'Currajah' has moved

LiNQ's future?

Interview with Richard Flanagan (ABC: 7.30 Report)


Deadlines: submissions to 'Meanjin'

Australian Book Review Blog Site

Launceston Poetry Cup, October 2006

Launch, rob walker's collection micromacro: Adelaide, 30th September

2007 Watermark Literary Muster

Colin Thiele:
1920 - 2006

In Memoriam, Lisa Bellear

Eucalypt: a tanka journal

Tasmanian Poetry Festival, 2006

Broadway Poetry Prize

Island 104

Island 104

Online Workshop: 'Eight weeks toward building the better poem'

Island's new editor

Broken Hill's performance poetry group the 'Silver Tongued Ferals'

New editor for Island?

Fabian Forum: Minority Government - Who Wins?

Oxfam Tasmania Events

Blast magazine

Smashing Time

Gwen Harwood Prize 2005

Brand New Lino

Australia's longest running community poetry reading celebrates thirty years of activity

Quiet Passing for author John Fowles

An afternoon at the Republic

Poetry Australia Foundation / Five Islands New Poets Programme 2006

Memorial Service, Magenta Bliss

Bruce Dawe National Poetry

Prize 2005E-Panel: October Literary Journal Editors

Reading: Jonathan Coe & Tim Winton, Toronto, Canada

Launch speech: Jenny Barnard's First Blue

2005 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

Ivy Alvarez' new collection Mortal

Tasmanian Poetry Festival

Vale Barney Roberts

Pinter wins Nobel literary prize

English-speaking countries published 375,000 new books in 2004

'Masterful' Irish writer wins Booker prize

The burden of the Gospels

Granta sold to Swedish philanthropist

Rush hour poetry to put commuters on the right lines

'I do give a damn'

'Poetry? It's crucial'

What are our poets writing about?

Shen/Stan Sim in the Malaysian news

A literary lion

Vale Ray Stuart

The Wagtail series, Picaro Press

Elias Canetti's Party in the Blitz

Fay Weldon: the time of her life

2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards

Novel take on global warming

Book by Australian Hazel Rowley (on de Beauvior & Sartre) in dispute

2005 Brisbane Writers Festival

'World Literature Today' Top Forty List

Return of the Time Lord: interview with Stephen Hawking (The Guardian)

Peter Denis Kevans 1935-2005: the battler's poet

The burning question

The new Paris Review: is it good?

Poetry reviews & their effects

Behind the scene: Age interview with Andrew McCann

Writers sue Google Print over copyright

Hazel Smith's The Writing Experiment

Rushdie should swap his crusading for novel writing

Issues of translation

Victorian writer Andrew O'Connor wins Australia's $20,000 Vogel Award

Poetry in a time of fire

'Agenda': Poetry in Motion

Deer crashes poetry meeting

Salman Rusdie: Paradise Postponed

Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Shortlist 2005

On This Day
(16 Sept)

The Lucky Country

A rowboat out

Australian Book Review (Sept 2005)

Position Vacant: Executive Officer, NT Writers' Centre, Darwin

Booker novelists denounce Turkey for charging author

Tribute to Margaret Scott


Australian Young Poets Fellowships 2006


'Novelists aren't intellectuals; they're just intuitive, if they're lucky.'

Booker Prize 2005 shortlist

Donald Horne mourned

Project Uncensored

Selwyn Pritchard

Poet, author Margaret Scott dies

Fascicle: new online journal

An interview with Irish fiction writer John McGahern

Poets dominate Melbourne University literary and art awards




Ralph Wessman


Thursday 9th November, 2006


In fact, Currajah is no more ... please visit our new blog Garradunga

Tuesday 7th November, 2006


Michael Farrell
Sarah Day
Stuart Cooke

Hobart Bookshop, 5.30 pm Free. All welcome. New books. Wine.

Michael lives in Melbourne and is reading in Hobart for the first time. He is promoting his new book of graphic poetry 'BREAK ME OUCH'. His previous book 'ode ode' (Salt 2003) was shortlisted for the Age poetry prize. He is included in Best Australian Poems 2006.

Sarah was the poetry editor for Island 1996-2003 and is one of Hobart's best known and finest poets. Her books have won and been shortlisted for several prizes. Her most recent book 'The Ship' (Brandl & Schlesinger 2005) won both the Wesley Michel Wright and the Queensland Premier's Judith Wright Calanthe award. Her 'New and Selected' was published by Arc in 2003.

Stuart was born and educated in Sydney, but now lives in Hobart. His recent work has been published in magazines such as Antipodes, Overland, Famous Reporter and Blue Dog. He is researching ecopoetics.

Monday 6th November, 2006


Reports suggest that LiNQ , the long -running (over thirty years) literary magazine put out by the James Cook University in Townsville, has lost its Arts Queensland funding ... though what this means for the future of the magazine is not immediately clear.

Thursday 2nd November, 2006


The results of this year's Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize were announced this evening at Hobart Bookshop, Hobart, Tasmania.

‘Structure of the Horse's Eye’ ELIZABETH CAMPBELL

‘A Day at the Beach’ KATHRYN LOMER
‘Spiritlands Undreaming’ ANNE MORGAN
‘The Deep Sigh: Katoomba Falls’ ROBYN ROWLAND

COMMENDED: Awarded at the judges’ discretion, no prize money.
‘Motoring in Mongolia in a Summer Snowstorm’ RON WISEMAN

Philip Mead spoke of having been a judge of the inaugural Gwen Harwood Prize, and of judging the event with Margaret Scott. 'Margaret and I had arranged to meet at her property down on the Tasman Peninsula, to talk over the submissions and generally spend the day together. It was one of those clear and cold Tasmanian days, I arrived at Margaret's house and went inside to greet her ... intending to discuss our lists of winners and highly commendeds. To our great surprise, we discovered that our choices were identical ... of all our choices, there may have been something like a fourth and fifth transposed between us, but for the rest our choices were identical. Here we were expecting to spend the day together deciding on prize winners, and it was all over within three minutes.'

'Well,' said Margaret, 'we must have a drink.'

'Yes,' I agreed [said Philip].

So they did. Margaret supplied a drink and put together lunch, then started talking ... about the neighbours, about a proposed greyhound track that would bring in the tourists, about the characters of the peninsula.... 'Margaret moved on to talk about Sylvia Plath, the bit of history in which Margaret had participated by being at the party  where Hughes had met Plath. Margaret remained still slightly mournful about certain events of the night....'

'And we spoke - of course - about Gwen. Just as marvellous a figure, and also a migrant to Tasmania, Gwen being born in 1920 in Queensland. Like Margaret, she didn't fully appreciate Tasmania at first but grew to love it. In fact, she never left.'

'Over thirty years, Gwen produced seven highly commended collections. As well, she was famous as a great letter writer. At the end of her career, she was considered - justly - as a major English language poet, not simply as a major Australian poet.'

'Gwen is remembered with this prize. So let's get to it ... we have tonight a commended, three highly commendeds, and of course a winner. The commended poem is "Motoring in Mongolia in a Summer Snowstorm", by Ron Wiseman. Ron is a Queensland poet, this is only the second poetry competition he's entered, and he says he's thrilled to receive this honour.'

'Of the Highly Commended, the first is "The Deep Sigh: Katoomba Falls" by Robyn Rowland. Robyn couldn't come over for the ceremony, but her poem will be read on her behalf a little later.'

'The next highly commended poem is "Spiritlands Undreaming" by Anne Morgan. Anne is a Tasmanian poet who has spent the past two years in Western Australia completing a PhD in writing at Edith Cowan University. Anne's here in the audience and will be reading her poem later in the evening.'

'Next, is a poem from another Tasmanian writer - Kathryn Lomer's "A Day at the Beach", a marvellous poem, you'll love it. Kathryn is here this evening too, you'll hear her read later.'

'Finally, the winner of the 2006 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize is Elizabeth Campbell. Elizabeth was born in Melbourne in 1980, has worked as a waiter, florist, horse riding instructor and teacher, is widely published, has almost finished her first collection of poems ... unfortunately her teaching commitments don't permit her to be here tonight.'

'For anyone interested, the judges report  - by Judith Beveridge and Rob Riel - will be published on Island's website later this evening. The judges state that of the 300-odd poems, their initial shortlist of some thirty poems each was decidedly similar.'

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the differences in our respective shortlists were few and insignificant.  The overarching criteria were two: craft of a very high standard; and originality.  Each of these top 30 poems deserved acknowledgement, even if we doubted that some would make the final cut.   Many were publishable as submitted, but not every fine poem can be a competition winner.

Narrowing the shortlist down to a handful of contenders for the prize proved, as expected, a much more challenging task.    Finding flaws, even minor ones, is much easier than weighing and comparing disparate sets of thoroughly positive qualities.  Still, we quickly settled on five or six poems which self-selected on the basis of their exceptional innovation, reach and technical skill.  Each had qualities which set it apart, and progressively finer distinctions determined which pieces kept their positions on the list.  These poems, from the outset, had drawn both  of us back again and again.  Each in its own unique way staked an urgent claim to the empty spot at the top of the list.

After numerous re-readings and re-re-readings over several days, we knew without question or hesitation that 'Structure of the Horse's Eye' by Elizabeth Campbell had to be the winner. 

Thursday 2nd November, 2006


From the weblog Matilda comes news of this interview with Richard Flanagan - broadcast last night on the ABC's '7.30 Report' - to discuss his new novel The Unknown Terrorist..

KERRY O’BRIEN: You said after writing 'The Sound of One Hand Clapping' that it was like disembowelling yourself and leaving yourself as a shaking, gutted cadaver. Are you sure there isn't something else you'd rather do?

RICHARD FLANAGAN: I've said some dreadful things, haven't I? If you pour yourself into a book, it's a bit like getting your gear off and running down the main street of your town. There's nowhere left to hide. Equally, there are moments of great euphoria and jubilation in it.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But are you one of those who does feel you've maybe given away something of yourself that you are uncomfortable about in the process?

RICHARD FLANAGAN: You always have to give away things, you are uncomfortable about yourself. If you don't, if you don't open yourself up to all that's not simply best, but worst in yourself - you have to canvass the full range of what it is to be human. So you can't simply pretend to be one sort of person. You have to open yourself up to all humanity can be and do, all good, all evil, everything that's funny and everything that is despairing. You have to open yourself up to everything. Of course you feel vulnerable and naked after that.

Thursday 2nd November, 2006


The third issue of Mark Young's Otoliths [A Magazine of Many E-Things] is now online, featuring new work by Ray Craig, Jordan Stempleman, Jeff Harrison, Andrew Topel, Corey Mesler, John M. Bennett, Reed Altemus, Lars Palm, Jesse Crockett, rob mclennan, Pat Nolan, Jenna Cardinale, Rochelle Ratner, Ian Finch, Paul Siegell, Thomas Fink & Tom Beckett, Aysegül Tözeren, Glenn Bach, T. Walden, Tom Hibbard, Raymond Farr, Aki Salmela, Jill Jones, Nico Vassilakis, Kirsten Kaschock, Martin Edmond, Eileen Tabios, Sheila Murphy, Rebeka Lembo, Jonathan Hayes, Jenny Allan, Geof Huth, Kevin Opstedal, Adam Fieled, Derek Motion, Caleb Puckett, Scott Hartwich, harry k stammer & Serkan Isin, & has a cover by Michael Rothenberg.

Young intends to produce Otoliths quarterly, to contain a variety of what can be loosely described as e-things, that is, anything that can be translated (visually at this stage) to an electronic platform. "If it moves, we won't shoot at it."

Wednesday 1st November, 2006


Submissions to Meanjin's issue on the theme of 'Love, Sex and Desire' (publication date March 2007) are due in two days time, 3rd November. (Contributors details). Submissions for the June 2007 issue on the theme of 'Globalisation and Postcolonial Writing' are due 3rd February, 2007.

Monday 30th October, 2006


Australian Book Review opened its official blog site this month, with contributors including editor Peter Rose and other ABR staff and guest bloggers from the world of letters.

Thursday 19th October, 2006


Festival director Cameron Hindrum lays down the rules for Saturday evening’s Launceston Poetry Cup. ‘Festival policy dictates that any bribes made to the festival committee will be kept, especially chocolates.’ Bated breath awaits the announcement of the first contestant, considered an unlucky slot given the audience will have barely had time to warm up. A hand in the box pulls out a name … contestant number one for the 2006 Cup is Liz Winfield. She puts on a brave show, but – sorry Liz, you’ll need to bide your time till next year. The ice broken, it’s now on for young and old.

Valerie Tinmouth is an early frontrunner, as is Ros Lewis. A number of entrants mistime their entry but prefer disqualification and the opportunity to finish their piece: Joy Elizabeth, Jimmy Everett, and Georgie Todman among them. Iggy McGovern puts in a credible performance, and then it’s the turn of the fifteenth competitor: Tim Thorne. 'After the stingray got stuck into Steve,' Thorne begins. When he finishes, applause sweeps the room; a new benchmark's been set. Yet competitor sixteen - Geoff Page – receives similar thunderous acclamation, as does Bruce Penn, competitor seventeen. Entry eighteen settles for another disqualification, whereon Peter Minter at nineteen chimes in with yet another strong performance. For a Sydneysider, he’s certainly done his homework on what’s considered topical. ‘Pulp … is a four-letter word’, and ‘Have mill will pulp, have beer will gulp’…. ‘Thank you Peter Minter; there’s a petition for you all to sign at the table at the back. Next, contestant number twenty…’ intones Hindrum. With contestant number twenty-two - Gary Stannus - comes a play on the acronym SNAG. Does he refer to sensitive new age guy? Or perhaps to sensitive new age Gunns? ‘What do you think / about that pulp mill they’re going to build? / I says – just between you and me mate…’ - but his revelations are interrupted by the discordant note of the asthmatic goose. A collective sigh of dismay sweeps the room. ‘Perhaps we can hear Gary’s entry again at the end of the Cup,’ Hindrum decides, ‘and did I mention there’s a petition to sign?’ Even Canadian visitor Jacqueline Turner is pulpmill-aware. Her visit to the podium is again followed by Hindrum’s patter advising of a petition to be signed: divisions over the twin issues of the pulp mill and the Victorian Supreme Court battle, (pitting corporate concerns against those of John Citizen), have bitten deep in the North. Colin Berry, twice winner of the event, is the twenty-ninth and penultimate entrant, but neither he nor final contestant David Jones manage to worry the judges.

