EdColumn 1: Reading and Writing Without the White gaze
In this new column, members of the Voiceworks Editorial Committee will be highlighting creative roles, processes and communities within the publishing industry and beyond that are less discussed in traditional publishing education. For our first piece in this series, Adalya Nash Hussein looks at platforms focused on publishing and developing writers of colour.
People of Colour are vastly under-represented in the arts—as writers, as editors, as curators, as ushers, as everything. While most arts organisations are happy to agree on this issue, they often seek to address this by programming/publishing us on a one-off, rather than seeking to understand the structural issues they may unknowingly reinforce. Intentionally or not, this is a tokenistic approach that others us and our work, presenting us as the window into a community.
Writer, editor and founder of Liminal Leah Jing concisely describes the tension in this, asking ‘How to share your writing in a world which has not been made for you?’
Even when White organisations (or individuals within these organisations) are interested in these issues and approach them with care and thoughtfulness, it takes them more time to both develop their understanding of what to do, and to develop a level of trust from People of Colour that they seek to work with or provide spaces for.
For this reason (and many more), a huge crop of vital publications have emerged lead by and focusing on the voices of People of Colour and specific communities of colour. These publications aren’t just important because they elevate the ‘diversity’ of Australian literature—they are important because they allow us to be edited by our peers, they are important because they allow our work to appear in a context where we are not automatically othered by the White gaze (both editorial and in wider readership).
Jing again: ‘As a writer, working with a POC editor has become increasingly important to me, especially when I’m writing about the nuances of race and identity. It’s wonderful to work with someone who has some personal knowledge of your context, or perhaps the place from which you write. Sustained pieces can take so much of you, so it’s quite valuable to have a POC editor in the final steps of a piece.’
Within our communities there are still ongoing discussions and disagreements around representation, ethics and taste—and these are important. There is no single process, product, voice or label that will ever be universal, flawless or even appropriate for everybody, but working, learning and discussing these issues without the pressure of the White gaze is an important place to start. A list of relevant publications, opportunities and organisations can be found below.
Many organisations also occasionally publish themed work featuring editorial teams and writing by People of Colour. These programs have varying levels of community support and success in eschewing the white gaze, but they can be really good, and are another way to find more work from communities of colour. Some recent examples include Blak Brow , un Magazine’s issue on decolonisation and some books in Black Inc’s ‘Growing Up’ series—including Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia , Growing Up African in Australia and Growing Up Asian in Australia.
Full List of Publications, Opportunities and Organisations
(If you are involved with any other publications that should be featured in this resource, please let us know)
Recent Fav Piece: ‘How to Get Perfect Eyebrows Naturally: 6 Tips and Tricks’—Sasha Sarago
Bio: ‘Spirit speaks to us. She guides us in an unspoken language. Spirit whispers softly in our ears. Ssshhh…Listen! Can you hear her? Spirit urges us to listen to our intuition. But we hardly ever do. Why is this? As women, we’re conditioned to ignore our power. To play small and conform to a foreign ideal that places us in constant conflict and turmoil with ourselves and the world. Ascension Magazine is a spiritual revolution … What sets Ascension Magazine apart from every other glossy magazine, is our courage to see the world in colour rather than in black and white. Ascension is the magic that happens when women dare to be fearless and release the goddess power within. Welcome to Australia’s first Indigenous and Ethnic Women’s Lifestyle Magazine.’
BE. Collective Culture.
Recent Fav Piece: ‘Bump to This: Grammy’s Edition’—Bec Sceney
Bio: ‘BE. is a collaborative effort that thrives off the passion and talents of many inspirational, curious and creative minds—each with their own experiences and expertise to share. Our collective works by providing a supportive space for this community to meet, learn and grow their ambitions together. With an intention to constantly challenge the status quo and shape a dynamic model of empowerment and inclusivity, everything BE. is—information, talks, books, workshops, activism, calls to action—powers us forward.
To make sure we achieve our vision we have designed an ecosystem that collectively informs everything we do. With the BE. philosophy at its core, each platform represents an opportunity for meaningful exchange and collaboration to thrive.’
