ARTS AND CULTURE

Section: ARTS AND CULTURE

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Mekong coconut workers

    • Brendan Ryan
    • 11 December 2016

    Watch the man in his stained shirt barefoot under the palms. Adrift from younger workers he manages a rhythm, a cigarette-dangling-from-the-lip focus. His lined face belies the strength of his forearms, thrusting each coconut onto a metal spike that is his altar. Seven days a week he splits coconuts with the precision required to not sever a wrist in a country with no health insurance. Upriver, in the seamy heat of the Mekong Delta, it could be the 19th century. I don't know where to look.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Kids bear the bite of fractured family foibles

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 06 December 2016

    Families can be sites of great love and nourishment, and also of pain and trauma - often, all of these things, to varying degrees. The Family Fang focuses on the lives of adults bearing the mental and emotional ramifications of what can fairly be described as an abusive upbringing. It provides an illuminating counterpoint to Little Men, in which the close and sincere friendship of teenage boys comes under strain from their parents' 'grown-up' problems.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Tips for surviving Christmas angst

    • Barry Gittins
    • 05 December 2016
    5 Comments

    Cricket games, feasts, the origami orgy of Christmas present wrappings rent asunder ... the underlying truth in all of this, for many of us, is deep emotional pain and loneliness that's gone unheard, unnoticed, all year. Family is both a lodestone and a millstone at Christmas. It's a truth magnified by aspirational love. As Pope John XXIII once said, cutting close to home, 'Mankind is a great, an immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.' It's a big ask that carries a price.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    No vacancy at the inn (or anywhere else in Australia)

    • Marlene Marburg
    • 04 December 2016
    5 Comments

    Please god of the fit and strong, forbid we should become 'the un-lucky country'. Help us to conjure the nerve to say, There is no room for you here in Australia. No vacancies. All full up. You will be turned away while you are trying to give your family respite from poverty or war. We have no room for you. We are using our space for shops. And Christmas trees.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Learning self-respect in newborn baby hell

    • Suvi Mahonen
    • 30 November 2016
    2 Comments

    From the moment my newborn daughter woke me, my day became a litany of bodily requirements. Pee, drink, change nappy, feed, burp, feed, drink, soothe, pump breasts, change nappy, feed, burp, feed, soothe, eat, drink, soothe. As for healthy living? Forget it. I sucked on spoonfuls of peanut butter and ate family-sized blocks of chocolate. And if I was lucky enough to snatch a yoga stretch in between bouts of colic, it was to the tinkling melodies of her play gym rather than Sanskrit mantras.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Revisiting river country

    • Rory Harris
    • 27 November 2016
    2 Comments

    Echuca is a string of hand held families in the sun, their floppy hats nodding over ice-creams smeared ear to ear. In Bendigo we sit on the bed eating treats from along the road. The Age is our tablecloth. The ghosts of parents past, promenade the High Street, they holidayed closer to home and always travelled with a deck of cards and a bottle in the suitcase ... Hills wrap Castlemaine, the trains have stopped running, the fruit and veg is biodynamic and the sky is scattered wool ...

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Forestalling disgrace amid a welfare nightmare

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 22 November 2016
    5 Comments

    The welfare system Daniel experiences is a bureaucratic nightmare, populated by condescending Health Care Professionals, shadowy and calculating Decision Makers, managers who loom over their clients like stern parents, and caseworkers who stifle any human compassion for their desperate supplicants. He is grilled by a welfare officer about every aspect of his health except the only relevant one, his heart. Later, he runs afoul of the agency's 'online by default' processes. Daniel has never used a computer in his life.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    A perfect stranger's perfect gift

    • Maureen O'Brien
    • 21 November 2016
    5 Comments

    Recently I went with a group of friends to see the musical Dusty. Afterwards, walking with one of my friends, I spoke about how special it had turned out for me seeing this musical on the day after my 54th wedding anniversary. Dusty Springfield's songs were ones my husband and I would have known well at the time. Just as I was reflecting on how some events have more significance than what appears on the surface, a young man on my right turned to me and handed me a large red flower.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Spring: Thirty short poems

    • Carol O'Connor
    • 20 November 2016
    6 Comments

    Counting angels dancing on a pinhead? How about, making count the stranger who stands right in front of me ... Love lies hidden. Quick! Look under the moss, hear the stone sing ... Mother Earth is groaning ... Dislocation. Disconnection. Displacement. Only you, only you, only you can take us home.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Finding yourself in the language of the Other

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 14 November 2016
    1 Comment

    In science fiction, stories of first contact typically have as much to say about humanity as they do about the extra-terrestrial creations of the author's imagination. Mary Doria Russell's 1998 novel The Sparrow explores the consequences of a Jesuit-led mission to a planet near Alpha Centauri, which are profound for the planet's sentient inhabitants and devastating for the human travellers. As in The Sparrow, language is central to Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve's philosophically piquant first contact story Arrival.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Richie Benaud's silent reproach to Trumpism

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 14 November 2016
    8 Comments

    Climactic events demand we give an account of ourselves. Where were you when you heard that JFK was assassinated? Where were you when the planes went into the World Trade Centre? If we can't remember, we fear we may convict ourselves of reprehensible levity. In future years when I am asked what I was doing when Donald Trump was elected President, I shall have a ready answer: I was reading Brian Matthews' splendid reflection on Richie Benaud.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Already died

    • John Falzon
    • 13 November 2016
    6 Comments

    I talked to no one, let no one catch on, ate nothing, never got wet in the sea, or from the sea in the sky. I did nothing wrong except everything. But even so I never turned away from the poem, even when I shaved off little bits to sharpen my sense of the poem, or the unseen warfare in the world.

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