Here I am once again with two journals, each of which has produced another issue after the one I’m writing about.
Alexandra Christie (editor), Heat Series 3 Nº 3 (Giramondo 2022)
I’ve just read a tweet quoting Helen Garner about Heat series three:
So slender and elegant, nothing wasted, nothing grandiose – and beautiful work.
The third issue is true to Heat‘s original goal to publish culturally diverse voices. It has a bit of a theme going:
- ‘Australian Capital Territory’, a short story by Madeleine Watts, in which a man and a woman search in and around Canberra for somewhere to have sex, and finally succeed in a manner that is most satisfactory to them, the watching kangaroos and the reader. So, sex.
- ‘Small Talk’ by Kenneth Chong, a very different short fiction, presented as a kind of abstract memoir, about a young man of faith dealing with troubling issues. So, sex and religion
- ‘Cain’s Feast’, a short story by Mexican writer Aniela Rodríguez, translated by Elizabeth Bryer, in which a young woman is seduced by a priest and a young man takes revenge. So, sex, religion and violence
- ‘Tongue Broken‘ by Kate Crowcroft, not so much an essay as a collection of disparate thing connected with the author’s research on the tongue (she has completed a PhD and has a book coming out on the subject). It does one of my least favourite things, presents a word’s etymology as if it offers a kind of magical access to the word’s inner meaning. But the rest is variously lively, unexpected and informative. Also: religion and violence
- Five terrific poems by each of Jarad Bruinstroop and Iman Mersal, the latter translated from Arabic by Robyn Creswell. Discreet sex, but no violence.
Overland is always so full of interesting things that I can’t possibly name every item. Here are some things that stand out for me in this issue
Of the articles, one or two of which are too academic for my blood, the two that stand out for me are:
- ‘Perpetrators‘ by Rachael Hambleton, about her complex relationship with her father, who spent much of his life in prison. The essay expands into profound reflections on grief, punishment, the prison system and intergenerational trauma.
- ‘What lies beyond the vortex‘ by Mauricio Rivera Ramirez, which focuses on the novel La vorágine (1924) by José Eustasio Rivera. Though the subject may seems unpromisingly niche to a general reader, it includes fascinating insights into the colonial rubber trade in Latin America.
I’m often intimidated by the poetry section in Overland, edited by the marvellous Toby Fitch. I mostly enjoy the poetry but have no idea how to talk about it. In this issue, I was delighted to find a poem by Eileen Chong, ‘Dream kitchen’ (sadly not on the Overland website at the time of writing), which narrates a dream of the poet’s grandmother’s kitchen with wonderful surrealist gusto and ends in an echo of classic Chinese poetry:
_______________________-____I knew it was only a dream, because I was in my bed, alone. I was far from her, and home.
There are three excellent short stories:
- ‘The first to lose‘ by Hop Dac, a story of Vietnamese-Australian family life
- ‘Machine works‘ by Jordon Conway, a brilliant sketch of work, class, relationships and integrity in the context of forklifts, lathes and vehicle repair.
- ‘Fontanelle‘ by Sarah Walker, an excellent companion piece to ‘Machine works’, a semi-futuristic piece about the work conditions of long-distance truck-drivers.
Then, tucked away up the back, there are the 2020 Emerging Older Poets Mentorship (one poem) and the five poems shortlisted for the 2020 Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize, including Claire G Coleman’s witty ‘Blame Ireland’ and the prize winner, ‘Choice cuts‘ by Mykaela Saunders, a long, fiercely anguished meditation on the commodification of Indigenous culture:
–how to hold onto my integrity when cold neoliberal logic drills into me and the colonial vacuum sucks the marrow from me as fodder
Next time: Heat 3, Overland 246, an issue of Australian Poetry, and – if I can overcome my reluctance to read journals online – Southerly 79:3.