In October, storyteller and refugee advocate Arnold Zable received the 2013 Voltaire Award, an honour conferred annually by Liberty Victoria (formerly the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties) in recognition of outstanding contributions to free speech. Now Immediate Past President of PEN Melbourne, Arnold recently composed a statement—endorsed by PEN Melbourne—condemning in detail the Australian Federal Government’s policies regarding asylum seekers. No matter the genre in which he is writing, these days Arnold never misses an opportunity to observe that ‘except for Indigenous people, we are [in Australia], give or take a few generations, a nation of boat people’.
The same theme thoughtfully permeates Five Short Blasts, an exuberant collaborative project created over the past eighteen months by sound artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey and produced by the City of Melbourne. From this weekend until 15 December, Five Short Blasts is a swell of stories and musics, a gentle ‘listening journey’ of discovery, which travels through the waters of Victoria Harbour, out under the Bolte Bridge, and past several major docks of the Port of Melbourne. Amplifying its positive ripple effects, Five Short Blasts is also a live radio broadcast, a video broadcast, and a pocket-sized souvenir publication designed by Letterbox, the Five Short Blasts Manifest (read my contribution to the Manifest here).