Calibre Essays

Penguins on Horseback

Emma McEwin
25 May 2013

Wandering through the Mawson collection at the South Australian Museum one winter afternoon, I stare through the glass at the reconstruction of my great-grandfather, Douglas Mawson’s room in the hut, the sound of a moaning blizzard in my ears. The eerie sound of the wind coming through the installation, so familiar to Mawson and his men, is strangely allurin ... More

The Lonely Death

Hayley Katzen
26 April 2013
Find Me Before I Die a Lonely Death.com

– Title of an album by electronic band Minuit

A human body exposed to summer heat can be reduced to bones in nine days. First the flies and maggots feast on the body’s fluids. As the tissues decay, they feed on the whole body through orifices and wounds. N ... More

2013 Calibre Prize (Winner): Because it's Your Country

Martin Thomas
24 March 2013

The morgue in Gunbalanya holds no more than half a dozen corpses – and, as usual, it was full. When the Old Man died in the wet season of 2012, they had to fly him to Darwin, only to discover that the morgue there was already overcrowded. So they moved him again, this time to Katherine, where they put him on ice until the funeral. The hot climate notwithstan ... More

Now They've Gone

Colin Nettelbeck
24 October 2012
An imperfectly remembered life is a useless treachery.
Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna

When my American mother-in-law died, the world financial markets went into a tail-spin. Melba was her name; her own mother, who migrated from Italy to New England in the late nineteenth century, was an oper ... More

2012 Calibre Prize (Winner): Body and Soul

Matt Rubinstein
30 August 2012

The most precious manuscript held by the Royal Irish Academy is RIA MS 12 R 33, a sixth-century book of psalms known as an Cathach (‘The Battler’), or the Psalter of St Columba. It is believed to be the oldest extant Irish psalter, the earliest example of Irish writing – and the world’s oldest pirate copy. According to tradition, St Columba secretly transcri ... More

2011 Calibre Prize (winner): 'Who Killed Matilda?'

Moira McKinnon
28 June 2011

I am a doctor. Once I was a doctor of individuals, now I am a ‘doctor of populations’. Population health is about actions to improve the health of communities, nations, and the world. Challenges are many: the mobility and density of populations, contemporary desires and pressures, the safety of food in complex systems, poverty, the immense power of big businesse ... More

2011 Calibre Prize (Winner): The Death of the Writer

Dean Biron
20 April 2011

In February 1878 in Marseilles, France, Józef Teodor Konrad Nałęcz Korzeniowski, a twenty-year-old Polish seafarer tormented by depression, lifted a revolver to his chest and pulled the trigger. The suicide attempt failed: the bullet, whether by chance or design, penetrated the young man’s body without disrupting any vital organ. Korzeniowski recovered quickly ... More

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