Issue Twelve Editorial, by Stuart Barnes

Issue Twelve is now available from our website.


Cover image courtesy of Adam Byatt, copyright 2015

I started writing this editorial as Rockhampton’s jacarandas were beginning to churn their purple rain, and on the day that The Red Room Company announced the winners of its Poetry Object 2015: “a free poetry writing competition for students and teachers which invites young writers and their teachers to submit poems about objects that hold special significance to them”.

While walking beside the Fitzroy River the following day I bumped into two acquaintances who pressed me to remind them what I do for work—“Poet, poetry editor of Tincture Journal”—then declared “Poetry’s dead because it’s not taught in schools anymore”. I was delighted, then, to be able to direct them to The Red Room Company’s website (“our public projects and education programs have provided professional employment and creative opportunities for more than 700 poets and over 10,000 students across Australia and beyond”) and neutralise their too-cliché-to-be-repeated barbarity about Sylvia Plath.

Blackness, music and the moon pervade this issue’s poetry: in Angela Meyer’s woozy suite ‘To Wake and Then’, a “black telephone / ringing in the past’s destruction / or distraction” corresponds with Plath’s black telephone “off at the root, / The voices just can’t worm through” (‘Daddy’); Benjamin Dodds notes, in ‘Cologne’s Zentrum Anatomie’, a black mare, and body parts—“tongues and ears and eyes”—that “yearn / for the same intermingling” as “forks, knives and spoons” (the kitchen’s most musical implements?); in Chloë Callistemon’s gorgeous ‘Jaboticaba’, “black satin orbs ooze from the branches” and echo ‘Strange Fruit’, performed most famously by Billie Holiday; blackness manifests as “cancer in the scalp” in Dave Drayton’s ‘Motionless Chariot’; in ‘Natural Assets, Law 2003’, David Stavanger hat-tips The Rolling Stones and presents us with several species of black—“bats or Sofia the Greek widow / seeking solace or at least midday shade”; Edith Speers’ passerine in ‘Only the Raven’ is the singular source of light amongst “endless night”, “black hole” and “graveyard”; in Gareth Jenkins’ ‘Fluid Symmetry’, a “fragile reunion” takes place “under Malawian blood-bone moon”; the chicks in Joyce Chng’s ‘Crow Girl’ are “like tiny black puffs” and her triple repetition—“walls shaking, shaking, shaking”—summons up Plath’s; in ‘The Defiant Night’, Karen Andrews responds thoughtfully to Adriane Strampp’s Into the Night; Mark William Jackson’s found poem ‘Smalahove’ smokes blackly; in ‘DErt Rendezvous’, Natalie D-Napoleon whitely redacts a poem from Emily Wright’s The Sands of My Life; Phillip Hall launches “teenaged cyclones”, “tangle and turmoil” and a “dancer after dark” in ‘Message Stick’.

Inhabiting this issue’s poetry are other creatures—gold-toothed snakes, a chimpanzee, chickens, whales, ghosts, road-kill, a “blue-eyed god” (I’m reminded of Plath’s daddy’s “Aryan eye, bright blue”), a mermaid—which are mirrored in some of the issue’s fiction and creative non-fiction: Zahid Gamieldien’s ‘A Creature of Intelligence’ is reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s ‘The Father-Thing’ and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Shannon Burns’s ‘Creature’ meditates on “the nature of one’s own matter, and the matter of its form”; in ‘What We Are’, Craig Hildebrand-Burke’s creature—a “mutated horror”, “wrong” and “monstrous” and “grotesque”—would, in one character’s eyes, “cure disease, advance medicine by light years”. All three explore notions of identity, possession and abandonment.

In fiction, Eva Lomski invokes The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and there’s more from Gabrielle Reid, Lech Blaine, Seabird Brooks, Joe Nuttall, Sevana Ohandjanian, Adam Ouston and Jane Rawson.

We’ve creative non-fiction by Katerina Bryant, Chance Lee and Rebecca Jessen, award-winning author of the verse novel Gap (UQP, 2014) and winner of the 2015 Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. In her tense and taut ‘Firth Avenue’, a “Mum […] deals in conspiracy theory and black magic” and “a radio station […] plays nothing but consistent, thumping beats”.

Thanks to Daniel Young, as always; thanks to prior contributor Adam Byatt for supplying the photo for this issue’s cover; and thank you for supporting Tincture.

Kick back and enjoy the menagerie!

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