Boundless Indigenous Mentorship Program
Bio: ‘The mentorship is awarded to an unpublished Indigenous writer who has made substantial progress on a fiction or non-fiction writing project. The intention of the program is to support the writer to develop their manuscript and to facilitate a pathway to publication.
The program will pair an emerging Indigenous writer from anywhere in Australia with a senior Indigenous writer in the same genre for a structured year-long mentorship. The writer will receive 20 hours of mentorship over the following 12 months, including feedback on their work in progress and general advice on writing and developing a publishing career. The writer will also receive editorial feedback and manuscript development from Text Publishing and access to Writing NSW professional development services.’
Comic Sans Anthology
Most Recent Issue: Comic Sans #2
Bio: ‘The founder of Liminal, Leah Jing, and the artistic director of Pencilled In, Rachel Ang, have come together to bring you Comic Sans, a serialised collection of the best Australian comics artists working today.
Brought together by their love of comics and hatred of mediocrity, Leah and Rachel formed Comic Sans to give a platform for the artists they think are the most exciting, most unique, most interesting voices of 2018; artists who push their craft, who see their writing as a literary art form, who create beautiful yet thought-provoking work.
We want to be constantly discovering new artists, and to have Comic Sans as an open-ended project, so instead of a single collection, we’re putting together a home-made subscription service, a series of zines for all your comic requirements throughout the year.’
Recent Fav Piece: ‘Birth/s’—Ana Maria Gomides
Bio: ‘Djed Press is an online publication that exclusively works with and publishes people of colour (POC).
Djed’s main purpose is to address the insufficient representation of marginalised peoples within the Australian literary landscape today. We are committed to increasing diversity and visibility especially in a time where racial tensions around migrants, people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, Muslims and Indigenous Australian peoples are high, both here on home soil and overseas.
We seek out, develop and present new works by people of colour, with a special interest in those with intersecting identities. We believe that by having greater representation within Australian publishing, an industry that drives social standards, we will collectively be able to better shape and drive the literary landscape.’
First Nations Australia Writers’ Network
Bio: ‘Conceived out of the Guwanyi Indigenous Writers Festival in March 2011, the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN), is an advocacy and resources service for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers. It exists to foster the development of skills in First Nations Australia writers, poets and storytellers, advocating and lobbying on their behalf, supporting ongoing development opportunities, in order to sustain and enhance First Nations Australians writing and storytelling.
FNAWN’s guiding values and principles are reflective of the craft of its members and the Indigenous cultures that form its base. The values represent FNAWN’s essential and enduring tenets and reflect the guiding principles designed to withstand the test of time and not to be compromised for either financial gain or expediency. They include: Respect for our community and each other, Sensitivity to our cultural protocols, Nurturing our members, Professionalism in our work, Integrity in all that we do, Ethical in our dealings, Remain focused on our Aims and Vision.’
Most Recent Issue: Issue #1
Bio: ‘Here at FOLK Magazine we’re For The Culture. We create it, champion it, curate it; and sometimes, challenge it. We unapologetically prioritise the voices and stories of the sixty-percent of our population society and mainstream media have this weird habit of ignoring. At FOLK we believe there’s still so much talent in our communities that is yet to be seen—and we’re dedicated to making sure that it’s seen/heard/watched/played. And we’re not about to stop anytime soon.
Our Folks are no different. They’re willing to question the status quo and to create their ideal future into being. Their avocado-on-toast brunches are spent collaborating and finding new ways to get more people to the table and they’re not taking no for an answer.’
Bio: ‘Like all good things, @IndigenousX was born out of a great idea. Back in early 2012, the national dialogue was characterised by a consistent lack of awareness, understanding and respect for Indigenous people. Our vision was to create a platform for Indigenous people to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences with a wide audience of interested tweeps. The @IndigenousX twitter account was launched on the 15th of March 2012. Since then it has risen to more than 41,000 followers, and over 300 Indigenous hosts on the account have shared thousands of stories, facts, reports, pictures, and laughs with an ever increasing audience. We pride ourselves on an ethic of respect for Indigenous knowledge, successfully providing an autonomous media service.’
