bliss.

Perhaps I’m reading Gone Girl incorrectly, and that it is not a thriller in the mode of Vertigo at all, but is in fact a satire. Or maybe a sequel. To The Stepford Wives. The Stepford Wives’ Revenge. Amy’s subjectivity seems to turn on a carousel of images created by other people about her. This process started when she was a child, when her parents published a series of books about her as a precocious girl known as Amazing Amy. The books made her a media child, the inference being that electronic simulacra of herself has swallowed up her adulthood. Her subjectivity, armed with all the formidable erotic talents detailed in the narration, consists of an assemblage of images of perfection, coupled to a drive to make the most perfect arrangement of those images; The Perfect Wife with the Perfect Husband. She has no pity, no conscience, she will stop at nothing to be Perfect. She is not a human, but a robot, a Domestic Goddess Machine. Only in this household it’s the machine calling the shots.

 – Chris Palazzolo


Teasing Threads is Chris Palazzolo, novelist and poet, editor at Regime Books in Perth, radio host on 6EBA FM North Perth, and manager of one of the last video shops in the world – Network Video, Roleystone.

The Gone Girl official website can be found here

Hot Stuff: Andy Kissane Launches ‘4W New Writing’ Issue 26

Andy Kissane launced FourW: New Writing Twenty Six, Edited by David Gilbey, FourW Press 2015, at Gleebooks in Sydney on 21 November 2015.

thirsty crow

The Thirsty Crow, a boutique pub in Wagga Wagga that murders thirst, (they obviously have a good writer working on their publicity) has on its dinner menu, the following: Hawaiian Lava pizza. Ultra hot. Quadruple exclamation marks. And the following advice in red ink: “Do not order this pizza. It’s far too hot for you. Do not come back and tell us it is too hot. Do not try and be a hero. Do not eat this, you will not enjoy it.”

Well as I grow habanero chillis, one of the Hawaiian Lava’s ingredients, and as I am a chilli fiend and know how hot they are—I couldn’t resist the challenge laid down by the menu. I wanted to be a hero. And I can faithfully report back to you that this pizza is too hot and I did not enjoy eating it. Though I did eat most of it and the waitress was duly impressed. I told them later that it was too hot and they said it was just meant to be a joke, that people weren’t really meant to order the Hawaiian Lava.

Wagga Wagga is a town, a regional city, renowned for its jokes. There is, for example, the five o’clock wave on the Murrumbidgee, caused by the release of water from the Burrinjuck and Blowering dams, a wave that arrives promptly each day at five o’clock, and if you’re any good you can ride it all the way to Narranderra, one hundred kilometres away. I checked it out while I was walking beside the river and I can faithfully report that it is indeed a whopper and that you could do worse than to catch it, if you ever need to get to Narranderra.

I was, as some of you may know, lucky enough to be a writer in residence at Booranga Writers’ Centre in September this year, where I experienced the generous and marvellous hospitality of the Wagga writing community. Before you come to the conclusion that I spent all my time in The Thirsty Crow, where the beer is great, or the rest of my time surfing the Wagga break, where the waves are huge, let me turn to my anointed task for today, the launching of fourW.

As I understand it, fourW stands for Wagga Wagga Writers Writers and I love the joke that is inherent in the title, I love the repetition. In one of his essays: One Body: Some Notes on Form, the American poet Robert Hass writes: “The first fact of the world is that it repeats itself. I had been taught to believe that the freshness of children lay in their capacity for wonder at the vividness and strangeness of the particular, but what is fresh in them is that they still experience the power of repetition…” The first fact of Volume 26 of fourW— an impressive number and may there be 26 more—is that the magazine includes two forms of writing that are close to my heart—the poem and the short story. In some senses that is where the repetition stops, for my overall reaction to the new writing in this distinctive, idiosyncratic magazine is to be astonished by the vividness, the freshness and the strangeness of the work, and to approach it with a kind of wonder. I can’t possibly manage to convey all that is surprising and arresting about this issue of fourW, so if you’re here and I don’t mention your work, please don’t be offended, there’s a bias in my desire to talk about the discoveries I’ve made, rather than the established writers whose work I have long enjoyed and admired.

