We are thrilled to launch our first issue as Mascara’s new team, after almost one year since our last issue ‘Covid Contingencies’. It has been difficult to keep track of time amidst all the challenges we are facing in our communities on a local, national and international level. These challenges that have permeated our lives, our screens, our minds and our writing.

We recall the many lockdowns in Melbourne, particularly the trauma caused by the hard lockdowns in the North Melbourne and Flemington towers, revealing the discrimination and systemic racism that underpins our government’s responses when it comes to migrant communities. Globally, the ongoing fight to dismantle colonialism and white supremacy is sandwiched between the continuous action against police brutality, the enormous increase in Asian hate crimes in the US, and the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians. Amidst the grief, the anger, the disbelief, we find the way forward is through community and collectiveness. Which is why we are honoured to continue Mascara’s work to push against racism and expand the literary space for talented CALD and First Nations creators, allies and writers extending craft to new experimental territories.

This is displayed in issue 26 where we bring together the work of nine poets and three works of fiction as well as the 2020 Deborah Cass Prize winners. The inaugural Mascara x Bundanon Writers Residency announced this year is also a reflection of our need for creative extension. Congratulations again to Deborah Cass prize winner Anith Mukherjee and the two runner ups, Dasha Maiorova and Sahib Nazari. This issue also includes fifteen reviews that we have published throughout the year, offering close and critical considerations on a range of diverse and urgent new publications. Our beautiful and vibrant cover art was created by Melbourne based writer and artist Eloise Grills.

This year, with two Melbourne based editors we have extended our bases across both Sydney and Melbourne and are excited about engaging more closely with Melbourne’s literary scene. We are delighted to publish reviews on books written by Jennifer Mackenzie and Shu-ling Chua as well as publishing work from Josie/Jocelyn Deane and Dani Netherclift. We are deeply thankful to be funded this year by Creative Victoria and the Australia Council for the Arts. We hope to provide opportunities to support Victoria’s dynamic literary community as well as maintain our Australia wide and global outreach with exciting projects in the near future.

Thank you to all our contributing writers and thank you readers for your patience and support. In this Naidoc week of Healing Country this issue proudly features reviews of Nardi Simpson’s Song of the Crocodile by Pip Newling, Timmah Ball’s review of Evelyn Araluen’s DropBear and Anne Brewster’s review of Karen Wyld’s Where Only the Fruit Falls as well as poetry by Samia Goudie and Paul Collis. We thank our First Nations editor, Lyndsay Urquhart whose knowledge of elders, community and language is enrichening. We acknowledge that the lands we live and work on are unceded Aboriginal Country

Mascara has flourished because of our dedicated collective of past commissioning editors, guest editors, and co-founding editors. Their support, encouragement and continued work with the journal is enormously appreciated. 

We are delighted to take this issue live and excited for Mascara’s next steps, for our upcoming special issues and other forthcoming projects.  

Editors Anthea Yang & Monique Nair