The following thoughts are reflections, shared at the launch of the NVQ anthology by Anita Patel (who launched the anthology and was the guest editor of issue 2) and by the two co-founding editors of NVQ, Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew.
A daring venture
It is such a lovely honour to be invited to launch the Not Very Quiet anthology produced by the fabulous women who founded the online journal Not Very Quiet and published by the wonderful Recent Work Press. These poems have been selected from across all 8 issues of the journal so they are a real treat.
I’m not sure if Moya Pacey, Sandra Renew and Tikka Wilson could have imagined the tumultuous and extraordinary events that were going to turn the world upside down when they started this journal five years ago. Not Very Quiet journal has offered a space for women to tell their stories during some of the most astonishing social, political and environmental moments in the history of this planet: the Me Too Movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement, Trump’s America, the vote for same-sex marriage around the world, the vote to legalise abortion in Ireland, climate disasters everywhere around the globe and devastating bush fires in our country topped off by no less than a global pandemic. What an opportune time for a much needed journal of women’s voices to be created.
I certainly know that when I was miraculously offered the gig of guest editor of Issue 2 of the journal in 2018, I could not have imagined the world as it is today. In 2018, I chose a quote by Arundhati Roy from War Talk. I feel we still need her indomitable words today so here’s the quote:
Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Each and every poem in the Not Very Quiet anthology tells a story that is different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. Each and every poem in this book is made more powerful by being part of a collective of women’s stories.
These poems confront us with terrible realities and comfort us with common experiences. They offer us tiny moments of beauty, quirky notions, heart rending truths and gentle reflections. Browsing through the anthology is like engaging in the loveliest women’s talk. I will come back to read these poems over and over again.
Sometimes in life you just get handed a lucky card and mine was being invited to be guest editor of Not Very Quiet Issue 2. I thank three extraordinary women for this experience – Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew, the founders and editors of Not Very Quiet journal and Tikka Wilson, the production manager of the journal. I salute all of you. I am so grateful that our paths crossed and that you gave an emerging and very new writer this wonderful opportunity and the gift of your friendship which I hold very dear.
Your profound generosity and open heartedness and the generosity of all the women who have submitted work to the journal and who have been guest editors of the journal remind us that women, at their very best, will always share the stage with their sisters and that poetry is not an individual competitive art form but part of a conversation which transcends place, time and culture.
To create a journal of women’s poetry seems like a daring venture but the breathtaking response to Not Very Quiet is testament to the fact that this space has long been needed. Hundreds of poems have been submitted from all corners of the globe including many from our own region.
Thank you for building a diverse and vibrant community of worldwide women poets through your journal and now through this beautiful book. We can only benefit from sharing our stories with each other and inviting more women to add their words to the sum of all our words.
I will finish by reading my poem from the anthology but before I do I would like to acknowledge all the people who have contributed to this anthology, Moya, Sandra, Tikka (the glorious women of Not Very Quiet); my fellow guest editors: Lisa Brockwell, Kerrie Nelson, Tricia Dearborn and Anne Casey; Shane Strange the publisher of Recent Work Press, and thank you especially to the readers of Not Very Quiet journal and Not Very Quiet: the anthology who are such a vital part of the conversation. You complete all of our stories.
‘Another world is on her way. We can hear her breathing.’
Anita Patel, guest editor issue 2, launch speech
Words have power
I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project: Moya Pacey and Tikka Wilson as the fantastic co-editors they are; the poets, hundreds who submitted poems to each of the online issues, and now the poets who appear in the NVQ anthology, our five generous and knowledgeable guest editors who helped spread the reach and openness of the journal for each issue and, finally, the publisher of the anthology, Shane Strange of Recent Work Press and who designed the fabulous cover.
When Moya and Tikka and I started out on this Not Very Quiet project we wanted to open up possibilities for women to be published, poets at any stage of their writing career but especially those who were not getting page space in the very closed canon of the accepted genre(s). We ourselves have been helped, supported, mentored, by the generosity of some exceptionally inclusive and welcoming women who shared their expertise, critique, and open hearts with us. We wanted to do the same, pass it on. And this power sharing, this critical engagement with the world around us, our writing against the discourses that get air-time, this is the politics of poetry. What we have in the Not Very Quiet: the anthology is a small selection of the powerful poetry of women, the politics of gender and poetry, for you.
So, keep the spirit of NVQ going. Keep writing. Keep making your mark. Keep sending your words out to the world.
Sandra Renew, co-founding editor
Last hurrah for Not Very Quiet
Tikka, Sandra, and Moya are agreed that after the launch of Not Very Quiet: the anthology we will not publish any more Issues of the online journal.
We began with a hope/aim that if we provided an opportunity for a women’s only online journal, then we could create a platform for women’s voices to be heard. We’d established that there was a clear need for this. We wanted to use blind peer selection, and a provocation/prompt and we liked the idea of inviting a guest editor for some Issues to encourage diversity and to widen the NVQ poetry network.
We’ve achieved this aim over the five years in a world that is at a tipping point of change by natural and man-made disasters and against a period of great uncertainty.
We don’t see this as an ending, rather, we would like it to be celebrated as the completion of our part in a long tradition of challenging established attitudes and discourses towards women’s creativity.
Over eight online Issues we’ve heard voices we’ve never heard from before. Women who’ve used their distinctive voices to say what they want to say in the way they want to say it. We believe the poetry scene in Australia is more inclusive and richer for NVQ and we are leaving the door open for other women to follow, creating other journals and other opportunities.
We thank the amazing network of women poets who have supported us by trusting us with their poems. It’s been a privilege to read them. We also thank our generous guest editors: Anita Patel, Kerrie Nelson, Lisa Brockwell, Tricia Dearborn and Anne Casey.
As Gloria Steinem said so memorably at the Women’s March on Washington in 2017: ‘We’re staying together … We’re never turning back.’
Moya Pacey, co-founding editor