Flash Frontier

Across oceans: Ghazaleh Golbakhsh & Catherine McNamara

Interviews and Features

A Kind of Shelter

Two writers talk of what motherhood may or may not mean – rebelling against norms, expectations and boundaries.

Ghazaleh Golbakhsh & Catherine McNamara reflect on their experience of participating in the book A Kind of Shelter Whakaruru-taha, as part of the Kōrero features in the book.




An excerpt from the Kōrero


One-night stand(s)



We were disco babes. Out the back, we travelled. New Guinea was a pash, Moscow was going all the way. Anywhere in between had to be geography. We wore our love bites with pride and sculled Ben Ean in the toilets. And when one of us came home pregnant we gave her all the support in the world to get rid of it. We had rights. There were clinics. But she wanted to keep that baby. Against all of our earnest advice. We watched it push out her belly, and she wore pushed-out Indian dresses with wonky hems. She went through the horrid splitting apart of birth and brought home a doll in a basket. Those cells we wanted flushed out of her became a tall, lanky girl, prettier than any of us.



A friend had a medical scare a few years back, and there was a risk that they would have to remove her womb. She’d never thought about children, but here in this moment, the idea of the possibility being taken away so swiftly and coldly sent her into a slight craze. ‘I want the choice,’ she would say. ‘I don’t want it snatched from me.’ Another friend had an abortion after spending years entangled in a web of lust with a terrible man. As I doom-scrolled through Instagram on yet another restless night through the pandemic, I would see this man’s pictures pop up — of his new wife and young daughters. I wondered what my friend would think every time this grim reminder would pop up, like unwanted DMs in your inbox from mysterious creepy men who think it preposterous that you don’t reply to their unwanted virtual advances.


More about A Kind of Shelter Whakaruru-taha, edited by Witi Ihimaera and Michelle Elvy, at Massey University Press.

Ghazaleh GolbakhshGhazaleh Golbakhsh is an Iranian-New Zealand writer, filmmaker and Fulbright scholar. Her first book of personal essays The Girl From Revolution Road was published by Allen & Unwin after winning a CLNZ/NZ Society of Authors Grant. She has also contributed to anthology books Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand, A Kind of Shelter | Whakaruru-taha and the upcoming essay collection Otherhood. She is currently working on a number of film and television projects and recently completed her PhD in media and communications.


Catherine McNamaraCatherine McNamara grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write and ended up running a bar in Ghana. Catherine lives in Italy where she runs writing retreats. She is the author of The Cartography of OthersLove Stories for Hectic People and Pelt and Other Stories, Flash Fiction Editor for Litro Magazine, and this year’s Guest Editor for the Best Small Fictions Anthology. Her short fiction collection The Carnal Fugues is out in Australia in November with Puncher & Wattmann.

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