We flew in from winter. The Australian summer was smoky from above, the view of the harbour obscured by haze. We had been following news of the Australian bushfires for the past month but this was our first sight of them. November and December were spent in coats and gloves, watching for ice on the footpath and watching clouds of breath dissipate in the chilly morning air. Winter coats stuffed in our carry-ons, we waited at the baggage claim for the six suitcases which held all of our possessions from the past year. It was 6.30 in the morning and […]
James Mollison was a great and fortunate art museum Director. His tenure at the National Gallery of Australia from 1971, when he was appointed Acting Director, coincided with the Whitlam Governments, with Whitlam himself as Minister for the Arts. Mollison enjoyed the PM’s confidence and with that updraft behind him, he could make such bold acquisitions as Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles ($1.3m)?and Willem de Kooning’s Woman V??($650,000). In those palmy days, the Australian dollar outshone the Yankee one. The price tag for the Pollock was US$2m and US$1m for the de Kooning. Whitlam and Mollison shared a vision of creating […]
Millions of animals, birds and insects will need our help in the coming months if they, and their precious habitat, are to survive. It’s only a little, but we’ll be giving $25 from every $50 digital subscription to?Wildlife Victoria?to help in their important work. Click here to subscribe. We’ve also pulled together a small collections of writing?from the recent?Meanjin?past which all?deal?with climate and fire in some way. From essays to fiction, poetry and memoir, there’s plenty of thoughtful reading below. Unearthed: Last Days of the Anthropocene?by James Bradley The Invisible Extinctions?by Jane Rawson The Unlearned Country?by Dr Phillip Zylstra Walking […]
In a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, grizzled barkeeper, Moe Szyslak, is revealed to secretly shutter his tavern every Wednesday night. He uses these evenings to read at the local homeless shelter. In my favourite scene, Moe reads—to his audience of Springfield hobos—the (fabricated) final line from Louisa May Alcott’s novel: ‘And then they realised they were no longer little girls: they were little women.’ Reverently Moe closes the book and a trickle of tears runs down his yellow cheek. This is my go-to Little Women memory. I first read the novel when I was ten or eleven. I hated […]
For some time, I’d been thinking of writing about Westgate Park, an inconspicuous piece of ground beneath the shadows of the Westgate Bridge at the mouth of the Birrarung (Yarra) River in Melbourne.
Frances thought her bladder would burst; walking the extra two hundred yards to the outdoor lavatory was out of the question. The zinnia patch adjacent to the patio would have to suffice. It was nearly 9 pm, no-one would see.
I am not allowed a knife, but the National Treasure’s son is. He has a red-handled Swiss Army one that incorporates a can opener, a bottle opener, two saw blades and a detachable pair of tweezers. He shows it to me in his back yard, levering the primary blade out of the handle with his thumbnail. ‘I killed a bird with it last week,’ he tells me.
So, shiftless summer’s advance stills everything.
It’s the new normal. The effect of the heat the wind twists through
is like Link Wray’s slow drag of chords with his right
right across ‘Rumble’, only played through an amplified hairdryer.