Recent Fav Piece: MJ Flamiano interviewed by Leah Jing
Bio: ‘Liminal magazine is an online space for the exploration, interrogation and celebration of the Asian-Australian experience.
Founded by Leah Jing McIntosh in late 2016, Liminal publishes an interview with an Asian-Australian every Monday. Joined by dedicated team based throughout Australia, Liminal showcases artists from the world of poetry, literature, painting and much more.’
The Liminal Fiction Prize
Bio: ‘The Liminal Fiction Prize is a new literary prize for Australian Writers of Colour. With a theme of ‘the future’, we’re looking for fiction of a new world: not the stuff of flying cars or robots, but a future that pulls against or weaves together Australia’s many fabricated histories.
Australia is a nation that forgets. It forgets 60,000+ years of continuous culture; newspapers that once claimed ‘The Chinese’ brought ‘Vice and Vegetables’ (1891). Australia forgets that our first two prime ministers supported the White Australia Policy, and asks us to forget people caged in an offshore solution.
The Liminal Fiction Prize insists against amnesia. With this prize, we seek to promote fiction by writers whose voices are often ignored or elided— for the future of Australian fiction is here.’
Prizes: ‘First prize of $2500 + publication in The Lifted Brow magazine
Runner up will receive $500
And all shortlisted pieces will be published in an anthology by Brow Books.’
Recent Fav Book: Blakwork—Allison Whittaker
Bio: ‘Magabala Books is Australia's leading Indigenous publisher. Based in the pearling town of Broome in the far north of Western Australia, Magabala Books is one of the most remote publishing houses in the world.
Since its incorporation in 1990, Magabala Books has been recognised as a producer of quality Indigenous Australian literature receiving accolades in prestigious literary and national achievement awards.
As one of the most respected small publishing houses in Australia, Magabala Books works to celebrate the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices through the publication of quality literature. Magabala Books has released more than two hundred titles from a range of genres.’
Bio: ‘Myriad Magazine is the People of Colour Department’s annual publication. The magazine is created by University of Melbourne students of African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Aboriginal, Indigenous, Latinx, Arab, multiracial and other relevant backgrounds.’
Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers
Bio: ‘Sponsored by Trinity College at the University of Melbourne and supporters, this prize, now in its fifth year, recognises the talent of young Indigenous writers across Australia. In 2019, the prize will be awarded to the best short story by an Indigenous writer who is 30 years or younger at the closing date of the competition.’
Prize: ‘First place is a $5000 prize, publication in Overland’s print magazine, and a writing residency (of up to three months) at Trinity College, the oldest student residence at the University of Melbourne. Two runner-up prizes of $500 may also be awarded.’
Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize
Bio: ‘Established in 2016, Queensland Poetry Festival’s Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize is Australia’s only open-age Indigenous poetry prize for an unpublished poem. Named in honour of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse, after receiving permission from Oodgeroo’s family and in close consultation with Quandamooka Festival. The prize is open to Aboriginal poets, emerging and established, throughout Australia.’
Prize: ‘The prize for a single poem (or suite of poems) of 80 lines or under is $2,000, plus a series of mentoring sessions with an established Indigenous poet. The highest-placed Quandamooka entry receives $500 plus a membership to Queensland Writers Centre.’
Recent Fav Piece: ‘Ang’s Artists: Jillian Tamaki’—Rachel Ang
Bio: ‘Asian Australian artists are underrepresented in the Australian arts industry, and have been for a considerable amount of time. Young artists, especially, are feeling the pinch more than ever, and opportunities can be difficult to come by. Many young Asian Australians are discouraged from entering the arts industry by their parents or other family members – and instead, embark on careers in other areas. Even so, we all have that drawing hidden away in a sketchbook, an outline of a story lurking in the back of our heads, or an unfinished poem we never got the chance to revisit. Bits and pieces of art that are eternally pencilled in.
Pencilled In, then, seeks to highlight and showcase art by young Asian Australians. It is a chance for emerging artists to have their work published, and hopes to provide a platform for such artists to forge meaningful relationships. We are looking for fiction (both flash fiction and longer forms), non-fiction, poetry, graphic art, and illustration.’
