Last week, when a vine finally started to flower in the backyard of my new sharehouse, I recognised it as the same variety that grows on my family’s fence, at the place I consider home. My mum and I send each other pictures of the fugitive flowers—pink clusters, shining like they’ve been glazed for us to eat—to make each other’s days more beautiful.

The point of the flower pics sent between my mum and I, putting something beautiful into the world, or pointing out the beauty already there, is also often pedalled out as being an objective of literary and other art. I do believe, in general, that the thoughtfulness which underpins the act of making something carefully can be (though, of course, isn’t always) a foil to the implausible characters, senseless plots, and vacuous non-statements we encounter elsewhere in our public, political, and social lives.

I also believe it would be a loss to insistently hold ugliness and art apart from each other. For our contributors this issue, it’s precisely deep sensitivity and a willingness to ask what matters to ourselves and others which makes it possible to so well recognise and render the blunt ugliness of the world. The point here isn’t to make things lovely. It’s to make things awful, as well as to enumerate the kinds of awfulness that permeate our lives without our intervention.

Picturing ugliness is a method of critique for many of our contributors. Caitlin Doyle-Markwick’s story, Black Mould, delivers us to the recognisable rot that permeates the housing sector in our cities. For our cover artist and illustrator Mandy Ord, the mask worn under the nose is the chart-topping current day embodiment of ignorance, or perhaps willful ill-will.

Gavin Yuan Gao considers diasporic and migrant experience on this continent today, with a deft poem set ‘in the floodlit church / of the supermarket’. This piece is one of two contributions which we share courtesy of Ultimo Press. Together with Gurmeet Kaur’s poetry excerpt Testimony, which concludes this issue of TSR with a powerful statement on making statements as a writer positioned ‘inside a pause’, these poems appear in the forthcoming anthology Everything, All At Once . We’re delighted and thankful to be able to reproduce the clarifying works of these two exciting writers.

Elsewhere in the issue, ugliness is anecdotal, personal, embodied. Carly Stone’s tender, elegiac poems turn over the heavy plates of absence, grief, and missing. Our comic from Erica Lange posits the ugly as something companionable, while Daniel Swain’s sharp, ruthless suite of poems had me ugly cackling and aching with recognition. Carmen Hau’s photograph, which accompanies the suite, makes the body beguiling, playing in the pool between the seductive and the strange.

I want to say a sincere thank you to our contributors for trusting us at TSR to care for your work, to the editorial team, whose reading, thinking, and making has been so instructive, and to readers and subscribers: we arranged this cluster of works for you, and we send it to you to make your days more ugly, which is also to say more beautiful.

ERIN MCFADYEN
DEPUTY EDITOR

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