Any number of fine poets dot the room – Carolyn Fisher, Gina Mercer, Andrew Peek, Sue Moss, Kate Fagan, Jane Williams, 1993’s winner Lyn Reid amongst them – who’ve declined to enter the competition, though perhaps they’re concerned at the evening perambulating on into time at the Thorne's traditional post-Cup party. In their deliberations, one judge is unable to distinguish between Tim Thorne and Bruce Penn in a tie for first place, both poets ever so barely shading Geoff Page and Peter Minter in a tie for equal third. A second judge has arrived at a choice between the same four contestants, but cannot choose between Thorne and Minter for the winner. The third judge’s short list is decidedly dissimilar - ‘perhaps I heard things differently from where I sat’ – but nominates Thorne as the clear champion. Thus for the first time, the Launceston Poetry Cup is Thorne’s - and he’s euphoric. ‘I’ve finally won the Cup!!!' Nevertheless, he makes no great claims for his poem. He's written better in the past but gotten nowhere, he says. ‘This one was specially written for the event and was called "Revenge", dealing with the response to Steve Irwin's death, and how we see nature as the enemy. It was not a great poem, by any means, but it must have hit a chord … anyway, it's easier to get a loud response when the audience has had a few drinks." For his troubles, he’s won a bottle of champagne and ... a mint copy of the new Tim Thorne chapbook Best Bitter. And the Cup is back in the North once more; back where it belongs, some might say.



After the stingray got stuck into Steve
someone had the bright idea to leave
dozens of killed rays stranded on the beaches:
‘eye for an eye’, a bright idea that reaches
back to the old bloodthirsty bits of the Bible,
when everything was primitive and tribal.
When Top End crocs make lunch of German tourists
the rifles come out. ‘Sentimental purists’
is what us conservationists get called.
Like Sunnis and Shiites, peace talks all have stalled.
Now Brocky’s gone will someone tell me please:
do we wipe out more Holdens or cut down more trees?

Thursday 7th September, 2006


South Australian poet rob walker's new poetry collection micromacro will be launched by poet & ABC poeticA presenter Mike Ladd at South Australian Writers' Centre, 187 Rundle Street, Adelaide on Saturday September 30 at 6pm. micromacro was winner of the Onkaparinga Poetry Unhinged Single Poet Collection Competition for 2006.

rob walker has had work published in Quadrant, Famous Reporter, Best Australian Poems, 2005 and broadcast on poeticA. Hundreds of his poems have found publication on internet sites, but this is his first major collection in print.

"rob walker combines sharp perception, compassion and humour to create crisp intersections of time and place" (Jan Owen)

"...witty, incisive and nicely attuned to the 'mouthfeel' of language. His black sense of humour is a bonus. " (Mike Ladd) ..

"grabs you by the scruff of the neck and pulls you up through a chemical mosaic of earth and ocean until you confront your earliest evolutionary ancestors." (Graham Rowlands.)

micromacro will be on sale online after the launch through Seaview Press.

Wednesday 6th September, 2006
Tuesday 2 October - Saturday 6 October , 2007

The following Australian writers have accepted invitations to attend the 2007 Muster. They will be joined by Eric Rolls, Patron of the Society, David Rothenberg (USA and Judith Binney (NZ) and will explore the topic of migration. An invitation has also been extended to Indigenous writer, Pat Torres, from Broome.

Jeannie Baker (NSW)
Barbara Brooks (NSW)
Helen Cushing (Tasmania)
Adrian Franklin (Tasmania)
John Hughes (NSW)
Nick Jose (South Australia)
Dorinda Hafner (South Australia)
Graeme Kinross-Smith (Victoria)
Melissa Lucashenko (NSW)
Sandy McCutcheon (NSW)
Gina Mercer (Tasmania)
Jill Morris (Queensland)
Tessa Morris-Suzuki (ACT)
Nathalie Nguyen (Victoria)
Catherine Padmore (Victoria)
Andrew Riemer (NSW)
Eva Sallis (South Australia)
George Seddon (Western Australia)
Peter Skryznecki (NSW)
Deb Verhoeven (Victoria)

Wednesday 6th September, 2006

COLIN THIELE: 1920 - 2006

"You’ll no doubt have heard by now that the much-loved South Australian writer and educator, Colin Thiele, died on Monday." [Wendy James, 'Sarsaparilla', 6th September, 2006)

Sunday 9th July, 2006


"I had the great fortune, in my life, to know writer and Aboriginal activist Lisa Bellear.
Lisa died two days ago, in her sleep, causes - as yet - unknown. She was 45."

(From the blog 'Thoughts on Freedom" , a post by skepticlawyer)

aia_lisa_bellear[1].gif (3579 bytes)

Thursday 6th July, 2006


Announcing Eucalypt: a tanka journal, Australia's first journal dedicated to this ancient form of Japanese poetry which has become of increasing interest to poets writing in English. All details are available on   The inaugural issue is due before the end of 2006.

Tuesday 6th June, 2006


Some emailed notes from the festival's Cameron Hindrum:

Firstly and most IMPORTANTLY, the DATE for this year's Festival is October 13-15. Please have this tattooed somewhere prominently upon your person so that you DO NOT FORGET them and MISS THE FESTIVAL. (Or failing that, if you're scared of needles, just write it in a diary or something.)

This year we will be joined by...

Geoff Page (ACT)
Peter Minter (NSW)
Sam Wagan Watson (Qld)
Kaye Aldenhoven (NT)
Gina Mercer (Tas)
Esther Ottaway (Tas)
Jim Everett (Tas)

... and our international guest this year, who will read at the Festival conduct a workshop in Launceston as part of her month-long residency here in October, will be

... Jacqueline Turner (Canada). (Profound thanks to the Tas Writers Centre and the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada for making this residency possible. A Tasmanian writer will be selected to undertake a residency in Canada--on Prince Edward Island--next year).

Thursday 18th May, 2006


  • $3,000 prize
  • Judges: Elizabeth Webby & Peter Kirkpatrick
  • Winner to be announced at the Australian Poetry Festival, 1-10 September, 2006

The Broadway Poetry Prize is one of Australia's most prestigious competitions for poetry. Sponsored by the Broadway Shopping Centre and the Poets Union, this year the prize for the winning poem is $3,000. It will be published in the Poets Union journal Five Bells, and on the Poets Union website at The winning entry, together with the shortlisted poems, will be published by Picaro Press in booklet form and be available from the Union for $6.

Conditions of Entry

  • The competition is open to all citizens and permanent residents of Australia. (Committee members of the Poets Union are ineligible).
  • Poems must not have been previously publsihed, or be under consideration for publication, or for another poetry competition.
  • No personal details may appear on the manuscript. Attach a separate entry form or cover sheet to each entry. The entry form can be downloaded from Feel free to copy the entry form.
  • Send three copies of each entry. Each copy must be typed, single-sided, on plain A4 paper. Faxed or emailed entries cannot be accepted.
  • Include an SSAE for results and a receipt.
  • The maximum length of each entry is 100 lines. The fee for each entry is $10, of $7 for financial members of the Poets Union. Make cheques and money orders payable to The Poets Union Inc.
  • The deadline for submissions is 28 July 2006; entries postmarked after this date will not be accepted.
  • Submissions will not be returned.
  • The decision of the judges will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Send your entries to:

The Broadway Poetry Prize
Poets Union
PO Box 91
Balmain   NSW   2041

Thursday 27th April, 2006


Thursday 27th April, 2006 – 5.30pm, Hobart Bookshop, Hobart.

Island 104 was launched in Hobart this evening by Norman Reaburn, Chair of Island’s Management Committee.

Norman spoke of the procedures followed for finding a new editor, how in the past the committee had met behind shut doors and scratched its collective head till coming up with a name. This time, they’d decided to do things differently, instigating a national search for an editor by networking through friends and colleagues across the whole of the continent. And the response, said Reaburn, amazed and astounded, there was a significant number of people interested in the job.

Secretly, in its heart of hearts, the committee had hoped to be able to find an editor who lived in Tasmania. Gina Mercer’s application had been one of the early ones, and in Reaburn’s mind was the vague notion that even at this early stage of proceedings they’d found their applicant. Gina possessed a strong academic background, had published a novel, a poetry collection, had acted as a judge for literary competitions and won critical and academic attention for her work. ‘We took great pride and pleasure in offering her the editorship of Island, and took great delight when she accepted.’

David Owen, retiring editor, spoke of Island as ‘an unpredictable magazine’, but with so much communal support and goodwill ‘it is impossible to see how it could fail’. He named and thanked the work of previous editors who’d brought good things to Island and made it a truly national magazine. ‘I’ve had a few handover sessions with Gina, the magazine is in very, very good hands, I’m absolutely thrilled to be handing over to her.’

‘As for anecdotes,’ David continued ... 'well there were the occasional difficulties, such as with the second issue I edited. A reference I made in the editorial was – I realised – basically a big mistake on my part. This was at eight o’clock at night, just after we’d taken the magazine to the printers. I rang them first thing next morning, "I hope you haven’t started printing yet?" '

‘Yeah, just about finished….’

‘So I told them my problem, and they said don’t worry, we’ll just cut the page out, do a cut and paste job & no one will notice, you might at most see a little join.’

Owen said he lived with - and learned from - the experience.

‘And then there’s Island’s letterhead masthead,’ he continued, ‘which on one side says "excellence’ and on the other "variety". I’ve had quite a few letters just addressed to The Editor, Island Excellence Variety. Or addressed to Rodney Croome; this will happen to you too Gina, so when they come your way, simply reply mentioning Rodney left about nine years ago….’

Owen went on to relate a wee mishap in a portaloo, remarking that ‘if there’s any writer who I felt worthy of pissing on my leg it was him: that’s the way I’ll remember Island!’

Gina Mercer spoke of her vision for Island as a ‘national conversation’, rooted and composted in Tasmania with writing diverse and rich. ‘Tasmania has been a fantastic and welcoming place to come to, as has been the experience of coming to grips with editing the magazine. I’ve always been a reader, but now I’m reading Island six or seven times before publication – and it’s David’s turn to be able to relax and enjoy the magazine for what it is without the responsibility of editing it into print.’

Gina wished David well and invited a half-dozen contributors to read from Island 104. ‘The next Island launch will be on Friday 23rd June’, she continued, ‘as part of The Tasmanian Writers Centre’s Ice Cold Words Festival dealing with writing about the Antarctic.’ Gina encouraged continued support for the magazine. ‘All my family and friends know what they’re getting for Christmas … Island in their stockings. And if you ever feel the need to contact and converse with me, feel free – particularly if it’s at the time I’m stuffing Island magazine into envelopes to contributors and subscribers, I’d love your help.’

23rd April, 2006


Norman Reaburn, accompanied by David Owen and Gina Mercer, will launch Island 104 at 5.30pm on Thursday 27th April at Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square, Hobart.

Island 104 will be the last to appear under David Owen's editorship, with Thursday's launch an opportunity both to farewell David and to welcome new editor Gina Mercer.

23rd March, 2006

Interested in an online poetry workshop? Here are details forwarded to us of a workshop commencing 2nd April 2006, costing US$200 :

Are you interested in improving your poetry writing techniques? Would you like to learn how to negotiate the complex world of getting your poetry published in journals? Build a community with other poets online? The Online School of Poetry, whose faculty includes the renowned poets Quincy Troupe, Patricia Smith and Regie Gibson, is offering a poetry writing workshop led by poet and educator Tom Daley, "Eight Weeks Toward Building the Better Poem," starting April 2, 2006.   Through exercises, readings and critiques by the instructor and your fellow workshoppers, you will learn techniques for crafting better poetry. Each week you will be given an assignment in poetic forms and/or poetic techniques. We will be studying the modern sonnet as developed by practitioners such as Gwendolyn Brooks and John Berryman, the relatively new (and shorter) variant of the sestina called the tritina and crafting our own poems in these forms. Other exercises will deal with using anaphora (the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning, middle or end of a line), exploring the possibilities of metaphor, exploding clichés, writing dramatic monologues and writing about music, painting, sculpture, film and other works of art. You will have the opportunity to post two additional poems each week besides the exercise for critique by the instructor and your peers. In addition to critiquing your poetry, the instructor will offer suggestions for further reading based on your work and will make recommendations about strategies for getting your work published and/or performing your work. The class is open to novice poets and experienced hands alike. Tuition for the course is $200. Go to for more information about the course and how to register. The class is limited to twelve participants.

20th March, 2006

Island magazine has a new editor, Gina Mercer. This follows the resignation of David Owen.

Some thoughts:

Given that her previous editorial stint with LiNQ magazine was of nine years duration,  Gina may well have taken on the job for the long haul.

Her extended experience with LiNQ will give her the confidence to make quick directional changes for the magazine, if in fact she has any in mind.

Listening to the selection of poems Gina read yesterday - whereby she made plain her response to the results of the previous day's Tasmanian state elections - there's no doubting she'll make a passionate, feisty Island editor.

