2011: The Life You Chose and That Chose You
The Life You Chose and That Chose You is the 25th collection from the prestigious Creative Writing program at the University of Technology Sydney.
Since 1982, UTS has fostered the careers of many Australian writers. Graduates from the UTS writing program include Bernard Cohen, Mireille Juchau, Andy Kissane, Dominic Knight, Fiona MacGregor, Gillian Mears, Gaby Naher, Mandy Sayer, and Beth Yahp. For many students, the Anthology has marked the start of their writing careers.
UTS students enjoy a unique opportunity to work with some of Australia's most accomplished and experienced writers. The late and celebrated authors Glenda Adams and Dorothy Porter both taught at UTS, as well as Stephen Muecke, Amanda Lohrey, Jan Hutchinson, Drusilla Modjeska and Cathy Cole.
Current writing staff include Martin Harrison, John Dale, Margot Nash, Debra Adelaide, Anthony Macris, Delia Falconer and Gabrielle Carey.
Contemporary fiction is a diverse and expansive landscape and selecting a representative collection is no easy task. The magazine at which I work, the New Yorker, undertook such a brave venture last year, naming twenty North American writers under the age of forty as the stand-outs of their generation. The New Yorker's fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, described the unifying characteristic of the so-called 20 under 40 writers: "In a culture that is flooded with words, sounds, and pictures, they are fighting to get our attention, and to hold it. They are digging within themselves-and around themselves-to bring us news both of the world and of the human heart." In other words, even as we produce and consume more words than ever before, Tweeting and Tumblring our way through the day, the creation and promotion of writing that endures in our imaginations is more vital than ever before.
The works in this anthology come from a different part of the world, but display the same urgency of purpose as those featured in the 20 Under 40 collection. This does not mean they are preachy or even necessarily political in intent; rather, even as they tell a story, they also reveal something of the time and place in which we live. "Down South" is about "not being a child anymore," the little humiliations of growing up and the alienation that often accompanies adulthood-but it is also provides us a glimpse of race relations in contemporary Australia, as well as the uneasy class dynamics that underpin even the most casual of interactions in our supposedly classless society. In "Waiting for Katerina," a young Greek-Australian girl leaves her pluralist home and returns to her ancestral land, only to discover that home is as much an act of imagination as a physical locale. "Wide-Eyed" poignantly unpacks a similar idea, with a narrator who also finds herself apart, or at least distant from her family and their traditions, so much so that it seems as though "everyone dances like it's a memory they share."
Growing up, making a home: these are themes skilfully explored in other pieces, too. "Shadow Shift" follows a young person who is intent on defining herself and her home in opposition to where she came from, who comes to realize that independence is sometimes only gained through asking for help, and that her pride is getting in the way of what she really wants. In "Idol," which also cleverly sets a physical journey against a psychological one, a one-time pop idol goes through a tough rite of passage, gets a new hairstyle, and comes out looking (and feeling) completely different. "Odds" is about a love affair gone wrong, both wrenching in its specificity and awfully universal in its trajectory: Chelsea Jane Hammond's boyfriend doesn't want to use her name-they're having an affair-but by the end of the story, the relationship has dissolved and her name, her identity, is all she has left.
Despite the serendipitous dovetailing of these pieces in subject matter, they are told in an astonishing variety of voices. This is particularly evident in the robust selection of poetry, which ranges from the carefully meditated chaos of "A Modern Package Tour" to the stark, reflective "Routine." Some of the stories are thrillingly vernacular, showcased in the comic notes of "Jumping For Chicken," or the striking verisimilitude of dialogue in "The Mob Can't Hurt You". Others are bewitching and ethereal: there is the rhythmic beauty of "Firing Squad," the melancholy timbre of "Dancing." The title of this anthology suggests lives are created through a series of choices. Stories are too, and the writers here have made daring and fascinating ones.
Angus Benson grew up surfing, and through a Writing and Cultural studies degree, has found inspiration from the stories of Indigenous Australians. He likes to explore cross-cultural interactions through writing.
Jason Childs is currently completing his Honours in Communication. His fiction has featured in a previous UTS Writers’ Anthology, in The Penguin Plays Rough Book of Short Stories, and on FBi Radio’s All The Best.
Rosie Cintio lives in the Blue Mountains and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communications. Her work also appeared in the UTS Writers’ Anthology 2009.
S.J. Cottier was born in Sydney and is still here. She lives with Ashley, Ruby and Violet and is having a very good time.
Mathilde de Hautecloque began writing stories in grid paper notebooks pinched from her French father’s desk. She is currently in her final year of the Masters in Creative Writing at UTS and is working on a novella.
Julian Dibley-Hall is a writer, performer and aspiring thinker, born and raised in Sydney's Inner West. He should be writing his Honours thesis but is probably huddled in a corner somewhere writing poetry instead.
