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It's been a strange start to 2020. 

Between bushfires and the coronavirus, our country and communities have been ravaged. The arts industry has lost an estimated $325 million in revenue from events cancelled in the wake of the pandemic, and that number's only likely to grow. It's hard to know what'll happen next. 

But the Going Down Swinging team is taking heart in the way the arts community has pulled together in these tough times.

For our part, we've reached out to and rounded up a list of artists to get behind financially whose work has been affected by the coronavirus. We've also compiled a list of books to read during self-isolation – and the indie bookstores to get them from! Plus tips on self-care, and what's getting the GDS team through. 

Special artist spotlight 

The six creatives work in a wide range of fields – copy-editing, poetry, comics, short fiction. What they do have in common? They've lost work or gigs due to the coronavirus. 

For a creative, this is critical. It can be the difference between making rent one week or not. Please consider subscribing to their Patreon or supporting their work. 

Scott Patrick-Michael is an award-winning poet who has appeared in NEW POETS 1, Contemporary Australian Poetry, Westerly, Red Room Poetry, Cordite, Verity La, Baby Teeth and more. 

Their website can be found here and they can be donated to via their ko-fi.

Bren Luke is a Ballarat-based illustrator and artist. For the past decade or so, his work has been focused on traditional drawing techniques primarily using pen and ink. 

His work can be found on Tumblr and on Shopify – you may recognise his illustrations from GDS Pigeonholed.

Mandy Ord is a comics artist, illustrator, speaker, teacher of comics and disability support worker, with a history of self-publishing. Her latest book, WHEN ONE PERSON DIES THE WHOLE WORLD IS OVER, can be ordered online from Readings.

Her work can be found at

Rae White is a poet, writer and zinester. They are the author of MILK TEETH and the editor of Enby Life, and have had work published in Cordite, Quarterly, Seizure and more. 

Their work can be found through their Linktree and you can support them through either Patreon or Paypal

Marlee Jane Ward's writing has been published in Interfictions, Terraform, Apex and Aurealis, Kill Your Darlings, Meanjin and more. She was the winner of the 2016 Victorian Premiers Literary Award for Young Adult fiction.

Her work can be found on her website and she can be supported through her Patreon. The Orphancorp series can be delivered to your e-reader through Amazon.

Ruth Dawkins is a freelance communications professional, based in Tasmania. She offers copywriting, editing and proofreading for small businesses, universities, not-for-profits and the tourism sector. She's also an experienced feature writer in lifestyle, parenting and travel.

She can be contacted for work via her website

What's keeping us soothed

"In the last week I've spent so much time in my little square of soil, concrete, wood and grass – my garden. My first ever vegetable patch is my new best friend and I’m learning not to overwater, to peek under leaves for pea pods hiding inside flowers and to just let things be."

 Magenta, Editor

"I'm planting broccoli, I'm feeding my chickens and trying to encourage them to lay eggs early and I'm trying to find and focus on good news stories and wondering about whether the breaking of all our systems means we get to make better, more humane ones together. 

 I’m having virtual cups of tea with friends. Most of the people I know are of the theatre world, so with our industry literally decimated overnight and no jobs anywhere there’s lots of us aimlessly meandering around our lounge rooms. It's nice to pass time together.

I'm not yet reading novels but I hope to soon. My brain isn't enough yet. I'll probably start with some GDS back issues, which have been daring me to pick them up for weeks now."

Angelica, General Manager

"I don’t want to refer to my dog as a comfort item but I will. Running loose at the off-leash park in the open air Linka the staghound demonstrates her inability to conceptualise confinement she is made to touch everything and she does. festy creek YES other dogs humans bugs dead birds YES. wags with her whole long body to announce love to all she approaches."

Hollen, Online Editor

"I’ve been making the most of my library’s eBook borrowing service. I’m also catching up on my podcasts – I thoroughly recommend Wonderful! by Rachel and Griffin McElroy. Each episode they talk in-depth about things they find wonderful, ranging from everyday things like good smells and good foods, to favourite songs and artists and poets, to more abstract things like superstitions or key changes. It’s entirely wholesome and it’s nice to have a 45-minute block to hear about good things in the world."

