Welcome to ‘Monsters’, the 2022 undergraduate issue of The Quarry!
Did we choose the theme of ‘Monster’, or did the theme choose us? Who were we when we emerged from the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021? Who will we be as we face the prospect of a global recession, of a world in the grip of climate change? Who and what are the monsters of our time, of our imaginations?
We think of monsters as the creatures that lurk in the corners of dark rooms and in the shadows of unfamiliar places. We see them behind the eyes of those we fear and sometimes even behind the eyes of those we love. Often, monsters are things we create to have something tangible at which to direct our terrors and our hatreds. In 1799, the Spanish artist Francisco Goya wrote that fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters, but that fantasy united with reason is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels. This year’s cohort of Macquarie University’s undergraduate Creative Writing students have grappled with impossible monsters, reason and fantasy in order to tell stories and write poems that look beyond easy definitions of monsters, whether imaginary or real.
Alec Wright’s poem PAPA.RAZZI.DOOM.DAY, uses language and form in inventive ways to comment on the media’s intrusion into peoples’ private lives, and how immoral practices are justified in the name of journalistic truth; Katherine Hoskin’s poem ‘Father & Daughter: Milking’, is a meditation on the impact of colonialism on First Nations peoples’ lives, focalised through a rural family’s farming rituals and beliefs—that include entrenched racism, inherited through generations.
Karoul Riyad in her short story ‘My Mother’s Daughter’ writes about a mother’s suffocating, overbearing love that can imprison as much as it protects. Gemma Sandblom in her short story ‘A Travelling Companion’ offers a dark account of a woman’s train journeys as she is haunted by her past traumas and stalked by an all too familiar stranger. Elijah Rokos in ‘The Goldon Pothos’ shares a tale of competing consuming forces as modern technology and a voracious houseplant both try to take over a young woman’s life.
Students not only submitted creative pieces but participated in the entire production of this edition: creating and choosing an arresting cover image, writing personal bios, editing fellow students’ work, and designing the journal landing page. Besides learning invaluable technical skills—self-promotion, editing, digital publishing—the experience also fostered a sense of camaraderie amongst students, working together to create something of value. The quality and range of submissions for this edition of the journal is a testament to the writing skills that these students have developed during their studies at Macquarie.
We would like to say a huge thank you for Dr Michelle Hamadache, our supervisor and mentor who guided us throughout every step of the process; Michelle’s enthusiasm and encouragement is much appreciated. We would also like to make a special mention of Timothy Smith, whose stunning monster artwork was chosen as the cover image. Finally, congratulations to the winners of the Future Leaders’ Prize: Lwin Hingston‘s ‘Esca Lights’ in first place, a grotesquerie of domestic spaces melded with deep-sea creatures; in second place, Bruna Gomes‘s ‘A is for Arachnophobia’, a young girl’s perspective on puberty, where the monster is Santa Claus not periods, and in third place, Priyasha Janhavi‘s ‘Damini’, a sumptuous cycle of poems exploring violence against women and set in the terrain of the surreal and the mythic. Thank you to the Future Leaders Initiative, whose generous support made the prize possible, and a huge thanks to the judges: Michelle Cahill, prize-winning writer, poet, essayist and founder of Mascara Literary Review; Jazmin Bradley and Davey Freidman, Macquarie Master’s of Creative Writing students; and Dr Veronica Alfano, Lecturer in English Studies.
So, lock the door, close the blinds and enjoy the chilling and moving works of the creative writing undergraduate students from 2022.
Brendan Hore-Thorburn and Joanne Kennedy