Hey pals, 2016, am I right? 2016 has been a year. And I have been lost in so many ways. But, when I arrived home from NYWF2016, my copy of ‘Nerve’ was waiting for me, reliable as always. On the Monday night, I opened up the familiar cover of Voiceworks and prepped myself for some ever-stunning work by young writers and artists. What I didn’t expect—at around about 9pm in the humid Townsville air—was to have the wind knocked right out of my chest by the Editorial, ‘Positive Feedback Loop’.
See, I’ve got a thing for editorials. I love to leaf through magazines and find out what the editor wants to say, because often, their wisdom is insurmountable, especially in this time of great turmoil. This issue was no different. And, as I was reading Lucy Adams’s words, a great and powerful feeling came over me. She writes, “You send your work out into the void, and for the most part, the void stays mute.” She talks about the ways we can be generous towards one another in the writing-and-editing process. It is absolutely true that Voiceworks is here for young writers. The mag does so much, puts so much effort, into making each work shine. And, for the feedback—both positive and constructive—that I have ever received from its editors, I am grateful.
After drying the tears from my eyes (I was crying a little bit about the amazing effects of the Positive Feedback Loop), I read ‘How to Get from Here to Here’ by Ella Jeffery (and yes, cried just a little bit more). “Right now, in the space of this page, I am locating myself somewhere.” These are the words that follow me around, no matter where I go. The end of 2016 has made this piece all the more relevant for me, as I use writing to navigate a tenuous and uncertain Australian landscape—let’s face it, a tenuous and uncertain New Year, too. The real-life stories from the Voiceworks crew are relevant, timely and comforting. They cut right to the bone in life’s most important moments. For anyone who’s looking for a big, warm, wordy hug, I highly recommend reading ‘Nerve’.
Over November I finished reading The Sex Lives of Australians by Frank Bongiorno, which won the 2013 ACT book of the year. It’s a deeply historical work, and my first read of this kind. Usually I find history very dry, just dates and not about people. But when I saw something so intimately focused on people and private lives, I was drawn in. Bongiorno looks at everything to do with sex that you could possibly think of: contraception, education, sex work, pornography, marriage, consent, sexuality. Bongiorno also researched a considerable amount into how Aboriginal communities were affected by European settlement with regards to marriage and population control. The book begins with the First Fleet, and we are introduced to a harsh Australia with a severe imbalance of numbers of men and women. I was absolutely fascinated by the book. It seems like such a strange topic to read so in-depth about, but Bongiorno crafted an intriguing history from meticulous research. I was even surprised to see one my teacher’s obscure books used as a reference, and I’m sure she’d be happy to know someone has read her book recently!
Thinking back on my journey with Voiceworks, one piece that has always stuck with me with is Cunt Angel by Oliver Mol. The language was beautiful, but one thing that I took away from it was that you can use that word. You can write whatever you want. Writing doesn’t have to be PG. I was a young teenager when I started reading Voiceworks, and seeing this kind of writing was really eye-opening.