Eades, Quinn and Vivienne, Son, editors. Going Postal: More than ‘Yes’ Or ‘No’. Melbourne: Brow Books, 2018. RRP: $32.99, 312 pp, ISBN:9781925704112.
This anthology is an anthem to resilience. As a response to the 2017 marriage equality vote, Going Postal: More than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ provides a personal perspective on a political moment. However, this book is more than a historical or theoretical retelling of events. Rather, the anthology explores conversations which occurred across family dinner tables, in the bathrooms of gay clubs, in whispers, in worry, and in the wordless languages of hesitance and fear. Despite addressing tough topics, a unified sense of celebration emerges from these poems, personal essays, social media extracts and artworks. Going Postal is a book which opens the door and invites the reader in. Then, it opens the windows too. Queer people have always been fighting for their survival. This collection of work documents the ways which communities are formed, both online and off. It articulates how LGBTQIA+ people continue to conquer and thrive, even when exhausted. This book does not limit itself to a discussion of romantic relationships and voting. Rather, Going Postal is a survival manual which encourages all readers to “mobilise for more than marriage” (n.p.).
Throughout the publication, editor Quinn Eades provides a rallying cry to tenderness. His pieces are scattered throughout the book, all starting with the refrain “I Can’t Stop Crying…”, which offers linearity and structure to Going Postal. Previously published by Overland and The Lifted Brow, these short personal essays are melodic fragments which pull the reader close. I found myself clutching the book tighter while reading these accounts. Throughout the collection, Eades’ literary voice acts as a signpost which guides the reader through everyday experiences as a queer person in Australia. These pieces were a highlight of the collection for me, as they read like poignant diary entries, and tightly embraced the surrounding contributions. Another highlight was “Blue: poem for an unpolitical sky” by Omar J. Sakr, a piece which sighs so deeply that the ache of Sakr’s words doesn’t fade, even after you’ve turned the page. Every time I picked up Going Postal I found myself revisiting these lines;
my mouth and swallowed the sky
not because a man scrawled rejection on it
as men have done since forever began,
but because it was beautiful and I wanted
to taste every flavour of blue, every cloud. (127)
This personal articulation of political events is echoed throughout the collection, which offers an intimate LGBTQIA+ perspective. Here, queerness is not a statistic. Sometimes, it is a protest sign or badge. Sometimes, it is a phone call or a swallowed sky. Mostly, it is an everyday experience of selfhood. Queerness is the way which these writers approach the world, their local café, their Instagram posts, their lovers and their identities. Throughout the collection, a diverse range of voices communicate experiences around the 2017 marriage equality vote, with varied contexts and tones. From my own perspective as a queer person, I believe that these writers speak like they recognise you, like they could be someone you know or someone you love. When Heather Grace Jones writes “this is a love song, I sing it for you” (187), I wholeheartedly believe them. In ‘plebiscite’, poet Scott-Patrick Mitchell invites you to his wedding (174). Moments such as these reach towards the reader and ensure they are paying attention. Candy Royalle, who passed away before publication, epitomises this by stating “Love is not passive. Love is not something we can just utter and magic into existence. Love is a fierce tool with which we must fight” (253).
At times, the intensity of these collected pieces is almost overwhelming. Contributors such as Nayuka Gorrie and Edie Shepherd articulate the intersections of identity for non-white queer Australians, noting the privilege within various experiences of queerness and how “our liberations are bound together” (9). This discussion of potentially palatable queerness, or identities/relationships which are considered increasingly marketable, is unpacked throughout the collection. Dennis Altman questions the role of campaign slogans such as “Love is Love” in “making comfortable what could seem confronting” (221), while Joni Nielson articulates the invisibility of trans and gender-non-conforming people within the exclusionary vote. This is a book which should be experienced slowly, and with care, as it addresses subjects which require your full attention.
As stated in the book’s introduction, Going Postal: More than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ exists as “a memorial and an archive” of “tears, pain and laughter” (VIII). What surprised me most about this collection is the way it clearly acknowledges the ongoing effects of the plebiscite. Since the “Yes” outcome on November 15th 2017, and especially on the recent anniversary, dominant conversations have focused around victory. Going Postal interrupts that convenient interpretation of history. By exploring why the vote’s outcome was not a moment of healing, these pieces make space for a sidelined narrative which is significant and ongoing in queer communities. The voices in this collection reinforce that November 15th 2017 was not the moment when LGBTQIA+ individuals won, it was just another day they survived, and there are still everyday battles to fight. This book preserves a political travesty which should never have been part of Australian history. With compassion, careful curation and literary excellence, Going Postal articulates the resilience of LGBTQIA+ people, and emphasises the everyday nature of their survival.
This book is important. Buy yourself a copy, then purchase another for someone you love. Going Postal made me cry in a café. We all need this on our bookshelves.
Maddie Godfrey has been best described as “a poetry fireball”. At 22, they have performed at The Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall, TEDx Women and Glastonbury Festival. In 2017 they were a writer-in-residence at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Maddie’s debut collection, How To Be Held, will be released in June 2018 by Burning Eye Books (UK). Preorders available at www.howtobeheld.com. Maddie is not a morning person.