Fiona Wright is a writer, editor and critic. Her book of essays Small Acts of Disappearance won the 2016 Kibble Award and the Queensland Literary Award for non-fiction and was shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize. Her poetry collections are Knuckled, which won the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award, and Domestic Interior, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Her most recent essay collection is The World Was Whole.
All essays by Fiona Wright
by Fiona Kelly McGregor
Published 27 September 2022
Off The Record
Iris reconsiders our official, public-record history – its absences and silences, its misshapings and misrecognitions. And it also offers a reconsideration of a woman whose position within this history is complicated, doubly, by her queerness.
Sneaky Little Revolutions: Selected Essays of Charmian Clift
by Charmian Clift, edited by Nadia Wheatley
Published April 2022
A History of Dreams
by Jane Rawson
Brio Books/Booktopia Publishing
Published April 2022
Leaping into Waterfalls: The Enigmatic Gillian Mears
by Bernadette Brennan
Allen & Unwin
Published September 2021
A biographer is tasked, after all, with interpreting a life, yet Mears deliberately did so much of this interpretation, and re-interpretation, herself. And she did so with an increasing knowledge, it seems, that her own interpretations were partial and fallible and liable to change shape over time.
by Sarah Sentilles
Published May 2021
‘Any child we bring into our lives will be ours’, Sentilles writes, and ‘all children – whether we give birth to them or find them some other way – are also not ours.’ They are strangers, all of them, ‘mysterious beings’ whose inner lives we can only guess at, extrapolating from experiences we only half-remember.
On Being A Precedent
Every time I hear the words new normal I feel a recoil, swift and small and deep within my belly. I hate how normal we find the idea of normal, how many other narratives and experiences and people it excludes and elides and diminishes. I hate how often it’s assumed that normal is something we only ever choose not to be, rather than something that rejects us regardless of whether or not (and consciously or not) we try to mould ourselves to fit. And I hated, at the beginning of the pandemic, how each time I heard the phrase the only thing that I could think was this:
For me, new normal is old news.
by Naoise Dolan
Published April 2020
Keys to the City
Because this is the thing, I keep thinking, about being handed the keys to the city of oneself – keys are not particularly versatile tools. They may very well open up a set of gates, but they cannot help to navigate whatever lies on the other side. There’s no street directory, or map of any kind. Perhaps this is true to some degree for everybody, but in the case of autism, its seems like such a map might even be impossible, because the systems of cartography that such a thing relies upon aren’t designed to cover this kind of terrain: my magnetic north simply points in a different direction.
The Details: On Love, Death and Reading
by Tegan Bennett Daylight
Simon & Schuster Australia
Published July 2020
I Choose Elena
by Lucia Osborne-Crowley
Allen & Unwin
Published February 2020
‘I Need My Literature to Know About it’
What becomes evident is not so much a portrait of Daylight as a reader, but her skill as a critic, her ability to distill enough detail from a work to understand – and convey something of – its essence, to trace the author’s thinking and engagement with the world.
by Laura McPhee-Browne
Published February, 2020
Someone We Adored
Ask any queer girl, I have learnt, and every single one of us had that one friend, usually in high school, whom we liked a bit too much, who we were enchanted by. Sometimes a very best friend, sometimes a girl on the periphery of a friendship circle, but always, always someone we adored, regardless of whether or not we understood exactly why.
Other People’s Houses
by Hilary McPhee
Melbourne University Press
Published October, 2019
‘Begin, I tell myself, at the beginning of an adventure, not at the end of a marriage of twenty years.’ It is with this line that Hilary McPhee opens the second chapter of her second memoir. It’s telling, both because it reads almost like an editorial intervention – as if the editor is present even as she writes – but also because it indicates that there’s something much more important going on than the ‘adventure’ that forms the main narrative arc of the book.
The Innocent Reader
by Debra Adelaide
Published September, 2019
Storytime: Growing Up with Books
by Jane Sullivan
Published August, 2019
To Me They Were Treasures
The word clicked something into place. Bibliomemoir: it was books that had helped me to do this, because I didn’t know any other way to do this. I didn’t think there was anything remarkable about this way of writing the self while I was doing it: it seemed self-evident, inevitable that books would help me think about myself.
