Editorial

There is much to cel­e­brate in this new issue of Mas­cara, and in its mak­ing, not least of which are cor­re­spon­dences with, and con­tri­bu­tions by women who are speak­ing against the vio­lence of invis­i­bil­ity, exile, exploita­tion and detain­ment. We are liv­ing in times of hor­ror, cor­rup­tion, xeno­pho­bia, a time when our polit­i­cal and elite cul­tural gov­er­nance has failed in the reck­on­ing. But these are also times when the expo­si­tions and rebuild­ing of nation, the palimpsest of our nar­ra­tives sig­nals that the hier­ar­chies of the past are being contested.

How women of colour nav­i­gate the pas­sages and bound­aries of home and world is his­tor­i­cally an expur­gated sub­ject, one which con­cerns Gaiu­tra Bahadur’s sem­i­nal book, which it is our priv­i­lege to fea­ture. Coolie Woman reimag­ines the jour­ney of her great-grandmother’s odyssey from Cal­cutta to the Caribbean as well as being a chron­i­cle of Indian inden­tured labour. “Immi­grants” Bahadur writes, “might be pre­dis­posed to see the world as an ongo­ing exer­cise in spec­u­la­tion. We are primed to brood on what might have been had we never left.”  But the ‘alter­nate uni­verse’ of her dou­ble dias­pora is not as remote as it might seem from Australia’s own record of era­sures, its default his­tory of Euro­pean inva­sion, geno­cide, of the Stolen gen­er­a­tion, the traf­fick­ing and mis­treat­ment of refugees, the traders and peo­ple smug­glers who exploit them. Mes­sag­ing us in their own pas­sion­ate tongues are the voices of ‘Abba’, ‘M’, Hani Aden and ‘RB’. They speak of bod­ies, names and home­lands that rewrite our nar­ra­tive at the edges of humanity.

There are poems that arrest me with the wis­dom of every­day lim­i­ta­tions, such as Jonathan Hadwen’s “In the Neigh­bour­hood” and Simon Anton Nino Diego Baene’s “Sun­day”. There are voices of protest, superbly crafted, cross­ing impass­able bar­ri­ers like those of Gra­ham Akhurst, Sub­ashini Navarat­nam and Janet Gal­braith. It is not enough to expose the media’s reduc­tive lan­guage; our sto­ries need to exceed the restric­tions of dis­cur­sive cat­e­gories for lit­er­a­ture to thrive.

Mas­cara’s cur­rency is its maze-running defi­ance of spirit. Some­how, we have sur­vived the psycho-violent barbed wire of White Aus­tralia, in the shadow of its offi­cial leg­ers and acco­lades hav­ing been granted tem­po­rary and pro­vi­sional endorse­ment. But it is also in the despair of our mid­dle pas­sage, the atten­tion to our craft and our vision that we build small bridges between the imag­i­nary and the real. For this I am indebted to our ded­i­cated writ­ers, edi­tors and read­ers who have gen­er­ously assisted with revi­sion, con­cep­tual think­ing, dis­cus­sion, appraisal, tech­ni­cal detail and psy­chic hugs.

As we edge our dis­cus­sion fur­ther into research and towards pol­icy, I am grate­ful to Mis­bah Khokhar, Bened­ito Fer­rao, Nicole Thomas, Lia Incog­nita, Sarah Cor­nell, Dim­i­tra Har­vey, Janet Gal­braith, Joel Ephraims, Libby Hart and Angela Stretch. And I would like to thank Cas­san­dra Ather­ton and Chris Raja for their exper­tise in guest edit­ing the poetry and fiction.

 

