Rebecca Starford, Publishing Director
There are so many highlights across our ten years of publishing – it is really difficult to narrow it down! However, two pieces all the way back from our first edition of the magazine continue to delight me. They are Chris Womersley’s superb short story, Theories of Relativity, which captures perfectly a menacing relationship between a father and his adolescent son during a camping trip into the bush, and Clementine Ford’s Love in a LOL-ed Climate: Internet Dating, a piece that predates Tinder and remains utterly hilarious for its unflinching reflection on a search for love online.
Alice Cottrell, Publisher
How to choose a mere few favourites from hundreds of brilliant essays, features, short stories and interviews?! The KYD archive is an embarrassment of riches.
There are pieces I read before I started working at KYD that stick in my mind, so I’ll start with those. Laura Stortenbeker’s A New Bruise is a short story about a turbulent relationship – ‘it was a difficult split because we were difficult people’. Laura’s writing is somehow simultaneously hard and tender. I love it. The four essays in Sam George-Allen’s ‘On Beauty’ series (Skin, Eyes, Hair and Body) are brilliant and a thought-provoking blend of memoir, social history and cultural critique.
More recently I adored Ellena Savage’s essay Everything Anyone Has Ever Said About the Pool. I’m very much looking forward to Ellena’s forthcoming essay collection Blueberries (Text Publishing, March 2020), but really I would read anything she wrote, including her shopping lists. Kalahari Jayaweera’s Tom Holland’s ‘Umbrella’, Womanhood and Me is a joyful, life-affirming piece. I guarantee that watching the video and reading the piece will make you feel good.
Alan Vaarwerk, Editor
Choosing a favourite from all of the pieces I’ve worked on since I began at KYD in 2016 is near impossible. I’ve had the honour of working with some brilliant writers, all of whom have broadened my thinking and understanding of the world. However, if I think of the pieces that have challenged and excited me the most as an editor, there are a couple I’m particularly proud of: Samantha Forge’s series on arts industry and policy – from exploring burnout in the arts, to unpacking the value of creative writing courses and the true cost of a HECS debt – are some much-needed realtalk about an industry that operates more than most on goodwill, often to the detriment of its workers. Sonia Nair’s Women on the Verge, unpacking cultural depictions of sexual relationships between young women and older men, is both forthright and nuanced in its exploration of agency and exploitation. I’m very proud of our 2018 state and territory showcases, which unearthed some brilliant new voices and perspectives from all over Australia, and Jesse Blackadder’s stunning A Language for Antarctica, which let me travel vicariously to a place I’ve long been fascinated by. Mel Campbell’s Too Pure For This World and Kylie Maslen’s Lucky Stars and Lucky Socks are probably the most fun I’ve had while editing – both began life as offhand observations before being teased out into the kind of smart, accessible cultural criticism I love to read.
Thinking back to some of the pieces that made me love KYD before becoming involved in the magazine, Omar Sakr’s The Privilege of Starvation: On Art and Creative Writing Courses was an essay that made me rethink what ‘being a writer’ really meant, and fundamentally shifted the way I thought about art and work. I loved Elizabeth Flux and Connor Tomas O’Brien’s 2015 companion essays on Kevin Andrews’ ‘marriage counselling’ courses, and the way they approached a difficult debate around the personal and the political. There are so many more great articles and stories I want to mention here – I can’t wait to see what KYD’s 20th birthday roundup looks like!
Cher Tan, 2019 KYD New Critic
This may make me sound like the class bootlicker that everyone loves to hate, but I’m a huge fan of how Kill Your Darlings has in its existence always sought to champion new and emerging voices that may not necessarily be ‘known’ nor (seen as) ‘credible’; opinions that may be considered unpopular or too ‘niche’ elsewhere, like when I practically pitched with no byline an article about the fetishisation of ‘artisanal’ goods in 2014 (wink wink). Its various regional and international showcases (my particular favourites have been the Indonesian and Northern Territory ones) also brings to the fore stories and perspectives that don’t glorify the ‘Melbourne voice’, as Jonno Revanche wrote in this very same publication in 2015.
Other pieces which have also stuck with me are Millie Baylis’ How To Rest: Chronic Illness and Finding Joy in Small Days, an incisive and tender look into the over-glorification of productivity in today’s world and what that means for a chronically-ill person, and Nayuka Gorrie’s brilliant essay on the unhinged insanity and rage that is often denied to women of colour in popular culture and consequently in real life – these are two pieces that will surely stand the test of time. Going a little further back into the archives, Rafeif Ismail’s memoir on finding Home as a settler-migrant on stolen land was particularly poignant, as well as Jean Bachoura’s compelling and insightful No Man’s Land, on travelling as a young Arab man in a tense socio-political climate. I could go on, but I’ve already gone way over the recommended word limit – mostly I’m just excited to see what else KYD will publish in the years to come.
Ellen Cregan, KYD First Book Club host
To me, there is nothing better than having a snoop through other peoples bookshelves. That’s why I will always be obsessed with ‘Shelf Reflection’ – every post gives me a chance to hear about and actually gaze upon the reading habits of writers whose work I love. I have always been interested in the kinds of readers artists are, and what different people absorb while they’re managing their own creative output. More generally, other people’s reading habits just fascinate me – what we read can reveal so much about the insides of our brains. A bookshelf is the ultimate curation of personality – most people are so specific about what they keep, display, and even what they group together and how. All this being said, I’d never want the world to scrutinise my bookshelves – my tastes are not as refined as any of the authors featured on the KYD website! A personal favourite ‘Shelf Reflection’ has been Sam George-Allen’s. She has some truly gorgeous bookcases (and lots of great books, of course).
Jane Howard, KYD Contributing Editor
When sitting down to write this, I flicked my way through the past contributors to KYD. It is a literally who’s-who of Australian literature and ideas over the past decade, and I still cannot quite believe I get to count myself among these brilliant minds.
There is never any way I could pick just one writer, just one essay, from the masses of brilliance that have been published here. So, some favourites:
Royce Kurmelovs and Lur Alghurabi gave me essays about Adelaide I didn’t know I needed, as Ellena Savage did with pools. The work Cher Tan wrote this year quickly made her one of Australia’s most vital voices on online spaces and platforms, especially in So Much This: The Sameness of Internet Culture. If I Could Eat Avocado Toast, I’d Be Able to Afford a House By Now by Fiona Wright is a too necessary and too painful read about the cost of mental health in Australia.
Rebecca Shaw is one of Australia’s funniest writers, but when she is serious she cuts like no-one else. Alexandra Neill is one of the brightest writers thinking about comedy, not least of all for the way she interrogates its failures. It’s a similar to what I love about Kylie Maslen, and also the way she brings me as a reader into her love and passion for a sport I know nearly nothing about.
How many more I wish I could list right now.
This list is perhaps heavy with essays written in recent years, with essays written by writers I know. But it is hard to look back on ten years and capture all that it was. The internet is forever, yes. But it’s also transient and rapidly moving forward, so that we can only ever really look back and imagine what it was and what we read. The beauty of that, too, is it will keep moving forward, keep creating, keep bringing me more essays I need to read – and so one day very soon I will forget this list, too.