Newsletter #7
Hello again from your ScratchThat team. Brisbane has had some ups and downs this week, so we offer this issue as an escape. Follow us down murky rivers and enjambed stanzas for your fortnightly fix of artistry.

Thank you to all who submitted to Issue #4 of ScratchThat. Our team is working hard to sort through your incredible pieces and have Issue #4 ready to launch on Friday 23 April. This newsletter includes sneak peaks from some successful submissions, just to whet your appetite.

We hope you enjoy Newsletter #7, carefully curated just for you.
We are running a giveaway! Continue reading to find out how you could win some amazing Australian fiction.
What we've been consuming
In late March, with 10% of the worldwide maritime traffic on hold, Tumblr blogs everywhere were flooded with ‘trouble in the Suez’ memes and… fanart of a very tired man with glowing eyes? Egypt may have a billion dollars in damage, but horror podcast listeners mourn the end of The Magnus Archives this April. Despite a masterfully-orchestrated narrative arc, most of the episodes stand alone as statements taken from the victims of paranormal disturbances. I’ve gathered some of my favourites here as a taste-test:
The classic MAG 1: Angler Fish, featuring a haughty Jon and an Edinburgh street. 
You may lose your torch in MAG 15: Lost John’s Cave, or your sister.
There’s something seeping through the walls in MAG 18: The Man Upstairs.
Not even MAG 27: A Sturdy Lock will keep it out. 
Students are a little too interested in MAG 34: Anatomy Class.
There was no one there, MAG 85: Upon the Stair.

Reading: All The Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. I've been trying to get my hands on this since its release in 2019, and when it finally arrived I was too scared to start it. Now that I have started, I'm too scared to stop. YA magical realism at its chef's-kiss finest.

Viewing: Thank goodness good ol' Ruckus got its monthly show in before lockdown this week. If you've never attended a Ruckus poetry slam, take this as your sign to buy tickets next month. Always a laugh, you enter the venue with strangers and leave - after a few beers and a whole lot of dinosaur puns - as strangers who have worn silly hats and listened to some good and not-so-good poetry together.



If you've never watched Bojack Horseman, now is the time to rectify that. All seasons can be found with a simple Netflix search, and if you don't have a Netflix account, well... I'm sure you can find a way. Bojack is a profound examination of the human condition and the ways in which our past shapes us, somehow it manages to do all of this heavy labour and still be hilarious. From a long list of deep and complex ultra-relatable characters, there is bound to be a character you connect with. 
A platter of ponderings

I never thought I could love the Brisbane River. I grew up in a town with a blue water river, a fact I never appreciated until I moved to this city. By god, our river is ugly.  

There’s a lot of bougie shit along its banks. I’ll forever roll my eyes at the shiny Hamilton apartment complexes and the pricey Botanic Gardens restaurants. Most frustrating are the parts of the river where access to the water is cut off. I hate walking past the fenced-off jetties sticking out from waterside mansions, and don’t mention the Queen’s Wharf construction after I’ve had a few (I just think the public should have access to the nature around them!). 

I moved into a rickety Milton Queenslander in 2017. I took the bikeway to my Gardens Point classes. I walked the William Jolly to West End. I tried (and failed miserably) to get into running with the riverside as company. Soon I grew familiar with the city lights waltzing on the water, the tide lapping against concreted banks, the indigo scent of the mud at dawn. I learned to carry sunnies for the headache-inducing reflection of white sun off the water.  

Teenagers on first dates huddled on the hideous yellow benches dotting the west bank. Elderly couples helped each other off the CityCats, melting my heart. I waved every evening to the men casting nets from the Auchenflower rocks. My true turning point, though, was Riverfire. Hundreds of strangers crushed together along the banks, entranced by the explosions in the sky. The best place in the city to watch people come together is along the river, weird smells and all. 

In February, I moved to Newmarket, and I miss the river like a slow ache. I’ll see it occasionally, out a train window or from a New Farm Park picnic blanket. But glimpses through glass just aren’t the same. After four years of talking to it and walking with it and laughing and crying on its banks, the murky water has crept into my body. Somehow, I know it will stay. 

Issue #4 Submission:
This image is part of Caitlin Penman's Relinquished Propriety.
Find more of her work at:

Writing and art prompts just for you
Create something with a deep running theme of intimacy.

Include dialogue!

Ruminate on how we communicate with the ones we love and the difficulties that this can bring forth both in ourselves and our relationships.

You could use this as a character exercise for a story you're already working on, or use this to create an entirely new one. 
There was a lot of rain last week, pouring down like billowing cloaks. But did you notice the mushrooms? All across the city, rings of fungus sprouted from the grass.
Use this image to create something. You might find creatures that come to sit on the toadstools, or a labyrinth of fairy bones instead of mushroom roots. You might ask why the mushrooms grow after rain. Perhaps it’s the spores. Perhaps the earth simply knows it will need protection. 
These days, parcels are taking longer than ever to arrive at the right doorstep. The mailing system is suffering chaotic delays. Now, more than ever, mistakes are being made. 
What’s the strangest thing that could arrive in the mail? Maybe your mind goes to crocheted dolls, hole-punched tarot cards, a 1967 Chevy wheel. A shivering sparrow’s heart may take the cake, or a street sign written in a foreign language. Maybe the strangest thing is a photograph of yourself. 
We’ve got five books to give away to three lucky winners! All you have to do is reply to this newsletter with your worst opening line for a terrible hypothetical novel 
(or email us at
           1st Place: Three books of your choice
           2nd Place: Your choice between the remaining books
           3rd Place: The final book
Please include your name and email address in your reply to ensure your entry is valid.
Happy scratching!
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Issue #4 Submission:
The following poem is by Dhriti Naidu. Find more of her work at:



her bronzed skin radiates,

dusk coalesced with a summer breeze.

her eyes are flooded with kisses from the sun, 

illuminated like pools of maple syrup.


five million hairs grow endlessly; 

she wasn’t made to feel the breeze.

she grows too fast for her skin; 

beige streaks adorn her curves.



her stomach peaks

like the waxing crescent phase of the moon.

fingertips caress her face; 

you could feel every scar,

every blemish,

has a story to tell.


she bleeds and endures the pain; 

she’s a warrior,

an anomalous almighty.


if only she could see 

how unbelievably captivating she is.