Katerina Cosgrove has owned bookshop-cafes and taught at the University of Technology, where she was awarded her BA (Honours) and Doctorate in Creative Arts. She's the author of two novels, The Glass Heart (HarperCollins, 2000) and Bone Ash Sky (Hardie Grant, Australia, UK, 2013). Her novella, Intimate Distance (TEXT, 2012), was one of the winners of the Griffith Review/CAL Novella Prize.
Katerina has appeared on ABC and BBC TV and written articles for The Age, The Australian, and Australian Author, won prizes for her short stories and been awarded grants for her writing. She is in her third year of judging the NIB Literary Award.
Katerina's also runs an online obituary writing service.
I remember arriving in London in 2013 and making a beeline with my daughter for Gap, Zara and H&M to gorge on dirt-cheap fast fashion. I knew no better. Now I do. Now I ask myself one question before I buy. Where are my clothes coming from? A straightforward question, with huge and complex ramifications.
I tend to pile on praise with a trowel, for my daughter, my husband, the dog, myself. So imagine my discomfort when confronted by a huge body of research, spanning decades, which posits the theory that praise and rewards are just as detrimental to children and adults as punishment.
In workplaces, schools and universities, there is still a sense of covertness to this fact of life, even a lingering sense of shame. We are well-versed in hiding the telltale signs, clutching the tampon or pad in our fist or handbag while we scurry to the toilet. I still wear black on my heaviest day, terrified of the accidental smear.
It's the panic that wakes us in the middle of the night, fearing we don't have enough. It's the illusion of scarcity. An illusion, that while we logically know has no basis, never seems to fade. If they have more, then we don't have enough.
I'm one of those crazy people who swim every single day, even through the winter. I first learned that I could actually do it, that my body wouldn't protest, that I could in fact swim on cold days and not catch the flu or die of hypothermia, from a group of women and men ranging from their sixties to their nineties at Avalon ocean pool.
When I get my ego out of my art I can experience the freedom of non-attachment to outcome. When I approach the empty page as if I've never done this before, I can access the simple vastness of not-knowing. And not caring too much about it, either.
I could argue that any pet doesn't really belong to us. They are sentient beings, with mind and heart and agency, so to think of them as belongings, like a new car or computer, is to flirt with a slavery mentality.
There is a denial of death in our culture. It is sanitised, smoothed over, preferably happening to someone else, over there. In the postmodern, affluent West, we don't see people die, wash their bodies, dress them lovingly, and watch over them for a day and night in our homes
Ram Dass, the Western spiritual teacher, refers to it as 'this energy transformation dance called dying'. If I'd approached it in that way when I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2009, I wouldn't have been so paralysed by fear.