Women in Harmony - Volume 1
Women In Harmony is like Today I Write... a collective effort.
The contributions relate to Stein's poem 'Think of me... as a pebble...' says Olga Novak in her introduction.
As a pebble induces waves, so, the editor hopes, this volume will induce a series of Women In Harmony volumes which will give women voice.
Chryssoula Zakkas' title poem breathes the ambitions of the collective - to be, work and write in harmony, which is not always easy in a collective. That in itself must be another story.
The writing of Hanna Foks, who died in 1991 comes first in this volume. Her story 'The Wood Magnet Or Topsy Turvy Physics' is a tongue in cheek story weaving together the skiing culture of Old Austria later to be called Czechoslovakia (1918) and the fancy Australians take to surfing.
The human condition is exemplified in metaphors in this story. An overly protective mother of an only child - the masculine indulgence of a so-called dangerous sport - the improbability of a child's invention working - and the extremes of safety application to the magnet and lastly, with modification, the success of a family in a new country.
The humour in this story is also an example of the up-side of migration and is closely connected to the European tradition of story telling.
You will, surely enjoy Foks's 'The Sun Addicts' (translated by Sneja Gunew), 'The Animal Mix Up' and the short piece, 'A Contribution To Women's Liberation'. Her straight forward poem, 'Painter And Tailor' talks about fashion, changing trends and her derision of it. I loved it, whereas her poem, 'How Do You Like Australia?' drove me quite mad. How many ways can a migrant be asked the question and how often after forty years of residency? Foks's only question in the final stanza must be on the minds of all people who chose to come to Australia - How do you like me? Wonderful!
Clarissa Stein's translation from the French of 'Incurable' answers the question of why one is a poet. Simply, the piece says 'to state all that I want to say'.
Finally, I was struck by seeing that Women In Harmony is also to be seen 'as a statement and reply' to Nationalists 'who try to goad people into hostility and futile tragic fights'. Also topical if one considers Ireland, Iraq and Bosnia.
Look forward to some moving and clever writing in this new release. Most of all, expect surprises, an increase in experience and... support the idea of a series of future volumes.

Helene Brophy