I never thought I could write about where I grew up. The texts I was prescribed at school, the poetry, novels, and the reviews of them I saw in the paper didn’t make sense—they had nothing to do with the regional Australia I knew. When I was a teenager, I wrote a short story involving sandy saltwater leaking from my nose onto Dorothy Parker’s collected works after getting smashed in the surf. I remember thinking ‘this isn’t something that a proper “Australian Writer” would write about’. For a long time I thought this was true. 
         This issue of The Suburban Review isn’t about my experience of growing up in a regional town. But it is something I wish I could have read while I was growing up there. The works in this issue address regional Australia with clear-eyed compassion and criticism. Regional Australia is not a place seen in a rear-vision mirror as you speed down a highway. It is a place that lives and breathes, and importantly, it is not one place. 
         I worked at the local video shop as a teenager. There was a shelf dedicated to the ‘genre’ of ‘World Movies’. I wondered how a diverse array of different cultures could be categorised into one label or worse, one shelf in a video shop (worse still—the films of Indigenous filmmaker Ivan Sen were in this section). Regional Australian writing doesn’t deserve one shelf either, it is not just scenes on the beach drenched in wistful brassy light, it is not the bleak world of Wake in Fright. Regional Australia was never this binary, and isn’t now. In this issue of TSR we publish works that demonstrate this. 
         In Susie Anderson’s ‘Chorus’, language and its histories are essential to processing contemporary life. Dan Hogan’s story set on the NSW Central Coast unpicks gender binaries and the world that sounds them. The formal structure of a sestina used in Stuart Barnes’s ‘Rockhampton (a sestina)’ crystallises a regional place in a way no standard lyric could. Nick Whittock’s poems are carved into trees that recede into the surrounding bush. 

Diverse and innovative works on and from regional areas should be in the Australian canon; each language, each story, each history. Banjo Paterson may be the symbol on our $10 note, but he isn’t a symbol for regional Australian writing. He is just a dude covered in sand that I’ll use to buy petrol next time I’m on the highway.

Holly Isemonger
Guest editor

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