Our president-elect appears to enjoy the rococo, too, but it is the wrong kind of rococo: not delicate craftsmanship as a blow to misogyny, but the gilding of every conceivable surface, the flaunting of a wealth he has used to hurt others, as a boastful public spectacle. Trump represents the end of liberalism, the end of self-restraint and public kindness delivered through flawed, long-lived institutions, at least on a national scale. The social contract of Paul Wellstone and Richard Rorty, of A. Phillip Randolph and Eleanor Roosevelt, and for that matter of Barack Obama, seems all torn up.

It is possible to imagine human progress—to imagine that we can make things better—and it is possible to imagine historical continuity—a future along the same lines as the recent past—but it is no longer possible for me to hold in mind both things at once. Nor is it possible for me to imagine that our institutions, long held up by tacit norms of professionalism and ethics, are likely to heal themselves. “Most of the American public,” writes international relations scholar Dan Drezner, “either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the norms that Trump is breaching,” no more than they care what a sonnet can be.

By Stephen Burt; more at Boston Review


Writers are made, not born, by investing time and money (usually their own) in their development, Forge says. They buy time to write by reducing paid working hours, writing hundreds of words for underfunded literary magazines and other outlets for a nominal fee (or for nothing but “exposure”) and spending every spare moment “practising their scales”. And support comes from a small, low-paid or voluntary army of workers: editors, festival directors, editorial assistants.

By Jane Sullivan; more at The Age, 12th November, 2016.


MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday November 10, 2016

The Sydney Writers’ Festival Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that Michaela McGuire has been appointed the Festival’s new Artistic Director and will take over the curation of the Festival into its 20th year. McGuire is the current Director and Co-CEO of Melbourne’s Emerging Writers’ Festival and will leave her role to come to the Sydney Writers’ Festival in December.

McGuire brings a wealth of book, writing, festival and publishing knowledge to the Festival through her work as a journalist, author, director, programmer and curator. She has written three books and is also known for co-founding the successful salon, Women of Letters in 2010. She has programmed and hosted over 160 sold-out shows all around Australia, as well as in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and New Zealand.

The Chair of the Sydney Writers’ Festival Board, Deena Shiff said, “Michaela brings new energy and perspectives to the task of curating the Sydney Writers’ Festival. We are confident that Michaela’s wide interests and ability to present both established and emerging writers will surprise and delight our audiences.”

McGuire, excited by the new opportunity and programming task ahead said, “I’m honoured to be joining the passionate team at Sydney Writers’ Festival. I’ve always admired the Festival’s commitment to celebrating storytelling in all its diverse forms, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to find new and playful ways to continue that fine work.”

“As SWF heads into its 20th year, I hope to program a celebration that befits the organisation’s reputation as a world-renowned literary festival, and also introduce a new generation of audiences to the smart, eclectic, passionate and surprising voices that inspire the national conversation.”

McGuire replaces outgoing Artistic Director, Jemma Birrell.

In other Sydney Writers’ Festival news, Executive Director Jo Dyer has been promoted to the role of CEO. Dyer will also join the Board of Directors. The 2017 Sydney Writers’ Festival returns May 22 – May 28.

Visit the festival’s website at Sydney Writers’ Festival.

#SydneyWritersFestival is Australia’s largest celebration of literature, stories and ideas. Every year, the May Festival brings together the Australia’s and the world’s best authors, leading public intellectuals, scientists, journalists and more.

For further information, please contact Benython Oldfield, Publicity Manager, Sydney Writers’ Festival. 0410 355 790


Poet Pete Hay is co-curator with Carol. The collaborative works from this retreat will be exhibited in August 2017. Hay calls Tasmania “a poet’s island”. “We’re expecting a lot from them”, says Hay. “Not just one piece. It’s a whole body of work.”

Adrienne, a teacher at St Michael’s Collegiate, has three sons and writes poetry in what she calls “the stolen moment”. She worries social media is discouraging the quiet, contemplative space people need to write and read poetry. “I think if young people never learn to concentrate, to read, to give a poem a go, then they lose something of immense value. It’s not that we lose poetry but we lose the readership and the potential in ourselves for understanding, empathy, and compassion that poetry can provoke.”