1st March, 2006


Poetry by Barbara De Franceschi, Alan Duffy and Geoff Saunders - members of Broken Hill's performance poetry group the 'Silver Tongued Ferals' - features on-line this month in Poems Niederngasse, edited by Pasquale Capocasa of Switzerland. It's a good showcase for a hard-working writing community described by  Barbara De Franceshi as sometimes ignoring their environment - writing about oceans, rain forests, skyscrapers and city life - but who in the end, are inexorably pulled back "to arid landscape so raw it tantalises every creative image, every intangible feeling".

17th February, 2006


All writers, their friends and families are invited to the official launch of three new publications

Friendly Street Poets 2006 Reader  - THIRTY,



at the West Tent, Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens (behind Government House), Adelaide

5:45pm Sunday March 5th,

day 1 of Adelaide Writers’ Week 2006.


The anthology THIRTY, edited by local poets rob walker and Louise Nicholas, contains the 100 best poems read at Friendly Street (Australia’s longest-running continuous community poetry reading) throughout 2005.
THIRTY will be launched by ABC Radio National broadcaster, author and poet Sandy McCutcheon.
The NOVA prize (awarded for the best poem by a new, unpublished poet) will be presented by innovative Queensland poet Jaya Savige.
NEW POETS 11, containing the first published collections of Cameron Fuller, Patricia Stringer & Rachel Manning will be launched by poet, novelist and academic Marion May Campbell.
The Friendly Street Single Poet Volume Women with their Faces on Fire by Annette Marner will also be launched.

Admission is free.

16th February, 2006


The 2006 Festival Awards for Literature will be announced at Adelaide Writers’ Week in the East Tent on Sunday 5 March 2006 at 4.30pm.

Of local (Tasmanian) interest is the shortlisting of Robert Dessaix's Twilight of Love in the non-fiction section, and Kathryn Lomer's The Spare Room in the children's literature section. Not a bad effort when you consider these are shortlists chosen from Australian books published over the past two years. The shortlisting of Lomer 's book follows the shortlisting of her poetry collection Extraction of Arrows (University of Queensland Press) in this festival two years ago.

$15,000 Award for children’s literature (143 entries)

  • The Running Man by Michael Bauer (Omnibus Books)
  • Fireshadow by Anthony Eaton (University of Queensland Press)
  • Jetty Rats by Phillip Gwynne (Penguin)
  • Soraya the Storyteller by Rosanne Hawke (Lothian Books)
  • It’s Not All About You, Calma! by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Spare Room by Kathryn Lomer (University of Queensland Press)

$15,000 Award for fiction (114 entries)

  • The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer (Picador)
  • The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (Vintage)
  • Sixty Lights by Gail Jones (Random House Australia)
  • The White Earth by Andrew McGahan (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Marsh Birds by Eva Sallis (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Last Ride by Denise Young (HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

$10,000 Award for innovation (22 entries)

  • <More or Less Than> 1-100 by MTC Cronin (Shearsman Books)
  • The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer (Picador)
  • The Bone House by Beverley Farmer (Giramondo)
  • East of Time by Jacob G. Rosenberg (Brandl & Schlesinger)

$15,000 Award for non-fiction (154 entries)

  • Papunya: A Place Made After the Story by Geoffrey Bardon (deceased) and James Bardon (Melbourne University Press)
  • Twilight of Love by Robert Dessaix (Picador)
  • Joe Cinque’s Consolation by Helen Garner (Picador)
  • Professional Savages by Roslyn Poignant (UNSW Press)
  • Velocity by Mandy Sayer (Vintage)

$15,000 John Bray poetry award (90 entries)

  • Wolf Notes by Judith Beveridge (Giramondo)
  • Walking to Point Clear by David Brooks (Brandl and Schlesinger)
  • Totem by Luke Davies (Allen & Unwin)
  • Friendly Fire by Jennifer Maiden (Giramondo)
  • Freehold by Geoff Page (Brandl and Schlesinger)
  • The Well Mouth by Phillip Salom (Freemantle Arts Centre Press)

$10,000 Jill Blewett Playwright’s award for the creative development of a playscript by a South Australian writer (8 entries)

  • Black Crow Lullabies by Duncan Graham
  • The Uncharted Hour by Finegan Kruckemeyer
  • The Sea Bride by Caleb Lewis

$10,000 Award for an unpublished manuscript by a SA emerging writer to be published by Wakefield Press (32 entries)

  • Life Before Plastic by Libby Angel
  • Black Dust Dancing by Tracy Crisp
  • Anthems for Before by Sonja Dechian
  • The Quakers by Rachel Hennessy
  • Play the Devil by Henry Sheppard

9th February, 2006


Organised by Overland - a conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the election of the Howard government to office in 1996.

Guest Speakers are Julia Gillard (ALP), Christine Milne (Greens), Brian Boyd (Trades Hall), R.W. Connell (University of Sydney), Carol Johnson (Adelaide University), and Alice Garner (Actors for Refugees)

The organisers are currently calling for papers from interested parties. A call for papers and event details can be found at

9th February, 2006


Thursday 16 Feb 5:30pm at Suttons Cafe, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, the launch of The Brew issue # 5. Come along to hear readings from some of Tasmania's newest literary talent.

9th February, 2006


The latest issue of Island magazine (# 103) has hit the streets.

In his editorial, editor David Owen writes it's his last issue as editor.

7th February, 2006

FABIAN FORUM: Minority Government: Who wins?

Dr Tony McCall
Dr Kate Crowley
Bob Cheek
Michael Field

Chair: Kim Boyer
School of Sociology
University of Tasmania

Where:  Backspace Theatre
(Behind the Theatre Royal)
Campbell Street

When:  Tuesday 21 February 2006

Time:  7pm

$3 Members
$5 Non-members
$2 concession

30th January, 2006


Timor Leste (East Timor) Talks
Meet Tasmanian woman Sieneke Martin, Oxfam Australia's Program Coordinator for Timor Leste. All events - RSVP to or 6331 6770
Burnie Tues 31st Jan 143 Brickport Rd, 6 pm
Launceston Wed 1st Feb. Launceston College (Paterson St. entrance) 2.30 pm and 6 pm.
Hobart Thurs 2nd and Fri 3rd Feb. Tas. Centre for Global Learning, 4 Battery Square, Battery Point. 6 pm on Thursday and 2:30 pm on Friday
Little Swanport, East Coast. Sun 5th Feb at Wind Song, 452 Strip Road - 10.30 Peace pole ceremony, 12.30 lunch (provided) and meeting with Sieneke. RSVP for lunch to or 6331 6770

4th January, 2006


A note from Ann Nugent on the poneme poetry list with regards issues of Blast:

Subscription for 2006 (Blast #3, March 2006; and Blast #4, September 2006 ) costs
$20 which includes postage. Subscribe and be sure of a copy (Blast #1 has sold out).

Subscriptions to Blast Magazine, PO Box 134, Campbell ACT, 2612.

A limited number of copies of Blast #2 are available from above address, or from The
American Bookshop Brisbane, Gleebooks Sydney, Collected Works Melbourne, and
Paperchain, ANU Co-op, Electric Shadows, and National Library Bookshop in Canberra.

Payment for Blast writers:

artsACT has funded Blast Magazine to pay writers in 2006, at substantial rates.

Contributions of poetry and critical prose should be sent to:

Blast Magazine, PO Box 134, Campbell ACT, 2612; or
Deadline for Blast #3 is 31 January 2006; and for Blast #4, 15 August 2006.Guidelines on application.

2nd December, 2005


A sculpture / poetry collaboration presented by Nadia Angelini & Myron Lysenko.

Saturday December 10th: 4:30 - 6:00 (reading @ 5:00 pm) - 11 Charles Street Northcote, Victoria.

24th November, 2005


A small crowd has gathered at Hobart Bookshop for the announcement of the winner of the Gwen Harwood Prize. Island’s editor David Owen welcomes guests, thanks judges Adrienne Eberhard and Kevin Gillam, "two individuals far apart – Kevin in Perth, Western Australia, Adrienne here in Hobart – a distance that could of course cause difficulties, but then again … maybe it’s a positive!"

David introduces Sarah Day, who describes the background to the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize. Gwen was born in Queensland in 1920, raised and educated in Brisbane and in 1945 moved to Tasmania with her husband William – a move she did not at first appreciate. But her life here became immensely rewarding and productive, not least being mother to four children. And over a thirty-year period she published seven highly acclaimed volumes of poetry including The Lion’s Bride, In Plato’s Cave, Bone Scan and two Selected Poems. "Gwen Harwood is justly considered a major twentieth-century English language poet and it’s therefore all the more rewarding to be able to announce this year’s winners of this prestigious prize established in her name".

Sarah announces the three Minor Prizes: first runner up Carolyn Fisher for ‘A Life of Birds’. "Carolyn lives in Ulverstone. It’s always very pleasing to have a Tasmanian poet recognised in this prestigious national award. She is here this evening and will shortly red ‘A Life of Birds’."

"The second runner up is Ray Liversidge for ‘The Divorce Papers’. Ray Liversidge is a Melbourne poet whose first book of poetry, Obeying the Call, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2003. His verse novel The Barrier Range will be published next year by Flat Chat Press."

"The third runner up is Lucy Holt for ‘The Love-doggedness Sonnets - Part I’. Lucy is a twenty-three year old poet who lives in Brunswick, Victoria. Her collection Stories of Bird was published earlier this year by the Poets Union."

"I have much pleasure," Sarah continues, "in announcing that the winner of the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize for 2005 is Mark Tredinnick for ‘The Child & Time’. Mark is an essayist, poet, critic and writing teacher. He lives both in Katoomba and in Sydney, NSW. His books include The Land’s Wild Music, published this year, and the forthcoming landscape memoir The Blue Plateau. He is also the editor of A Place on Earth: An Anthology of Nature Writing from Australia and North America. Mark teaches creative nonfiction, nature writing, ecology and literature, business writing, composition and grammar in the University of Sydney’s continuing education program and elsewhere. His work will be familiar to readers of Island: his essay ‘Days of Christmas’ won the 2005 Wildcare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize, and he will in fact soon be in residence at Lake St Clair, as part of that prize winner’s package."

"As we did last year, with the winner not from Tasmania, the winning poem is read out on the winner’s behalf. This evening John Hale, well known stage actor and good friend of Island magazine, will read ‘The Child & Time’."

John Hale makes his way to the front of the room – "I’m an actor & I need a stage!" – noting how pleased he is to be faced with a small crowd this evening. "I’ve read Mark’s poem, and think it best felt in a room where there’s a sense of intimacy and perhaps a shared bottle of wine. It’s the kind of poem suggestive of whispers in a lover’s ear, a poem of intimacy and of great beauty."

David Owen rounds off the evening with 'Thanks John. I only wish we'd had a recorder here to tape your rendition of Mark's poem'.


(To read Mark’s poem, you may need to purchase the next copy of Island magazine!!!)

23rd November, 2005


Since Martin R. Johnson's collection The Clothes-Prop Man appeared from Wakefield Press, Martin's written a swag of new poems - and has decided to publish them himself. The result is The Hermit Crab's New Home. "The book is small but contains 34 poems, the writing of which is assisted by an established writer's grant from Arts SA". Martin's publishing house is entitled Brand New Lino, though whether the press moves to the publication of other writers remains to be seen.

For a copy, send cheques/money orders for $8.50 to 39 Longford Street, Evanston, South Australia 5116.

14th November, 2005


Adelaide's Friendly Street Poets celebrated thirty years of activity last Friday. The following notes, reproduced with permission, are from rob walker's blog.

It was the evening of the 11 th of November, 1975. The day reformist Labor leader Gough Whitlam had his Prime Ministership revoked by an unelected representative of the Monarch... It was also the hot Tuesday evening that Richard Tipping, Andrew Taylor, Ian Read and a few other poets had decided to have the inaugural reading of the "Friendly Street Poets" in a disused fireworks factory in Adelaide. It was a time of hippies and happenings, palls of smoke and pass-the-flagon. But it was a heterogeneous crowd which included the Chief Justice of South Australia Dr John Bray, men and women of all ages- the unemployed, students, the retired.

From these small beginnings grew Australia's longest-running community poetry reading. Thirty years on Friendly Street still meets on the first Tuesday of the month. For $4 you get a drink, the opportunity to hear about three hours of poetry - and the right to add your name to the list of readers. There have been changes in those thirty years. Friendly Street has become a publisher. After the first year of Readings, the organisers decided to save for posterity the best of the year's poems- and the Annual Friendly Street Reader was born. Later FS liaised with Wakefield Press to encourage unpublished poets through its "New Poets" and "Single Poet" series. Friendly Street welcomes Guest Readers from interstate and overseas. Its excellent website is often used by students all over the world as a portal to research Australian poets.

What keeps Friendly Street going strong is what hasn't changed. There have been no restrictions on politics, poetic form or themes. If you've got the guts to get up and read your poem, you are welcome. And your work is eligible for the anthology. Some people come for years before they feel ready to write or perform, and others just come to hear the diVERSE. The beauty of a live reading is that the unexpected can - and will- happen. Jeri Kroll & Barry Westburg summed it up perfectly: "The performance poet can read after the classicist, the high school student after the senior citizen. In its own egalitarian way, Friendly Street has become a vital community arts centre and a training ground for excellence." (Tuesday Night Live: Fifteen Years of Friendly Street, 1993)

Today we gathered in the State Library to celebrate the first thirty years. The list of Friendly Street "alumni" reads like a "who's who" of Australian poetry. Andrew Taylor (who also helped to set up the South Australian Writers' Centre, currently celebrating its 20th birthday) couldn't come, but among those present were Mike Ladd, Jan Owen, Graham Rowlands, Jeri Kroll, Geoff Goodfellow, Erica Jolly, David Mortimer, Rory Harris, Graham Catt, Miriel Lenore, Ioana Petrescu, David Ades, Richard Tipping, Kate Deller- and Steve Evans, Louise Nicholas, Juan Garrido-Salgado, Kerryn Tredrea and Jude Aquilina and a lot more....!

