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...
Kate Gordon is the author of four books: Three Things about Daisy Blue (Allen and Unwin, 2010); Thyla (Random House Australia, 2011); Vulpi (Random House Australia, 2012); and Writing Clementine (Allen and Unwin, 2014). Kate was the recipient of 2011 and 2012 Arts Tasmania grants, and the 2016 IBBY Ena Noel Award. In 2018, she will have her first two picture books published. As well as her own writing, she edits fiction for Twelfth Planet Press and assesses grants for Arts Tasmania.
‘Everything as Perfect as a Bird’ circles around fundamentalist Christian communities, gender and its restrictive settings alongside potential fluidities, and the life of artists in colonies and other collaborative arrangements to tell an intriguing story of a young woman entering adulthood.
EVERYTHING AS PERFECT AS A BIRD
All the money I had saved was in a tin beneath my bed.
When I told my mother I wanted a job, she had a look on her face like I’d slapped her.
“Why do you need a job, Roslyn?” she asked me. Her hand was at the cross about her neck; twisting, grasping. As if she was really asking Jesus and not me. I often felt as if she was talking to Jesus and not me. “Only common people need jobs,” she hissed, her eyes sparking. “Only poor people.”
And that was the core of it, really. We were not common. We were not poor. We were wealthy, upstanding, virtuous churchgoing people. The man of the family worked. The wife did not, except unpaid work for the church.
Once boys were old enough, they found a job, or they went to university.
Once girls were old enough we began our own church work, and then we married.
That is what good churchgoing girls did. Godly girls. Girls with their knees pressed together and Bibles on their bookstands.
They did not get jobs.
“I would like some money of my own,” I told her. “I want money for dresses and shoes …”
“You have plenty of dresses,” she snapped. “I buy you all the dresses you could possibly need. You only have one body. How many dresses do you need?”
“And books,” I added, quickly. “And art supplies. For my painting.”
My mother tsked, the way she always did when I mentioned my art.
I shouldn’t have mentioned that, or the books. I had to be smarter.
My mother didn’t like art and she didn’t like books. The Bible, of course, was the exception.
I sneaked books into the house. I could not go to the library because my mother’s friend, Wilma, worked there, so I relied on books left behind on benches, which I swapped for more books at the shop in the city.
These I breathed in to my soul. I trapped the words in there, where they danced and whispered to me all through the long days.
One day, I would write books like that.