One of Australia’s finest writers of short stories, a poet with the ability to turn plain words into indelible cerebral images, and a novelist whose cut-glass prose turns the world strange and abyssal, David Brooks’ work has been widely anthologised, shortlisted for numerous awards (the Miles Franklin, the NSW Premier’s Award, the South Australian Festival Award, the FAW Christina Stead Award, etc.), and translated into many languages. As beloved co-editor of Southerly, David’s gift to this journal is only partially conveyed by his eighteen years of astute, ardent and inspired service, a service we pay homage to with this issue.
In an interview in the SMH, just prior to the publication of his collection of poetry The Balcony, David Brooks remarked that ‘Now, at last, after all this time, I am not afraid of speaking as myself’. His fearlessness marks his later writing and poetry, but also his fierce commitment to the plight of the animals in a contemporary culture of excess and gross ‘human’-centred-ness. In Derrida’s Breakfast, a collection of literary and philosophical essays that harness Brooks’ formidable intellect and erudition to the cause of the animals, Brooks writes:
The mind alone, Western and otherwise, is so enmeshed in defences of its own monstrosity that no leap, as leap, to escape the existing order, is possible. Something more is needed. A leap of compassion, a leap of the heart, and something—people have called it a peeling of the eye—that is harder and less common still, perhaps like revelation (33).
The template for how any one age goes about this ‘peeling of the eye’, this ‘leap of the heart’, is surely found in the works of great writers. David Brooks among them.
In honour of David, his poetry, novels, literary criticism and scholarship, decades of lecturing at UWA, ANU and USYD, editorship and dedication to keeping the literary home-fires burning in Australia, no matter what, this issue of Southerly calls for essays, fiction and poetry that pay tribute to his contribution to Australia’s literary and poetic landscape; to his fostering of Australian writers and poets, or that engage with his animal activism.
All submissions due 30th June, 2018. Submit here.