9th November, 2005


(By Charlotte Higgins, Sydney Morning Herald, 9th November 2005)

John Fowles, the novelist who brought sexiness and popular appeal to the serious literary novel, has died from heart failure near his home in Lyme Regis, south-west England.

His wife, Sarah, said Fowles "faded away, slipped away on Saturday" after two weeks in hospital in Axminster. "His heart just gave out - gave up, really," she said.

Fowles, who was 79, will be best remembered for the romantic The French Lieutenant's Woman, a daring, meticulous and sexy treatment of the Victorian novel which gives it a postmodern twist of alternative endings.

"It was unbelievably exploratory," said his publisher, Dan Franklin of Jonathan Cape. "The two endings were absolutely revolutionary when it came out." Harold Pinter adapted The French Lieutenant's Woman for a film directed by Karel Reisz and starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. "It looks good but it is somehow empty at the heart," the author said of it.

7th November, 2005


Various things draw me to Hobart’s Republic Hotel this afternoon, not least the fact that Pete Hay is reading today. Compere Liz Winfield opens proceedings with work by Barney Roberts and Magenta Bliss (Jenny Boult), a recital that both renews our appreciation of their respective talents and accentuates our  loss. Some of us are making the trip to Launceston for Bliss' funeral next Thursday.  Continuing on a happier note, Liz announces the results of this year's Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize. 'Last year as you'll remember, it was won by Louise Oxley, this year it's the turn of Jane Williams'. Both women are among the audience for the afternoon's readings.

First to the microphone is visitor Shaun Levin - originally South African but now a resident of London – and Hobart City Council’s International Writer in residency. ‘Much of my work is about love, and sex,’ he says, ‘which I’m missing cos I haven’t been home for three weeks…’

‘But you’re open to offers, right?’ calls some wit from the audience.

Levin grins without missing a beat. He’s the editor of Chroma, a queer literary journal publishing work from writers and visual artists based in the UK. This afternoon he reads from his recent novella, Seven Sweet Things – his writing is funny, droll, in-your-face.

Next to read is local writer Kathryn Lomer. She’d missed the last reading at the Republic, she explained, having been hospitalised for a few days with a life-threatening illness. Kathryn mentioned the name of the illness, ‘something to do with the colon’ she said, adding that investigation had led her to realise the poet A.D Hope had suffered from the same affliction. ‘We both underwent life-saving operations … saved his life, saved mine. Hope went on to write about his. "I’ve always been partial to a colon; but a semi-colon is better than a full stop."

Lomer reads from old and new work, including ‘Heart to heart’ published in the most recent issue of Island (no. 102), and displaying her effortless capacity to write of the trials of the heart - ‘... parts of our hearts already comatose/ from long-ago mishaps in love’. As she offers words to the microphone I wonder again at the sheer quality of her first collection An Extraction of Arrows (UQP), the winner of the Anne Elder Award and short-listed for the 2004 Adelaide Writers’ Festival. (How difficult is that, faced with competition from every decent poetry collection published in the country over the preceding two years?)

The experience of motherhood is never far from Kathryn’s consciousness, it comes out in her writing, in her conversation. ‘I think we could learn from a survey of four-year-olds on their recollections of the experience of birth,’ she says in response to something raised by Shaun Levin, the previous reader. "I asked my son what he remembered about his birth. His immediate response was, "It was too dark, then I slid down a slide and Mummy bit me" ’. (Do our children ever forgive their writer parents for any of this, Kathryn wonders?).

Another poem is dedicated to Anne Morgan, ‘who put me on to kayaking’. It’s a poem from what she hopes will be her second collection ‘by a publisher who’s intimated they may be able to publish it ...  in 2007’. It’s funny, Lomer adds, 'people always tell me this is a great poem about relationships but it’s really just a poem about kayaking'.

I can’t help thinking how good an experience it’d be to publish Lomer myself, if only I had the resources. The things that matter most in the relationship between a press and the work it publishes - the things that make a book effortless and natural to promote – is always apparent to me when listening to Kathryn read her work, it's in her earthiness, in the lack of self-consciousness about her writing, in her lively imagination.

Pete Hay introduces a sombre note to proceedings. Remarking on the passing of Magenta Bliss (Jenny Boult) this week, he mentioned how he’d had the privilege of delivering the eulogy at the funeral of Barney Roberts a little time ago. "Scott, Roberts, Bliss in the past three months … we’re losing too many fine poets, too fast’, he laments.

Hay reads from his recent collection Silently on the Tide, the poetry spilling out from this much loved man of letters. Of the thylacine, he reads:

The tiger is an absence, and here’s a marvel.
In the common soul wells a mourning,
a sense of an essence lost from the land
and we have made it so.
We have rendered the land incomplete
and it is not to be redeemed.
It is the very land that grieves, perhaps,
gathering us up.

Hay - generous as ever - makes mention of the presence of Cameron Hindrum in the audience. Cameron, the Director of the annual Tasmanian Poetry Festival,  is in Hobart to present Jenny Barnard with the Poetry Cup she’d won at the festival. ‘Cameron’s an extremely good link-man’, Hay says, adding that like a good many other people ‘I got my ass kicked by Jenny in the Cup’. He finishes his set with a wry smile and some welcome new work. ‘The book goes on, becomes part of history … and the poet moves on, to the next.’

Hindrum is welcomed to the microphone. ‘The Launceston Poetry Cup has escaped Launceston,’ he says mournfully, ‘has come to Hobart for the first time since Tony Rayner lifted it in 1997’. The Cup is duly presented – ‘it’s yours for a year Jenny, no wild parties with it’ - and there’s opportunity for Jenny to read her prize-winning piece.

Liz Winfield takes a few moments to launch the latest issue of Poets Republic, the bi-monthly A3 poetry broadsheet she's faithfully produced for the past two years. It's a freebie, five hundred copies of it are distributed by literary organisations and bookshops throughout Tasmania. 'This issue marks its second anniversary,' she says, 'the next one will appear early in the new year".

It’s been a good afternoon.

6th November, 2006


From seventy-five or so submissions, manuscripts by Nathan Curnow, Ross Gillett, Francesca Haig, Gita Mammen, Ali Smith and Kate Waterhouse have been accepted for publication in 2006. (Exciting for us here in Tassie to see Francesca's name among the six - both for Francesca's sake, [congrats, Chess!] and the possibility that Ron Pretty may tour all six poets to Hobart some time next year).

4th November, 2005


A memorial service/wake/poetry reading to remember and celebrate the life and work of Magenta Bliss (formerly Jenny Boult) will be held at Gallus Bar, 61 Cameron Street Launceston from 4.00 pm on Thursday 10 November.

1st November, 2005


Awarded to Jane Williams for her poem 'My mother's travel diary'.

30th October, 2005

Interesting - from an Australian point of view - to come across this blog, Emerging Writers Network, by Dan Wickett in the US, given that one of the panellists is Christina Thompson, a former editor of Meanjin, and editor these days of Harvard Review.

I was a journal editor in Australia before I became editor of Harvard Review, so it would be fair to say that this is the part of the publishing world that I know best. It's a small pond, to be sure, but I'm fond of it.

The E-panel features very general questions about magazine editing, ie ... "Is it safe to say you do this [edit] out of love?" ... [THOMPSON: I took the vow of poverty a long time ago. Actually, I'm in for the freedom: the freedom to make decisions about things I think I understand and care about; the freedom to create something that I like without too much interference or commercial pressure. Plus I feel like I can do some good for younger writers by showcasing their work alongside that of some of the literary world's heavy-hitters] ... etc.

25th October, 2005


(Twenty-sixth Annual International Festival of Authors, Toronto, Canada - a post by Sandy Kemsley, quoted - with permission - from the blog jZepp)

The 26th annual International Festival of Authors is on in Toronto, and yesterday I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon attending readings by Jonathan Coe and Tim Winton. I liked the format: the whole thing was hosted by George Murray, a local poet and founder of the lit blog Bookninja, who introduced each of the authors in turn for a relatively short reading, then set up an interview where Jason Sherman, a local playwright, interviewed the authors together.

Jonathan Coe's reading from his most recent book, The Closed Circle (a sequel to his popular novel The Rotter's Club), had us all laughing out loud at several points: an inattentive father in a playground on Sunday, sipping latte with one hand and talking on his mobile with the other instead of pushing his daughter on the swing; a "sex strike" by a wife in return for her husband's use of bad language in front of the children; histrionics over becoming a literary editor. Definitely on my "to buy" list.

Tim Winton's reading from The Turning was just as amusing, but for different reasons: although the prose was not particularly comedic, his asides to the audience were very funny. The Turning is a series of intertwined short stories set in western Australia, where I have visited but not travelled extensively, but his descriptions were tremendously evocative of the highway and countryside through which the characters travelled. The final bit that he read had a disorienting fast-forward through the future lives of the characters that made me catch my breath, and still sticks in my mind.

What I found most enjoyable and interesting was the conversation between the two authors. Winton, on the road for three weeks now and obviously homesick, had been reading Coe's book The Rotter's Club before coming to the reading. He seemed the stereotypical open and friendly Aussie, a counterpoint to Coe's more reserved British attitude. Although they both claimed to dislike reading aloud from their own works (a strange admission to make at a public reading), Coe appeared more as an introvert forcing himself into public appearance, whereas Winton appeared as an extrovert who interacted easily with the audience but didn't like the restrictions enforced by a reading, and admitted to re-editing his works on the fly during readings. In response to audience Q&A, they both spoke about the process of writing: Coe pre-plans his plots and characters carefully before starting to write, whereas Winton doesn't do any planning and said that the linkages between the stories in The Turning were more or less accidental.

Interesting that the reserved Brit who carefully plans his writing produces such amusing stories, whereas the casual Aussie who doesn't plan ahead ends up with such introspective prose: almost like their writing is the opposite of their public persona.

25th October, 2005

Some thoughts on the topic of print on demand from Mairead Byrne, quoted (with permission) from the British & Irish Poets mailing list.

Print-on-demand is a broken link: stone cold. If you can deal with a pod company you know, where you have contacts, can call etc, it would be different. My experience has been no human contact and I didn't like it. Opinions vary widely on this topic. I publish a lot online. It's indispensable to me. I love it. Having a blog surprisingly does not replace books, however. I need those little demons. They are the handshakes of poetry, to say the least. I put them in people's hands and they put their books in mine. We all lose out (financially!). There's nothing to beat a book designed and printed by someone you know or will meet, I think. My best readers in the world are my publishers. I learn most from them. Also because of the investment I know they are making, even more in time than money. I am asking them to take time to move a letter one space left and they do. It strengthens my relationship with and understanding of poetry. Opinions on this vary of course. The idea with paper is to make the poem worth it somehow. I have taken to enclosing short poems like dollar bills in envelopes I send. The web and print complement each other madly. They are a crazy couple. Who would have thought it would work out.

24th October, 2005


Tim Thorne has kindly given permission to post his launch speech of Jenny's collection, (launched 14th October 2005 at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival).

Jenny Barnard is three quite amazing people. One of these people is the wonderfully enthusiastic and supportive lover of poetry, whom, along with her husband Max, I got to know by meeting at readings and festivals over a number of years. Jenny reminded me in her consistent and appreciative attendance at these events of the legendary Gary Flynn, an enigmatic figure in Sydney during the 1970s and '80s, of whom it was said that nobody, even in their sleep, could read or recite a line of poetry without Gary appearing there to hear it and applaud, often having brought his family along with him.

But then I met the second Jenny Barnard. This person emerged, somewhat in the manner of Pallas Athene from the brow of Zeus, from that dutiful audience member on the occasion of the launch of May Carroll's book, I Wanted to Throw Your Things Out on the Lawn in Hobart in 2000. After the formalities of the launch (although formalities is not really the appropriate word for that particular launch) Jenny proceeded to give the most gobsmacking extempore performance of poetry that I have ever been lucky enough to witness. It was enormously clever, enormously funny and enormously wise. I was reminded this time of DM Thomas's novels Ararat and Swallow, in which the world's greatest poets get together in a kind of Olympiad for improvised poetry. Had one of those contests taken place in the so-called real world, Jenny could have, based on her form that day, brought home a gold medal for Australia. I don't know if anyone here has tried to improvise poetry, but it requires an agility of wit, a command of vocabulary and technique, and a presence of mind way beyond that of the average genius.

Anyway, what do you get when you cross Gary Flynn with Corinna Riznich (one of Thomas's great poetry improvising characters)? The answer is, of course, the third incarnation of Jenny Barnard. And it is this third Jenny Barnard whose book I am proud to be launching today. First Blue is a worthy addition to the Walleah Press publications list. As Jenny's first collection, it brings together into an impressive array the pieces that she has read and published individually and in modest environments. This enables an evaluation of her achievement as a poet, and the evidence - contained in these 33 excellent poems - indicates that the combination of Jenny Mark I (avid poetry lover) and Jenny Mark II (wildly high-flying genius) has indeed been a fruitful one.

It is fitting that this launch is taking place within the context of a festival, as it is a cause for celebration, for festivity, an occasion from which we shall all take home some memory of a first-rate performance, of a flash or two of poetic talent and the sense of having felt a little at least of the addictive admiration that good poetry can engender. Whatever else you take home with you from this festival, make sure you take home a copy of Jenny Barnard's First Blue.

18th October, 2005


Announced last night. Winners include M. T. C. (Margie) Cronin, recipient of the $15,000 C. J. Dennis prize for poetry with her book 1-100, Robert Dessaix - the $30,000 Nettie Palmer Prize for non-fiction for his book Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev - and Sonya Hartnett, whose novel Surrender won the $30,000 Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction.

17th October, 2005


Ivy's poetry manuscript, Mortal, has been accepted for publication by US publishers Red Morning Press, launching in the US in 2006.