Recent Fav Piece: ‘Map-Making’—Eileen Chong and Charlene Winfred
Bio: ‘Peril is an Asian Australian online magazine of arts and culture published twice a year. Founded in 2006, it is published by Peril Magazine Inc.’
Recent Fav Piece: Interview with Stephen Pham
Bio: ‘The Pin is a discussion platform centered around representing multinational and multicultural people in a diverse range of conversations about race, identity, and culture within the Australian narrative.
The Pin believes that by telling authentic personal stories and honouring an individual’s experience we can:
THINK - represent diverse identities and challenge dominant narratives.
MEET - deepen the connection and sense of belonging between people of multinational and multicultural backgrounds and the broader Australian community.
EXPRESS - inspire greater confidence in people of multinational and multicultural backgrounds.’
Red Pocket Press
Bio: ‘Red Pocket Press celebrates Queer Lunar New Year through zines, food and parties. Based in Narrm.’
Recent Fav Piece: ‘50 Shades of Beige’—Achol Achiek
Bio: ‘Salt Magazine is an African-Australian community news magazine, created to provide print and online news and information on a broad range of issues of interest to the African community in Australia as well as to the wider general public’
Bio: ‘Sultana’s Dream is a not-for-profit e-magazine that aims to provide a forum for the opinions of Australian Muslim women.’
Upcoming Event: Sweatshop x Nick Cave
Bio: ‘Sweatshop is a literacy movement based in Western Sydney which is devoted to empowering groups and individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds through training and employment in creative and critical writing initiatives.
Sweatshop operates in partnership with Information and Cultural Exchange (I.C.E) and the Western Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre.
Sweatshop initiatives result in publications, films, podcasts, plays, performance readings, exhibitions, and arts and cultural seminars which aim to create new and alternative forms of representation for marginalised communities throughout Western Sydney, and similar communities throughout Australia. These projects are often produced in collaboration with groups and organisations which include: The New City of Canterbury Bankstown, Bankstown Multicultural Youth Service, Urban Theatre Projects, Seizure, Campbelltown Arts Centre, SBS, Shopfront, Writing NSW, The Lifted Brow, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Melbourne Emerging Writers’ Festival, NT Writers’ Festival and Adelaide Short Story Festival.’
Theatre of the Global Majority
Upcoming Event: Theatre of the Global Majority Fringe Workshop
Bio: ‘Theatre of the Global Majority is a free fortnightly program for people aged 18+ from non-white culturally diverse backgrounds. Led by ActNow Associate Director Yasmin Gurreeboo, alongside local artists Valerie Berry and Mahira Hasanović, Theatre of the Global Majority recognises non-white people make up the biggest population of people in the world – and the Australian arts scene needs to hold up their voices.
Theatre of the Global Majority focuses on crafting a fertile, exciting, and supportive environment for artists to make work and develop skills. ActNow invites culturally diverse artists from all creative backgrounds – and from aspiring to professional – to join us on this program to lead the cultural revolution.’
Bio: ‘Powered by the voices and drive of Indigenous students, Under Bunjil serves as a platform to share the thoughts and experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student body at the University of Melbourne. Written and published by mob hailing from different nations across Australia, many of us now study on land of the Kulin Nation under the watchful gaze of the great eagle, Bunjil.’
West Writers’ Group
Recent Fav Piece: ‘A nightmare I have is that I end up where I started’—Jennifer Nguyen
Bio: ‘West Writers’ Group (WWG) is a collective of writers from diverse backgrounds who currently live, work or have other established links to Melbourne’s west. The collective aims to amplify the stories and voices of the region, while providing invaluable mentorship, professional development, and practical experience to a select group of writers.
In developing the many individual stories of writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, WWG aims to create and profile an ecosystem of diverse narratives.’
Adalya Nash Hussein (22) writes and edits nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Voiceworks, The Lifted Brow and Going Down Swinging. She has been one of EWF’s MRC Writers in Residence and a Wheeler Centre ‘Next Big Thing’. She is the Online Editor of The Lifted Brow and a nonfiction editor for Voiceworks.