Look, I’ll admit it. I loved literature but I initially found Shakespeare hard work.

We studied one play every year at high school. ‘Romeo and Juliet’. ‘Macbeth’. ‘The Merchant of Venice’. They are the ones that spring to mind.

I remember the terrible Dire Straits song that we had to listen to (our teacher being very ‘modern’) and a lot of wringing hands — blood that could never wash off. I remember little deaths and the screams of laughter when our teacher, blushing, revealed what those words meant. …

Cinema that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and gives you a good shake, pulling you into a mother’s den of a suburban underworld.

From the opening scene, the original Animal Kingdom film (now adapted as a TV series) is unrelenting, drawing us into to a world where young crim brothers fight each other and a bunch of ratbag cops to survive.

David Michôd (formerly mild-mannered editor at IF Magazine) is a VCA graduate…

Through Richard Flanagan’s writing flows the destructive power of love, the lyricism of horror, the revisioning of Tasmania, and the gaps between words and action.

High school dropout. Bush labourer. Rhodes scholar. River guide. Environmental activist. Film director. Man Booker prize winner. Indigenous Literacy Foundation ambassador. Whatever way you twist…

The sun is just rising behind the concrete skyline, jutting above and reflected in the lake in front of us, and my teacher asks whether I’ve done tai chi before. About twenty years ago. Do you remember what kind? She lists some options but I’m not sure. She nods and goes around the small circle, eight of us. Today we’re learning the Chen style. We start with our feet solid in the earth, bent knees, arms soft. Like you’re hugging a tree.

As she demonstrates the movements she recites the names in a voice that matches. Your hands like floating clouds. She points out that the actions might sound soft but their purpose is deadly. She makes a quick gesture. Decapitation.

She says one of her favourite parts of tai chi is…

Kirsten Krauth

Author. Arts journalist. Latest novel ALMOST A MIRROR shortlisted Penguin Literary Prize, out April. Recent profiles Ben Folds, Sian Clifford. kirstenkrauth.com

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