Michelle Cahill
Edi­tor
Octo­ber 2014

~~~~~

 

It is truly an hon­our to fea­ture David Mal­ouf, one of our finest writ­ers in this issue of Mas­cara. Poems from his new book, Earth Hour are accom­pa­nied by a critically-nuanced review of his poet­ics by Dr Lucy Van. Of major sig­nif­i­cance to his oeu­vre a com­pi­la­tion of essays, A First Place has been pub­lished by Knopf, Ran­dom House. These unabridged dis­ser­ta­tions are a timely ret­ro­spec­tive, prob­ing the vexed sub­ject of our national iden­tity with his­tor­i­cal reflec­tion and a polit­i­cal analy­sis not osten­si­bly present in his poems or nov­els. A selected extract from one of his Boyer Lec­tures, ‘The Mak­ing of Aus­tralian Con­scious­ness’ strik­ingly addresses the lib­er­ties and entrap­ment of the island mind-set. This has cur­rent res­o­nance given the dis­turb­ing provo­ca­tions of the government’s pro­posed amend­ments to the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act, the asy­lum seeker ‘prob­lem’ and its fraught PNG solu­tion. With gen­tle, focussed dialec­tic, Mal­ouf reminds us that the colo­nial shadow of our inse­cu­rity com­plex threat­ens to dis­claim and thwart the very source of our cul­tural rich­ness: ‘Australia’s bor­ders were a gift of nature. We did not have to fight for them.’

If the sea is a har­bin­ger of news from else­where it car­ries many voices, sto­ries and sanc­tu­ar­ies, entan­gling us in processes of preser­va­tion, con­quest, destruc­tion. Jo Ranck’s art­work embod­ies this com­plex­ity, a reminder that we are tran­sient vis­i­tors buoyed up in the col­lec­tive swarm of our sea-dreaming.

Dif­fi­cult and impen­e­tra­ble times appear to be on the hori­zon for the future of lib­er­tar­ian think­ing, for edu­ca­tion and egal­i­tar­i­an­ism. How do we read the signs? Dis­courses such as art and lit­er­a­ture are in a unique and unre­stricted posi­tion to resist com­pla­cency, to invite and inspire the nec­es­sary dia­logues of nego­ti­ated progress. But is this a cer­tainty we hold or a grind­ing con­ces­sion? Our his­tory traces mul­ti­ple threads of lan­guage which have been sup­pressed, endan­gered, appro­pri­ated but never entirely stolen. We find this assur­ing and in this spirit we trust you will enjoy this fusion of writ­ing from our most dis­tin­guished octo­ge­nar­i­ans as well as from young, promis­ing out­siders such as Joel Ephraims, Dim­i­tra Har­vey, Lia Incog­nita, Beibei Chen, Prithvi Varathara­jan, Saba Vasefi, Tom Cho via New York., &, via Berlin, Sam Langer.

 

Michelle Cahill
Edi­tor
May, 2014

~~~~~

 

It’s been my intent to edit an Indigenous-themed issue of Mas­cara for some time and after con­ver­sa­tions with Lionel Fog­a­rty in 2010 and then more recently, what started out as a ges­ture of exchange and friend­ship grew into some­thing tan­gi­ble. We are hon­oured to fea­ture Lionel as our guest writer. I first heard him read in a café in Glebe in the 1990’s and still have my copy of his New and Selected, signed with one of his minia­ture draw­ings. Back then, I loved how the music of his lan­guage is ungoverned by White gram­mar, seman­tics or syn­tax. It is purely Fogarty’s Abo­rig­i­nal voice that con­tains his mean­ing; a rare gift, a know­ing expressed as plan­gent, humor­ous, angry, abused, with all the out­ward marks of inner grace.

It has been a trend to dis­tin­guish our female Indige­nous writ­ers and activists, some­times over­look­ing the con­tri­bu­tions of writ­ers like Kevin Gilbert, W Les Rus­sell, Samuel Wagan Wat­son. We hope you enjoy the selec­tion of Lionel Fogarty’s poems and the critically-nuanced review of his poet­ics by Tim Wright. It’s won­der­ful to include “Father Divine” by Tony Birch, poems by the Cana­dian Indige­nous poet, David Groulx, and Aimee Norton’s review of US Indige­nous writer Natalie Diaz as well as poetry by the Dalit writer, S Chan­dramo­han: I rec­om­mend these.

I am indebted to Mau­rice O’Riordan for his assis­tance with the cover art. Chris Kelly is an emerg­ing Indige­nous artist whose instal­la­tions evoke the bru­tal impo­si­tion of Euro­pean cus­toms and hier­ar­chies on Indige­nous chil­dren. Her labo­ri­ously carved bon­net and shoes depict the dis­com­fort of the Stolen gen­er­a­tion, many of whom were farmed as ser­vants in colo­nial estates.

This is a time to cel­e­brate Ali Cobby Eckermann’s out­stand­ing verse and prose, while The Swan Book by Alexis Wright is one of the most pow­er­ful nov­els I’ve read for a long time. Although the trau­mas of the past will never be undone and the future looks as bleak, the refusal of these Indige­nous writ­ers to accept white pater­nal­ist par­a­digms per­suades me to believe that this issue of Mas­cara may not be our last.