[10.11.2005] Red Morning Press News Update...
We're very pleased to announce that we'll be publishing two (count 'em, two!) new poetry titles in the coming months. The first will be from Rhode Island poet Jen Tynes, an editor at horse less press. After that, Red Morning Press goes international with a book by Ivy Alvarez, an Australian poet currently living in Wales (swing by her blog). Check back soon -- we'll be posting much more about both of these fine writers.

16th October, 2005


A few thoughts on last night's festival proceedings.

A late start – half an hour at least, maybe that’s the way these things go – before New Zealand poet Ron Riddell takes the microphone. He and Lauren Williams – I don’t have a programme guide in front of me, but I guess the theme is writing in translation - perform most of their work throughout this bracket in Spanish. Though the meaning of the words escape me, Riddell's vitality doesn't, he rocks back and forth on his heels, leans forward into the poems in the manner of Winslet and DiCaprio on Titanic's bow. Both poets refer a good deal to the international poetry festival in Medellin, Columbia, where Williams has twice been a guest. The first experience so impressed her that when she returned to Australia she determined to learn to speak Spanish. On being  invited back to the festival seven years later she was able to read in a mix of Spanish and English.

'I'd found the experience of listening to poetry in Spanish, just wonderful - but frustrating too. I couldn't understand the words but could see from the expressions on the faces of other guests that this was something good, that I was in the presence of some great poetry being read
- and I couldn't understand a word. It came to a climax for me when I was asked which poem from my work I'd like read to the audience - in Spanish - and, when I pointed to one beginning

          Lust comes to visit
          knocks on the door

the response was deadpan. I thought, this can't be right! What's happening, what are they hearing? ... It turns out the programme translation mistakenly assumed 'Lust' to be a person's name, and the audience was listening to the equivalent of

          Jason comes to visit
          knocks on the door

No wonder there was no response. They were thinking, who is this woman? I turned to the translater and demanded to present a poem myself - a rap poem - cos that crosses any language
barrier, it's rhythmic - and this saved my ass big time!'

Following the session, Louise Oxley launchs Pete Hay's collection, Silently on the Tide. Her summation draws Hay's frank appreciation. 'Louise has managed to get to the heart of what I intended - particularly with a poem such as 'Back Town Dying' -  better than I could readily manage myself.'  Hay proceeds to read from his long poem 'Back Town Dying', set in northern Tasmania. 'I thought the only people in the world interested in this poem would be myself and Barney Roberts,' Hay says, 'but I've read it on other occasions and had a good response so I'll
try it again.' Reading from another of his longer poems, 'In Memory of William Paterson', Hay admits to the poem sounding a bit 'Death of a River Guide-ish'.  'But I'll have you know I had the idea for this poem long before Richard Flanagan was in shorts,' he asserts.

Hay takes time out to lament the loss of his friend Barney Roberts  - the author of ten books and the winner of the NSW Premiers' Literary Award (Special Peace Prize, International Year of Peace, 1986) and one of Tasmania's favourite literary sons - who'd passed away after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. 'Two days ago the Robert Frost of Tasmanian poetry passed away, we'll miss him very much. His last collection of Horrie poems, I'm sure, will one day become the classic I believe it to be. Barney leaves a very big hole in Tasmanian poetry.'

Following Hay, it's time for the Poetry Cup. Entrants are judged on sixty seconds of verse with the winner being the poet receiving the most decibels of applause. 'If you read for longer than a minute you'll be gonged by the sound of the asthmatic goose,' warned compere Cameron Hindrum. There's plenty of stiff competition from the locals and visitors (Ian McBryde, Susan Kruss, Julie Beveridge, Williams & Riddell)for the cup donated by Colin Berry ('who was obliged to do that,' the compere chipped in, being the only person to win the Cup twice in different millenium in its twenty year history'). Susan Kruss was unfortunate enough to be chosen to read first. 'I'm playing with my villanelle,' she recited, but really a pome having more to do with individual sex drive. Tim Thorne was next, and though he knew from rehearsals that his poem came in well under a minute, 'I was enjoying the response to the lines so much I lost track' ... and was thus disqualified: he kept reading till the end of the piece. 'I knew I had no chance as soon as my name came up second,' he said, 'no chance. The crowd wasn't warmed up.'

Robyn Mathison begins slowly, 'A starling/ crashed into my left breast/ a kamikaze bird...' the audience listened respectfully - to be surprised & delighted with Robyn veering off on a tangent, cos when the bird recovered, 'she flew off/ in the direction of Mather's Lane./ Good idea, I thought/ she's going to the Catholic Womens' Rest Rooms/ for a nice cup of tea' - drawing a lot of applause, almost stealing the show. Ron Riddell was all over the floor - very acrobatic - 'don't smoke don't smoke don't smoke', Iam McBryde is a complete contrast. He is stoicly stone-faced. 'This is a poem about every writer's major frustration, it's called writer's block.' McBryde lapses into silence. After about twenty seconds, someone in the audience snickers. 'I'm not finished yet,' McBryde admonishs, but a little later thanks the audience and retires from the stage.
'He's got a way with words, hasn't he?' adlibs Hindrum.

Bruce Penn is called to microphone. 'This is called "The Core Promises Prayer" ', he intones.

Our feather which floats in Canberra
Howard be thy name
Thy kingdom come undone
Thy will won't on my patch of dirt
As it does in Washington
Give us this day our daily crumbs
And forgive us our expatriates
As we forgive them that take refuge amongst us.
Lead us not into war coalitions
And deliver us from politicians.
For thine is the razor wire
Channel nine the power and the story
For never and ever
(I did not have political relations with that man)
Arrrrrghh.   Men!
The buzzer sounds just as Penn mouths 'Arrrrrghh.    Men!'

'Is your timing always that good?' asks Hindrum.

Then it's Colin Berry's turn. 'Can he win the cup three times? You'd never hear the end of it, I assure you!' Hindrum ventures.
Berry didn't. In the end the award went to Hobart poet Jenny Barnard, who went through the ritual of repeating the performance before asking the compere for a hug. 'That's the first time I've ever had to stand on tip toe to hug a man,' she said. 'That's the first time I've ever had to bend over,' he replied.
Jenny's poem
            Meat - Out
Chew on that!
gristly, stringy,
chuck steak.
Toss in some
haricot beans, tomato paste
ionions, carrots, celery
bib & bobs
from last week's fridge.
So good for you
so beef stew
climb in the pot
it's hot -
soooo what!

Doc said don't eat red meat -
I ate red lentils, green lentils, brown lentils,
yellow beans, fava beans, mother beans,
forty three beans.
I kicked the brie
shot the salt shaker
killed the soy sauce
gave the mince to the rottweiller.
too many additives,
fucked liver?

I pant, I puff, I yawn,
but I'm eating healthy - I'm so healthy
O so healthy I can't breathe -
my heart stops and starts like Phar Lap
on the last stretch of turf.
Go back to the herbalist.
'Ah, you need a blood test.
You're iron deficient.
Here's some ampoules
& syringes - go inject yourself!'

16th October, 2005


Poet & short story writer Barney Roberts passed away earlier this week. His war memoirs ( for four years Barney was a prisoner of war in Europe) won the NSW Premier's Literary Award - Special Peace Prize, 1986.

14th October, 2005


(BBC News, 13th October 2005)

Controversial British playwright and campaigner Harold Pinter has won the 2005 Nobel Prize for literature.

The Nobel academy said Pinter's work "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms".

The playwright is known for speaking out on issues like the war on Iraq.

Pinter told reporters: "I've been writing plays for about fifty years and I'm also pretty politically engaged. And I'm not at all sure to what extent that fact, that fact had anything to do with this award.

"I am both deeply engaged in art and deeply engaged in politics and sometimes those two meet and sometimes they don't. It's all going to be very interesting."

13th October, 2005


Interesting figures from Business Wire

According to Bowker, publishers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand released 375,000 new titles and editions in 2004. Anglo-American publishers published 80% of all new English-language books in 2004, while the U.S. alone accounted for 52% of the total. Including imported editions available in multiple markets, the total number of new English language books available for sale in the English-speaking world in 2004 was a staggering 450,000.

Adult fiction, poetry, drama and literary criticism accounted for 18% of all new English-language books available for sale in 2004, an increase of 21% over 2003; children's and young adult titles had a 12% share of new titles and editions, a 33% increase; science and technology, combined for a 9% share of new books in 2004, which was a 9% decrease from 2003; and computer books continued their long, post-1990s decline, holding on to 3% of new books published last year, a 14% decrease from 2003, and a 32% drop-off since 2001.

Even more interesting - to me at least - are what's termed as the 'good' & 'bad' news. Particularly the bad ... the increase in 'soft' categories such as adult fiction:

"The good news is that English language publishers, powered by the prolific U.S. publishing industry, produced 40% of all new book content in the world," said Michael Cairns, president of New Providence, NJ-based Bowker. "The bad news is that recent growth in new title output has been driven by increases in "soft" categories like adult fiction, religion and children's books. The precipitous decline of science and technology books last year alongside the five-year burst in the computer books bubble is troubling and does not augur well for the ability of the English-speaking countries to innovate and compete in the future."

For the U.S., according to Andrew Grabois, a consultant for Bowker, the declines in "hard" categories could have dire consequences, not only for the ability of its young people to compete in an increasingly flat world, but also for the ability of its publishers to draw on a large enough pool of talent to produce high quality technical books at reasonable cost.

11th October, 2005


(ABC News Online, Tuesday 11th October 2005)

Irish writer John Banville is the surprise winner of the Booker Prize, one of the literary world's most prestigious awards, for The Sea, his poignant and dark novel about childhood memories.

The judges say it was a close-run contest, but they eventually picked Banville for what they call his "masterly study of grief, memory and love recollected".

The result had not been expected, after Banville was made a 7-1 outsider by bookmakers to land the coveted prize.

British author Julian Barnes had been hot favourite to win the Booker at his third attempt.

The prize, founded in 1969, rewards the best book of the year from British, Irish and Commonwealth writers.

It guarantees the winner instant literary fame and a place in bestseller lists around the world.

Banville, 59, is the first Irish winner of the Booker since Roddy Doyle in 1993 with Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

9th October, 2005


Have been catching up with Dave Bonta's blog, Via Negativa, taking up Dave's suggestion to read the essay by Wendell Berry, just over 4,000 words in length, published in The Christian Century and slated for inclusion in Berry's forthcoming book The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays.

The tenor of Berry's essay is to portray himself as an unconfident reader, (hence the final line of his essay: "... may heaven guard us from those who think they already have the answers").

But my reading of the Gospels, comforting and clarifying and instructive as they frequently are, deeply moving or exhilarating as they frequently are, has caused me to understand them also as a burden, sometimes raising the hardest of personal questions, sometimes bewildering, sometimes contradictory, sometimes apparently outrageous in their demands. This is the confession of an unconfident reader.

The heart of Berry's essay - for me - are his thoughts on Jesus' statement "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

It seems to me that all the religions I know anything about emerge from an instinct to push against any merely human constraints on reality. In the Bible such constraints are conventionally attributed to "the world" in the pejorative sense of that term, which we may define as the world of the creation reduced by the purposes of any of the forms of selfishness. The contrary purpose, the purpose of freedom, is stated by Jesus in the fourth Gospel: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

This astonishing statement can be thought about and understood endlessly, for it is endlessly meaningful, but I don't think it calls for much in the way of interpretation. It does call for a very strict and careful reading of the word life.

To talk about or to desire more abundance of anything has probably always been dangerous, but it seems particularly dangerous now. In an age of materialist science, economics, art and politics, we ought not to be much shocked by the appearance of materialist religion. We know we don't have to look far to find people who equate more abundant life with a bigger car, a bigger house, a bigger bank account and a bigger church. They are wrong, of course. If Jesus meant only that we should have more possessions or even more "life expectancy," then John 10:10 is no more remarkable than an advertisement for any commodity whatever. Abundance, in this verse, cannot refer to an abundance of material possessions, for life does not require a material abundance; it requires only a material sufficiency. That sufficiency granted, life itself, which is a membership in the living world, is already an abundance.

But even life in this generous sense of membership in creation does not protect us, as we know, from the dangers of avarice, of selfishness, of the wrong kind of abundance. Those dangers can be overcome only by the realization that in speaking of more abundant life, Jesus is not proposing to free us by making us richer; he is proposing to set life free from precisely that sort of error. He is talking about life, which is only incidentally our life, as a limitless reality.

Now that I have come out against materialism, I fear that I will be expected to say something in favor of spirituality. But if I am going to go on in the direction of what Jesus meant by "life" and "more abundantly," then I have to avoid that duality of matter and spirit at all costs.

As every reader knows, the Gospels are overwhelmingly concerned with the conduct of human life, of life in the human commonwealth. In the Sermon on the Mount and in other places Jesus is asking his followers to see that the way to more abundant life is the way of love. We are to love one another, and this love is to be more comprehensive than our love for family and friends and tribe and nation. We are to love our neighbors though they may be strangers to us. We are to love our enemies. And this is to be a practical love; it is to be practiced, here and now. Love evidently is not just a feeling but is indistinguishable from the willingness to help, to be useful to one another. The way of love is indistinguishable, moreover, from the way of freedom. We don't need much imagination to imagine that to be free of hatred, of enmity, of the endless and hopeless effort to oppose violence with violence, would be to have life more abundantly. To be free of indifference would be to have life more abundantly. To be free of the insane rationalizations for our urge to kill one another—that surely would be to have life more abundantly.

Berry may not have the answers but he has not hesitation at asking questions, bless him.