Tasmanian Aboriginal poet and essayist Greg Lehman, who is paired with artist Imants Tillers, has welcomed the group, and urges them to learn the name of the local Aboriginal tribe who once lived in the area. In their watery nest, while they draw and write, Sue and Adrienne repeat the tricky name over and over: Loontittetter Mairrenerhoiner, Loontittetter Mairrenerhoiner, Loontittetter Mairrenerhoiner…

By Hilary Burdon; more at Poets and painters , 22nd October 2016.


In 2008, US poet Sharon Olds came out about her poetry, admitting that her writing is based on her own life. Since the publication of her first book, Satan Says, in 1980, when she was thirty-seven, she’d been evading questions about the biographical basis of her work. In her rare interviews, she would gently correct ‘personal’ to ‘apparently personal’ as a description of her poems and emphasise with kindly patience that they were works of art, not autobiography. Then, in her late sixties, she changed her mind. She confirmed that the man dying slowly from a throat tumour in her book The Father was her own father; that the woman who in a number of poems ties her young daughter to a chair was the poet’s own mother; that the marriage whose end is painfully documented in Stag’s Leap was Olds’s own thirty-two-year marriage. In an email to an interviewer, she explained her re-think with reference to a reading she once gave at a high school. ‘A student said: ‘If I thought you’d made up all the stuff in your poems, I’d be really mad at you,’’ she writes. ‘And I knew how he felt, and in his place I’d feel the same way.’ Far from being offended by the idea that a reader might connect her poems with her life, she had taken that link for granted. She had assumed that the reader would know the poems had emerged from her own experience, even if she had never explicitly said so. ‘It had not crossed my mind really that anyone would make up a life, make up these stories,’ she goes on. ‘It seemed so obvious to me they were being told, sung, from some inner necessity that rose in an actual life.’

By Ann-Marie Priest; more at Cordite


Issue forty-three, the southern spring 2016 issue of Otoliths is now live & available. Read it here.

Otoliths 43 features work in a variety of styles & a variety of media from Jesse Glass, El Habib Louai, Scott MacLeod, Maria Damon & Alan Sondheim, Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo, Cecelia Chapman, Pete Spence, Kyle Hemmings, Heath Brougher, Volodymyr Bilyk, George McKim, Nicole Pottier, John J. Trause, Sanjeev Sethi, Ian Ganassi, Jim Leftwich, Willie Smith, Philip Byron Oakes, Mary Claire Garcia, Douglas Barbour & Sheila E. Murphy, AG Davis, Peter Ganick, differx (Marco Giovenale), Jim Meirose, Mark Roberts, Olivier Schopfer, William Repass, Texas Fontanella, Michael Gottlieb, John W. Sexton, Edward A. Dougherty, Eric Hoffman, hiromi suzuki, Simon Perchik, John M. Bennett, Ivan Argüelles, Scott Helmes, John Xero, Pat Nolan, Andrew Topel, Daniel John Pilkington, Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Raymond Farr, Lakey Comess, Bill Dunlap, Christopher Barnes, Robert Okaji, Jeff Bagato, Nico Vassilakis, Mitchell Garrard, Keith Higginbotham, Fabrice Poussin, Richard Kostelanetz, Sabine Miller, Meeah Williams, sean burn, Louise Landes Levi, Brendan Slater, Oscar Towe, Tom Beckett, Mark McKain, Jürgen O. Olbrich, Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Jorge Lucio de Campos, Eileen R. Tabios, Andrea Mason, Joe Balaz, Michael Caylo-Baradi, Jacqueline M. Pérez, Owen Bullock, Roger Mitchell, Steve Dalachinsky, Jeff Harrison, Aurélien Leif, Holly Day, Stephen Vincent, Carol Stetser, nick nelson, Seth Howard, Taylor Leigh Ciambra, Poornima Laxmeshwar, Hamish Spark, Márton Koppány, Alicia Cole, Cara Murray, bruno neiva, Jack Kelly, Mark Cunningham, Massimo Stirneri, Matt Dennison, Olchar E. Lindsann, Karen Greenbaum-Maya, Darren Marsh, Nika & Jim McKinniss, Natsuko Hirata, Tony Beyer, Edward Kulemin, John Pursch, Irene Koronas, Darren C. Demaree, nick-e melville, Josette Torres, Shloka Shankar, Piotr Kalisz, Ella Skilbeck-Porter, Bob Heman, Garima Behal, Paul T. Lambert, J. D. Nelson, Michael Brandonisio, Eddie Donoghue, Katrinka Moore, Indigo Perry, & Marilyn Stablein.

