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Time & Memory

On the first page of Margaret Atwood’s novel Cat’s Eye there is a sentence which runs something like ‘memory is like staring into turbid water: sometimes this comes to the surface; sometimes that. Nothing goes away.’

Or at least, that’s how I remember it.

Our poets and short fiction writers have seized a variety of fascinating flotsam from this issue’s theme, memory. Memory erodes in Erinna Mettler’s ‘CLARKSON WAS GOOD’ as a boxer fights Alzheimer’s disease—one of the many sensitive fictional approaches we received on this subject. Many of our writers were concerned with the memory of past relationships. Melanie Hall presents a youthful romance that is, from the beginning, sepia tinted, somehow already nostalgic for itself, in ‘Love and a Ukulele’. Lauren Rosewarne’s ‘Central Casting’ offers a narrator proleptically aware of a relationship’s future as productive humus for fiction. Sarah Shepherd shows an ex-husband sifting through the guilt (and underwear drawer) of his failed relationship in ‘Sunday Afternoon Drop-Off’. Yvonne Kiddle and Rosanna Verde provide a more whimsical interpretation of the theme: the former with a fragmentary tour de force in ‘On the Deconstruction of a Theory of All Ordinary Time’, and the latter with a cracked and elliptical lonely planet guide in ‘The Unwritten Diary of a South American Traveller’.

As for the poetry, perhaps a line from Sarah Jane Barnett’s ‘Memento’ will serve as a guide: ‘I stand and remember/Imagining standing here’. Memory here has a certain shapeliness, a style, which is both a means of inhabiting memory and estranging it— something echoed in Sian Thomas’s ‘The Abandoned House’. In this poem, the poet metaphorically inhabits, is perhaps gothically entombed, within the internally estranged and abandoned house. Aleksandra Lane too troubles memory straightforwardly conceived, setting a refusal of perhaps traumatic memory against the banal cycle of the seasons in ‘Winter’. Rachel Mead also offers a critical perspective on memory, using a formal inversion to reverse her poem’s conclusion and suggest the caprice of history in ‘Guadalcanal’. ‘Chidlow’, by Christopher Konrad, is perhaps more nostalgic than the other selections, but still manages to introduce a wry note in its valorisation of a lost pastoral idyll: ‘If you ever get out to Chidlow tell them to look out for old timers with their/‘back in my day’ tales’. This poem sounds an ironic note echoed in ‘Time Collapses’, the portentous title of which is deflated by a humourous attempt to, as the poet Yvonne Kiddle puts it, ‘escape ironic capture’. Finally, ‘Horology’ reminds the reader of the shifty malevolence of time and memory, stalking its protagonist with a man ‘coiled like a spring from a damaged clock’.

We hope you enjoy, as we have, this issue’s work. And, in case you were tempted to fall over the side while staring into the currents of memory presented to you here, take heart: the theme for the next issue is ‘water’. (Inspired, somewhat, by the end of winter here and the anticipation of warmer weather. Sorry to our readers, writers and friends in the other hemisphere.) Make of it what you will.

Scott Brewer





Published: 20 September, 2010.
Editorial Team: Scott Brewer, Cassandra O’Loughlin, Samantha Dagg, Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).