Editorial: Backstory

Issue One

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This journal provides Swinburne writers with a global publication outlet that brings their talents to the world. These stories, review, poems and reflections enrich our lives with experiences that are much more than vicarious: they are lived anew in our imaginations and bring forward dynamic understanding of our humanity.

Such creative writing reaches into our hearts and minds in ways that enhance us, frighten us, delight us and challenge us. Through them we are able to face bravely ourselves, others, our culture and the too often unspoken and unrealised truths that reside in such fictional or reflective representations.

That is the power of writing, particularly creative writing: it communicates to others in ways that draw them into experiencing as new and fresh ideas that may have been shadowy, peripheral or unable to be reached. Textual discourse enables readers to step outside known boundaries and restrictions so as to evaluate themselves and their worlds. It is brave, passionate and enlightening as well as explorative, humorous and serious. In this case the writing is in words; many other ways of communication are available to us, and words can be used to interpret them all.

Narratives are a signal of humanity: we have told stories since our time began. Stories in dance, pictures and rituals; stories in song, music and body painting; stories to excite and bedtime stories; 3D stories interactively online-the range is huge. What has led to this story, recorded in this moment of time? Evoking the backstory itself, like this journal with that name, opens up many pathways and ideas for us to experience as stories.

The writers in this first publication of Backstory have generously put into print their different stories. Through these they offer us well-crafted writing to enjoy, analyse, critique and, above all, to extend our own insights and knowledge about ourselves, others and our societies. By inviting us so openly into these fictional and reflective truths, they show us the power of storytelling without which our lives would be drab, unexplored and curtailed by time and place.

Such writing has become an important part of the Swinburne undergraduate, postgraduate and alumni experience; Backstory takes this out of the classroom and lecture theatre and the private domain into a much broader arena. Creativity is at the heart of all knowledge, and storytelling is the basis of all of our communications, so Backstory plays a significant role in providing a publication resource for creative and historical writing in its broadest sense.

Backstory reveals a complex field that is rich in information, imagination and significance. Such backstories enable reflection upon where we come from personally, culturally and historically. They call upon us to understand the interactions between past, present and future that may be ironic, humorous, chilling or even destructive. They enable us to work with paradox and to understand that not very circumstance in our lives is straightforward. The backstory seeks to unveil rather than to explain.

Today in the launch of this journal we read narratives by a number of talented writers who thrive here in our company at Swinburne. I commend them to you and congratulate all concerned in this exciting and fruitful project, particularly the editors Dr Wendy Dunn and Eloise Faichney.

The review by Andy Goss of In the footsteps of the six wives of Henry V111 takes us into the lives of the six wives of Henry V111 as written by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger. It reminds us of the wealth of information that resides in history both as recorded and re-imagined.

Helen Miller brings to life her grandmother’s life in her memoir of Mary Miller and thus reminds us that our forbears are still able to be remembered and honoured.

Teuila Krause also writes about Malcolm X as ‘the voice that feared none’ bringing to life the black freedom movement in the USA and recalling for us the importance of memoir in both this review and another of a woman murdered in Tokyo: ‘Inside Tokyo’s Shadows’ by Richard Lloyd Perry. Such reviews are an important aspect of reading and writing and help us to choose our reading.

In the narrative extended poetic memoir of Neitzche, Duncan Richardson reminds us of the power of philosophy itself as well as the importance of Neitzche. His poetic writing builds upon a love for rhythmic verse that delights the ear.

In Strangers on the mountain, Kirsty Seebeck tells a story of class and violence that brings to life another time and place in which recognisable human emotions and actions hold sway as they may today.

In writing about Cyprus in 1958 as Keeping house in the murder mile, Rachael Palmer looks at the times of trouble when Greek and Turkish neighbours were deserted by the British troops. Her work reminds us of the wealthy details found in history that can underpin our stories for contemporary impact.

A review by Tina Tsironis takes us to On the trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean and once again shows the power of English history to make stories we still read and enjoy today.

Finally I would like to thank all concerned with Backstory and Swinburne Media and Communication, in particular Dr Carolyn Beasley for their support

Josie Arnold

Professor of Writing


Image by Stephanie Gray