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Introduction: Wonderground Issue One

IT IS EARLY MORNING, and you are walking amongst the contorted white trunks of snow gum trees. South, far from home. Grey fantails flit from canopy to canopy and you pick a path between lichen-cloaked rocks, moss, stunted shrubs and kangaroo shit.

An ancient place. A landscape where transformation is whispered about. An idea the rocks can’t remember. A song danced by bouncing wrens. An order screeched by crows carving the sky. A reality floating among twisted trees at sunrise, shapeshifting in the shadows of dusk.

Transformation. The quiet force that shapes tomorrow can be hard to pin down, sluggish, subtle. You shout and stamp your feet and call it up. Reveal yourself, you yell into the frozen, aching wind. Arise! Shine!

Instead of revelation, lichen. You wonder how long it takes for it to grow on a rock on the side of a cold, cold hill in an old, old land? A place too cool and dry for swift actions from tiny transformers. Years pass, decades even, before skeletons – silvered and brittle – are absorbed by soil. And still, the lichen makes its way. And still, each morning is new.

You are not as composed as lichen. Change is a tool you like to think you can wield when and how you want. This is not untrue. You forget, though, that the quiet force is also lifeforce. Remember, transformation is always on the wind, whether you feel it’s cool caress on your cheek or not.

The only thing, then, to do is this: Arise. Shine.

I had no idea I would be releasing a print journal in 2021. It has, in many ways, for many years, felt too mad an undertaking. And yet, here I am, attempting to coherently distil the essence of a new publication and its very first issue in a few hundred words. Why this? Why now?

Why not? This is a time that is messy and wild and confusing and challenging and what else is there to do but leap into the unknown. To inhabit the cracks that are fissuring our world. To ask the questions. Where to from here? What new worlds can we imagine? What stories can we tell to take us there? It is from this place – amid questions of transformation and loss, growth and decay, heartbreak and joy – that the inaugural issue of Wonderground journal grows.

Dreaming up this publication, and editing its inaugural issue, has been a joy and a privilege. I have read and reread each essay, poem, interview in these pages many times over. The words, ideas and visions captured within them have provoked contemplation, inquiry, joy and hope – not in an eyes-closed-fingers-crossed way but in a feet-firmly-planted-eyes-wide-open kind of way. In this sense, Issue One of Wonderground is both a reminder and a challenge. The reminder: To be here, right now, alive on this indescribably wondrous planet is an immeasurable gift. The challenge: Stand up, look, listen, grow…