25 October 2019

Meet the 2019 Deakin University Nonfiction Prize shortlist – Jonno Revanche


Jonno Revanche, 27, SA/NSW

Friends of Charlene: The saintlike engineering of Kylie Minogue’s creative catalogue, anti-effeminate respectability, and defacto metropolis maternity princesses


How did you begin writing?

I wrote sophisticated and slightly hyper real stories about native Australian animals I  primary school, which thankfully did not lead me to becoming a furry although of course I sympathise with the cause. It’s called allyship!


Why do you write nonfiction?

I’m an over-analytical bitch – it just be like that. I think when we can discern the right angles or attitudes within our lives we can learn to act in a more ethical way. That’s just me being optimistic however. I also enjoy juicing past experiences and emotions for all their worth because life is often unsatisfying and fast moving and we’re rarely given the occasion to reflect or express gratitude for something.


Tell us a bit about your submission to the Deakin University Nonfiction Prize:

It’s a long, analytical essay about Kylie Minogue’s artistic ethic, which is somehow matrilineal in nature.


Why did you choose to write on this subject?

I latched onto her music during a time when I really needed optimism and liberatory feelings to be a constant in my life, and I was interested in exploring how a humble pop star could reflect the ongoing anxieties and inconsistencies in the culture of so-called Australia. I like how she described her music as “sparkling melancholy”


What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

I really like that Martha Graham quote and it’s always stuck with me when other advice hasn’t – “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” I guess it’s thematically similar to “write drunk edit sober” if I may be so bold to say so – which is to say you should notate your ideas somewhere as soon as you get them.


Who are some of your favourite nonfiction writers?

It may seem obvious to cite Jia Tolentino but I’ve been obsessing and stanning for a few years. Ayesha Siddiqi, Ellena Savage, Doreen St. Felix, Rita Therese, Janet Mock, Evelyn Araluen, Mackenzie Wark, Sarah Schulman, Hilton Als, Bastian Phelan, all inspire and inform me in different ways. A common theme in their essay/memoir is how learned and intelligent they are without working too hard to convince you of that, which I think is a more superior form of smartness than being overtly bureaucratic in your delivery. Susan Sontag said something about this I think but I simply will not quote her directly.