'Meanjin did not publish a piece of fiction until 1943 - 'we still strive to talk poetry', founding editor Clem Christesen observed, perhaps tellingly, in the first Meanjin of December 1940.' (Jonathan Green Editorial introduction)
Contents indexed selectively.
'Many years ago—back in the nineties—my agent rang me to say that a multimillionaire was throwing himself a birthday party and wanted me to perform at it. The party was to be held over a weekend on his private island and I was to be flown there in a private plane. It all sounded very intriguing and the fee was enormous. Apparently whoever it was had seen me on my ABC show and liked it; the only problem though was that I couldn't find out who the multimillionaire was until I agreed to do the gig and signed a confidentiality agree-ment. My agent wasn't being coy; she was dealing with an intermediary and that was the deal. Visions of being hunted for sport by the BRW Rich List or a Dr Moreau type turning me into some sort of animal flashed through my head and so I turned the offer down. The truth was I didn't have a stand-up act anyway and found the whole idea of performing in what was effectively someone's lounge room a bit demeaning. Still, I always wondered who this mystery fan was.' (Introduction)
'A recipe is a thing to come back to, again and again. Like a home, like a feeling. A favourite poem. The last time I was suffocated by everything, I put myself to work memorising 'Sonnet for Christmas' by Judith Wright. It was a rainy day in the summer heaviness, I looked out the circle window of the Bargoonga Nganjin library on Brunswick Street. We are winter-caught, and we must fail said the dark dream, and time is ... and time is ... (looking back to the page) ... overcast .' (Introduction)
'We talk about sovereignty a lot. We demandit be recognised and we have it on our T-shirts and so forth. But what is it really?' (Introduction)
'On 31 October 2017 the Australian Government officially closed down the Manus Island immigration detention centre in Lombrum and ordered PNG authorities to evict the incarcerated refugees. The detainees refused to move to another prison camp and demanded freedom. A 23-day siege began with water, food, electricity and other services discontinued or shut off. The following dialogue between Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian through Whatsapp voice/text messaging communicates the anticipation of various acts of resistance leding up to the closure and the articles written and translated with urgency during that period.' (Introduction)
'Seamus once and his mittened cat of Mairead’s second litter: Thomas à Beckett or Beckett or Thompson or Tom. Unlike other housecats inclined to their wry and lissom dignities of the favourite shelf or chairback, Tom à Beckett lay languidly on the coffeetable or beneath it with the dogs like Christ among taxcollectors, his pharaonic chin aloft the ceilingward flank of Baudet the germanshepherd Harriet first fetched home in a box.' (Introduction)
'It was barely two pages: the story of the murder and midnight burial of a new-born ‘half-caste’ child on the far south coast of New South Wales in April 1864, witnessed by a 14-year-old domestic servant, Emily Wintle (née Gillespie). Of all the histories that I explored while writing Looking for Blackfellas’ Point (2002), it was this story that continued to unfold long after it was published, unsettling the memories of the families involved, revealing previously hidden details and shifting at the edges as more information came to light. What began as a subject of historical research became increasingly personal. In 2002 I knew little of Emily’s background or what happened to her after she gave evidence in court. I had only the fine detail of this one, long moment in her life. I had no idea of how the story had resonated in the lives of her descendants or how it had been passed on in family oral history down the years. The story that I originally saw as a metaphor for the ‘repression of the memory of Indigenous Australia’ became even larger and more mysterious after its telling. ' (Introduction)
'I possess a photograph of myself that was taken near midnight on New Year’s Eve two decades ago. I’m on the dance floor at a nightclub and my then-girlfriend has an arm around my shoulder. She is speaking directly into my ear in a stern and purposeful way, trying to impress good sense into a self-certain young man with bulging muscles, blond tips in his hair and an obscene amount of alcohol in his system. The expression on my face is blank: I can hear what she tells me, but I’m not listening because I’ve already made up my mind. The guy who casually groped her as he squeezed past us moments before is destined to greet the New Year in an inauspicious way.' (Introduction)
Author's note: A poem addressed to Edgar Allan Poe.
'We were … well, who were we? It was a floating group of 25 or so leftists, radical leftists, ultra-leftists from around Melbourne Uni, people dressed in black, a style still univocal and of a post-punk form: hair close-cropped around the edges, but piled high, boys wearing black jeans and black or dark-blue shirts, buttoned to the neck, girls in a near-compulsory style for a few years: black tights, black skivvy, a highly patterned, op-shop–derived, short skirt over the tights, and a haircut in which one side was shaved, and the other half grew long to the shoulder, bobbed. It appears to have returned a few years ago as a style—in our era, one among a hundred—but for a couple of years it was semi-compulsory, at least among our gang. Then it was the only game in town. Gender fluidity, which had been around in the seventies, had retreated, even with the success of The Cure. We were looking to … well that was the question.' (Introduction)
'There’s a Paul Klee sketch hanging in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art titled A Guardian Angel Serves a Small Breakfast. The figure hovers just above the ground, its wings spread. It holds a tray upon which breakfast items, including a kettle, are intertwined with one another, a tangle of gentle lines. Liquid pours from the kettle’s spout, even though it isn’t tilted. Emerging from the angel’s chest is a small love heart in red watercolour. There are many lessons to take from this sketch, one being that it’s good to serve someone a small breakfast.' (Introduction)
'That first night, he reached up into the winter dark. His hand drifted past Sirius, flashing like a huge diamond, a star without equal. He selected Aldebaran and plucked it straight out of the sky. It was effortless the way he pinched the star between his thumb and forefinger, brought it down to Earth and held it dazzling in his palm. The starlight beamed bright between the gaps in his fingers, making us squint as it refracted off the knit of quartz and feldspar in the western granite mountain range. We stood in awe of its beauty. But what to do with a star pilfered from the night sky?' (Introduction)