Strange Objects Covered With Fur is the 29th collection from the prestigious Creative Writing program at the University of Technology Sydney.
Strange Objects Covered With Fur showcases fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting and poetry from some of Australia’s most striking young voices.
This year’s anthology is dedicated to Martin Harrison. It features a foreword by Ceridwen Dovey, whose novels Blood Kin and Only The Animals have received critical acclaim worldwide.
Strange Objects Covered With Fur was launched at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. The launch was by Evie Wyld, whose novel All The Birds, Singing won the 2014 Miles Franklin Award.
A second launch followed at Better Read Than Dead bookstore (265 King Street, Newtown). This event was launched by Luke Carman, whose novel An Elegant Young Man won a NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 2015. The judges had this to say of Carman’s work:
“After a rollicking, sometimes brazen and shocking romp through fraught geographical, cultural and racial terrain, we are left with the almost nostalgic suggestion that perhaps there can be no more true heroes—no great Ulysses—in our modern world.”
By Ceridwen Dovey
The poet Meleager is believed to have compiled the earliest known anthology in Greek in the first century BC. He called it Anthologia, which translates as The Garland, since the word is formed from anthos—flower—and the Greek verb legein, meaning to pick or gather. In an introductory poem, he used the metaphor of a garland of flowers to describe his careful selection and arrangement of the poetry of his predecessors, comparing each author to a particular flower.
This anthology you hold in your hands contains individual buds of distinction, picked and woven together or bound into a bunch, fragrances mingling, each set off by the one beside it—so that the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. Reading fiction is perhaps one of the few remaining secular paths to transcendence—that elusive state in which the distance between self and universe shrinks, long symbolised in literature and philosophy by a blue flower.
Reading fiction allows us to lose all sense of self, while at the same time feeling most peculiarly ourselves. Virginia Woolf—as fervent a reader as she was a writer—believed that ‘the state of reading consists in the complete elimination of the ego’, yet she also understood that reading is an intensely sensory, embodied experience. A book ‘splits us into two parts as we read’. To read is to ‘snuff the strange smells’. She literally sniffed her books as if they were flowers, anticipating the ‘vast fertility of pleasure’ they held for her, the promise of ‘perpetual union’ with another mind.
An often underrated pleasure of being a student in a creative writing program is having unfettered time to read, and being guided for a while on one’s idiosyncratic reading journey by author-teachers of experience. This kind of reading makes better writers, and in the pages that follow is the proof. José Saramago said, when asked about his daily writing ritual, ‘I write two pages. And then I read, and read, and read.’ The brilliant minds at work here already have their distinctive scent signatures, but they have also benefitted from being under the tutelage of some of the best writers in Australia.
Giving flowers is an intimate act, often with an undertow of love or desire, and so too is the act of sharing what one has written with others, to read. The surrealist Georges Bataille undercut the sentimental Victorian symbolism of flowers to remind us of the dual nature of any abstract ideal. ‘Even the most beautiful flowers are spoiled in their centres by hairy sexual organs,’ he wrote. ‘Certain kinds of fat orchids [are] so shady that one is tempted to attribute to them the most troubling of human perversions.’ Flowers and humans are alike, he believed: fragile and glorious, but doomed to wither and rot, to ‘die ridiculously on stems that seemed to carry them to the clouds’.
A warning, then, for anybody expecting this anthology to be simply a pretty bouquet: the blooms of short fiction— stories, plays, screenplays, poems—gathered here are not harmless, and thank goodness for that. Some are fetid or a little poisonous, unafraid of revealing their furry stems or filthy roots. Others are living things of desolate beauty and sadness, preoccupied with death and loss.
If the aim of literature (as the aspiring author in Donald Barthelme’s classic story, ‘Florence Green is 81’, believes) ‘is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart’—then here is literature, in all its furry, heartbreaking strangeness.
Dale Alexander is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing and is in serious danger of becoming a perpetual student. Against the advice of intelligent people in her life, Dale has chosen to pursue a creative career. Even though she has completely unrealistic expectations of her ‘creative genius’, she perseveres. Having completed an MA in Non-fiction Writing at UTS, Grace Barnes is now in the second year of PhD research which should culminate in a biography of Olympic swimmer Mina Wylie. In a former life, Grace was a theatre director and playwright.
Nathan Bilton is completing an MA in Creative Writing at UTS. He is currently working on a collection of eight and a bit short stories—one for each decade of our statistical life expectancy.
Dominic Carew is a lawyer and writer from Sydney, now living in Hong Kong. His fiction has appeared in Seizure and he was shortlisted for the 2014 Overland Story Wine Prize and the 2011 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He is a patriot of elsewhere.
S.J. Cottier has recently completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at UTS. Previous work has been published in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 UTS Anthologies.
Joshua Cram is in his final semester of Writing and Cultural Studies at UTS. He is currently an editor of Vertigo, the UTS student publication. He gets bored with his poems when they aren’t true any more.
Rosie Croft has an Honours Degree in English Literature and is now a completing an MA in Creative Writing at UTS. She has been writing stories for as long as she can remember.
Kelly Emmerton is an aspiring author and editor who is about to embark on an Honours year of a Writing and Cultural Studies degree. She has been a writer for as long as she can remember and has no life plans beyond that. This occasionally makes her nervous, but definitely not nervous enough to consider a switch to accounting.
Shamin Fernando is studying an MA in Creative Writing at UTS, in which she hopes to write a memoir. She is a professional awkward person. As a result of these two things she is uneasy with three-sentence biographies.
Benjamin Freeman is looking for a book deal.