Deborah FitzGerald comes to the Master of Arts in Creative Writing via a career in journalism and a modest pile of rejected manuscripts. She’s hoping she’s a late bloomer.
Benjamin Freeman decided to try writing when he read the words, 'Nude up - wherever people are wearing clothes there's an opportunity for a naked person on the move. Be that naked person in 2006.'
After being selected to work on her first novel at Varuna, Susanna Freymark has had four short stories published. Susanna divides her time between journalism and working on her second novel.
Recently published for braving the Cape, Robert Graves is better known for his love of cooking, transgender theory and ridiculously small animals. He lives with his partner and two geckos, amassing Women's Weekly recipes.
Aziza Green longs to return to the 90s, when scrunchie/legging combos reigned and her poignant poetry filled many a birthday card. Her glory years may be behind her, but she's still laughing at the days to come.
Isabelle Guaran is in her final year of her Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Writing and Cultural Studies)/Law degree and enjoys rolling around in all the lovely words.
Kit Henderson has lived in four states and three countries - for her future she sees a life in the country (with all the trimmings) with the hubby and a few 'little Kits'.
Lucy Holt is a student at UTS. She likes writing.
Jenny James lives with her partner and two sons in Hurlstone Park. She writes fiction and has had several short stories published in various literary magazines.
Sharon Kent recently completed a Master in Arts, Writing (Research) and is currently writing a novel that has attracted three Varuna fellowships. This is Sharon’s third story in a UTS Writers’ Anthology.
Rebecca Lean has recently been published in the anthology Reflections (Ibis Books). She is currently writing a discontinuous narrative called Running the Gut. In 2011 she will complete her diploma in writing at UTS.
Madelaine Lucas is studying Writing & Cultural Studies at UTS, after a brief and ill-informed venture majoring in Journalism. She has been happily indulging her daydreams and romanticisms ever since.
Roslyn McFarland has worked extensively in education and co-authored HSC textbooks. Currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing, she hopes that Bend in the River, her first published fictional piece, won’t be her last.
Anna Nordstroem is a UTS graduate. She grew up in Helsingborg, Sweden and has lived in Australia since 2006. She writes poetry, short fiction and software manuals.
Daniel Rapaic O'Connell lives in Darlinghurst. He reads slowly and has a terrible memory for names.
Amy Paterson writes short stories and poetry when she's avoiding finishing her novel.
Mark Rossiter is a PhD candidate researching Transgressive Writing. He lives in the Blue Mountains.
Howard Shih abandoned the legal profession to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He hopes to never wake up.
Popi-Laurel Silk writes fiction, nonfiction, poems and love letters. Popi is completing a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Cultural Studies and International Studies at UTS. She enjoys reading aloud to an audience.
Rebecca Slater is a first year Bachelor of Communication (Writing and Cultural studies) student. She writes about love and cats because she is a nineteen-year-old girl and doesn’t know any better.
Annabel Stafford is a former full-time journalist turned student and mother-of-two. She is studying for a Masters in creative writing (research) and this is her first piece of published fiction.
Rosanna Beatrice Stevens was the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre Young Writer in Residence for 2010. Her work can be found in The Big Issue, Seizure, Voiceworks, Cottonmouth, Vibewire, and the 2010 UTS Writers’ Anthology.
Georgia Symons has had some success in theatre as a writer and director, which she hopes will extend to film, television and radio. Other than writing, she enjoys everything.
Michelle Troxler is a South African-born Swiss who grew up in Kiwi-land and now finds herself in Sydney. She is currently wrestling with her second speculative novel.
Ellen Tyrrell is a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) graduate, completing a Masters of Creative Writing. She has always wanted to share her writing, has rarely had the courage, and is so glad she took a risk.
Amanda Yeo is in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree. Her writing has featured in Short & Sweet, FBI Radio, and the upcoming Westside New Series Vol 2.
Jacqui Wise can now call herself a poet.
Kate Butler is passionate about books and words; they have led her through Science and the Arts, to UTS and now into publishing. She is also fond of punctuation, particularly semicolons.
Jason Childs is doing his Honours in Communication. Last year he edited the UTS magazine, Vertigo. This year, in addition to working on the UTS Anthology, he was Assistant Editor of The Penguin Plays Rough Book of Short Stories.
Kit Henderson tried corporate but didn’t like it, she threw it all in to become an underpaid Editor and Writer and is loving it.
Maggie Korenblium has an eagle eye, a red pen of doom, three quarters of a degree in Writing and Cultural Studies and a pixie haircut provided the pixie was dragged through a hedge backwards.
Kate Laidley is an undergraduate who doesn’t know what she wants to do when she grows up.
Sophie Roberts is a recent graduate of the UTS Writing program. She is currently freelancing as an editor and photographer and is hoping an offer of permanent work is forthcoming.
Jacqui Wise will this year complete a Master of Arts in Creative Writing (with a sub-major in vacuuming).
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