Magazines such as fourW are crucial to the development of new writing and new writers and without the early successes that these magazines offer, most people would prematurely stop writing. I certainly would have. The importance of fourW to the Riverina is noted by David Gilbey in his incisive editorial, but one of the things that struck me about issue 26 was the breadth of the catchment area. Sure there are writers from Wagga Wagga and Albury, Melbourne and Sydney, but there’s also work from people who live in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania and internationally, there are writers from Newhaven and Newcastle in the United Kingdom and Phoenixville and Minneapolis in the United States. I am reminded of the American poet, James Wright, who wrote in “The Minneapolis Poem”:

But I could not bear
To allow my poor brother, my body, to die
In Minneapolis.
The old man Walt Whitman, our countryman
Is now in America, our country,
But he was not buried in Minneapolis
At least.
And no more may I be
Please God.

I want to be lifted up
By some great white bird unknown to the police,
And soar for a thousand miles and be carefully hidden
Modest and golden as one last corn grain,
Stored with the secrets of the wheat and the mysterious lives
Of the unnamed poor.

Reading the poetry in fourW is like being lifted up by some great white bird and carried aloft to witness Rob Walker’s concern for the railway children beside Darjeeling station, then sliding with Bronwyn Lang under Long Feng bridge in China, before hovering with Les Wicks in Darlinghurst, as the speaker of his poem struggles to deal with the death of her baby boy. “I will live without compartments” she decides at the end of what is a harrowing flight. fourW is not just international in terms of the writers published, but international in terms of both its subject matter and the quality of its art. But, I must admit, I was astonished by the number of writers who live overseas and are in this issue. Can I just check if any of them are here today? … No, good. Then let me just say that I thought the work of Australian writers was more impressive. But I’m not parochial. One international standout for me was Adam Day’s moving poem, “Dead Friesian in Winter” which is carried by its finely tuned observations.

4wTurning again to the Australians, Joan Cahill’s “The Rose Shredder” utilises the native bug, the Riverina rose shredder as a metaphor for male sexual conquest, a leap that I found truly surprising and reminded me of the idea Robert Bly develops in his essay “Looking for Dragon Smoke” of the long floating leap, perhaps from the conscious to the unconscious, that exists in a work of art. Leaps also abound in Julie MacLean’s poem “Prize Collection” where the speaker suggests, “you have pinned spiders/ to my eyes in celebration/ of our lifetime together.” You must read this poem, it’s a beauty.

There are a number of poems that deal with war. There’s Albury poet Phillip Muldoon’s vivid dramatization of the after-effects of the Vietnam war, Maurice Corlett’s moving elegy to his great Uncle Tass who died in the evacuation from Dunkirk, and David Gilbey’s ekphrastic series, “Shrapnel”. This series avoids the common trap of writing about art works, where the poem becomes merely a description of the painting. Instead, Gilbey uses the art works as triggers for his imagination. In “Shrapnel 4” he evokes the difficulty of living with someone who has returned from war: “You didn’t mean to hurt me, but your eyes looked through my face/ to other faces.”

Derek Motion’s “Density” received this year’s fourW prize for poetry. It’s a poem that I think Robert Bly would admire, where the speed of leaping is fast, taking us from a semi-black bra outline under a white shirt, to Anzac dogs, to the ambient potential of a startled wallaby, to a country girl and to the smell of rain passing the gums. It is a poem which embodies its title, an exploration of the density of the mind and Motion demonstrates the ability to associate quickly and move from the present to memories and back again with a control and a rhythm that carries you along. It’s an intriguing poem, where something it seems, happened in the long grass. I gather this long grass occurs in the Riverina. Interesting. Read it. And read the many other fine poems printed in this anthology.

