Meanjin

In the winter issue of Meanjin, some of Australia’s best writers, including Sophie Cunningham, Lucy Treloar, and Jennifer Mills, grapple with the climate emergency and our relationship to place in these days of coronavirus and the summer that was.

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The narrator of David Malouf’s virtuosic ‘A Traveller’s Tale’ (1982) describes Queensland’s far north as ‘a place of transformations’ and unwittingly provides us with an epigraph for this collection. Without doubt, every story selected from ....

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The current issue of Meanjin is a forthright one. In her editorial, Sally Heath singles out the contributions of Marcia Langton and Darren Siwes, and with good reason: their work typifies the issue. Siwes has given the journal its cover, and his choice of image – a coin depicting an Indigenous head of state in the year 2041 – makes its point. The cornerstone of the issue is, however, ‘Reading the Constitution out Loud’, a thorough and level-headed essay by Langton on Julia Gillard’s promise to hold a referendum on the recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution. Langton, a member of the government’s inquiry panel, whose matter-of-fact style leads the way for the rest of theissue, asks, ‘how can we sustain the opportunity for a referendum […] in circumstances that are not riven by “dog whistle” issues in the racialist Australian politics that arise with each electoral season?’ The question cannot be ignored, nor easily answered.

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As with all such collections, this issue of Meanjin mixes the inspired with the modest, the fascinating with the mediocre. That is of no consequence: in this fraught cultural age, all that matters is that journals like Meanjin survive and provide a forum for both established and aspiring writers.

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Meanjin, Vol. 69, No. 1 edited by Sophie Cunningham

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April 2010, no 320

There is something to offend everyone in the latest issue of Meanjin. Several contributors boldly tackle religious questions – always plenty of kindling for the fire there. Jeff Sparrow takes on the so-called ‘New Atheists’, in the process throwing a few Marxist haymakers at Bush, Rudd and ‘the Israeli apartheid state’. The ‘religious undergirding’ of secular thought is considered by the Sydney academic John Potts, who finds that greenies, old-style lefties and post-structuralists are much closer to Messianic Christianity than they might think (along the way, he is snide about vegetarians, too). Elsewhere, Paul Mitchell contrasts the spiritual impulses at work in contemporary Australian fiction, though some of his assumptions are bound to get nonbelievers offside.

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Meanjin vol. 66, no. 2 edited by Ian Britain & Griffith Review 17 edited by Julianne Schultz

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October 2007, no. 295

They were once called literary magazines, or journals, though dailiness was never aimed for. Monthliness is popular now, or, in the case of Meanjin and Griffith Review, quarterliness. But what kind of currency do these two magazines aim for? ‘New writing in Australia’ proclaims the subtitle of Meanjin’s latest volume; along with the banner title ‘Globalisation and Postcolonial Culture’, and the subheading ‘Before and After’. ‘New Stories’ and ‘New Poems’ are also listed on the cover, along with a serious frontal portrait of novelist Amit Chaudhuri, on ‘The Fate of the Novel’. There’s quite a bit of semiotic activity going on here, not to mention marketing. Currency – newness, fingers on the pulse, predictive ability – is on the agenda.

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Not being of an introspective temperament, nor an accomplished portraitist, I find it easier to talk about my milieu than myself. I spent my childhood in northern New South Wales. My mother’s people had come to farm in the district around the tum of the century, and most of her family had married, lived and died there. Though my father was a newcomer from the coast, he too had relatives in the town. For some years my younger brother and I were the babies of the kin group.

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For thirty-four years Clem Christesen endured financial stringency, public apathy, political vilification, academic indifference, and institutional hostility in order to provide in the literary journal Meanjin a mirror that would provide for his fellow Australians the image of the just city.

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