Holly Friedlander Liddicoat is currently commencing her fourth year of Writing and Cultural Studies and International Studies in Berlin. She is looking forward to furthering her German and her writing. Holly has previously been published in Cordite.
Emma Froggatt is particular about her morning routine, forgets to put laundry powder in the washing machine, and enjoys long-form journalism. After leaving the UTS writing program amid a quarter-life crisis in 2009, she is thrilled to have returned, completed her MA in Journalism and be published in the UTS Writers’ Anthology.
Country born, Mitch Fuller has wandered, hitched and worked all over. Crooked fence lines, wooden doorknobs and kicked up dust make regular appearances in his work. He writes when there are deadlines.
Alison Gibbs is completing her MA in Creative Writing while running her own writing consultancy from her home in Sydney’s inner west. Her short fiction has been published and broadcast in Australia and the United Kingdom and has been shortlisted for several literary awards including the 2013 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize.
Tanya Greenaway is a 21-year-old studying Honours in Writing at UTS. She took a job in the library hoping that she would have ample hours to read. She doesn’t. Louise Jaques is a public relations graduate working in Sydney. Some of her favourite things include books stacked in order of height, avocados, and the adagio movement of Beethoven’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 5’. She is eager for new creative opportunities.
Nicole Lam is a recent graduate of UTS’s Writing and Cultural Studies where she sub-majored in Screen Studies. ‘Pirate’s Play’ is her first screenplay and she hopes one day to be able to film or animate it, once she is able to become more technologically literate. She also suffers from a case of trypophobia and did not enjoy watching the 2003 film, Holes.
Tom Lodewyke is in his final year of Writing and Cultural Studies. He finds time for writing in the breaks between sandwiches.
Blue Lucine is a writer, director and an all-round troublemaker. She has worked everywhere from the circus to the newsroom, and her studies have included documentary, directing and theatre at several institutions, as well as an MA in Creative Writing at UTS. Blue is currently working on her first feature documentary about the public housing sale in Millers Point.
Sam McAlpine is completing his MA in Creative Writing at UTS. He lives, works and writes in Sydney. Harriet McInerney writes small stories, grows tiny cacti, and reads epic poems. She recently completed an Honours in Writing Studies at UTS, where she wrote on the blurring/unblurring of the real/unreal. She has been published before in Voiceworks, Seizure and two previous Sydney University Anthologies.
Marty Murphy is a recovering filmmaker and comedian. He wrote his first novel and fell in love while completing his MA in Creative Writing at UTS and has since started a PhD at UWS. He lectures at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and is about to become a father.
William (Sam) Patterson is twenty-five, has blue hair and blonde eyes and likes women who scream at him.
Katherine Pinczuk is currently completing her MA in Creative Writing at UTS and working on her first novel. A varied work history, starting as a bunny at the Playboy Club in London and ending as a management trainer back in Australia, has left her with enough fodder to support the notion that truth is stranger than fiction. Now the only rabbits she encounters are grazing at the back of her five-acre property.
Emma Rayward is a recent Honours in Creative Writing graduate from UTS, where she developed a collection of short fiction focused on ‘abject topology’. Her thinking is consumed with ideas about bodies, holes and surfaces, which inevitably appears in her writing.
Zoe Rochford described herself as someone who would ‘inevitably write a book one day’ in her diary, when she was ten years old. She now suspects she misunderstood the meaning of the word ‘inevitably’, but keeps trying regardless.
Mark Rossiter is a writer, editor and sometimes teacher, living in the Blue Mountains. This year he finally submitted his thesis and novel, A Thousand Points of Light, for a DCA. He claims that every word of his story, ‘The Dog’, is true.
Ella Skilbeck-Porter has just finished a double degree majoring in Writing and Cultural Studies and French at UTS. She writes poetry and short fiction, and is this year embarking on an Honours in Writing degree. Emma Rose Smith writes manic poetry, smelly-lady nonfiction, and fiction that overuses the word ‘ululate’. Aspiring nice-person. Often mistaken for a hobbit. Poetry chapbook Goonbag Mystic now available from . . . her lounge room.
James Worner is completing a Master of Creative Arts at UTS. His short stories have been published in the 28th UTS Writers’ Anthology, Sight Lines, and the Big Issue’s 2014 Fiction Edition. ‘An Island Life’ was shortlisted for the 2014 Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize.
Louise Jaques is a poet. She was a finalist in the 2009 Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year Awards, and has since been published in Cordite Poetry Review, Vertigo, and the 28th UTS Writers’ Anthology, Sight Lines.
Tom Lodewyke is a writer and editor, in his final year of Writing and Cultural Studies. He writes fiction and poetry, and essays when he has to.
Harriet McInerney is a writer, editor, bookstore worker, and recent finisher of an Honours in Writing Studies degree. She is an enthusiast of Virginia Woolf ’s sentences, Samuel Beckett’s punctuation and everything cinnamon flavoured.
Lily Mei is a Writing and Cultural Studies student, and an emerging editor based in Sydney. Her prose has appeared in various literary and news publications, and in 2014 she edited the UTS magazine Vertigo.
Em Meller is a writer and editor who thinks the weirder/funnier, the better. She refined her skills at The BRAG and The Full Bench, and has appeared in The Lifted Brow, Overland and other places. She humblebrags @EmMeller, and in person.
Hanna Schenkel is an accomplished writer and editor whose critical and creative work has been published nationally and anthologised. She recently completed her MA in Non-fiction Writing at UTS and now works as managing editor of Quacks, a Gen-Y business blog for entrepreneurs, start-up founders and duck enthusiasts.
Emma Rose Smith knows less the more she learns, and edits to excess in an attempt to salvage control.
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