Issue Three - Editors' Favourites
This week, as the Mona team prepare for the official launch of Issue Three on 6th of August, the Mona Editorial Team reflect on their favourite pieces.
Lauren, Founder | Editor in Chief
I was so excited by the number of experimental pieces that were submitted this year. While not all of them were chosen for publication, I think it speaks to a new wave of poets and authors who are trying to push the boundaries and find a style that fits with their unique ideas.
My favourite piece was 'Those who Can, Teach', written by a woman who preferred to remain anonymous to protect her teaching career (which speaks volumes in itself, really). The Miss, her chosen pseudonym, used an exam format to show us the harsh realities of teaching — a topic we all hear about in the news endlessly and have probably desensitised ourselves to. This was a much lighter way to engage with such serious subject matter, and the ironic twist at the end definitely gives us a chuckle.
This piece for me hit right in the heart, as someone who left the teaching profession for many of the reasons The Miss highlights in her piece; but it wasn't just that. This author attended one of our workshops, and we had maintained contact afterwards to encourage her to find time for her writing. I was able to workshop and edit this piece collaboratively with her, and that was very personally rewarding.
The other piece that I have loved reading, turning over in my head and including in the magazine is Julie Briggs' poem, 'Poisoned Water Holes'. I remember reading about the methods used to inflict genocide on the local Wiradjuri people in Narrandera (my birth place, coincidentally) in Stan Grant's 'My Country', and that image has stayed with me since. Julie's poem speaks to the insidiousness of the racism that the foundations of Narrandera rest on. The clever puns and bitter irony are my kind of rebellion, and I was so invested in the piece that I spent almost an entire Sunday afternoon getting the perfect photograph of the eponymous creek and road sign to accompany it in the magazine!
Oumi, Non-fiction Editor
Joining the editing team for Mona was fairly daunting and as Issue 03 came around, I was both comforted and overwhelmed by the submissions we received. I felt like I had been invited into a secret world, getting to see 'behind the curtain'. Overwhelm came at the volume of submissions and the prospect of making tough decisions about the stories women had shared with us. Comfort came with how much I had enjoyed reading the pieces - it reminded me of reading collections of short stories as a child, anthologies as a teen, and essays as a young adult.
I love to read things that evoke strong emotions, spark memories, or make me question myself and the world around me. For Issue Three, these were 'Out of the Blue', 'Pieces of Me', and 'Sunscreen and Summer'. The first two both dealt with serious, emotionally difficult topics and made me even more aware of the silent struggles that women go through. Tackling trauma, while simultaneously doing the 'day-to-day'. On the complete other end of the spectrum, 'Sunscreen and Summer' had me flashing back to fun memories as a teenager, trying to look cool, hanging out with friends and trying to ditch your siblings. Nostalgia is my not-so-secret guilty pleasure and I finished reading this piece with the biggest smile on my face!
While not a part of Issue Three, we received a piece that dealt with themes of loneliness and isolation, one that had a big impact on me as I read it. That submission highlighted how we as people take various meanings from what we read, and how as authors, we can't foresee how our words will affect others.
Kat, Founder | Non-fiction Editor | Strategy and Partnerships
For me, there were two standout pieces, 'Pieces of Me' by J.L Krake and 'A Long Way to Australia' by Shelan Khodedah.
J.L Krake’s story is one of a person who is unwavering in their commitment to overcome but also reflect on how things beyond their control have shaped them for better and worse.
It’s a glimpse into the burden women carry when living with men’s violence – holding all the pieces of a family together, shielding loved ones from harm, and knowing how to delicately play the strings of their partner to keep them placated, no matter the personal cost to their mental and emotional health.
I also loved how Krake rebels in this piece. She makes the decision to love without limits. But this is balanced with the reality of how she is weighed down by the complexity of her situation too. Her honesty is courageous.
'A Long Way to Australia' was a joy to work on with Shelan, a woman who has travelled so far in the metaphorical sense as well as the physical one. She wrote this story from a tender place in her heart, using language skills that she has constructed from sheer determination to thrive despite the shit cards she was dealt.
I loved the hope in this piece – Shelan saw the situations her family were placed in as opportunities, whilst dealing with the extreme uncertainty and precariousness. You can feel how every seemingly impossible hurdle she and her family had to climb, she did so with an inextinguishable tenacity. And it feels so unjust, so infuriating that she had to.
Refugee stories are a part of the fabric of the Australian story, and more and more so, a part of the rural Australian story too. If you permit me one moment on my soapbox, I feel it is every Australian’s responsibility to think critically about the messages some arms of the media and government attempt to hawk (often times, successfully) who have used refugee and asylum seekers as political pinatas for decades.
Reading and listening to stories like Shelan’s are vital. We need to be reminded that when we hear ‘refugee’, ‘boat people’, ‘illegals’ – we are talking about people. People like Shelan and her family. People who have had no say in the wars that destroyed their homes, no say in having loved ones torn from them, no say in how certain people manipulate their stories to sew fear.