To be convinced of the sanctity of the world, and to be mindful of a human vocation to responsible membership in such a world, must always have been a burden. But it is a burden that falls with greatest weight on us humans of the industrial age who have been and are, by any measure, the humans most guilty of desecrating the world and of destroying creation. And we ought to be a little terrified to realize that, for the most part and at least for the time being, we are helplessly guilty. It seems as though industrial humanity has brought about phase two of original sin. We all are now complicit in the murder of creation. We certainly do know how to apply better measures to our conduct and our work. We know how to do far better than we are doing. But we don't know how to extricate ourselves from our complicity very surely or very soon. How could we live without degrading our soils, slaughtering our forests, polluting our streams, poisoning the air and the rain? How could we live without the ozone hole and the hypoxic zones? How could we live without endangering species, including our own? How could we live without the war economy and the holocaust of the fossil fuels? To the offer of more abundant life, we have responded with choosing the economics of extinction.

A thoughtful essay, but raising reservations too.  Christianity is an essentially human-based faith - of humans fashioned in God's image - and I guess one of my questions would be to ask how many groups with environmental leanings feel themselves distanced from the church's teachings?

9th October, 2005


Brief news article in Friday's Guardian newspaper on the sale of Granta. The magazine made a profit of 168,000 pounds last year, compared to a loss of 129,000 the year before.

New writing magazine Granta has been sold to the Swedish-born philanthropist Sigrid Rausing.

Ms Rausing, whose family made a fortune from Tetra-Pak drinks cartons, has bought the magazine from Rea Hederman, the owner of the New York Review of Books.

"As a showcase for new writing, the magazine is unrivalled, and as a publisher of innovative work, both it and Granta Books have few equals," Ms Rausing said.

"I intend to ensure both have the human and financial resources to flourish."

8th October, 2005


Ivy's making headlines. Good for you, Ms Alvarez.

A rush-hour poetry reading for rail commuters is being given by internationally known poet Ivy Alvarez at Cardiff Central Station on Monday (10 October.)
Ms Alvarez says it will be a tangible and visible reminder to hundreds of commuters of the value of poetry, with thanks to Arriva Trains Wales and its support of the creative arts.
Her poetry booklets, what's wrong and catalogue: life as tableware will be available for purchase after the reading.
Ivy Alvarez's poetry appears in journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, the Philippines, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Wales, USA, and online. This year she received the MacDowell Colony Fellowship (USA) and the Hawthornden Castle Fellowship (UK).
The reading starts at 4.30pm in the station foyer.

('News Wales', 7th October, 2005)

7th October, 2005


After years of writing superior spy thrillers, author David Cornwell, aka John Le Carre, has evolved into an impassioned political commentator. [An interview with Stuart Jeffries, Thursday October 6, 2005, The Guardian]

... he has gone on record opposing the Anglo-American ousting of Saddam Hussein. He told James Naughtie on BBC Radio 4's Today programme a couple of years ago that, "To me there's no bigger sin that a politician can commit than allowing his country to go to war under false pretences."

"Actually," says Cornwell,"I believe the sin was greater than simply taking us to war. It destroyed our relationship with the Middle East and with south-east Asia and took us on a flight of fantasy about our relationship with the US. Those are terrible sins." And those purported sins were committed by his nemesis, Tony Blair, a politician whose failings he once ascribed to his education, saying: "I think that the extremely old-fashioned schools such as Fettes (in his day, anyway) leave marks of puritanism and deformation."

7th October, 2005


The winner of Britain's Forward Prize, David Harsent, discusses poetry's importance. (The Guardian, Thursday October 6th)

Poetry's a minority art, and I don't mind that in the slightest. There are lots of minority interests and poetry is one of them. It just so happens to be an extremely important minority interest.


It's deep and crucial, or it can be. I think all the arts are important to a society's health. Eliot said that without vision the people perish and I think that's true. It would be interesting to know what a society bereft of arts would be like. Extremely unpleasant, I would think. Poetry is important for the same reason that the arts in general are important. They tell us how we live.

6th October, 2005


(John Mullan witing in The Guardian - Wednesday October 5th - on the eve of the award of Britain's top poetry prize, The Forward)

Over the past decade, Carol Ann Duffy has been the most popular living poet in Britain, her sales greatly helped by the fact that she has succeeded Hughes and Larkin as the most common representative of contemporary poetry in schools (and, it seems, the most commonly read writer of verse after Shakespeare among interviewees for university English courses). There is a suspicion that Duffy, feminist and leftish, reassuringly suits the political preconceptions of many educators, but there are also aspects of her poetry that appeal to English teachers for good practical reasons. Her poems are frequently humorous; they use clear schemes of rhyme and metre; they can be satisfactorily decoded by the diligent close reader.

But there are some poets who will never sell widely or appear on these shortlists, which are selected from what is often called "the mainstream". Poetry also has its avant garde, a fact that was illustrated when the most up-to-date volume of the new Oxford English Literary History singled out JH Prynne as the poet of recent decades whom posterity would most admire. This mere opinion made the news on Radio 4's Today programme: the educated presenters had heard of Philip Larkin, but who was this Prynne man?

Prynne's poems are likely to defeat the common reader; even an admirer calls them "dense and alarming". Though most have a poetic shape on the page, there is no recognisable human voice speaking to you in them. They are places where vocabularies from different places (economics or science, for instance) unexpectedly intersect. They do not tell stories or describe experiences. They are usually about language itself. They will probably not make you look at nature afresh, but they might send you for an interesting trip through the Oxford English Dictionary.

Prynne does have passionate adherents. Observers talk of "the Prynnites" as shorthand for avant-garde English poets. For these postmoderns, much mainstream poetry is out to evade the lessons of modernism. Modernists such as Eliot put paid to sentimental lyricism and versified memoir. Poetry was to be impersonal, to challenge our habits of thinking about ourselves, to be difficult. And since Eliot's The Waste Land was launched on a perplexed literary world, no one can be sneery about poetic difficulty without some inner uneasiness. These spats between schools of poets are not just arguments about taste, they are disputes about what poetry should be. But the smallness of the poetry world magnifies differences of opinion, making for spats that have been compared to "a knife fight in a phone box".

5th October, 2005


A good write-up for Adelaide poet Shen in the Malaysian news, in a feature piece by Neville D'Cruz (, Malaysian National News Agency, 4th October).

Dr Sim began getting poems published in 1995, in national literary magazines in Australia.

"I started using the pseudonym 'Shen' as some of my poems involved situations which I encountered as a doctor and I felt uncomfortable relating the experiences in my own name," he said.

"In addition, I wanted a name that would reflect my background; themes around which I was exploring in my writing at the time. A number of other poems, in both small and larger press magazines followed, and in 2001 my first collection of poems 'City of My Skin' was published by Five Islands Press.

"This process was a revelation to me as it made me realise that as a poet I was part of a greater community of people who knew of my writing, even if they did not know me personally. This was enormously humbling."

4th October, 2005


Mary Houlihan (Chicago Sun-Times, 2nd October, 2005) reports on changes at the Paris Review.

The quarterly has a circulation of around 10,000; the last two issues have sold out their print runs of 13,000. "My aim is to bring that number to about 20,000 in the coming years -- a number most novelists would be delighted with for their own books," Gourevitch said.

He also hopes to make this incarnation of the magazine more international. Though non-fiction writing has always been included, mostly in the form of literary memoirs and the occasional travel piece, he said, "My interest is to bring in more broadly narrative non-fiction. Both fiction and non-fiction are vital and equally valid ways of looking at the world. It's a rich time for both forms of writing."

The Paris Review receives an astonishing 15,000-20,000 manuscripts a year. Everything is read at least by two people. Some of it is very good; some of it is very bad.

3rd October, 2005


Sad news. This from the Friendly Street Poets website:

Friendly Street is saddened to learn of the recent death of Ray Stuart.

Ray was a regular at Friendly Street for many years, making valuable contributions as poet and editor (co-editing Friendly Street Poetry Reader 24 with Jude Aquilina), Committee Member and Convenor.

His warmth, wisdom, humour and poetry will be sorely missed.

Friendly Street passes on its deepest condolences and sympathy to Ray's wife, Heather, and family.

Ray had intended to launch his second collection of poems, High Mountainous Country - No Reliable Information (from local publisher, Forty Degrees South) in Hobart last week.

Ray Stuart


'Ich weiss nicht
was soll es bedeuten
dass ich so traurig bin'
Heinrich Heine
Within the attic of my mind
in the furthest lit corner
an explanation of tenses
scattered French verbs
and a fragment of Caesar
in Cisalpine Gaul.
On the camphorwood chest
a blue folder signed off
in unmistakable English.
Through the dormer window
past a wind-moved tree
a shoreline in moonlight
where the Lorelei still sings,
but now on sandstone rocks
and to the tune of a steel guitar.

2nd October, 2005


New from Wagtail, as part of its program of publishing Australian poets in an affordable but presentable format, is work from David Rowbotham (August 2005, #46) and Adrienne Eberhard (September 2005, #47). Scheduled for this months' Wagtail is Peter Porter, in November it's Vera Newsom, and in December, Kevin Murray.

Wagtail is published eleven times a year. Each issue features sixteen pages of poetry from a single contributor. Most of the content is reprint material; a major objective of the series is to keep enough good work in print for readers to form a considered opinion of the poet's voice and style. A list of each contributor's books is printed on the back cover so that readers know where to look for more. Selections are accessible, as Wagtail's largest market after subscribers is with schools. Four titles are currently on the Schools List in Western Australia, and several others have been popular as classroom sets. Each issue is available by mail order for $3.00, or $2.40 for booksellers, bulk orders, and classroom sets. Subscriptions cost $55 (2 years, 11 issues), $30 (1 year, 11 issues), $18 (6 months, 6 issues) and $3 for a single issue. Cheques, money orders to Picaro Press (orders for up to $10 may be paid for with $0.50 stamps), to Picaro Press, PO Box 853, Warners Bay, NSW, 2282 - email, fax (02) 4954 4728.

Other Picaro Press titles include the comprehensive bimonthly Poetry Markets Update, a listing of Australian poetry publishers (65-odd serials, 50 book publishers, including the latest contact details and subscription information) - $5 an issue; and Two Banks with No Bridge, by Iraqi poet Al - Samawy, translated by Eva Sallis and introduced by Tom Shapcott: 24 pps, $5.00

2nd October, 2005


Canetti was 85 when he began writing his memoirs of the years spent in London during the war, and was still working on them when he died four years later in 1994. Party in the Blitz was published in July 2005.

Clive James, writing in the New York Times (2nd October, 2005) shows no affection for the side of Canetti (awarded the 1981 Nobel Prize for literature) revealed in this book. "... he wrote a book fit to serve every writer in the world as a hideous, hilarious example of the tone to avoid when the ego, faced with the certain proof of its peripheral importance, loses the last of its inhibitions", James summarises. Canetti's memoir refers scathingly to literary luminaries the likes of TS Eliot ('A libertine of the void, a foothill of Hegel, a desecrator of Dante . . . thin-lipped, coldhearted, prematurely old') and the young Iris Murdoch, Canetti's lover ("I don't think there is anything that leaves me quite so cold as that woman's intellect").

Two things of  particular intestest in James' review: one, the portrait of Canetti's self-obsession & vanity, his ability to hold a grudge as this particular vignette shows

He proved, however, that he had a long memory for the frailties of his colleagues. He had a good story about Robert Musil, author of "The Man Without Qualities." In the circumscribed world of the Vienna cafes, Musil reigned unapproachably as the resident genius. But Musil was eaten up by resentment of the public recognition accorded to Thomas Mann. When, in 1935, Canetti published "Die Blendung" to some acclaim in the press, he entered the cafe to find Musil, who had previously barely noticed his existence, rising to meet him with a congratulatory speech. Canetti was able to say that he had a letter in his pocket from Mann, praising him in exactly the same terms. Musil sank back into his chair and never acknowledged Canetti again.

and secondly, the issue again of separating the writer from the writing, akin, for instance, to the difficulty of separating Ezra Pound's work from his political views:

The continually recurring diatribe about Eliot is made almost piquant by the fact that Canetti is talking about a time in his enemy's career when the sequential poems later to be known as "Four Quartets" were being published to universal praise for their magnificence. There were plenty of English intellectuals who had no particular respect for Eliot's conservative intellectual position but could see that he was writing the greatest poetry of his time. For Canetti, however, it was out of the question to separate man and work. The man was the work: it was the way, after all, that he felt about himself. "My chief trait, much my strongest quality, which has never been compromised, was the insistence on myself." Canetti measured himself against other men according to the adamantine strength of his self-regard....

1st October, 2005


(Weldon, interviewed by The Independent's Susan Jeffreys - 23rd September, 2005)

No great insights here. Interesting though to learn of Ms Weldon's attitude  to the use of computers as a writing tool ['I love my computer. I really love it.'], in sharp contrast to the writing habits of many scribes.

She went from pen and ink to computer, without benefit of typewriter, and thinks computers have changed the way people write: "Writing by hand is much more convoluted, and much more implicit." The computer has freed her writing up. They're leaky things, though, computers - they should behave like logical machines but we all know they don't. Behind those screens, order and chaos mix. That doesn't worry Weldon, who likes working both sides of any border.

"I love my computer. I really love it. You get to know their little ways. The one I have now will, if I'm writing a screenplay, read my script out in different voices. It will even try to read all my spelling mistakes, very bravely. I'm very fond of it."

30th September, 2005


Tim Winton and Sarah Day were among the prize winners at Wednesday evening's presentation of the 2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Tim for his work of fiction The Turning (Pan MacMillan) and Sarah for her poetry collection The Ship (Brandl & Schlesinger).

30th September, 2005


(Jamie Wilson, The Guardian, Thursday 29th September, 2005)

Michael Crichton's latest novel, State of Fear, is an action-packed thriller in which the hero is a scientist who discovers that climate change is all a fraud. The novel has sold well, but it was still something of a shock yesterday to find its author as an expert witness testifying on global warming in front of the United States Senate.

Crichton had been summoned to give evidence by Senator James Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, who recently called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people".