Also, the print parts of Issue forty-two are now available from The Otoliths Storefront. “Apologies for the price of Part 2, but, unfortunately, 288 pages of full color doesn’t come cheap. Issue forty-three will be available by the middle of November.”

“Finally, a plug for the new book by Alberto Vitacchio, Landlessness, in which the Pequod becomes a vessel engaged not only in a search for Moby-Dick but also in an exploration of American literature. Extracts have appeared in a couple of issues of Otoliths, & the entire is now available through Amazon.”


Over the past two months, the Five Islands Press website and Ron Pretty Poetry Prize entry page have been down at least twice. This is fixed now. But the Press wants to offer poets more time to enter the prize.

Entry has been extended until 22 November 2016.

With this new deadline, the long list will now be announced on 21 January 2017.

The short list will be announced on 31 January 2017.

The prize winner will be announced at an event on 3 March 2017.

First Prize: $5000
Second Prize: $1500
Third Prize: $750

Judge: Ron Pretty

The prize will be awarded to a single poem of up to 30 lines, and is open to anyone over the age of 18 years, including overseas applicants.

Entry fee is $25 for the first poem and $10 for subsequent poems. There are no limits on entries. Online submissions only. Enter here.


2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize Winners Announced

Island magazine and key sponsor, Hobart Bookshop, have announced the winners of the 2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize today.

Celebrating Tasmania’s most acclaimed poet, the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize was established in 1996 and has received generous support from Chris Pearce and Janet Grecian of the Hobart Bookshop since 1999.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize – First Prize
‘In Memory’ by Stuart Cooke
Thanks to the support of Hobart Bookshop and literary journals around the country, Stuart has won $2000, publication in Island and annual subscriptions to Island, The Lifted Brow, Griffith Review, Overland, Southerly, Westerly, Review of Australian Fiction and Meanjin.

Stuart was born in 1980 and grew up in Sydney and Hobart. He travels often, particularly in Latin America, where he lived for a number of years. Widely published as a poet, critic and translator, he now lives on the Gold Coast and lectures at Griffith University. His new collection of poems, Opera, has just been published by Five Islands Press.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize – Second Prize
‘Correspondence’ by Kate Wellington
Kate’s winning poem will be published in Island and she has also won annual subscriptions to Island, The Lifted Brow, Griffith Review, Overland, Southerly, Westerly, Review of Australian Fiction and Meanjin.

Kate is a teacher and poet. In 2014, she and her husband came to settle in Australia from the UK where she had been working in education and welfare. She lives on the Central Coast of NSW.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize – Highly Commended
‘Along The Wire, In the Dark’ by Jill Jones
Jill has published nine full-length books, including Breaking the Days and The Beautiful Anxiety, which won the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry. In 2014, she was poet-in-residence at Stockholm University and she is a member of the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide.

2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize Judges
The judges for this year’s prize were Island Poetry Editor and award-winning poet, Sarah Holland-Batt; writer and editor, Kent MacCarter and contemporary poet, Michael Farrell.


SS: You said that, partly because of your educational background, you are ‘not scared’ of drawing on the sciences. Are there topics or discourses that you are anxious about addressing in your poetry?

SW: Firstly, I would be afraid to write about science if there was a danger I would treat it too crudely or clumsily. There’s a massive difference between being an amateur enthusiast and being qualified to write about concepts or use them as metaphors or poetic tools or portals. So that is something I am very aware of.

As a privileged white woman, there are other areas I hesitate not exactly to write about, but to share. Who am I to write about immigration and prejudice? Am I qualified to write about human trafficking from my privileged position? Should that matter at all? There is a risk of exploiting peoples’ misery. So I try to approach these subjects with that awareness. I am writing about the definition of weeds – plants in the wrong places, and how that might apply to people.

More at University of Liverpool: Literature and Science Hub: Interview with Sarah Westcott


I wrote an essay on Hazy in Island magazine about 10 years ago titled “A Tasmanian Intellectual”. It concluded: “Peter Hay was the only teacher I met during my university years who excited in me the belief that the place I was from, its stories and ghosts and mystifying absences, were deserving of serious explanation…”

By Martin Flanagan; more at The Age, 7th Oct 2016.