Calibre Essays

2010 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Seeing Truganini'

David Hansen
Thursday, 08 January 2015
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

      Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus   (1922)
For what it is worth, my own view is that in contemporary Australia the dialectical quest for truth about the indigenous culture, by open argument and counter-argument, is no less important ...

2009 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Footprints'

Jane Goodall
Wednesday, 07 January 2015

Fingerprints have associations of guilt, but the footprint traditionally speaks of innocence. Think of Good King Wenceslas and his pageboy, crossing the moonlit snow to deliver food and fuel to the poor:

Mark my footsteps, good my page,
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.

I have never been good at violence. Not even at mild arguments. So when the brick came smashing through our bedroom window in the middle of the night,I leapt from our bed and screamed. Our children came running in, more worried and frightened by the noise I had made than by the brick or by the glass scattered on our floor. This is all history now. Well, not quite. A ...

2008 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Reaching One Thousand'

Rachel Robertson
Wednesday, 07 January 2015
I have often admired the mystical way of Pythagoras, and the secret magic of numbers.
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
The real world is not given to us, but put to us by way of a riddle.
Albert Einstein

In the kitchen of my mother’s houses there has always been a wooden stand with a ...

'An die Nachgeborenen: For those who come after'

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Wednesday, 07 January 2015

‘Welcome to the Netherlands!’ the sign says in Dutch and English. The Schipol customs official inspects my Australian passport. ‘Nederlands geboren,’ he sniffs. ‘Zo je komt terug.’ So you’ve come back, he adds, in a tone suggesting that I might have left something behind minutes ago, rather ...

The love song of Henry and Olga

Ann-Marie Priest
Monday, 28 April 2014

On an early spring evening in 1919, in a nearly empty cinema in the English seaside town of Lyme Regis, a slight, dark-haired figure slipped into a seat at the farthest edge of a row. From here, she would have a clear view of the profile of the youthful pianist who, sheltered behind a screen, accompanied the silent film. In white tie and tails, with her fair hair sl ...

2014 Calibre Prize (Winner): Unearthing the Past

Christine Piper
Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Christine Piper is the winner of the 2014 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, worth $5,000. In this powerful essay, she writes about Japanese biological weapons and wartime experiments on living human beings.

... (read more)

At dusk in the Gévaudan

Tom Griffiths
Monday, 26 August 2013

Thirty years ago, I walked out of the railway station at Le Puy in the Auvergne region of the Massif Central of France, put most of my belongings in a locker at the station along with a note in schoolboy French explaining that I hoped to be back, and then walked over the horizon at sunset. I was embarked on my discovery of the Velay and the Gévaudan. < ...

Penguins on Horseback

Emma McEwin
Saturday, 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 ...

'The Lonely Death' by Hayley Katzen

Hayley Katzen
Friday, 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 ...

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