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'Persia is the name of an ancient civilisation, a cultural zone, and an aesthetic imaginary. It has long fascinated Western travellers, scholars of cultural dialogue and mystical poets. This issue of Southerly is an intervention in how Persian culture and poetics are perceived and adopted in today’s Australian and global literary scenes. How do contemporary Australian poets and scholars respond to the Sufi ghazals of Hafez of Shiraz? What has been the understanding of Afghan cameleers according to the discourse of Australian national identity? How are the questions of gender and identity addressed by contemporary Iranian writers? And what are some of the best examples of contemporary Persian- Australian fiction, non-fiction and poetry? This issue of Southerly presents a diverse and provocative range of responses to these questions and shows how our literary cultures are intertwined. There is also a selection of texts to be found in The Long Paddock, and an offering of the best Australian writing on themes not related to the Persian world.' (Editorial introduction)