Georgia, Online Editor 

"I've been reading The Haunting of Hill House, which is soothing in the strangest of ways. It's compellingly written – even if it keeps me up at night – and I'm grateful to have a different scary story to focus on. I'm also spending lots of time time with my friends and partner in games like Animal Crossing and Minecraft. I may not be able to see them in-person but that's not going to stop us from having our own virtual adventures, like exploring caves or going on boat rides together."

Wai Mun, Marketing Manager

(Artwork here by the wonderful Rachel Gyan! Rachel is one of the many creatives impacted by the coronavirus. Get in touch with her through Instagram or at

Bookstores to get behind

Who amongst us hasn't spent drifting through one of Melbourne's indie bookstores only to emerge an hour or two later with the perfect find, courtesy of a bookseller's recommendation? Social distancing rules mean that in-person browsing isn't an option any more  – but our bookstores need our business, now more than ever.

Even if you're locked away at home, why not order some books online from your local favourite? Most are perfectly happy to take over-the-phone delivery orders as well. If you're not sure who delivers to where at what cost,  Alan Vaarwek's put together this handy mapBuying gift cards for your loved ones or simply connecting with your favourites on social media are other valid ways to keep your faves top-of-mind. 

We've asked three of our personal favourites what books they'd recommend reading during the shutdown. (Solitude + books = magic.) 

Paperback Bookshop

Bookseller Robert recommends All My Cats by Bohumil Hrabal, a memoir in which Hrabal recounts his loving, but fraught relationship with the stray cats living around his country home. It was enough to get him to order four more Hrabal books! Meanwhile, bookseller Anna recommends How to Do Nothing as a book for this moment and beyond it, saying "encourages us all to do something: to focus our attention on the things that matter most, to notice the world that immediately surrounds us." Lastly, manager Bill Morton puts his weight behind Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, joint winner of last year's Man Booker. "It’s a novel for our times, a vivid portrayal of the joys, tragedies and triumphs of black women forging lives in modern-day Britain," Bill says, "But above all this book is a rollicking good read, a true page-turner that sweeps us away on a journey we don’t want to end."

Brunswick Bound

BB are loving Blueberries by Ellena Savage as essential, life-affirming reading. How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell is pretty timely. For a laugh, anything by Patrick deWitt. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante & Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel are fantastic (and huge) books to transport you to another time and place (and might help put things into perspective). And last but not least the beautiful and poetic work of Max Porter (Lanny, Grief is a Thing With Feathers). 


The team at Readings are reading Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman, which they describe as an "ambitious and exciting work of fiction that drops you inside one woman’s head as she bakes pies and worries about the world." They're also reading Vivian Pham's The Coconut Children, a "gorgeously-written debut ... and an absorbing read about adolescent love, longing, and belonging."

Six ways to take care of yourself during quarantine

1. Drink water. Like a plant, you require it. (Plus, when you're stressed, it's easy to forget.) 

2. Keep yourself occupied. This could mean growing a vegie garden or seeing how many copies of Pigeonholed you can juggle at once. 

3. Limit your news intake: too much can be stressful and debilitating. Sticking to the morning and nightly news means you'll get the important headlines, and gives you plenty of time to read poetry or do pottery in between. 

4. Observe your pets. Film your pets. What do they get up to in the day? Now's the perfect time to build up a library of cute pet videos to send to your friends. 

5. Take yourself on your (health-official-approved) 30 minute daily walk. Stop to smell the literal roses. 

6. Pick up that hobby you've been putting off, or put away. Better yet, do it with your friends and discuss your efforts over Skype!

At this time of year Going Down Swinging is primarily online, so we've thankfully been able to carry on more or less as normal. We'll be continuing to post regular content on our website – both brand new, and some favourites from our print editions – and our shop is still running in case you're craving some new reading material. 

We're still working out the kinks in this strange new world, so please be patient with us. We're here to support the arts community during this tough time – if we can give you a hand in any way, get in touch. 

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PO Box 24, Clifton Hill, VIC 3068

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