Here Until August: Stories
by Josephine Rowe
Published September, 2019
by Carrie Tiffany
Published March, 2019
When The Manuals Fail Us: Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany
the manual also represents a system of knowledge, an empirical way of looking at the world, or at least one small part of it, that is rational, logical, complete. It’s a diagram and a schemata, everything accounted for and with a purpose, function, and means of repair. And it’s a system of knowledge that falls down entirely when the narrator tries to transfer it to her wider world – because a family is not an engine, where ‘everything is straight. Everything is clean’, all the parts are ‘gilded, all snug up, side by side’. The parts don’t fit together perfectly, and they don’t add up to something that runs smoothly and well.
Six Degrees from the City: Episode 7 – Eda Günaydin
‘I am really interested in the language that my family speaks, and one day, in my head, I’d like to write a book around all of the idioms I’ve been taught, because Turkish idioms are so much more complex, as well as profane, than English words.’
The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath
by Leslie Jamison
Published June, 2018
Six Degrees from the City: Episode 3 – Sheila Pham
‘Going back and living in South-West Sydney is very much in keeping with the way I have this very fluid relationship with Bankstown, with the Western Suburbs, I’m part of it but also not part of it too.’
A Regular Choreography
Travel is supposed to be transformative, worldly, independent, brave. It is supposed to be a breaking free from the things that bind us to our everyday and repetitious – and by implication dull and stultifying – lives. We are supposed to value travel because of this, because it is international and not domestic, unsettling and not homely, disjunctive rather than routine. And I want these things, of course I want these things for my life and for that idea of myself as I’d like to be.
Six Degrees from the City: Episode 1 – Lachlan Brown
It’s a truism about suburbia that it’s defined by the distance between work and home. But that distance, for me, became a conceptual distance, and artistic distance, one that I thought I’d like to try and overcome somehow.
Barbara Baynton: Hard Graft With The Best
Barbara Baynton’s book of short stories, Bush Studies, has fascinated me for years, because there’s so much that is deceptive, as well as utterly transgressive, about it. Written at the very end of the nineteenth century, the stories within it are mostly delivered in a deadpan narration that means the violence at their centre often builds so quietly and subtly that their eruption is as shocking as it is brutal.
by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Published April, 2014
Listen: Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Speaking and writing, in Foreign Soil, are never simple acts. Both are, of course, embedded within the body, and as such are deeply personal and even instinctual; but they are, at the same time, inextricably implicated in wider social circuits of violence, of bodies politic, of privilege and power.
For love and hunger
In the year that I first became ill, I recognised the physicality of Teresa’s hunger, and I carried it with me for years, although the rest of For Love Alone did not stir me – I was nineteen, and probably too callow, too cold and self-obsessed to fully understand it. But in the last two years, I started hearing so many writers talk again about Christina Stead.
All essays featuring Fiona Wright
The World Was Whole
by Fiona Wright
Published October, 2018
Comfortable and Comforted: The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright
This is a book about the complexities of home, about being unhomed, about the body as home, and about the spaces we work to make home, our dwellings and our neighbourhoods. When life is marred by unbelonging and grief, it is the habits and routines of being homed that bring comfort and even joy.
by Elizabeth Allen
Published August, 2017
by Fiona Wright
Published November, 2017
by Kate Middleton
Published September, 2017
Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger
by Fiona Wright
Published September, 2015
The Fleshy Side of the Mind: Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright
‘Far from imagining hunger as an art of discarnation, Wright seeks to give it body, simultaneously remarking on the physicality, the sensuality of the experience, and objectifying it as something outside of herself, material enough to protect her from the world.’ Alys Moody on Fiona Wright’s Small Acts of Disappearance.
Everyday Intimacies: An interview with Fiona Wright
‘It’s that wonderful mediating effect of writing, its ability to hold things clear that I’ve always been drawn to, and which is very similar to the way in which hunger works.’ Rachel Morley interviews poet, critic, editor and essayist Fiona Wright for the SRB.