Some scientists speculated that Crichton might be the best witness Senator Inhofe could find. A 2004 survey of 900 peer-reviewed and published scientific papers on climate change failed to find a single one who went against the belief that man-made change is happening and is dangerous.

30th September, 2005


Dinitia Smith's article in the New York Times (29th September, 2005) discusses a new book on the relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, authored by Hazel Rowley whose past books include a biography of Christina Stead.

The friends and lovers of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre have battled for decades over their legacy. Now, the feud has flared up once again, forcing HarperCollins to take the unusual step of publishing two editions of a new account of their relationship because of objections from Sartre's adopted daughter.

The book, Tete-a-Tete, by Hazel Rowley, was written with the cooperation of Beauvoir's adopted daughter, Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, who gave Ms. Rowley access to Sartre's unpublished letters. But Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre, who has control over Sartre's estate, demanded some of the material be removed. As a result, HarperCollins is publishing a European edition without the disputed material and a North American edition that - because of more liberal copyright laws - contains some of it and paraphrases other parts.

28th September,2005


The Brisbane Writers' Festival runs Thursday 29th September to Sunday 2nd October. Dozens of participants including Philip Adams, Judith Beveridge, Laurie Duggan, Kate Grenville, Wendy Harmer, Michael Leunig, Amanda Lohrey, Bill Manhire, William McInnes, Philip Neilsen, David Rowbotham, Kim Scott, Sam Wagan Watson & Chris Wallace-Crabbe ... so who's not envious?

One of the participants is Anne Giardini, a lawyer, writer and mother of three school-age children. Anne has written numerous articles, stories and essays on wide-ranging topics, and lives in Vancouver. Literary success runs in the family. Giardini's mother - Carol Shields - was one of Canada's most respected novelists. Shields died in in 2003 aged 68, after producing 10 novels, three collections of short stories, as well as poetry, plays and critical studies, and winning numerous awards, including the Orange prize for Larry's Party and the Pulitzer for The Stone Diaries, and twice being shortlisted for the Booker.

28th September, 2005


The 'World Literature Today' website has come up with a list of its top forty pieces of literature - from 1927 to the present - which attemps to avoid a purely scholar's list (e.g., Finnegan's Wake) as well as a strictly popular or best-seller list. (Patrick White's Voss registered as the only Australian entry). The list's in date order rather than in order of preference, the most recent being

(1968) ......House Made of Dawn – N. Scott Momaday, United States
(1972) ......Invisible Cities (Le città invisibili) – Italo Calvino, Italy
(1974) ......The Conservationist – Nadine Gordimer, South Africa
(1978) ......Bells in Winter – Czeslaw Milosz, Poland
(1987) ......Red Sorghum (Hung kao liang) – Mo Yan, China

28th September, 2005


Interview by Emma Brockes in yesterday's Guardian with Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time. [More moving for what it actually says about the difficulties of communicating with Hawking, one on one, than for what Hawking manages to say].

Behind his shoulder, his assistant nods. There will now be some time for live questions. Stupidly, given that I have read all about it, I fail to realise just how arduous and time-consuming the process of live communication is. If I did, I wouldn't squander the time on asking a joke, warm-up question. I tell him I have heard he has six different voices on his synthesizer and that one is a woman's. Hawking lowers his eyes and starts responding. After five minutes of silence the nurse sitting beside me closes her eyes and appears to go to sleep. I look around. On the windowsill are framed photos stretching back through Hawking's life. There are photos of one of his daughters with her baby. I notice Hawking's hands are thin and tapering. He is wearing black suede Kickers.

Another five minutes pass. There are pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the wall, one of which has been digitally manipulated to feature Hawking in the foreground. I see a card printed with the slogan: "Yes, I am the centre of the universe." I write it down and turn the page in my notebook. It makes a tearing sound and the nurse's eyes snap open. She goes over to Hawking and, putting her hand on his head, says, "Now then, Stephen," and gently wipes saliva from the side of his mouth. Another five minutes pass. Then another.

Hawking's assistant, who sits behind him to see what is going on on his screen, nods slightly. Here it comes: "That was true of one speech synthesizer I had. But the one I use normally has only one voice. It is 20 years old, but I stick to it because I haven't found better and because I'm known by it worldwide." That's it? The fruit of 20 minutes' effort? This man is a Hercules.

28th September, 2005


A few words by columnist John Tognolini in today's issue of Green Left Weekly, marking the death of Denis Kevans last month. (Many here in Tasmania will recall Denis' guest appearance at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival some years ago).

'I’d known Denis for 24 years and first heard his poetry in support of Bobby Sands and his fellow Irish hunger strikers in 1981. I can’t think of a struggle (whether it was defending Aborigines or the East Timorese), a cause (such as when Tim Anderson was framed for the Hilton bombing) or strike that Denis didn’t write about. I remember the many times he was at Cockatoo Island Dockyard during the three-month strike/occupation in 1989 and his support for the MUA at Darling Harbour and Botany Bay in 1998.'

27th September, 2005


Robert Macfarlane argues that writers can play a crucial role in helping us to imagine the impact of climate change: The Guardian, Saturday 24th September, 2005

'The authoritative bibliography of American and British nuclear literature runs to over 3,000 items: it includes Ian McEwan's oratorio "Or Shall We Die", JG Ballard's The Terminal Beach, Martin Amis's Einstein's Monsters, Raymond Briggs's When The Wind Blows, as well as work by Edward Abbey, Ray Bradbury, Upton Sinclair, Neville Shute. This literature did not only annotate the politics of the nuclear debate, it helped to shape it. As well as feeding off that epoch of history, it fed into it.'

'There is nothing like this intensity of literary engagement with climate change. Climate change still exists principally as what Ballard has called "invisible literature": that is, the data buried in "company reports, specialist journals, technical manuals, newsletters, market research reports, internal memoranda". It exists as paper trail, as data stream. It also exists, of course, as journalism, as conversation, and as behaviour. But it does not yet, with a few exceptions, exist as art. Where are the novels, the plays, the poems, the songs, the libretti, of this massive contemporary anxiety?'

26th September, 2005


Thoughtful blog article posted 23rd September at chekhovsmistress on the post-Plimpton Paris Review. Mr Mistress' verdict?

What we have here is a basic regard for the laws of competition in publishing. Maybe no one thought it before Mr. Plimpton died, but the venerable old magazine did need an update. There are a lot of great choices in literary journals and it's not quite enough just to be "The Paris Review."

I like the new magazine. It's manageable, as shallow as that might sound, and the first indications on the ability of the editors is good. The early questions about Gourevitch's direction - for fear of shying from literature into the marketable arms of journalism - remain, but this issue gets a high placement on the stacks.

25th September, 2005


A review of Jill Jones' 2005 collection Broken/Open [Salt Publishing] appeared in yesterday's Weekend Australian, drawing comment today on the poetry mailing list 'poneme', of which Jones is a member. How much do reviews - positive or negative - affect sales? someone asked.

I can't say, Jones replied. 'I don't know if reviews (or indeed prizes) have an effect on sales. I suspect sales of poetry books in Australia are mostly word of mouth or sold at readings, launches etc. Reviews haven't changed what I write, mainly because they've been so various (good, bad, indifferent), but they do shed light on how some people receive the work.

'Someone said to me once you're not a real writer until you get some bad reviews, meaning, among other things, if someone's always getting good reviews you'd have to suspect a bit of cosying-up is going on.

'But as for recognition, well, I don't know if awards really do it. Seriously, I have no idea and I wonder if most people take notice. I've won two and been shortlisted for a few others (the latest being the recent Age Poetry Book of the Year one - which I didn't win, c'est la guerre) but I don't know that I have any more recognition because of it than if I hadn't. Most people I know, for instance, didn't even know about the Age award shortlisting or, alternatively an acquaintance congratulated me this week on winning it. So, literally, I don't know. Only others can answer really. I don't think poets can have an objective view of their own reputation.'

24th September, 2005


Thoughtful, and humorous interview by Michelle Grifin in today's Age newspaper with novelist Andrew McCann on the publication of his second book Subtopia (Vulgar Press).

Seems that for years, McCann has found himself mistaken for Miles Franklin award winner Andrew McGahan, the author of Praise. "I'd go into shops and pay for things with a credit card and they'd look at my name and ask what I was working on. Because I could answer that, I'd have these absurd conversations, completely conscious of the fact my identity had been misconstrued."

Griffin notes that on the interview trail for his first two novels, 'Andrew McGahan blithely insisted that most of the details in his fiction were true - the girlfriend, the drugs, the sexual problems. He also annoyingly refused to reflect on his literary intentions, preferring to run down his own books.'

McCann, Griffin points out, is much more circumspect,'treats personal questions with the wary stonewalling of a political prisoner'.

Reading between the lines, maybe not such an easy interview to conduct? Well presented, regardless.

22nd September, 2005


James Sturcke in The Guardian (Wednesday September 21, 2005) reports that a writers' group representing more than 8,000 authors (the Authors' Guild) is suing Google for "massive copyright infringement" over its fledgling programme of digitising library books. The Authors Guild has issued legal proceedings in a New York court claiming damages and demanding the search engine stops uploading the contents of library books.

Google in its response argues that Google Print doesn’t show a single page to users who find copyrighted books through the program (unless the copyright holder gives permission to show more). "At most we show only a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries". In a further bid to reassure authors, Google points out that copy and print tools are disabled on computers while users are in Google Print.

21st September, 2005


Another book to cross the desk.... I doubt I’ll manage to completely read the full text of Hazel Smith’s The Writing Experiment: Strategies for Innovative Creative Writing: not because it’s unreadable (quite the opposite), but because it's targeted at an audience deeply interested in the writing process. I’m a reader, not a writer.

Hazel Smith is the author of Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara and co-author of Improvisation, Hypermedia and the Arts Since 1945. Her new book, The Writing Experiment, is 288 pages in length and gained shortlisting earlier this year for the Australian Publishers Association Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing in the tertiary single-title category.

The Writing Experiment encourages writers to take an explorative and experimental approach to their work, to relate practical strategies for writing to major twentieth century literary and cultural movements, including postmodernism. Central to Smith's book are the questions of whether special qualities are required to be a writer, whether there are rules or regulations to abide by when writing, whether writing is likely to be better if based on personal experience, whether writing's possible though one may be bereft of good ideas - or any ideas at all. Smith suggests the belief that writers are blessed with a basic innate talent is flawed. 'The main qualities writers must have are perseverance, motivation, the willingness to search for methods which suit them, energy to push themselves out of their own comfort zones and avid reading habits'.

It's evident that The Writing Experiment is written by a professional telling it from the inside. The writing is dense rather than spare, the words work hard, compel you back to the page. Casual browsers will get some indication of the book's theme from the use of words such as ‘experiment’ and ‘innovative’ in the book’s title and subtitle, and Robert Shappard’s back-cover claim that it ‘… links radical practice with radical (but better-known) theory, and will appeal to anyone looking for a different approach …’ Smith dismisses the notion of rules and regulations for creative writing, suggesting an experimental approach to writing 'means retaining an open-ended and open-minded attitude, and pursuing new, diverse modes of textual exploration'.

The book is replete with practical exercises, examples of the particular forms under discussion and extensive referencing of each chapter. Divided into two sections - ‘Introductory Strategies’ and ‘Advanced Strategies’ - the first section deals, amongst other topics, with genre, structure, narrative and dialogue in writing that is both detailed but clearly explained. The section on genre, for instance, focusses on both poetry and prose, initially experimenting with writing in a realist form and then transposing it into surrealist and satirical modes. The chapter ‘Working out with structures’ investigates the writing of texts in non-literary forms (tourist guides, recipes, diary entries, lists etc), concentrating on throwing the "literary" world into relief as well as satirising contemporary modes of communication.

Part II, chapters seven to twelve - ‘Advanced Strategies’ - deals with postmodern f(r)ictions, postmodern poetry, avant-garde poetics, experimental writing transgressing generic norms, writing for performance, creative possibilities for new media along with writing that explores dimensions of space and place. Postmodern relationships within writing - the question of plot, the subversion of the notion of three dimensional, unified and realistic characters, the construction of fantastic new worlds and languages - are tackled in this section.


[Flashback to 1996. Hazel Smith is a guest of the fifteenth Salamanca Writers’ Festival in Hobart. Along with Joanne Burns, John Kinsella and Susan Schultz, Smith is introduced by session compere Philip Mead. Philip suggests the writers offer "… four windows on the universe of poetic contemporary writing. If you want a glimpse of what the future of poetry will be, here it is." Smith’s work features material in a ‘language’ of her own creation, and the questions asked of her are interesting.

"Why not use a rich, but existing language?" someone asks. "The Russian or Ukrainian, for instance… one we don’t understand."

"That’s just my point," Smith replies, "one day I’d come across someone who does understand it. And what I’m specifically attempting to do is to convey emotion without resorting to known languages. Without resorting to semantics."]


Creating a contemporary lyric, Smith argues, almost inevitably means engaging with postmodern ideas of subjectivity. Her set exercises are designed to familiarise writers in experimentation with different aspects of language (extending or resisting metaphor, discontinuity, lexical experimentation, the poem as visual object). A "very small amount of linguistic experimentation goes a long way and may have far-reaching effects in your work," she explains. Experimentation including performance-based talk poems and intermedia pieces will inevitably create surprises in writing, she argues ... may effect changes to one’s page-based work. Experimentation might also include the hypertext juxtapositioning of words with visual images and animations and the software-based generation of text.

The Writing Experiment is a well-researched and substantial, engaging and open-ended publication; & a repository of plain common-sense. Treat the idea of a final (and perfect) text with scepticism, Smith advises. "Remember that the final text is usually only the place where the author decides to stop. Behind every final text are many other routes that the text could have taken."

Launched in March 2005 by Allen & Unwin, The Writing Experiment retails for $39.95.