 

Michelle Cahill
Edi­tor
Decem­ber, 2013

~~~~~

 

We’re delighted that our cover girl for issue 13 is TextaQueen’s Head­hunter, a post-apocalyptic por­trait of DJ Pandie Pan­ther. She reminds us of the eco­log­i­cal destruc­tion caused by Pacific colo­nial exploits for san­dal­wood, copra and cot­ton. Even worse was the black­bird­ing which enslaved dark-skinned (inden­tured) Melane­sians, Kanyakas, Indi­ans and some Chi­nese for Aus­tralian and British ven­tures in Queens­land and the South Sea islands. Head­hunter reminds us that art and lit­er­a­ture inter­sect with his­tory to walk us back through the shad­ows of white­ness, of rit­ual, of colo­nial degra­da­tion, its eco­nomic and reli­gious expan­sion, its moral relativism.

Is it pos­si­ble that writ­ing can know such real­i­ties with­out being tar­nished? Can it sus­tain an exclu­sive imag­i­nary? More and more we are ask­ing our­selves the ques­tion just who is writ­ing for whom, in whose lan­guage, and who is reading?

A new wave of the rad­i­cal in Aus­tralian writ­ing is being artic­u­lated by the van­guard white and black. Mas­cara would like to unmask; to become vis­i­ble in this often polarised open field with alter­na­tive inter­pre­ta­tions of resis­tance; to reimag­ine out­crops and arch­i­pel­a­gos, ecolo­gies which have and con­tinue to be polit­i­cally and aes­thet­i­cally colonised as his­to­ries are recast in avid hege­monies of the­ory, lan­guage, race.

Because they abro­gate Eng­lish words, Lionel Fogarty’s poems have not been edited. They remain their own Whitman-esque voice. Declar­ing kin­ship of Indige­nous spirit with ‘Asian Pacific war­riors’ Fogarty’s poet­ics are highly intu­itive of Indige­nous knowl­edge and ground-breaking auguries of change. Ken Chau and Belle Ling’s poems ges­ture towards and iro­nise race as post-identitarian. Stu­art Barnes exploits the lyric’s capac­ity to pow­er­fully drama­tise racial vil­i­fi­ca­tion. In Jen Webb’s ‘Four Cities’ ‘North has blurred/with south…’, Corey Wakeling’s ‘Mute’ is unob­tru­sively oblique while Luke Fis­cher sings to Cézanne. Mad­ness is evoked from the unswerv­ing real­ism of Suvi Mahonen’s prose to the sur­real intri­cacy of Peter Boyle’s. The imme­di­acy and unflinch­ing tone of Rozanna Lilley’s essay returns us to the abuse and trau­mas of cre­ative life in the 1970s. Khanh Ha’s “Size-Ten Boots” evokes the psy­chosis of jun­gle war­fare from an Asian-American point of view while Mark Smith’s “On the Port Keat’s Road” is a har­row­ing account of Indige­nous cus­tody based on the author’s expe­ri­ences with the Nauiyu Com­mu­nity on the Daly River, NT.

One of our finest con­tem­po­rary poets writ­ing from post­mod­ern and post­colo­nial per­spec­tives is Fijian-Indian-Australian Sudesh Mishra, whose poetry is fea­tured. Mishra’s vir­tu­ousity with image and wit are matched by inno­va­tion. His long poem “Dias­pora and the Dif­fi­cult Art of Dying” sub­verts con­ven­tions of syn­tax, con­tent, ges­ture, hybri­dis­ing magic real­ism with a the­o­ret­i­cal con­scious­ness; it is extreme and delim­ited, its con­cre­tion undo­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion as the speaker is ‘no longer the ‘i of my ori­gin’. With its cor­po­real hov­er­ings, its historico-topographical lev­i­ta­tions over Nandi, Mau­ri­tius, Trinidad, India, Syd­ney, and its aver­sion to sen­ti­men­tal­ity Mishra’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary text poet­i­cally enacts Badiou’s pas­sion for the real in search­ing for ‘the acreage of (his) prose’

To reimag­ine coun­try is to go beyond tokenism or polit­i­cal con­structs of self/Other, white/black, aesthetic/radical, moral/erotic, rational/psychotic. It is surely to recog­nise the con­tri­bu­tion of writ­ers such as Mishra to the rich­ness of our translo­cal, inter-textualised per­spec­tives. Minori­ties face pres­sure to resist the col­lec­tive uni­ver­sal; some are impli­cated to empha­sise the every­day, while oth­ers may be mis­recog­nised by their inno­va­tions of what I describe as nec­es­sary epics. Mate­ri­al­ist tran­scen­dence may not rede­fine the gaze, but it can rad­i­calise with pas­sion­ate departures.

Between the main­stream and the minor­ity, the rad­i­cal and the con­ven­tional there is exchange, bor­row­ing, trans­la­tion, alliance and mul­ti­ple unions, some of which we hope you will chance upon and return to, among these pages.

 

Michelle Cahill
Edi­tor
June, 2013

