Today marks three years since Naarm Melbourne joined a rapidly escalating global response of government mandated lockdowns. This was a journey that would endure for years to come. During the early stages of the Covid 19 pandemic—one marked by confusion, estrangement, fear and death—Gertrude reprised the Emerging Writers Program. This is an initiative that connects leading cultural writers and critics with a new generation of voices to produce new pieces of critical cultural writing. Through a discursive process of individual mentorship and guidance, four writers were commissioned to generate new pieces, all of which would end up reflecting upon the uncertainties and restrictions of the pandemic, including its economic, emotional, social and political impacts.
In releasing these four texts on the three year anniversary of the first lockdown, Gertrude unveils a time capsule of the period—a moment in recent history that remains challenging to make sense of. Indeed, this period of confusion, futility and absence is something that necessitates the most gentle of revisitation. Through the delayed release of these texts, there may understandably be a spectrum of opinion of them being either too late, or too soon. However, periods of trauma and turmoil are in part defined and given form in retrospect by the creative and artistic endeavours produced within those periods. And these are some of them.
Gertrude would like to sincerely thank all of the writers involved—Olivia Bennett, Adrian Fernandez, Abbra Kotlarczyk and Anador Walsh—for their intellect, emotional acuity, perseverance and patience. We would also like to extend this gratitude to the mentors, Tara McDowell, Tristen Harwood, Lisa Radford and Natalie Thomas.
The Gertrude Contemporary Emerging Writers Program has been generously supported by the Copyright Agency through the Cultural Fund.
The Emerging Writers Program is published in association with Art Ink.