To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Some musings about Southerly

Southerly is a journal that aims to publish and promote the study of new Australian literature; “Southerly is to serve the cause of literary art, of scholarship (in its broader manifestations), of literary criticism, and, through these as well as by means of direct report and comment, of the Australian English Association” (Southerly, vol., no.1, 1939, p3). Southerly emerged with the start of Australia’s involvement in World War II; “[a] war must not mean the end or suspension of literary activity... if barbarism is to be kept in check at all, it will surely be as much by this means [the preservation of the tradition of literature] as by the opposition of force" (Southerly, vol.1, no.2, 1940, p3). It was not only the Southerly journal that had to continue through the war, but also, as Ian Buchanan Director of the Institute for Social Transformation Research at the University of Wollongong noted,Critical Theory’, which would later change how literature is approached in journals across the world. Southerly publishes poetry, short stories and book reviews. With the expansion of ‘Critical Theory’ the book reviews have been replaced with critical essays and review essays.

The biggest issue that Southerly had to face, from its beginnings in 1939 until the 1960s, was the belief that there was not enough writing coming out of Australia to require Australian Literature to be studied in depth. It is easy to understand why this was the case, given that at the time of the first edition of Southerly Australia had only been a country for 38 years, after Federation in 1901. Elizabeth Webby, editor of Southerly from 1988-99, explores this in her article ‘Why Australian Literature?’ stating that in the 1950s "...University professors did not believe that there was any Australian Literature to study" (Webby 1993, p45). As the editors of Southerly strove to counteract this, the journal can be seen as nationalistic, meaning that the literature and reviews published are all centred around a fanatic desire to create a distinctly National Australian Literature. Although it does diverge from some of the nationalist writing that had come before, such as that of Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson, which were centred on the bush or farm life and ideals of mateship, the poetry, short stories and book reviews are still focused primarily on the man, over the woman and reveal little concern for racial inequality.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Environmental shape poem

                          nature sacrificed
                     for material gain, csg
                  and                                coal
            for                                           cheap
          light.                                         damns                                       


Terrible poem! It was just an experimentation of shape and of expressing political concerns in poetry, I think that that is not an easy feet without making the poem sound forced and contrived.

When is it time to ditch fossil fuels and turn to renewables?

The time is now according to Dr George Takacs, physics professor here at UOW. Dr Takacs spoke at the ‘No Gas at UOW’ forum last year, arguing that in the light of global warming and with the undeniable peak of fossil fuels within sight it is time for large businesses and organisations, including the university, to invest in renewable energies. Whether you believe in global warming or not, across the globe severe climate change is being experienced, making investment in renewables essential. As more money is put towards renewable energy sources, more funding will be made available for the research in and development of effective renewables. We may run out of fossil fuels in 20 years, or it may be 200 years, but either way we can’t leave the future generations without effective and reliable energy sources or Western society would collapse.

There are myths that moving to renewables will leave many jobless, however, as written in the January 2006, issue 386, New Internationalist, the “…renewable energy industries provide 1.7 million jobs, most of them skilled and well-paying”, while only providing about four per cent of the world total electricity. Another myth is that the manufacturing of solar panels creates a large amount of pollution, meaning that the implementation of solar panels compared with fossil fuels will not alter the global warming effect, however, given the life of and amount of energy created by a solar panel this is incorrect. As further money is invested into solar panels the manufacturing will become more environmentally sustainable and cheaper for domestic and commercial use.

Wind and solar may not suite all locations at this point in time but as the technologies improve their application will be able to extend. The university has found that a gas plant on campus (combined with solar and other energy sources) will reduce the universities’ greenhouse emissions more than implementing solar panels, to the same monetary value, alone. Such thinking is common in organisations and big businesses whose decision making ability is clouded by dollar signs. The greater impact of continuing a reliance on gas, such as increasing Australia’s want to exploit higher risk gas resources such as CSG, to have enough supply of gas to go around.

The vast, sunny and relatively flat continent of Australia has abundant natural resources in various forms of renewable energy from solar, wind, ‘hot rock’ geothermal, wave and tidal, to bioenergy and biofuels. Perhaps the best way for large businesses within Australia to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the renewables industry is to elect to pay a little more on their electricity bill (green-select) for green-e renewable electricity. This selection requests that your electricity company ensure that part or all of your electricity comes from renewable sources, which means more money for the renewables sector. As more large businesses and organisations take this option the cost of renewables will decrease making this option available and affordable for domestic households.

We shouldn’t be doing anything with fossil fuels anymore, apart from leaving the damn stuff where it is, under the sand or water or rainforest. It is time for renewables!

Previously printed in the Tertangala: UOW's Student Magazine, Issue 1, 2012.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

University and a slaughtered pig

Do you know how hard it was to admit to the tree hugging hippy cohort at university that I work at a butcher shop? Believe me, it was difficult. I am in the Environment Collective for goodness sakes.
So, here I am, at uni, making friends with a bunch of vegetarians who care that much about the environment that they have given up something that I just never could. It's not that I don't care about the environment, I do! I love nature, although I hate bushwalking.

My dad used to be an outdoor ed. teacher and he would take my brother and my two sisters and I out hiking, a couple of nights under the stars. Sounds lovely right. Wrong, it's hell; carrying that heavy pack, smelling of sweat, leach and ticks stuck to your legs and scratches from poison ivy and blackberries, just to name some of the horror that is bushwalking. The worst thing of all is that you can't do a poo unless you wan't to take a walk with Dug (the spade necessary to bury your excriment).

I have gone of track though, I do care about the environment and I am all for renewable energy and cutting down on water usuage and don't waste paper, but I love food. I particularly like a juicy steak, or some lovely fresh seafood, and yes I know the cost that these things come at. Well, actually I don't think nearly enough research has gone into the cost of eating seafood. I've heard that all species of fish have become extinct, due to overfishing, that we don't even know about and now never will. But, the cows, I know about the impact of cattle. Their hooves are too hard for the Australian soil and cattle and sheep farming has destroyed, irreversably a lot of land in our dry and fragile country. Australian's high intake of cattle contributes to food shortages in Africa. There are large plantations of crops grown in Africa just to feed the cattle that we wealthy people in the West eat, while so many African's are starving. If those feed crops weren't needed more people could eat. I know this and yet I still eat meat.

One reason why I can't stop is because I work in a butchers shop and so that would be just a bit hypocritical of me, that I can profit from the death of these animals, but I won't eat them. And another is because there is nothing better than a juicy tender scotch fillet. And fish, I ate the most amazing grilled seafood at a Cafe in Bowral the other day, the octopus were crisp on the outside and smooth on the inside, drizzled with lemon juice and a little bit of chilli.

So of course it was difficult to admit to my new university friends that I eat meat and worse I work with dead animals, but of course they took it well. No judgement was passed, at least not publically and I still feel like a valuable member of the group. That is the great thing about greenies is that the ones who are really into taking action, and making a difference, the mostly aren't the judgemental type. They are happy with what ever you are willing to offer to help their cause and don't mind if you aren't going to support all of their provoking protests. They are happy just to talk about things, because really dialogue and openness about the issues is half the battle.