Canberra Anthology Launch

I’ll be at my old haunt Canberra launching my old Uni’s writing anthology Analecta. Monday Nov 19, 7pm. Smith’s Alternative Bookstore. Details HERE.

Here’s my first ever anthology introduction:

In Adaptation, Meryl Streep reflects on her boyfriend’s obsession with orchids. “There are too many ideas and things and people,” she says. “Too many directions to go. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something, is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size.

This makes me think about the ‘infinite scroll’ world we live in and how it overwhelms our attention to the point where we dwell within indecision. Our souls stall. As humans we need to flow and grow. That’s where the short story comes in. Each piece is a whimsical whittling, a distillation of the mega-complex of life into a concentrated shot of clarity and connection. A humanity booster.

Or thereabouts. You catch my gist. Fortunately for you, dear reader, saturated by the robo-moguls and their holographic bombardiers, you may find safe passage within the smooth pages of this freshly pressed anthology – a centrepiece of the determined Professional Writing students at University of Canberra. Dudes!

When life throws fruit at you, make punch. Each of these pieces packs an emotional punch. Heck, there’s even a filmscript plum in the middle – you can make your very own Netflix show, shot entirely on your phone! There’s poetic pinings for lost loves, investigations of the family mind and a fairly serious circumstance with an emu. Not to mention the cliff-hanger ‘Canberra bullfight’ between a kangaroo and a shopping trolley. Our coat of arms is fully represented.

So clap your eyeballs on the tangible precision of the printed page. When life stops making sense, it’s time to check back in with your senses. See the sights of dawn-saturated blinds and a time-kissed face, smell the scents of sandlewood soap with a hint of jasmine while savouring strings that play like ribbons in the wind. Then there’s the err…almighty squawk. (Did I mention there’s an emu? Feathers and envelopes p. 27.)

Literature is the original virtual augmented reality, just add imagination. Margaret Atwood compares words to musical notes waiting to be played. Each reader will have a different interpretation of the material. It’s a beautiful thing, sharing the space between thoughts. The closest we have to a Vulcan mind meld or a Delorean time machine. (There’s a sci-fi / fantasy piece in here somewhere, I assure you.)

I’m glad these wordsmiths have been published, many of them for the first time. Readers need writers and writers need publishing. Do not underestimate the thrill and validation of seeing your hard earned drafts proudly fortified in font. This is a chance to support your local creatives and celebrate the rich culture of Canberra in the here and now! When in doubt, buy the book. (Be seen with it on the bus and appear 35% more interesting.)

You’ll find love, sex, nostalgia, mental illness. Wait, that’s my Ok Cupid profile. But seriously folks, there’s crime, masculinity and everybody’s favourite: POETRY. Can I just say, the poetry here is quite good (try Jerzy on pages 32 & 39 with your mains). Reading is taking a bath in someone else’s mind. How do they piece together the puzzle of our psychology? Each writer has a flavour, an aura, some fleeting cloud of glitter and anger, joy, humour and hunger. A good sentence is a firework in the night – lighting up your eyes and shocking your heart to racing.

So, what is writing for in 2018? When I could just wave at myself on Google Earth or binge watch The Nanny. Art whittles the waffle down. It taps us on the heart with its message stick and pokes us into place. Writing is humanity disco dancing on a gravestone while tasting the rainbow biscuits of imagination. It’s being told a story at the pub of your dreams with a strange friend you haven’t met yet. What’s happening in your 4am stare off with the universe? I don’t know about you, but if I had to start somewhere I’d be hungover on a bus to Kiama. Fortunately, that’s just how this baby kicks off.

Analecta – it’s Australian for anthology

(and Greek for gather, technically.)