Issue 7, September 2020

Memoir

Anne Casey (Guest Editor) and
Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew (Founding Editors)

Issue 7 submissions closed 31 July 2020
Publication date:  mid-September 2020


Image a woman, eyes closed, under water with hair flowing out with the current.

‘Whatevahappentu Wiimpatji Noongu (Barkindji Woman)’ by Teena McCarthy.
A descendant of the Stolen Generations, this piece is a self-portrait of the artist lying on her ancestral riverbed. McCarthy says: ‘When I go home to my grandmother’s country of Broken Hill, NSW, I lay in the River Darling. I imagine the water running over me – for we, the Barkindji, we are the river, and the water is our blood’.

 

‘The past is all about us and within’

For the provocation of Issue 7 – Memoir we have selected two poems: ‘The past’ by Australian poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly known as Kath Walker) and ‘A short slow life’ by American-Canadian poet Elizabeth Bishop.

We have chosen these poems as triggers for your own memoir poems as they resonate with the desire or compulsion to revisit, relive, interrogate, reinterpret, record and recreate the past. In Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poem, ‘The Past’, she looks back on a long life lived as an Indigenous woman and poet/activist. She co-exists with the past, bears witness to it and holds it up for judgement. In ‘A Short Slow Life’ Elizabeth Bishop’s early childhood is recaptured as a source of deep comfort and yearning until it is wrenched away by her father’s death, and her mother’s illness and life-long confinement in a psychiatric institution.

Due to copyright restrictions we have only included short excerpts from each poem. You can follow the links to read the full text online.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920–1993)

Oodgeroo Noonuccal 1975

 

The past 

This little now, this accidental present
Is not the all of me, whose long making
Is so much of the past. …

 

Read the rest of ‘The past’ online on the Australian Poetry Library website. The poem was published in Noonuccal’s collection: The Dawn is at Hand: Selected Poems (Marion Boyars Publishers, 1990).

Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979)

Elizabeth Bishop 1964

 

A short slow life

We lived in a pocket of Time.
It was close, it was warm. …

 

Read the rest of ‘A short slow life’ online in a review by Michael Hoffman (it’s towards the end of the review) on the London Review of Books website. The poem was published in Bishop’s collection: Poems (Chatto, 2011).


We are looking for poems that are compelling and illuminating. Immerse us in your reminiscences. Let us experience what triggers your memory, how you feel it – as a touch perhaps, or a movement in the body, as scent or breath, echo of a voice, glint, chink, creak … other.

Memory is caught in the slipstream of time – show us how you capture and preserve it from present time and space. Bring us your gems of remembrance held up to the light of the present. Reveal how this illuminates or refracts those glimpses of the past – as witness, judgement, yearning, forgiveness … other.

There are no restrictions as to form. Send us your best poem.

Anne Casey, Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew


Issue 7 – key dates

  • Open for submissions via Submittable: 1 June – 31 July 2020.
  • Notification of acceptance: mid-August 2020
  • Publication: mid-September 2020

Acknowledgements

Teena McCarthy (artist)
Short biographical note

Elizabeth Bishop (image source)
Wikipedia reference Elizabeth Bishop photo

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (image source)
Wikipedia reference Oodgeroo Noonuccal photo

Copyright

Artwork: Teena McCarthy generously approved the use of an image of her artwork, ‘Whatevahappentu Wiimpatji Noongu (Barkindji Woman)’. Teena was awarded the prestigious King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Prize in 2018.

Photos: the photographs on this page were downloaded from Wikipedia. The Elizabeth Bishop image is considered ‘in the public domain’. The Oodgeroo Noonuccal image is published on Wikipedia and on this website as ‘fair use’.