Featured Writers

Short stories, features and poems from our writing community.

Kurdish-Iranian journalist, Behrouz Boochani, detained on Manus Island since August 2013, has been a PEN International case since 2015. The international campaign on his behalf has been spearheaded by PEN Melbourne. Boochani has produced a growing body of work, in a range of genres, exposing the horrors of incarceration on Manus Island. The 900 men, in the prime of their lives, have been imprisoned for four years now.

Kat Clay

Welcome to our new monthly feature looking at one of our members, their writing and writing practices. This month we feature member Kat Clay, cross-genre writer of horror/sci fi/noir.

Success is powerful: this isn’t a new concept. We know this. Success can change how others see us and how we see ourselves. And when perceptions changes, we change. For what are we if not subjective human constructions?

Em must sleep awhile with the others; unconscious in an instant, like turning out a light. Then all at once they are beyond the city, the wide, tidal salt-flats, and into the glittering bay. Em shocks awake, doused in icy spray. It is dawn, and it seems they are all waking, dropping into a nightmare rather than surfacing from one. Spluttering, Em lunges for Matilda. She calls the child’s name even before she can rub saltwater from her eyes. But the little girl is still there, already awake, rigid with fear. The men have set the outboard wheezing, keeping them on course.

Anton got out of the cab a short distance from the party and walked across the park. He liked the aspect, heading west through Sydney Park with the ruined brick works looming on the horizon. On a hot day like today, the pollution from the road and the industrial area beyond shimmered in the humid air and if you squinted you could imagine the ruins were still smoking.

I dropped my bike and plonked down on a patch of grass on the edge of the muddy campsite, trying to catch my breath. The tent was one of those big ones with two rooms and a kitchen tacked on the front. The flaps were all pulled down because of the shimmery rain, with the Parents shut away inside. Dad was always pissed when I interrupted Parent time. But I knew he’d be more pissed if I got blood on my windcheater, so I poked my head ‘round the flap.

The night was dark and hummed softly with static in the air. The faint warm glow emitted by the streetlights pulsed quietly through the rain as it slithered down from the purple grey sky. Their weak lights illuminated dark, cloaked figures as they glided across the footpaths into the promised warmth of closed doorways. A lazy wind draped itself against buildings and street signs with great, melodious sighs as the rain wet its back and slowed its progress.

A man walks into a parking building. He thinks about climbing to the next level but decides to take the lift. But the lift does not come. He longs for a cigarette. But he has run out. A glance around nets two butts, a metre away. One has at least two long puffs left in it. Rapture runs circles round him. He extends two long fingers, like tweezers, picks each of the butts up and secretes them in his pocket. 

Dear future reader, 

I imagine you are not too dissimilar from me when I was younger, just starting out and eager for knowledge. How did those writers who touched me with their words – changed me, even – weave their magic? 

If I make a conscious effort to observe my surrounds – not to look directly, but to concentrate on the periphery of my vision – I can discern the generous design of the person who hovers beside me. If I allow myself to deviate from what occupies me for just a moment longer, I can hear her imploring me with words that are muffled and unintelligible; sounds that are disconcerting and make me wish to escape, back to the tunnel vision that protects me from acknowledging such scenes and affords me time to finish what I have started; and cannot stop until finished.