Reviewed by Rama Gaind.
Edited by Jonathan Green, Melbourne University Press, $24.99.
The veracity of what was, and what it is not in the COVID-19 landscape, forms one of the powerful reminders of the world in which we live at present.
There’s a reality check about what it is going to be like to live in such out-of-the-ordinary times where we are seeing irreparable disorder.
In the editorial, Green asks what books, essays and fragments of poetry will be written in this moment? How will they help us shape a sense of a world that is shifting and becoming new around us?
“In the trickle-down economy of the imagination, that will be the work of writers and all the other expressive departments of our cultural life. To find the sentences, phrases, notes and splashes of colour that can show us, day by day, just where we are.”
Is it possible for us to take refuge in the smaller details of things? “The mist of new-grass green slowly spreading on what was bare earth beneath the oak trees in the park, the first thin drifts of autumn leaves; a suddenly keener eye for the turning of the seasons … a sense of some solidity in a natural world whose rhythms seem an impregnable constant. Except even there we know change is afoot.”
There is a wish to return to the normal life we knew before the onset of this pandemic, but do we even know what that is anymore.
Written contributions include one from Sophie Cunningham, who touches on the need for recognition as a summer of fire merged with an autumn of pandemic. She writes on nature, community, politics, desperation and belonging.
Noongar author Claire G. Coleman writes on the long shadow of the Stolen Generations in Hidden in Plain Sight, while poet Toby Fitch details Australian animal and bird extinction from 1788 to the present.
In The Price of Love, author and essayist Lucia Osborne-Crowley examines the cost of intimacy for women in a world where men demand exclusive access to the closeness of their female partners, often without returning the emotional labour involved.
Author Lucy Treloar wonders at the craft of fiction when confronted by unrelenting apocalyptic reality and considers the space between the real and the one that’s observed. Guy Rundle recalls the extraordinary and now lost days of big production television sketch comedy.
Meanjin 79.2 is a significant read.