Issue 2 of Cicerone Journal has been, on several levels, about growth and expanding the boundaries of one’s perception. A fundamental idea behind Cicerone Journal is that there is inherent value in emerging from the bubble of one’s own perspective and in seeking to understand the world from outside oneself.
The pieces in Issue 2 have reflected different kinds of growth, expansiveness, and understanding. Asefeh Zeinalabedini’s ‘Dad kissed me three times’ speaks to growing knowledge – a child’s expanding awareness of adult conflicts. Michaela Keeble’s ‘Children’s Story’ also speaks to the threads of culture and history tying together past, present, and future.
It is not only an expansive understanding of human experiences that bring together this issue, but also an interest in our intimate association with animals. Jennifer Compton’s ‘Chimpanzee Enclosure’ highlights the compassionate discourses that such relationships can bring. The gentle interaction between nature, animals, and people in Meredith Pitt’s ‘He rose from the bench’ also explores this dynamic.
Topical explorations of stunted empathy, systemic injustice, and discrimination are also present in Issue 2. Miriama Gemmell’s ‘An open letter signed by cocoa’ takes an incisive look at “prog diversity” and the limitations and hypocrisy of particular social dynamics and forms of feminism. The intersection of race and class is also explored in ‘Out of the male shadow’, a stunning piece of non-fiction by Gurjinderpal Singh Sidhu – and which is, incidentally, his first published piece.
In the diversity of pieces in Issue 2, we hope to continue to foster empathy in sharing stories of experience. We are incredibly grateful to those who have entrusted their stories to us, and to our readers, in this issue. Special thanks are extended to our contributors, including those not already mentioned above: Philippa Baines, Jane Frank Cummiskey, Debbie Lee, Victoria McGrath, Fotoula Reynolds, and Barbara Robinson.
And now onto some news. As a still-new venture, growth has also been at the forefront of this year for Cicerone Journal.
The first five months of 2019 have been a wild ride – especially considering our journal ventures are still largely run out of a semi-furnished kitchen. One leap of faith we were initially hesitant to take is that of joining Twitter. Nevertheless, we have taken a tentative hop out of our social media nest and learnt to tweet.
In compiling Issue 2, meanwhile, we have been delighted by the expanding, international reach of Cicerone Journal as an online journal. It is exciting to be able to contribute to an exchange of ideas between cultures and experiences that are physically far apart. Yet this exchange should not rely merely on the internet, but must exist in the day-to-day, in our lived interactions with those around us.
From our inception, we have wanted to speak to feelings of disconnection and to publish writing which fosters empathy, curiosity, and increased understanding of others. With this in mind, we’ve also been aware of the limitations of having a purely digital presence. Offering a means for people to connect in our own local community as well as more broadly became a concrete ambition.
We are therefore very happy to announce that our journal will become a much more established, multi-faceted presence in Canberra, Australia, in the second half of 2019. In 2019 and 2020, we will be running two community-based projects with kind financial assistance provided to Cicerone Journal by YWCA ACT and artsACT. We sincerely appreciate their support.
Titled ‘Living Letters’, this project aims to increase engagement with literature throughout the local Canberra community, celebrate Canberrans’ existing love of books, and contribute to the ongoing development of literary and artistic community in Canberra.
Living Letters will involve Cicerone Journal running four free guided workshops over the course of a year. These will take place in a variety of locations (specifics to be determined) such as open-air by Lake Burley Griffin, in cafes, and in libraries.
The workshops will be centred around letter-writing. Despite being somewhat overshadowed this century by digital technology, letter-writing remains a valuable writing form distinctive for its mutability, its character, its physicality and its creative potential. We would like to help explore and celebrate it.
Each workshop will feature a guest speaker – a local female Canberra writer or artist – who will discuss topics such as their favourite works, their reflections on writing, and their thoughts on different, creative, malleable writing forms, including letters. Workshop attendees will be encouraged to interact with their favourite books by writing letters as or to a character they are interested in, or addressed to their favourite authors. Participants will also have the opportunity to share their writing with others and to share works of literature important to them.
Following the workshops, we aim to create small displays which will showcase the products participants have created (likely at a local library or small exhibition space). These displays will celebrate Canberrans’ favourite books as well as help highlight books which may not normally receive much attention.
Cicerone Journal would like to thank and acknowledge YWCA Canberra for their funding of this project through the Great Ydeas Creativity Grant.
Canberra Writing Anthology Project
The Canberra Writing Anthology Project aims to grow the Canberra literary community and to create a touch point at this moment in time that reflects the realities of people working and living in Canberra. The aim of this project is to publish a creative writing anthology that showcases the works of Canberra writers, poets, creators and artists, both established and emerging–a dedicated text that speaks to the diversity of Canberra voices and that challenges the popular narrative of the ‘Canberra bubble’.
We want to show Canberra as it truly is–a rich, diverse, storied place, that just also happens to be the nation’s capital.
We will be accepting submissions for this anthology from writers and artists based in Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and surrounding regions from 1 July to 31 August.
We will be interested in exploring the identity of Canberra and its surrounding regions, engaging with Canberra’s image and place in Australian history and culture, and challenging narrow public narratives of the city and surrounds. As we aim to do through Cicerone Journal, we want the diversity of cultural experience, language, gender, and sexuality of Canberra’s inhabitants reflected in this anthology. We encourage submissions from writers for whom English is not their first language but who have a story to tell and who have made Canberra their home.
And we are happy to say that with the support of the ACT Government, we will be able to pay all writers and artists for their inclusion in this anthology. Further submission guidelines will be published on our website before submissions are open.
Cicerone Journal would like to thank and acknowledge artsACT for their funding of this project.
So keep your eyes peeled: more information to come!