In 2021, with the support of the Copyright Agency‘s Cultural Fund, and in partnership with Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, Westerly Magazine was proud to publish writing from our inaugural Mid-Career Fellowship. Two Fellows—Maddie Godfrey in poetry and Annabel Smith in creative nonfiction—were selected from a competitive pool of applications and celebrated in features, one in each issue for the year.
Sharing the material now online, we congratulate our inaugural Fellows and thank them for their wonderful contributions to the Magazine. Work from our 2022 Fellows, Scott-Patrick Mitchell and Caitlin Maling, will be published in issues coming this year.
Maddie Godfrey’s ‘Longing: Three Ways’ was published in Westerly 66.1.
Ocean Vuong writes of desire as a temporary hunger, saying ‘I wonder what it feels like to move at the speed of thirst—if it’s as fast as lying on the kitchen floor with the lights off’ (68). During my conceptualisation of this series of hybrid prose poems, I found myself returning to the idea of desire as kinetic; as something that travels, moves and experiences turbulence (yet never entirely arrives). From this context, the motif of reaching emerged as a core component of my own experiences of desire, and hence these poems. Whether reaching for the attention of a pop star, gazing towards shoulder blades on a staircase, or grasping for familiarity, the personas are documented in various states of extension. As a queer writer who is documenting an autobiographical longing for other LGBTQIA+ subjects, my writing is interested in what it means to occupy a sidelined body that is reaching for another sidelined body.
Situated between two dominant understandings of genre, the prose poem embodies this sense of reaching. It is a place where prose brushes the outstretched fingertips of poetry. The form can be understood as a poem wearing the disguise of a paragraph; a compressed rectangle that plays a trick on the reader’s expectations, amplifying each gasp and sigh. In the ‘tightly framed space’ of the prose poem (Munden), each visual absence is exaggerated by surrounding proximity. These three prose poems are not love poems. Rather, they are quiet conversations happening in the hallways of romance, where longing presses itself against the wallpaper as someone louder bustles through.
Munden, Paul. ‘Playing With Time: prose poetry and the elastic moment’ in Monica Carroll, Shane Strange and Jen Webb (eds.), Prose Poetry. TEXT 46 (2017).
Vuong, Ocean. Night Sky with Exit Wounds. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon, 2016.
Maddie Godfrey is a writer, educator, editor and emotional feminist. Their first collection, How To Be Held (Burning Eye Books, 2018), is a manifesto to tenderness. Maddie has recently been awarded the Tom Collins Prize, the Kat Muscat Fellowship and a writing residency with the National Trust of Western Australia.