The Chimaera:A literary miscellany

The Chimaera is an e-zine which features poetry, fiction and essays. It is published twice a year and older editions are archived to view. A number of shorter poems from the current issue appear in rotation on the home page as “Poem of the Day”.

The May 2008 edition had as its theme Belonging. A nice place to start if you are looking for a suitable poem.

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“Welcome to our third issue. This issue’s Feature Theme is Belonging: our theme section includes a rich assortment of poetry and prose focusing on various aspects of belonging, including its negative form, alienation.” The Chimera, Issue 3 – May 2008 

How I almost died, twice

garyhughesby Gary Hughes, The Weekend Australian Magazine, March 7-8, 2009

Journalist Gary Hughes and his wife, Janice, barely survived the recent bushfires which destroyed their home in St Andrews, Victoria. This feature article is written as a diary of the days after the fire. The journalistic instinct to record and to share was a reflex for Gary, but he reflects on this as a double edged sword as the adrenalin wanes.

We find that, as we repeatedly retell our survival story, the details are getting briefer and briefer. We are shutting ourselves off from reviving memories. We are starting to put up walls. There is also a deepening disconnect with the real world. As we visit the local supermarket we know so well we find we are strangers in a strange land, a land where normal people lead normal lives and have normal homes. We do not belong to that world any longer.

American Born Chinese

abc1Graphic Novel by Gene Luen Yang

Three parallel stories are presented here. The mythic Monkey King is the lead in one; Jin Wang (pictured on the cover) is the second protagonist, trying to deal with life as the only Chinese-American kid in his class; then there is Danny, the all American teen whose life is made a misery when his over-the-top cousin, Chin-Kee comes to visit.

Yang masterfully blends these stories to a conclusion which surprises. He uses words and pictures to play with stereotypes, some of which shock at the same time as making us laugh.

Test run this book in this preview.

Tom White

Feature film, 2004, directed by Alkinos Tsilimodos

We drop into Tom’s life just as the final wave that will tip him out of suburbia and into vagrancy begins to break. His crisis has been cooking for weeks – perhaps years – before he first appears on screen. The fracturing of his world is visually represented in a shot early on in the film in which we see Tom from inside a birdhouse. The transparent walls of the birdhouse are angled to create a triple image of Tom as he checks the feed and water, and begins to talk to himself, vocalising an internal dialogue of uncertainty.  Ben Goldsmith, ‘Interogating Identity:Tom White’, senses of cinema, December, 2004

Tom encounters an ensemble of characters on the streets, finding friendship and loneliness in equal measure. Memories of what he has lost remain painful, but he seems unable to find himself.

The musical score is by Paul Kelly. The theme song, Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air, is a reworking of Psalm 23 – The Lord is My Shepherd:

I will lay you down
In pastures green and fair
Every soul shall be restored
I will meet them in the middle of the air
Come and meet me in the middle of the air

This video captures a beautiful a capella version by Tripod and Eddie Perfect from the ABC program Sideshow.

Beneath Clouds

Feature film, written and directed by Ivan Sen in 2002.

…its beautiful pictures tell a thousand words about what it is to be young, dispossessed and facing a predetermined destiny in Australia. triple j film reviews

Lena and Vaughn are teenagers each with reasons to be on the road. Lena is heading to Sydney where she believes her Irish father might be. Vaughn has escaped from a prison farm on hearing that his mother is dying. Their trip together is based on convenience and a gradual if unspoken development of an affinity. Each is driven towards to a parent. Can Lena’s father possibly live up to her hopes, even if she can find him? Vaughn, on the other hand, starts out already believing his mother has left him to fate, yet he yearns to see her a final time.

Both are Aboriginal, although fair Lena does not correct Vaughn’s assumption that she is white. This film is full of considerations like this to exercise the viewer’s mind. Beautiful lansdcapes are contrasted with violent incidents, and images of trees and sunflowers are interspersed with those of dead animals. Both characters are strongly portrayed, Vaughn’s anger frightening at times, whilst Lena is strong and calm. She takes life full on but displays in her expression a knowledge which makes her wary. The two move from reluctant companionship to a more subtle understanding. 

Australian Screen has three clips from Beneath Clouds.

ABC Radio National’s Julie Rigg reviewed the film.