I have lived for the last four years in a house built sometime around 1600 in the middle of Faversham, an old market town in east Kent. We’ve been briefly snowbound over the last two winters, although the real cold comes from a wind that blows straight from the North Sea across this low-lying and marshy area. While editing I imagined myself in Brisbane (that e-place where the journal lives) beneath a sunshade outside a bar in New Farm. As it turned out I visited Brisbane in mid-December, just weeks before the severe floods caused much damage and grief. On my return here the gloom of an English winter didn’t seem too bad. In relative comfort I logged on to the ABC and pestered my friends for updates.
One thing that has struck me since moving here is the complex matter of being ‘Australian’. I was alarmed for some time that I had seemed to have completely dropped Australian material from my work. Did this mean that I hadn’t ever been ‘the real thing’; that instead I was one of those chameleon-like persons who take on the colours of wherever they are? All of the books I own on Australian history are at present (literally) up in the attic. I thought I would be drawing on these at some stage, but, as yet, I’ve done no such thing. Nonetheless the whole ‘take’ on things that I exhibit comes from somewhere; there is so much about my approach to things that is, for better or worse, Australian. And I’m happy that this is the case.
I should add straight off that I don’t see myself as any sort of ‘authority’ on what goes on in Australian poetry now (or poetry anywhere outside of the reading series’ I’ve aligned myself with). I’ve been away a bit too long (and I’m a little too long in the tooth) to have a good idea of what’s happening on the writing scene these days. I don’t want to become a Colonial Office ‘expert’ either, as one or two of our longer term expatriates have, though it’s unlikely that someone on such a low rung of the ladder of the British culture industry as I am would be wheeled out to opine on all things Australian to the natives here. At the gatherings where I read my own work, I’m not perceived as an odd specimen. Among my crowd are long resident Australians, Canadians, Americans, Netherlanders, all of us possibly feeling more ‘London’ than the occasional drop-ins from Wales, Scotland or the North. Our poetry is, I guess, cosmopolitan. Its components could come from anywhere but, at the same time, the results happen in a particular place.
The guest editorship has given me an opportunity to look at things from ground level, especially with the unsolicited work in the inbox. I see this issue as a kind of party: old friends including visitors from afar, new friends, and a number of people I haven’t yet met (the odd gatecrasher even). The drinks are in the bath folks!
Congratulations to Vladislav (Vlanes) Nekliaev 2010 Winner Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize for Another Babylon, see our foam:e 8 interview.
Jena Woodhouse, foam:e contributor (poetry and reviews) has been announced as regional winner (Pacific) for Praise Be. Over two thousand people entered the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story competition, drawn from 44 of the 54 countries which make up the Commonwealth.