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Verge 2012: Inverse

EDITORS’ ADDRESS

Samantha Clifford and Rosalind McFarlane

Samantha: The theme of this edition of Verge was conceived over coffee, as we attempted to capture the concept that would inform the journal in its eighth year. We wanted a theme that would be concerned with boundaries and what lay beyond them, of both oppositions and parallels, of writing that sought out fresh perspectives and new places to begin from. We followed this road a little way and it lead us to the idea of the ‘inverse’.

Verge has undergone something of a new beginning in 2012, and for the first time the work of Monash University writers and poets features amongst works from their contemporaries in the wider Australian literary community. We hoped to reflect the depth of talent of young and emerging writers and artists, both in Melbourne and beyond, by bringing together many different forms and genres in a single collection. The resulting publication is one of our most diverse yet, featuring works of illustration, photography, comic and other visual arts together with poetry and short fiction, all inspired by our theme of ‘inverse’.

Rosalind: One of the first things I was shown as a new Monash student in 2011 was a flyer for Verge. I also have come across borders, having done my undergraduate degree in Western Australia, and while there are many publishing opportunities there, I hadn’t before seen a space deliberately set aside for creative writing by university students. I thought it was brilliant. If this were a short story I would probably put a montage here: something about growing up in an isolated area before moving to a central metropolis and all the opportunities that entails. If I wanted to follow a few clichés the tale would end with drug addiction and a realisation of the ‘good old small town values’ I had left behind. You will no doubt be relieved to know this is not a short story, I am not on drugs and I think the above outline would make, frankly, a terrible narrative.

S: So it is with our own (brief) narratives that this year’s edition begins. When I encountered Verge as a second-year Arts student back in 2006, I was far from surefooted with my own writing. I didn’t send any work in for consideration, thinking it sure to be rejected – a fate I did not care to suffer at the time. I see this now as something of a missed opportunity. Verge, at its core, was created to support this very kind of emerging (and often self-doubting) writer – to give them some space on a page, an opportunity to show what they could do. Testament to this same strength and support of both the Creative Writing Program at Monash and its champion Chandani Lokuge, was that I found myself approaching Verge again after all this time – as a post-graduate, as an editor, and most importantly as a proud writer myself.

Certainly, I was caught by surprise by the experience and pace of Verge this year. Returning home after almost a year abroad in Latin America, my mind (and heart) was still somewhere on the Bolivian antiplano, or trying to decide whether to spend my last few dollars in Buenos Aires on an edition of Borges’ poetry or another bottle of Malbec. It was time to come back to reality. Our deadlines for the journal were scarily tight: we needed a fully refereed journal in just over two months, which included all of our time for submissions to be open. Ros and I quickly became familiar email pen-pals as we rallied to read, revise, referee-ready and re-edit sumissions late into the night. We reached out to friends, colleagues, fellow students and old professors, all in the name of getting the best possible version of Verge to publication.

R: As Sam and I discussed Verge with writers and artists across Australia we were continually asked about our theme, ‘inverse’. For me, one of the most interesting ideas about the theme we chose this year is that it not only implies an opposite, but a particular kind of opposite. Much the same as looking in the mirror, the inverse is all the more interesting because it combines the qualities of the similar and the different. It can be both subtle and radical, consciously constructed or unknowingly present. To examine the inverse may include the unexpected or the very negation of expectations themselves. The form the inverse tends to take, however, necessitates interacting with its opposite, its other side. It is these interactions, in all their forms, which are the impetus of this year’s collection.

S: Approaching our theme from a different angle, we can consider works ‘In Verse’, alluding to not only the poetic form but the act of writing itself. Considering ‘vers’ from the Latin, a line of writing. We see a poem echo across a fading mind, bringing with it the ache of the past and those lost to it. The man who has lost his own story struggles to write another in an unfamiliar city.

R: Here ‘inverse’ also explores the unfamiliar self: longing not as a personal experience but a second-hand phenomenon, constant tragedy as a familiar comfort. The self is also given a different perspective: a bird’s-eye view becomes the world, eating is transformed into a tradition of forgetting and fists are made of bitumen. In creating this edition of Verge we invite you to step through the reflection with us, to discover bruises made into mountains, vines that climb boys and the green world sloping cleanly over.

Verge 2012: Inverse

   by Samantha Clifford and Rosalind Mcfarlane