~~~~~

 

This year has been one of tran­si­tions, as we attempt to rene­go­ti­ate car­bon economies, human rights abuses, and in our lit­er­a­tures, an iden­tity of social cohe­sion and integrity. A trickle of Indige­nous writ­ers and migrant writ­ers are appear­ing in antholo­gies, jour­nals, pub­li­ca­tions and awards, sug­gest­ing our aware­ness that the White Aus­tralia of demo­graphic lega­cies no longer resem­bles us. And yet, in the midst of cul­ture wars, we are wit­ness­ing a regres­sive and bru­tal impasse for asy­lum seek­ers, belea­guered by the under­cur­rents of media-propagated myths.  The truth and cor­rup­tion of words―the way in which they divide and con­nect us― enmeshed as they are in our lives, is a rea­son for lit­er­a­ture to respond.

In July, I trav­elled to Indone­sia and Malaysia to assem­ble my own impres­sions of this cri­sis, which indi­rectly affects every one of us, and is the cover theme for Mas­cara’s issue 12. Talk­ing to refugees who have been wait­ing for years in limbo, I under­stood why the num­bers of boat peo­ple con­tin­ues to rise, and why so many have drowned. A deci­sion to end their pro­longed con­fine­ment becomes proac­tive, reflect­ing, as Robert Low­ell writes, “man’s lovely,/ pecu­liar power to choose life and die—”

Ulti­mately, change is the essence of our lives, and Death embod­ies that most plainly. Death, writes Emily Dick­in­son, is—the Hyphen of the Sea—the pas­sage, the bridge and the pause.

Though a theme was not flagged for this issue many of the poems and sto­ries reflect on death, flight, immi­gra­tion and asy­lum, sug­gest­ing that such exter­nal mat­ters are con­tested inwardly, in our imag­i­na­tions, (that beau­ti­ful, ante­dilu­vian space), by impulses that may range from aes­thetic to deconstructive.

Paul Kane’s med­i­ta­tions on cli­mate and death are intense, oblique ren­di­tions of the Japan­ese renga.  Themes of flight are explored by Diane Fahey and Lyn Hather­ley. Brett Dionysius’s “Christ­mas Island Rat” takes a sharp per­spec­tive on the renewal of the Pacific Solu­tion, Chris­tine Ratnasingham’s poems touch ever so lightly on the dis­turb­ing sub­ject of racism. There is a sub­tle irony to the nar­ra­tion of Fikret Pajalic’s “Red Dirt” with its metaphors of ani­mal cru­elty. And Sunil Badami takes a broad view on the themes of exile and hos­pi­tal­ity in Alien Shores. Vrasi­das Kar­alis’ review of South­ern Sun: Aegean Light is a fine overview of the lin­guis­tic and cul­tural aspects of Greek-Australian poet­ics, with their unique oral tra­di­tion and his­tori­cism.  The frag­men­ta­tion and ambiva­lence of lin­guis­tic descrip­tors for our societies-in-transition are beau­ti­fully assem­bled in David Herd’s All Just, reviewed by Ann Vickery.

A cen­tury after her birth it is an hon­our to cel­e­brate the Sloven­ian poet/chanteuse, Mila Kačič.  Trans­lated by David Brooks and Bert Pribac, her poems are rem­i­nis­cent of the Russ­ian sym­bol­ists with their evo­ca­tion and care­fully con­structed imagery. They express an anx­ious thirst to lib­er­ate the deeply per­sonal from the conventional.

This year saw the pass­ing away of sev­eral sem­i­nal poets: Jack Gilbert, Peter Steele and Rose­mary Dob­son. Geoff Page’s review of Rose­mary Dobson’s Col­lected is a fine trib­ute to her poetry and her life.

But not all the con­tri­bu­tions are in sym­pa­thy with these themes.  Jal Nicholl’s review of Stephen Edgar’s fine col­lec­tion, The Red Sea, takes its own ethno-poetic slant.  And many other writ­ers excel in spec­u­la­tive, exper­i­men­tal and dar­ing pieces, (Dan Dis­ney, Paul Giffard-Foret, Ainslee Mered­ith, Madeleine Slav­ick and Laura Wool­lett, to name a few.)  I’ve no doubt our read­ers will enjoy the chal­lenge of this diver­sity, which we con­sider to be essential.

