QLD contributor

Once, during a teaching exchange in Germany, I found myself learning as much from my students as I was trying to teaching them. This is not unusual. Delivering my thoughts to others, and then having them modified during discussions, helps me to understand what I want to say. By the end of the class, I begin to see what I probably should have known from the start.

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Fish Work by Caitlin Maling & Earth Dwellers by Kristen Lang

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August 2021, no. 434

New collections from Caitlin Maling and Kristen Lang are situated in vastly different landscapes but pursue similar ideas about the natural world’s fragility and the imminent environmental catastrophe. Maling’s Fish Work, as its title suggests, is primarily interested in marine life and the scientists studying it at Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef, while Lang’s Earth Dwellers explores mountains, caves, and coastlines in Tasmania and Nepal, examining the myriad complexities of ancient ecosystems. Maling’s and Lang’s new books, their fourth collections, urge readers to attend to the work of millennia that has produced these distinctive ecosystems and, in doing so, to appreciate the urgency of protecting them.

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Racism: Stories on fear, hate and bigotry edited by Winnie Dunn, Stephen Pham, and Phoebe Grainer

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July 2021, no. 433

Sweatshop, based in Western Sydney, is a writing and literacy organisation that mentors emerging writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Racism, their ninth anthology, brings together all thirty-nine writers involved in their three programs – the Sweatshop Writers Group, Sweatshop Women Collective, and Sweatshop Schools Initiative. 

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For much of her career, Gwen Harwood (1920–95) was best known for her hoaxes, pseudonyms, and literary tricks. Most notorious was the so-called Bulletin hoax in 1961, but over the years she orchestrated a number of other raids on literary targets, mainly aimed at challenging the power of poetry editors and gatekeepers. For L’Affaire Bulletin (as she sometimes called it), she submitted to that august magazine, under the pseudonym Walter Lehmann, a pair of seemingly unexceptionable sonnets on the theme of Abelard and Eloisa. Only after the poems were published did the Bulletin discover that they were acrostics; read vertically, one spelled out ‘So long Bulletin’, and the other, ‘Fuck all editors’. 

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It’s difficult to describe what it’s like to be raised in a Chinese family, especially when you are surrounded by markers of Western society. There is no such thing as talking back to your parents or refusing to do what they say. As a child, I never went to sleepovers. During my teenage and young adult years, I felt increasingly trapped in my own home. Everything I did was scrutinised; my parents never seemed to take into account my wants or needs. I found myself grasping for any scrap of independence, usually through lying or stealing or a combination of the two. As children, we are continually told that adults do things to protect us, especially when they are things we don’t particularly like. But when does protection morph into something uglier? When does it smother us, as if our agency has been stripped from us?

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How Good Is Scott Morrison? by Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen

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June 2021, no. 432

Flash back to that election night in May 2019, when Australians, depending on their party affiliation, were either overjoyed or appalled at the Coalition’s return despite the opinion polls. That evening, Scott Morrison – a man little known to Australians until assuming the prime ministership just nine months before after an ugly leadership coup – summed up Coalition sentiment and his own Christian faith: ‘I have always believed in miracles,’ Morrison said, before asking, rhetorically, ‘How good is Australia?’

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'Having mastered the art of using magnets / in discretionary acts / like making a pencil / float above a table ...'

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The first statue commemorating Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–97), a swirling tower of forms coalescing into a single naked figure at its apex by British artist Maggi Hambling, was unveiled in London last year. Responding to accusations that the statue was ‘mad’ and ‘insulting’, Hambling defended it as ‘not a conventional heroic or heroinic likeness’ but ‘a sculpture about it now’. Against such dehistoricisation, Sylvana Tomaselli’s intellectual biography of the late eighteenth-century philosopher seeks to recover the historical Wollstonecraft. Tomaselli, the Sir Harry Hinsley Lecturer in History at St John’s College, Cambridge, has been writing on women in the late eighteenth century since the mid-1980s.


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S.L. Lim’s second novel, Revenge, begins with an ‘all persons fictitious’ disclaimer. The paragraph concludes: ‘Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. LOL!’

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Precise observation is considered a prerequisite for poetry, but there are limits as to what a surfeit of detail can bring to a poem, or even to an entire volume. Three new poetry collections, each different in tone and subject matter, deploy close observation to varying degrees of success across poems that scrutinise domestic tension, interspecies dynamics, landscape, and everyday grace.

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