December 2016 – January 2017

Arts & Letters

Nostalgia

By Sarah Holland-Batt
A poem

 

for my school friends

I think of the luxury cars we drove as teenagers –
Audis, Mercedes, Lexus, Bimmers.
Brooks Brothers leather and cashmere sweaters.
Padlock Tiffany fobs. Kate Spade totes.
The knowing yearbook notes: il miglior fabbro,
see you in Belize! We got our tans at sophisticated lakes –
you could tell they were premium. The water
was pretty much Evian. No more than we deserved:
silver service Cokes and lobster rolls, black diamond
weekends in Aspen. French lessons? Bien sûr, chérie, you bet.
Après ski, sophomore trips to Paris and the Met.
A Harvard woman in Wayfarers and a trench
came to recruit our brains, which were the size of the state
she said, fast and sleek as Corvettes. They opened doors,
were plush as debutante balls, cost a bomb.
But we nailed our vitae: honour roll, choir, varsity tennis.
Gridiron? God, no; soccer. (Our sports were European.)
Philosophy class: Kant, Camus, absurdism.
Our teacher we called by his given name (Jim).
Jim showed us Ubu Roi, the sad wrong jaguars of Rousseau.
We aced trig and calculus, everything you could know
from Lincoln to Clinton. Blue dress, log cabin.
No cheer team. We were leaders. We fed the homeless
foiled burritos like silver bullets and started not-for-profits,
partied in our parents’ boardrooms and drank Everclear
from ironic red dixie cups. We showered every penny
of our college years on worthy NGOs. Our empires
could come later, after the consulting years; we had time
at our disposal, and after all, we could afford it:
we had generously upholstered souls, and everybody knows
America was beautiful at the end of the century
and charity begins with our kind of beautiful money.

Sarah Holland-Batt

Sarah Holland-Batt is a poet. Her most recent book is The Hazards.

Cover

December 2016 – January 2017

From the front page

Australian carnage

The Coalition killed Holden six years ago

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

A gap too far

Despite fine words in response to the latest Closing the Gap report, the PM insists that politicians know best when it comes to the question of recognition

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Planting hope

A community gardening program is bringing hope to asylum seekers

Image [detail] of Agency, by William Gibson

Days of future passed: William Gibson’s ‘Agency’

The cyberpunk pioneer’s latest novel continues his examination of the present from the perspective of a post-apocalyptic future


In This Issue

Image of Patrick White

The art of biography

The author stays out of the picture, and other personal rules of writing

Image of Pauline Hanson

A pox on both your houses

How can the major parties address the rise of populism in Australia?

Illustration

Australia divided

The electorate has fractured into three economic and cultural zones

Image of Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory by Georgia O’Keefe

A new world for the making

‘O’Keefe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ brings together three giants of modernism


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Untitled (Pollo Frito), 1982, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Stopped in the street: ‘Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines’

Early death meant the work of these renowned artists never fully emerged from ’80s New York subcultures

Image [detail] of Agency, by William Gibson

Days of future passed: William Gibson’s ‘Agency’

The cyberpunk pioneer’s latest novel continues his examination of the present from the perspective of a post-apocalyptic future

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The king in exile: Gordon Koang

The music of the South Sudanese star and former refugee offers solace and a plea for unity

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Kills, frills and Kelly aches: Justin Kurzel’s ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’

The Australian director brings a welcome sense of style to the unusually malleable story


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East Melbourne liturgy

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Les Murray’s magisterial ‘Collected Poems’

How to approach a 736-page collection by Australia’s greatest poet?

Detail of a painting of Barron Field

Barron Field and the myth of terra nullius

How a minor poet made a major historical error

Collingwood

A song cycle in 5 parts


Read on

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

A gap too far

Despite fine words in response to the latest Closing the Gap report, the PM insists that politicians know best when it comes to the question of recognition

Image from ‘Extinction Studies’

Wildlife’s whispered traces: ‘Extinction Studies’

Lucienne Rickard’s durational art performance at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery reckons with extinct species

Image of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull’s legacy costs

The former PM’s promise to legislate a religious freedom bill has ensured the culture wars rage on

Image from ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’

Party of three: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’

Australian comedian Josh Thomas brings his unique brand of comedy to the classic American sitcom format


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