Content warning: sexual assault

Photo by Luca Vercellio on Unsplash

A week before Brittany Higgins went public with her allegation of rape in a parliamentary office (in Australia), a musician friend sang a song during his weekly live stream performance. During COVID times, as we both lived in regional areas, I’d started writing lyrics for the first time, and he’d started putting my lyrics to music. One of the songs was called ‘Beautiful Avalanche’.

It was built around a memory of a sexual assault that happened 15 years ago, an experience that I’d never spoken about publicly or even privately, really, even to close friends and…

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

Amy Acker, Much Ado About Nothing

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. I remember terrible films, full of arch overacting and stiff costumes, that were an endurance test.

Or, even worse, the outings to plays where the whole audience of schoolies could not stop giggling at the sight of men in tights, the laughter so loud it drowned out the actors’ lines.


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.

The cast of the film Animal Kingdom

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 with connections to the Edgerton brothers, having co-written a number of shorts with Joel and Nash before directing his breakthrough Crossbow (2007), which won the Melbourne International Film Festival award for Best Short Film with screenings at Venice, Sundance and Clermont-Ferrant.

The development process for Animal Kingdom was a slow…

At the Sydney Writers’ Festival, crime fiction writer Tara Moss appeared on a panel with Irvine Welsh and Damon Young, talking about writing the body. As she held her memoir The Fictional Woman up to the audience, I was drawn immediately to the cover, a close up of her face, with labels written on in black: Dumb Blonde mingling with Feminist, Model with Bleeding Heart.

It started me thinking about the names I’ve been called, especially when I was a teenager, and how they’ve defined or ignored the essential parts of me — and how often they were contradictory, exposing…

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.

2014 Man Booker Prize Winner Richard Flanagan

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 it, Richard Flanagan has had an unusual career. While Flanagan has often publicly stated that he believes writers should be separated from their defining adjectives, it’s hard to divorce him from Tasmanian. Given the tidal wave of support following his Booker Prize win in 2014, and the video of US…

The Australian artist in conversation about ‘Polyverse’, Nick Cave and dress-ups

Untitled (Nick Cave in a blue wig) | Polly BORLAND | NGV © Polly Borland

The photo is of Nick Cave. But it’s not the Nick Cave we’ve come to expect. Gone is the black-and-white aesthetic, the gothic melancholy and rock’n’roll cool. Instead it’s Nick Cave as perverse Snow White, in blue wig and sequined puffed-sleeve dress, smothered in a stocking that leaks blood-red lipstick. …

a collaboration between Kirsten Krauth and Kirsten Tranter

Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag, Amazon Prime

Warning: The following article will ruin everything for you if you haven’t yet seen Fleabag seasons 1 and 2: Spoilers ahead.

The second and final season of Fleabag just aired to almost universal superlative critical acclaim, admired for the deft blend of humour and drama that Phoebe Waller-Bridge brings as writer and star in this portrait of a searching, messed-up young woman. The first series showed her reeling in grief from the death of both her mother and her best friend, wracked with guilt and shame. …

Novelist Meg Wolitzer

Carriageworks, the venue for the 2019 Sydney Writers’ Festival, is a maze of open staircases, exposed metal beams and factory floor. As US novelist Meg Wolitzer winds her way into the dingy heart of the building, it seems a far cry from the glamorous life she portrays in The Wife, her novel about an award-winning and feted fiction writer and his unassuming — in public, anyway — wife. Glenn Close’s magnificent performance, nominated for an Oscar, meant the film and novel received international attention. …

The cast of GLOW, Netflix

We are walking down a busy Fitzroy street on a Sunday afternoon. Ahead of me, two women are decked out in electric blue and purple tights, bottoms bouncing in thong leotards. Behind, a friend is wrapped in a golden cape, her face covered with a red mask. I am wearing a silver lightning-strike top and sparkly leggings, and have a blonde comb-over that easily rivals Donald Trump’s. We are all rocking an ONJ attitude. People in the street turn and watch as we pass by, cars honking. Gold glitter trails us as we walk. …

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.

Artist and performer Laurie Anderson

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 practising with weapons and as she hops and leaps and kicks, moving fast to slow and back, this helps to learn it, imagining a sword in our hands. As we move through the steps, she occasionally stops to watch us, checking on the position of our bodies. It’s about making…

Kirsten Krauth

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

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