When we first announced the international symposium, Inside/Outside/Carnival, that took place at the University of Winchester, UK, in June 2017 (a collaboration between the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) at the University of Canberra, and the University of Winchester, with invited guest speakers from the USA, Australia and the UK) we prefaced it with, ‘Into the cauldron of 21st century writing - Tipping a hat at Bakhtin the word Carnival is ambiguous. It tilts at blurred edges, a world upside down and inside out.’ We had no idea what would come about and a cauldron seemed a relevant metaphor at the time. And so it proved because we now have this collection of articles, essays, prose, prose poetry and poetry, which shows how a simple idea can have such a remarkable melting pot response.

Indeed, having collected and collated the material, all set around the theme of ‘carnival’, we were tempted to don Malvolio’s cross gartered yellow stockings and throw it all up in the air, leaving to chance the order in which it lands and therefore presented to Axon readers. But then something resembling order began to impose itself. Therefore, this edition of AXON: Creative Explorations, coming as a result of the symposium, is a celebration of interventions on the themes, building upon the many ideas, thoughts and creative discussions that arose during the event. Some of the critical and creative works were presented on the day, some were poems read in the evening and others were reactions to the ideas explored. However, the serendipity of working around this core theme has revealed three basic sections, which share interconnected ideas. We have therefore subtitled the sections as:

Section 1: Carnivalesque - with papers and poetry inspired by Bakhtin’s idea of Carnival. It contains: posters by Lisa Koning; poetry by Wendy Falla, Cassandra Atherton and Paul Hetherington, Dominque Hecq, and Georgia Hilton; and papers by Michael Grenfell and Lisa Koning which address the idea of carnivalesque with an unprecedented eclecticism, from academic engagement to poetic conveyance hitherto unseen in other academic journals.

Section 2: Carnival & Song - dedicated to the musicality of words, images and ideas around the concept of carnival. It contains: posters by Lisa Koning and Stephanie Morris; poetry by Julian Stannard, Paul Munden, Maria Stadnicka and Bridget Egan; a paper and poems by Jen Webb; a paper and lyrics by Andrew Melrose; and a paper on song writing and lyrics by Glenn Fosbraey. Once again the section adds to the wide variety of approaches that can be taken in addressing the theme – from Jen Webb’s academic idea to Glenn Fosbraey’s lyrical writing for other singers.

Section 3: Carnival Journeys - representative of numerous journeys that encompass the ideas of a world inside out and upside down. It contains: posters by Lisa Koning, Adelaide Morris and Lynda Robertson; poetry by Ishaq Imruh Bakari, Maria Stadnicka and Julian Stannard; and papers from Adelaide Morris and Lynda Robertson – where the carnival of war and stories meets a story of Billy the Kid and the Wild West. The imaginings collated with historical and biographical material confirms the kaleidoscope of ideas that ‘carnival’ represents.

It has been a remarkable journey, beginning over a chat in a Winchester café and bringing it all the way to this edition of Axon. The engagement has been remarkable and we are happy to share it here. In 2018 we will return to the Carnival, with another symposium, this time with a focus on the word and image – the beautiful or grotesque.

Remember who commended thy yellow stockings… and wished to see thee cross-gartered. (William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, III, 4)

And as a way of introduction, in this issue we have also included numerous images from the 2017 symposium because they show the potential, and capture the visual aspect of the occasion. We also hope that these will stimulate ideas, proposals and collaboration for our 2018 event, the provisional date for which is 29 June 2018, at the University of Winchester. Watch this space.

Lisa Koning and Andrew Melrose
University of Winchester, 2018