The work is organised alphabetically by author name, though reading fourW I was struck by a number of surprising resonances, as if one contributor was writing back to another. There are many fabulous short stories published here. I was impressed by Sean O’Leary’s “Nowhere”, a tale of police pursuit and revenge set in central Australia and involving both Indigenous and white Australian characters. The evocative cover of fourW with its tyre marks and footprints is suggestive of this story. In what has been a violent week for world citizens, “Nowhere” confronts the interesting problem of how to write violence, not the sort of stylised violence that Quentin Tarantino excels in, but realistic violence that impacts on the lives of people. There’s a long history of writing violence in literature that goes back to Homer’s Iliad. The French philosopher, Simone Veil wrote:


‘To define force — it is that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most liberal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. Somebody was here, and the next minute there is nobody here at all; this is the spectacle the Iliad never wearies of showing us.’

O’Leary’s story is distinctively Australian, and I was completely engaged by its deft plotting, its realism and by the way it tackles the writing of violence, which as I know from my own work is a difficult issue to deal with, but in the end I’m not sure that O’Leary gets it quite right. What happens serves what Roland Barthes’ calls the interests of the story, but I wondered if this character would actually do this. Or to put it another way, the plot and the characterization didn’t quite mesh for me. In one of the many resonances that the journal throws up, Ron Pretty’s poem, “plans” also tackles this issue in what struck me as a slightly more successful manner, but perhaps this is due to Pretty’s foreshadowing of a violent act that is only contemplated and not yet actualised. Violence is difficult for all of us to understand. It’s good that fourW has the courage to tackle it. Read “Nowhere” and “plans” and make up your own mind.

Nadine Brown’s “Drowning”, a story of a woman married to an evangelical pastor, is a fresh and fascinating study of how people can think one thing and do another. Jane Downing’s “Don’t Write it Down” is a story with considerable charm that deals with how a mother can hope to explain to her thirteen year old son, these lines inscribed in her copy of The Decameron: “To my only true love, my arms will always be open to you. Forever, Hal.” Hal, as her son knows, is not her husband. This story utilises the sophisticated technique of a narrator talking to a narratee. Many of the other writers collected here are also particularly adept at their manipulation of narrative technique. There’s the flashbacks and intercutting of Jarrah Dundler’s “Caravan”, which recounts a dramatic encounter with an Eastern Brown snake. In Beverley Lello’s “Surfacing”, Jay’s childhood experience of almost drowning becomes the central metaphor for a relationship that is moving, human and memorable. Michel Dignand’s “Chain of Events” demonstrates the centrality of power in writing dialogue. This wry, modern take on sexual politics resolves through a twist in the tale that I didn’t see coming.

Maryanne Khan’s “An Inconvenience” a charming, humorous and delightful story was the worthy winner of the fourW prize for fiction. Set in the south of Italy, it’s a portrait of an old Italian woman who is shunted between cousins. I enjoyed the way this story critiqued the myth of the family, while presenting an old woman who survives, it seems to me, because of her ability to live in the moment.

Dorothy Simmons’s story, “Try Me” also features an older single woman, Alice, a school librarian, who while fishing at night is confronted by drunken Year 11 students who call her a witch. In response she summons Macbeth, “by the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes” and Sylvia Plath: “Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/And I eat men like air.” This is a brilliant story which builds to a surprising twist, a twist which is… well, wonderful is the word that comes to mind.

There is much more in fourW that I don’t have time to detail—it’s a truly International magazine full of surprising, engaging and wonderful work. It’s there for you to read, to ponder, to savour. My congratulations to everyone who performed the hard slog of producing it, or contributing to it. And unlike The Thirsty Crow’s now infamous, uneatable pizza, it’s hot stuff, but not too hot for you. You will, I promise, enjoy Issue 26 of fourW New Writing. It’s my pleasure today to send it out into the world.


 – Andy Kissane


Andy Kissane’s books include his fourth collection of poetry, Radiance (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014), which has been shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry and a book of short stories, The Swarm. He was the winner of the 2013 Fish International Poetry Prize and is the Coriole National Wine Poet, with six poems featuring on the back label of their cabernet shiraz. He has read his work in Ireland, England, Vienna and many venues in Australia. He teaches creative writing in the community, schools and universities.

For information on how to purchase a copy of 4W New Writing visit the Booranga Writers’ Centre website