Toby Fitch’s inter­view with John Tran­ter is a can­did, witty and insight­ful por­trait of one of our most sig­nif­i­cant poets, the devel­op­ment of his New York-Down Under mar­que of poet­ics, its sassy shear­ing away from the main­stream. It sheds light on our his­tory of cul­tural cringes and an impulse to asso­ciate reflex­ively, iron­i­cally, et toute à la blague.

It’s timely to men­tion that there have been daunt­ing edi­to­r­ial tran­si­tions and chal­lenges for the jour­nal to over­come and new direc­tions to embrace, for which I’m very much indebted to our friends, col­leagues, and grate­ful to the Lit­er­a­ture Board.

 

Michelle Cahill
Edi­tor
Decem­ber, 2012

 

——–

 

I walked in the rain today on pave­ments strewn with bright autumn leaves and glis­ten­ing seed pods until I lost the threads of my thoughts and a calm­ness entered my mind. I write best when I yield to that other world, leav­ing behind the irri­ta­tions, anx­i­eties, dis­ap­point­ments, errors, false starts.  I for­get my imper­fect lan­guage, its con­scious struc­ture of arbi­trary names. I start to be attuned to the music of silence, com­plex and poly­phonic, var­ied, beyond mean­ing. “There’s noth­ing spe­cial about being a writer; it’s no dif­fer­ent to any other pro­fes­sion,” a friend said to me recently on Skype, a remark which left me quizzi­cal, pos­si­bly defensive.

Is there a need to jus­tify lit­er­a­ture? Is it not true that we become self-conscious when we try to do so. We renew elit­ist par­a­digms, con­flat­ing our inten­tions as writ­ers, dis­guis­ing the ways in which with com­plic­ity we oppress, or exploit Oth­er­ness. Do I write to invent myself like Fou­cault, or to for­get like Borges? Does lit­er­a­ture serve the Muse, the reader, his­tory, or culture?

Lit­er­a­ture car­ries all these reg­is­ters at dif­fer­ent times. I think my own writ­ing is a jour­ney  to find a lan­guage for the unspeak­able, a jour­ney of imper­fec­tion and risks, some greater than oth­ers, and quite impos­si­ble to mea­sure. That’s all, really. But maybe it’s enough.

Our encoun­ters with dif­fer­ence have caused so much lan­guage to be erased. Of two hun­dred and fifty Indige­nous lan­guages that were spo­ken when Euro­peans first invaded this coun­try, over a hun­dred and thirty are now crit­i­cally endan­gered and per­haps only twenty or thirty are being spo­ken. Lan­guage can seduce, tran­scend, rec­on­cile or vio­late, claim­ing what it desires in the name of empire, as Sujata Bhatt reminds us in “A Dif­fer­ent History”:

Which lan­guage
has not been the oppressor’s tongue?
Which lan­guage
truly meant to mur­der some­one?
And how does it hap­pen
that after the tor­ture
after the soul has been cropped
with a long scythe swoop­ing out
of the conqueror’s face-
the unborn grand­chil­dren
grow to love that strange language.

(Brunizem, 37)

We are our­selves the coloniser, the for­eign one. We have become ‘that strange lan­guage’ of epis­temic vio­lence. And Bhatt sug­gests that unless we resist or nego­ti­ate the received tongue, we tran­scen­den­talise the ground on which we stand. “The poem splits,/It has no desire to become a nation,” David Herd writes in “One by One”.

It has been my priv­i­lege as edi­tor of this jour­nal to observe resis­tance, what Wal­lace Stevens described as “the imag­i­na­tion press­ing back against the pres­sure of real­ity.” For real­ity is the homogenis­ing tongue, the sin­gle, arche­typal nar­ra­tive. We have archived so many dif­fer­ent sto­ries and lan­guages that  it seems to me that this jour­nal belongs to its con­trib­u­tors. It pleases me immensely to have pub­lished work by new and excit­ing writ­ers and researchers from here and abroad. I think of Ocean Vuong, Luke John­son, Eileen Chong, Nabina Das, Fatima Bhutto, Tessa Lun­ney, Deb­bie Lim, Peter Dawncy, Mona Attamimi, Bella Li, Laura Wool­lett, Jo Lang­don, Michelle Dici­noski, Desh Bal­a­sub­ra­ma­niam, Jane Kim, Omar Musa, Tim Wright, Mis­bah Kokhar, Jessie Tu, Ans­ley Moon, James Stu­art, Jes­sika Tong, Andrew Car­ruthers, Pey­cho Kanev, Brooke Lin­ford, Angelina Mirabito, Theophilus Kwek, Sally Fitz­patrick, Aimee Nor­ton, Stephanie Ye, Carol Chan and Ellen van Neervan-Currie, just to name a few. For some, Mas­cara Lit­er­ary Review was their first publication.

