We’ve had an exciting 2014 here at Seizure, with so much great writing, design and performance. As we look forward to an even bigger 2015, here, for your summer reading pleasure, are some of our favourites from this year:
It's a bit rough singling out any given work. I'm immensely proud of everything Seizure has published over the past year and the hard work from the writers, editors, illustrators, designers and behind-the-scene bandits who have brought it all to your screens. But here's a couple that I want to flag in case you missed them first time around.
'The Record' by Vijay Khurana. It's a big fat nose-thumbing to all those writing teachers who insist 'write what you know' because I don't think Vijay has much personal experience of Czech robberies – or the intimacies of fatherhood for that matter – but it's a delightful story bending time and expectation, delivering pathos as well as wit.
One of my non-fiction highlights was Vincent Valentine Silk's 'Pushing Aside Vulvic Doily Art'. Matthew Venables and David Henley's work on the accompanying visuals set the mood for a thought-provoking read. Put down that crochet hook till you've read this one.
If you're in need of some next-gen poetry, have a look at Elizabeth Allen and Mark Riboldi's Epistles at Dawn.
Creative Director & Producer
I've selected the 'Drover's Wives' stories as my highlight of the year as it's one of those projects that came out of nowhere and became a collaboration between the talented Ryan O'Neill, myself and a bunch of UTS design students, who contributed to reworking, remixing and reimagining an Aussie classic.
In collaboration with Sweatshop, our Stories of Sydney series was quite a remarkable collection (which you can buy as a book, too). I adored Elena Gomez's sophisticated and astute essay on editing and labour, and in fiction kept returning to Jane Jervis-Read's unsettling short story, 'Luck and Trouble'. Offline, it would be remiss of me not to mention Daniel Davis Wood's brilliant Blood and Bone, which I published as part of this year's Viva la Novella competition. It's available in all good bookshops. You can read an extract here.
My faves are Ellena Savage's 'What is the Obligation to Beauty' and the combo of the words and art for 'Archive of Sent Mail' by Astrid Lorange and Irit Pollak. Ellena's piece rocks because it cuts right through an almost universal concept – how we represent ourselves online – but in a gorgeous, non-didactic, reflective, and powerful way.
'Archive of Sent Mail'works so well because it aestheticises something usually considered humdrum and strictly functional – the everyday emails you send – simply through careful selection. Irit's illustrations show that in every piece of text there is something to be learned and gleaned as she found books in the State Library archiving related to each of Astrid's key words.
'Sharp Objects' by Eleanor Chandler was by far my favourite Flasher of 2014. Eleanor created a character both fascinated with and anxious over the strict rules of rubbish collection in Japan, allowing the reader a glimpse into a world where purple notes on doorsteps denote failure and humiliation, in an imaginary landscape where umbrella skeletons rest for eternity. The protagonist, Beth, is in a place where everything is categorised by the sum of their parts, torn in twain or separated, or, like the lonely lost socks, left alone to be incinerated.
I dedicate my favourite piece not to a piece but to all the editors and sub-editors that work on the regular features. And also to the artists and the designers who make the images for each piece. Because they don't get enough love, I feel, and they're doing an absolute cracker of a job. I can't pick between:
- The illustrations of 'Archive of Sent Mail' by Irit Pollak;
- Finbah Neill's work on 'Sugar Ant', 'Burning Imprint' and 'American Lush'; oorrrrrr
- All of the pieces for Ryan O'Neil's 'Drover's Wife series'.
There's just so much that's good! How on earth can I piiick?
General Manager and Online Editor
I agree with Phill about finding it pretty darn hard to play favourites, but both of Alice Rebekah Fraser’s political pieces deserved consideration: 'Yes or No' and 'A Modest Proposal'. Alice also appeared at our Rant event, as part of our Late Night Library series this year. These events were a highlight for me, getting to work with such a talented bunch of writers, including Benjamin Law, Lauren Beukes, David Hunt, Luke Carman, Omar Musa and Jo Riccioni, and seeing their work shine on stage. I’m already excited about the next series.
I've always loved Jonathan Swift's original A Modest Proposal, and I think the time has come where a huge array of political and social issues need to be written about in a way that makes them appear ludicrous, not because they are but because that appears to be the way our governments approach them. Nothing bites like sarcasm; nothing speaks the truth like irony.
Choice quote from Alice Fraser's 'A Modest Proposal': 'Unfortunately, we’re not facing a situation where people and politics will accept kind, compassionate and generous immigration policies. Politically, if you’re a government that wants to be voted back in, you need to be seen to be taking a hard stance on asylum seekers. Why not let asylum seekers choose how hard they want to work for us?'
My second choice for things you should check out from the year that was is every single one of Finbah Neil's illustrations for Flashers. While I can safely claim we commissioned and edited a brilliant and diverse (emphasis on the diverse) array of flash fiction this year, it is Fin's nuance with the pen and ability to pluck a moment from a moment that really makes the whole collection strong.
Invisible Sentences: Labour, Words, and Women by Elena Gomez
Gomez's piece on her love of editing has stuck with me, especially her commentary on the problems of low pay and under-appreciation in a mostly female workforce: '[Editing] is a lonely type of work filled with affective labour, by its very nature ‘service-like’ ... [it's] dominated by women, and therefore characterised by large portions of unpaid and underpaid hours.'
The Collector by Laura McPhee-Browne
McPhee-Browne's Flasher encompasses so much in three short paragraphs: especially the staticity of a new relationship and the sadness of an isolated father and his hoarding problem. The author's gritty detail reminds me of a Lucinda Williams song, a drive along a country highway: all 'congealing coffee' and the trickles of sweat 'dampen[ing] the creases of [the protagonist's] blouse'.
That is it for 2014 everyone; we have many more things in the works for 2015 including more AltTxt, more helpful industry articles, Viva 3 and some more surprises. You've been a great audience, have a happy holiday season!