This issue has been a long time in the making! Thank you to our writers and readers for your patience as we brought Issue 6 of Cicerone Journal to publication.
For Issue 6, we knew we wanted to focus on nonfiction by women and femme-aligned non-binary writers, supported by our funding partnership with YWCA Canberra. Yet we wanted this foray into memoir, essays, and creative non-fiction to look a little different from the content that sometimes seems to dominate literary publishing.
The publishing industry, in particular in the context of marginalised groups and individuals, is often guilty of promoting stories that elevate trauma over all else. While offering writers of all walks of life the opportunity to write about difficult and taboo experiences and speak truth to power is deeply valuable, we noticed that trauma writing was dominating publishing opportunities for marginalised groups, especially in nonfiction. The term ‘mining for trauma’ comes to mind here.
As a result, we chose to invite our writers for this issue to explore the wonderful genres of creative nonfiction and memoir as more than a vehicle for their worst experiences, to consider these wide-reaching genres as open to stories of joy, hope, levity, connection, and humour, every bit as much as they are open to pain, anger, and despair. We invited writers to write about “things that might bring joy – and the things that have the power to sustain and keep you.”
The resulting collection of work offers a delightful look into the many varied ways nonfiction and memoir can be developed, and how such pieces can be simultaneously meaningful, impactful, and even sombre at times yet also hopeful and curious. Danielle Scrimshaw’s Miserable Bastard in Europe brings self-awareness and honesty to personal piece of travel writing. Jacqui Malins’s memoir piece Hey sexy! unites humour and vulnerability in a powerful account of self-image and growing up.Kim Carter’s dirt remembers invites the reader to engage with the natural world in a close-up, immersive way. Alexandra O’Sullivan’s Body explores nonsexual touch and its value. Phoebe Lupton’s Dispatches from Mount Ainslie is an evocative account of struggling to feel at home. Emma Wilkins’s Instead of presents, I asked for salads exemplifies how warm and funny nonfiction can be, all while also conveying meaningful ideas and a touching anecdote. And last but not least, this issue also includes an interview with the three founding editors of Not Very Quiet – Moya Pacey, Sandra Renew, and Tikka Wilson – about their experiences of running this popular Canberra-based poetry journal and their perspectives on the value of poetry more broadly.
Thank you to all those who submitted their writing for consideration in this issue. It was a privilege to encounter you through your words, in all your wonderful multiplicity. We hope you enjoy Issue Six as much as we do.