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Journal

WellRead September Selection: Marshmallow by Victoria Hannan

WellRead September Selection: Marshmallow by Victoria Hannan

Dear Reader,

The epigraph on the first page of this book is the last few lines of Postscript, a poem by Seamus Heaney. The poem describes a moment of natural beauty witnessed almost by surprise. Heaney said the poem is a reminder that the world can be beautiful if you just remember to take a look sometimes. My first encounter with the poem was when it was recited to me on a beach in Tasmania by a woman who five years earlier had lost her daughter in a tragic accident. We’d just got out of the water. She had a towel wrapped around her with drawings of green sea turtles on it. Her grief was palpable. I’ll never forget bearing witness to the enormity of her pain.

The first seeds of Marshmallow were sown on that beach, and I started thinking about how quickly lives can be turned upside down, about how whole futures can be stolen in minutes.

When writing Marshmallow, I wanted to explore how different people’s pasts and presents affect how they react to the same incident. I wanted to explore the complexities of grief, the humiliation and mundanity of it.

I wanted to take something unimaginable and give it names and faces, play it out in the hope that it might make a big, awful thing feel even one per cent less awful to someone who’s going through it. And if not less awful, then at least make them feel less alone in the horror.

But as much as Marshmallow is about the hardships of grief, of loss, of trauma, I think it’s hopeful too; full of reminders that the world can be beautiful if you just remember to take a look sometimes. Thank you for reading,

Victoria

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