In con­sid­er­ing these voices I begin to ques­tion the defin­ing canons by which cul­ture oppresses dif­fer­ence and erases lan­guage. I’m per­suaded that writ­ing is both a yield­ing and a resis­tance, which in decon­struct­ing itself, does make things happen.

 

Michelle Cahill
Edi­tor
June 2012

 

——–

In “Aspho­del, That Greeny Flower” William Car­los Williams says that poetry has no news to deliver, noth­ing sen­sa­tional or glam­orous to adver­tise, “yet men die mis­er­ably everyday/ for lack/of what is found there.” Poetry doesn’t make things hap­pen,
to use Auden’s words. It doesn’t stop wars, feed the hun­gry or stop the earth from being abused. Yet it is per­haps pre­cisely of its
non-utilitarian value that we need it so much, every crust, every scrap of it. In a world where every­thing is mea­sured in eco­nomic terms, poetry is essen­tial because it resists being cal­i­brated, remind­ing us that the seem­ingly most use­less things are the most vital to our being alive.

That is what poets do each day, pay­ing atten­tion to what seems insignif­i­cant and worth­less. Being atten­tive, observ­ing Pound’s
imper­a­tive to mak­ing it new again and again, and mak­ing con­nec­tions, wiring the dif­fer­ent parts within them­selves and also awak­en­ing hid­den con­nec­tions to the rest of the world. Images, events, thoughts are inex­plic­a­bly related, brought together in a sig­nif­i­cant but not imme­di­ately com­pre­hen­si­ble con­junc­tion. In “Hamid Ramouz” (1818-1906) Ray­mond Carver expe­ri­ences a moment when two dis­parate things meet:

This morn­ing I began a poem on Hamid Ramouz –
sol­dier, scholar, desert explorer –
who died by his own hand, gun­shot, at eighty-eight.

I had tried to read the dic­tio­nary entry on that curi­ous man
to my son – we were after some­thing on Raleigh –
but he was impa­tient, and rightly so.

It hap­pened months ago, the boy is with his mother now,
but I remem­bered the name: Ramouz –
and a poem began to take shape.

All morn­ing I sat at the table.
Hands mov­ing back and forth over lim­it­less waste,
as I tried to recall that strange life.

The poem is a won­der­ful exam­ple of how two indi­vid­u­als from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures meet. The sub­ject of the poem is
osten­si­bly Hamid Ramouz, but the deeper theme is the fact of the poet’s present con­di­tion, his lone­li­ness. We are not told much
about the Hamid, but his career and sui­cide are some­how rel­e­vant to Carver’s own life. The con­nec­tion deep­ens the tragic chord in the poem.

Poetry is about wait­ing, lis­ten­ing for these con­nec­tive chords. It is about uncov­er­ing the vast net­works of blood­lines link­ing the poet to his imme­di­ate world and the wider world out there, weav­ing threads between cul­tures and languages.

This lit­tle poetry stand aims to do just that, share a bit of what is found there, the con­nec­tions we dis­cover as we encounter the world anew each day. Mas­cara is inter­ested in the way poems locate indi­vid­u­als, and how they con­nect cul­tures and lan­guages. It wel­comes poems from Aus­tralia, Asia and the rest of the world, poems from dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties and cul­tures that offer new ways of see­ing and being. The word “mas­cara” derives from mask, and it is about putting on a dif­fer­ent mask each day, Yeat­sian or not, and see­ing with dif­fer­ent eyes. It is inter­ested in the way Aus­tralia looks out and upwards, to Asia, and way Asia and the other regions return the gaze. It hopes that the poems and essays on poetry and poet­ics will arrive to chal­lenge the way we posi­tion our­selves, the news from the dif­fer­ent quar­ters renew­ing the way we imag­ine our­selves and the world.

 

Boey Kim Cheng
Edi­tor
March, 2007