The third Dorothy Hewett Award will be announced at Perth Writers Week on Saturday 24 February. We hope you can join us to share a glass of sparkling wine and celebrate new Australian writing. Full event details are available here.
In the lead up to the ceremony we will be giving you a sneak peek into the five shortlisted manuscripts...
Teresa Bell is a writer, performer and academic. She has written two books of poetry; Under a Nightingale's Wing and 36, formless writings and her play Taize won the George Fairfax Award. She has directed, commissioned and produced many new Australian plays that have toured nationally. Teresa was Founding Director of The Australian Poetry Centre in Melbourne and currently teaches philosophy and literature at Western Sydney University.
‘Lunation’, a novel in 72 frames, plays with representation and ambiguities and is dedicated to those who we lock up. Stylistically, it is an ambitious work that never leaves behind its human characters in extremis.
Beyond that which I am is a glass box,
a soft frame through which a black triangular fish stares at me. Within this rectangular prism lie the hands of a man fingering an old newspaper clipping. Behind him a beautiful lady floats in the water. Her black hair singing to the ghosts of the old shipwreck her clothes are caught in. I can read bubbles. I see ghost upon ghost of women in the green light at the edge of the mirrored back of the tank, their fingerprints on the walls.
Could I jump into that fish tank?
The thought comes, without feeling, without logic.
Would you notice?
The foyer is expensive, not at all as I had imagined a psychiatric hospital, more like a boutique hotel. A glamorous anorexic sits coltishly beside me. She has been here before. Her father too knows the drill. They flirt and giggle as if in on a private joke in the principal’s office. I would hate them if I felt anything, but by this stage in my void they are just noise. I thought of all the ghosts of confinement I had read about, as I handed over my credit card to cover my stay. Out of mind, out of sight. Out of sight can send you very much out of mind.
Am I inside the fish tank?
No. I am in the pool of a flashy Perth artist’s cousin. All freckles, skinny 11-year-old legs, peeling sun burnt shoulders, and dry lemon juiced hair. Watching myself. Watching herself. Above self. Out of body. Floating above blue chlorine and strangers. First sip of wine, first immaculate conception, first fictional moment. A soaking baptism of water.
‘Take me somewhere where I can’t hurt myself.’
I had managed to get these words out just in time, as if I had breached the water that called me into its blackness with seal tales, toy treasure chests and song.
The fish is still staring at me with his black skin, different words tumbling out of his gulping mouth. Locked up like Luna, my moon girl dreamer. The fish understands my need for a small world, where all there is to do is wait to be fed. Then I see a new man reflected through the glass of the tank. I watch as this man takes notes. His words leave their ink on my skin and within the grooves of his hands. This man wears a tie. He wears a tie for no reason except that once he had to. Like the fish, my veins shine through my skin.
So this moment is without structure. It sits in time and I float with it. Like Bella Chagall I hover in love on a sea of coffee. I have never looked so good, however, I am starving, and my brain chemistry has started to malfunction.