As we hurtle towards the vortex otherwise known as Christmas, we at Verity La would like to thank YOU for journeying with us this year.
2017 has been momentous in Verity La Land — it’s the first year we’ve been able to pay writers (thanks to our amazing private supporters) and the first in which we’ve been granted funding from Australia Council for the Arts to pay writers again in 2018. Woohoo!!!
While our fifteen editors will continue to work in a voluntary capacity, we’re over the moon to be able to offer each piece accepted for publication next year the princely (in literary circles at least!) sum of $100. Our next reading period will be in February and we can’t wait to see what treasures lie in store. So get scribbling if you scribble, and keep an eye out for our first post on February 6. We might even have our shiny new website up and running (no promises, but our elves are working hard) and our inaugural Verity La ebook, The Hunger, will be released early in 2018. So there’s much to look forward to!
On a more sobering note, our good friend from Manus Island, Iranian poet Mohammad Ali Maleki, has left a note under our tree for you to read. As is the case with his poetry, Mohammad’s letter is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming.
May he, and all other refugees unlawfully detained in Australian immigration camps, have a peaceful Christmas, and may they look forward to the priceless gift of freedom in the new year.
On behalf of Verity La
From detention on Manus Island, we — who came seeking asylum — wish you a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Just as in the last four years, we are about to embark upon our fifth of pain, sorrow, torture, and the endless nightmare of detention.
We don’t know why we are in this prison. What illegality have we committed? What logic does the Australian Government use to decide upon our lives?
We light candles for our lost friends instead of celebrating New Year. We hope next year will be our last of such miserable times. We can’t go on under the torture of detention very much longer. We pray to be set free from this prison someday.
I wish Merry Christmas to all the Christian and Catholic people, especially to the good and wise people of Australia who’ve given us help in the past four years. I hope they are happy and healthy with their families.
I also wish a special Happy New Year to those Australians who do not like us; I love them too, from the bottom of my heart.
It is true that these dear people insulted us by swearing and sending rude comments, and that their words broke our hearts and made us feel ashamed. In fact, their comments hurt us much more than even the harsh difficulties of detention; their comments made our situation harder to bear. These dear people made us cry, and cry again.
But I respect their views and read their comments. Then I offer their words to the clean clear waters of the ocean to carry to its farthest point so I don’t have to see them anymore. And I forgive them with all my heart, and wish them a Merry Christmas.
Mohammad Ali Maleki
Manus Island, PNG