#17 The World as We Know It Now

Artwork by David Woodland


Welcome to issue #17 of The Quarry.

The 2020 issue of The Quarry recognises the extraordinary, almost unimaginable, year we’ve had, and so the theme asked writers and poets to engage with ‘the world as we know it now’. The stories and poems in this issue tackle with identity, isolation and transformation, with some directly inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Issue 17 also presents the prize winners from The Quarry’s very first creative writing competition, sponsored by the philanthropic organisation, Future Leaders. The judges – Macquarie University creative writing students and alumni Aileen Westbrook, Claire Catacouzinos and Sarah Campbell – were impressed by the rich variety of works that were submitted, ranging from creative nonfiction to prose to poetry.

First place was awarded to Alice Maher for her unique and eerie haibun short story ‘Hikikomori’, which leads the reader on a journey of isolation, longing and hope using a haunting blend of prose and haiku. Second place winner Alyssa Byrnes’s poem ‘He Disappeared into a Bottle’ offers a powerful and illuminating look at those who fall through the cracks of society and its effects of familial loss. Third place winner Isabella Ross offers a nuanced and beautiful perspective on cemeteries in her nonfiction piece ‘A Bed of Roses’, exploring the dynamic nature of flowers on deathbeds. This issue features these winning works, as well as the Highly Commended poem ‘my grandmother’s bracelet’ by Ceilidh Newbury.

When asked to engage with the world as we know it now, the writers who responded to the #17 callout interpreted the idea of the present in very varied ways. J.A Phelan offers an illuminating rendering of race and global crisis in the science-fiction short story ‘Afterlight’. The poem ‘Learning Curve’ by Judith Mendoza-White juxtaposes struggling with the pandemic with beautiful and original language and imagery, with hopes placed in ‘a tomorrow that lies in wait’. The bond between woman and dog withstands grief and ageing in Aislinn McKenzie’s ‘The Old Dog’. Ry Feder offers a look at a series of characters in the LGBTQI+ community, their interwoven tales revealing struggles and heartfelt moments alike. These are just a few of the wonderful creative works to be found in this issue of The Quarry.

Writing is always an act of hope and defiance, but even more so in difficult times. The talented writers featured in this issue each in their own way are demonstrating the importance of creativity and imagination.

The editorial team of The Quarry issue #17 would like to thank Associate Professor Jane Messer and Dr Michelle Hamadache for their indispensable guidance and support throughout the process. We would also like to thank Helen Sykes and Future Leaders for enabling us to host The QuarryFuture Leaders Creative Writing Prize, and David Woodland for this issue’s stunning cover art, along with everyone who submitted their work for the writing prize and issue #17. We’d also like to congratulate the winners of The Quarry – Future Leaders Writers Prize.

Head over to the journal’s media page and you can view the Prize’s award ceremony, hear directly from the judges about their choices, and hear the writers talking about each of their works in a series of fascinating interviews.

We invite you to explore the stand-out writing by students and alumni of the Faculty of Arts as they reflect on the world as we know it now, in 2020.