The Chimaera: Issue 7, March 2010

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Synchronised publishing

The editors are currently involved in two other online journals: Paul Stevens as editor of The Flea (“the metaphysicalzine”) and Peter Bloxsom as Editor of 14 by 14 (“the lean sonnet zine”). The calendar-gods and editorial gremlins seem to have so arranged matters that all three have ended up being published in the same week. 14 by 14 is just out, with a new look and publishing style: Right on its heels comes this Issue of The Chimaera, and The Flea’s latest broadsheet should hit the Internet streets at the intersection of / and Tuesday night approximately.

Australia’s Homer

An event that made something of a stir in Australian literary circles recently was the publication of Wimmera, a 360-page epic poem. The Wimmera is a region in the west of Victoria, the state whose capital city is Melbourne. The author is Homer Rieth, a former classics and philosophy teacher who moved to the region eleven years ago.

It’s mere coincidence that we heard about this monumental work just when we were in the early stages of preparing this Voyages and Quests issue. We’re not in a position to review the book — having so far only dipped into it — but it it definitely seems worth mentioning. 

The Wimmera could be seen as representative of rural and outback Australia, with its mainly stark and flat terrain, its settler history, its country distances (some might say monotony). Homer Reith’s epic poem is eloquent on landscapes exterior and interior, and he even has a chimera in mind:

the yonderness will have deceived you yet again
the road will come to meet you half way
a chimera of cloud and moistures and tree line
nothing if not a rainbow
nothing doing but the road to nowhere...

Unlike the classical models of the epic poem, this one has no hero. It does have a narrator, a third-person “he says” narrator who remains unidentified:

I’ve lived like this he says all my life
surrounded by a light that refuses to go out
by shadows that refuse to leave
here among cast-offs and makeshift things
the tatterdemalion and the junk
of little use to anybody
but me
the shafts of old wells the beams of low roofs
are homely to me
I have needed no mountains
needed no hills

Wimmera is published by Black Pepper and can be ordered (AU$35 including post and packing) from the publisher’s website, here. Substantial passages are quoted there in an excerpt from the author’s own exegesis. 

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