Newtown Voices is a verse novel – a hybrid between fiction and poetry – which I wrote over about eight years, giving voices to four characters to tell a mix of true events and social issues and my characters’ personal lives. It is set in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Newtown in the late 1970s.
The basis of Newtown Voices was real headlines and news stories from the weekly Newtown and Marrickville paper, fictionalised as The Newtown Voice (The Voice.) I also included material from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun.
Horror Headlines from daggy old Newtown looks at these stories and headlines – generally ‘screamers’ – to give an insight into the true stories of poverty, crime, corruption, violence, racial and sexual discrimination and other social issues facing Australian cities through the 70s and early 80s (and, to a certain extent, still exist.)
My four characters – Buzz, Harriet (Harry), Jaroslav (Jaro) and Tom – while fictional, are based on people I’ve known, aspects of my own personality, and the demographics of the 70s population,
Buzz is an anarchist lesbian; Tom is a white male know-it-all local; Harry is a newcomer from a smaller city and a struggling artist; Jaro a traumatised migrant who is gay.
I hope readers will recognise my people and see reflections of today’s social issues in these stories, and enjoy the poems in Newtown Voices more for knowing the background.