                            The Writing Experiment, Hazel Smith - Allen & Unwin, ISBN 1 74114015 3

21st September, 2005


" 'In lending himself to the role of public figure, the novelist endangers his work; it risks being considered a mere appendage to his actions, to his declarations, to his statements of a position.' So argued the Czech novelist Milan Kundera, picking up the Jerusalem Prize for Literature in 1985. It's a piece of advice that another great novelist, Salman Rushdie, ought to ponder when he shifts into the writing voice of the columnist."

                                   [Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney and a lecturer in philosophy at
                                 Wadham College, Oxford - The Guardian, 21st September, 2005)

20th September, 2005


                       [With permission, an entry from Pierre Joris' blog Nomadics  dated Monday June 13th, 2005].

'... got to the gig only for the second set, walking into a pleasantly cool hotel lounge with comfortable armchairs & sofas. Glass of wine in hand, I started to listen — & couldn't place the first lines I heard Nicole sing, couldn't make out what song it was until the refrain came in & I realized to my astonishment that it was a poem of mine. I much enjoyed that failure to recognize my "own" lines — and it made me think about the relationship poets/writers have with their texts. We are no longer in the habit of hearing others speak, recite, or sing our lines, even as we accumulate poetry readings and performances of our own works — often using various technological means, Verfremdungs- effects, added sounds &/or images, but always the poet's own voice reading/speaking his/her poems.'

'This is a somewhat paradoxical situation: in an age when so much theorizing has involved the demotion of the "author," and the displacement of notions of authenticity and truth away from the poet and onto language, that author-poet has found him/herself more and more in the spotlight, en scène, as the "authorized" interpretant of the work. And this has been the case as much for the post-avant than for the School of Quietude / confessional poets who are obviously much more invested in such self-voicings. Seems like you can try to kick "human nature" (read "the personal lyric") out the front door, it will only climb back in through the side window.'

'But the enjoyment was not at all an ego-trip, i.e. "them's my words" — but lay clearly in the difference the other's voice brought to words once put together with a specific, local & time-bound pitch & aim, and now here estranged from any root-attachment of that order, and taken elsewhere. Translation, in fact, is, I guess what I am coming at, again and again, as core experience: just as all writing is translation, so the life of the poem (which is always an after-life) is simply the sum of translations it gives rise to.'

20th September, 2005


News tonight of the award to Andrew O'Connor for his work Tuvalu.

19th September, 2005


'I go into schools to do poetry workshops/readings. Everyone’s very keen on poetry in schools. It’s part of the curriculum in my state (though less than it used to be) and teenagers still write it (and SMS each other small poems -- usually doggerel, often obscene) and some teachers still love it. During the course of question time someone always asks how much money I make (and I think, “If I was making a lot of money, would I be here?”) but I say, “Put up your hand if you’ve bought a music CD or a book of poems this year.” A forest of hands goes up. “Keep your hand up if you bought poetry.” A forest falls. There are a few stragglers left. Then I say (being an Australian poet), “Keep your hand up if the book of poetry you bought was by a living Australian poet.” Ah, clear felled. Almost always. Then I say to them: “What was the question again?” ' - Chris Mansell on the difficulties of publishing poetry, online at, 14th September, 2005.

19th September, 2005


John Kinsella, the well-known Australian poet and Cambridge academic, has described the culture of literary journals as "integral to the vitality of poetry and language itself". "Literary journals," he avows, "are crucibles of the word". - The Independent (Online Edition), 16th September, 2005, on the launch of the first-ever double Australian issue of Agenda magazine (Vol 42, Nos 1-2).

18th September, 2005


News item from the Charlotte Observer (North Carolina), 17th September, 2005, reporting on a deer jumping through the plate glass window of a local church to interrupt a poetry reading. "The humans headed for the door of the meeting room, but the glass-covered buck apparently wasn't in a mood for poetry. After a minute or so of panicked scrambling on the table, he jumped back to the floor and left the way he had arrived -- through the window."

17th September, 2005


Mark O'Flynn, born 1958.
Geoffrey Dutton, died 1998.

17th September, 2005


(an interview with Boyd Tonkin for The Independent)

Having a fatwa hanging over your head, as Rushdie did for many years, gives you as much authority as anyone to comment on religious extremism, one imagines. Rushdie, interviewed by The Independent, comments on recent Blair proposals to evict foreign extremists from Britain. At long last, says Rushdie, at the same time raising concern over what he interprets as the government's strong authoritarian tendencies.

16th September, 2005


The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction

Sonya Hartnett

Sixty Lights
Gail Jones
Vintage/Random House

Ian Townsend
Fourth Estate /Harper Collins

The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction

Degenerates and Perverts: The 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British
Contemporary Art

Eileen Chanin and Steven Miller
The Miegunyah Press / Melbourne University Publishing

Beach Crossings: Voyaging across Times, Cultures and Self
Greg Dening
The Miegunyah Press / Melbourne University Publishing

Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev
Robert Dessaix
Picador/Pan Macmillan

Joe Cinque’s Consolation: A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law
Helen Garner
Picador/Pan Macmillan

Bypass: The Story of a Road
Michael McGirr
Picador/Pan Macmillan

The C J Dennis Prize for Poetry

<More or Less Than>1-100
MTC Cronin
Shearsman Books

Doppler Effect
John Kinsella
Salt Publishing

Morgan Yasbincek
Fremantle Arts Centre Press

The Louis Esson Prize for Drama

The Frail Man
Anthony Crowley
Playbox /Currency

David Pledger
Not Yet, It’s Difficult

The Spook
Melissa Reeves
Company B. Belvoir St.

The Prize for Young Adult Fiction

The Running Man
Michael Gerard Bauer
Omnibus Books

Secret Scribbled Notebooks
Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin

So Yesterday
Scott Westerfeld
Penguin Books Australia

The Prize for Science Writing

The Land Of Flowers: An Australian Environment on the Brink
Irene Cunningham
Otford Press

Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science
Elizabeth Finkel
ABC Books

Astonishing Animals
Tim Flannery and Peter Schouten
Text Publishing

The Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate

Living in a Material World
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Griffith Review

‘Kangaroo Court’: Family Law in Australia
John Hirst
‘Quarterly Essay’
Black Inc

Mission Impossible: The Sheikhs, the U.S. and the Future of Iraq
Paul McGeogh
‘Quarterly Essay’
Black Inc

The Village Roadshow Prize for Screen Writing

Revealing Gallipoli
Wain Fimeri
ABC Television

Little Fish
Jacquelin Perske
Porchlight FIlms

Look Both Ways
Sarah Watt
Hibiscus Films

The Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer

I Hate Martin Amis et al
Peter Barry

‘Days Like Television…Days Like Television’ and Other Stories
James Hawthorne

The Timeball Philosophers
Anita Punton

The Grollo Ruzzene Foundation Prize for Writing about Italians in Australia

Martino’s Story
Lyn Chatham
Peter Bruno

Per l’Australia: The Story of Italian Migration
Julia Church
The Miegunyah Press/Melbourne University Publishing

A Spoonful of Zucchero
Kate Taylor
Little Red Apple Publishing

16th September, 2005


Andrew Sant, born 1950
Noonuccal, Oodgeroo (a.k.a. Kath Walker ), died 1993

16th September, 2005


Donald Horne's best-selling book was meant "as an indictment of an unimaginative nation, its cosy provincialism, its cultural cringe and its White Australia policy. But much to Horne's subsequent misery, many failed to detect his irony and many more, either wilfully or lazily, misinterpreted his words." (John Huxley and Samantha Selinger-Morris, Sydney Morning Herald, 9th September 2005)

15th September, 2005


The director of a writing program at the University of New Orleans describes his escape from the flooded city.

15th September, 2005

The contents page from the current issue of Australian Book Review. Half a dozen of these reviews are available online at ABR's website, including Kate McFadyen's assessment of Cate Kennedy's Sing, and Don't Cry. The book is drawn from Kennedy's experiences during an extended posting in Mexico with Australian Volunteers International some years ago, and described by the reviewer as "... an eloquent portrait of how lived experience can inform and alter a person’s intellectual and spiritual alignment. Kennedy’s desire for an investigation of her inner life makes this book a profound and evocative document of a particular place."


Jeremy Fisher, John Dawson
David McKnight: Beyond Right and Left      (Guy Rundle)
Anthony Moran: Australia     (Tim Rowse)
David Corlett: Following Them Home     (Peter Mares)
Jacqueline Rose: The Question of Zion     (Dennis Altman)
Stephen Graubard: The Presidents     (Peter Haig)
Peter Beattie: Making a Difference     (John Wanna)

J.S. Harry
Anthony Lawrence
Helen Ennis: Margaret Michaelis      ( Evelyn Juers)

Michaela Boland and Michael Bodey: Aussiewood
Terence Crawford: Trade Secrets     (Richard Johnstone)

Graeme Davison and Kimberley Webber (eds): Yesterday's Tomorrows     (John McPhee)

Craig Sherborne: Hoi Polloi     (David McCooey)
Michael Craig: The Smallest Giant     (John Golder)
Jacob G. Rosenberg: East of Time    (Peter Steele)
Henry Pollack: The Accidental Developer    (John Lack)
Kate Holden: In My Skin     (Rachel Buchanan)

Cate Kennedy: Sing, and Don't Cry      (Kate McFadyen)
Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson: Carnivorous Nights     (Danielle Wood)

Michael Crouch: The Literary Larrikin     (David Hutchison)
Claire Harman: Robert Louis Stevenson     (Graham Tulloch)
My beautiful pork-pie hat      (Angus Trumble)
Anne Manne: Motherhood     (Cathy Sherry)

Hostages to Fortune: Parents and Children     (Lisa Gorton)

Elspeth Probyn: Blush     (Tamas Pataki)

Frank Cain: Jack Lang and the Great Depression      (Chris McConville)

Jill Jones: Broken/Open     (Gig Ryan)
Andrew Sant: Tremors     (Paul Hetherington)

Leigh Dale (ed.): Australian Literary Studies
Ian Britain (ed.): Meanjin
Nicolette Stasko and Mark Tredinnick (guest eds): Southerly
                                     (James Ley)
Julianne Schultz (ed.): Griffith Review 8
Ivor Indyk (ed.): Heat 9
David Owen (ed.): Island no. 100
                                      (Michael Williams)

Jane Clifton: A Hand in the Bush
Kerry Greenwood: Death by Water
John Misto: The Devil's Companions
                                      (Jake Wilson)
Jane R. Goodall: The Visitor
Leigh Redhead: RubdowN
Peter Temple: The Broken Shore
                                       (Tony Smith)

Carrie Tiffany: Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living
Julienne van Loon: Road Story
                     (Michelle Griffin)
John Donnelly: The Tao of Shepherding
Jane Downing: The Lost Tribe
                      (Cheryl Taylor)
Yo Yo: Ghost Tide     (Nicholas Jose)
Catherine Cole: The Grave at Thu Le      (Thuy On)
Greg Bogaerts: Black Diamonds and Dust
Stephen Lacey: Sandstone
                      ( Allan Gardiner)

Maria Tumarkin: Traumascapes     (Stephen Muecke)

Angus McIntyre: The Indonesian Presidency     {Damien Kingsbury}

Bruce Fuhrer: A Field Guide to Australian Fungi     (Tom May )

14th September, 2005


Applications close 26th September, 2005.

14th September, 2005


TimesOnLine journalists Tom Pattinson and Alice Jones report that Turkey has been condemned by Kazuo Ishiguro, the novelist, and fellow Man Booker prize nominees over a threat to imprison one of its leading writers for highlighting his country’s role in the 1915 Armenian genocide.

13th September, 2005


Wonderfully written, moving tribute from fellow poet Stephen Edgar on the Tasmanian Times website.

11th September, 2005

HECATE, ISSUE 31.1.2005

A new issue of Hecate has arrived in the mail featuring poems by Gina Mercer, Jan Dean, Angela Costi, Dael Allison, Helen Hagemann, Maria Christoforatos, pio, Helen Cerne and Jena Woodhouse. There's a special feature focussing on Women's Suffrage with articles by Audrey Oldfield, Ann Nugent, John McCulloch and Lenore Coltheart, articles and essays including Chilla Bulbeck's 'Schemes and Dreams: Young Australians Imagine Their Future' and Helen Johnson's 'A Fugitive Moment of Grace: Life Story, Migration and Vietnamese-Caledonian Women' ... cartoons by Debbie Harman Qadri, and an interview with Anna Couani.

Interviewed by Anne Brewster, Couani's conversation is largely technical (first person narrative, the cyclical structure of much of her work, her growing interest in narrative and narrative effects) but interspersed with interesting diversions along the way, the difficulty of finishing her book Western Horizon, for instance.

Couani: '... it's a linear kind of a thing, like a Ukiyo-e painting. I could have finished any time, and I would have liked to write it indefinitely but that didn't happen because Ivor Indyk decided to stop publishing it in Heat. He was getting quite a lot of negative feedback about it, and decided to stop it. And anyway, it wasn't working very well as a serial in his publication because it wasn't coming out frequently enough.'

Anne Brewster: What kind of negative feedback?

AC: That it wasn't a novel, didn't have any characters, didn't have plot, and it was too left-wing.

AB: So why do you think it produces that kind of reaction? Is it a combination of its formal inventiveness and political views?

AC: Yes, views/ideological position, unconventionality. Both. Because there are people with the same ideological position as me who hate the writing, and there are other people who are right-wingers who quite like the writing but hate my views.

AB: Why do you think people have such a block about reading experimental work?

AC: I think it's lack of familiarity. The strange thing about my work is that it is used by a lot of creative writing and English teachers in universities. I've been surprised to learn that someone studied it here and someone studied it there. I think also if it is placed in the context of poetry, it would be more understandable. I think for people who just like to read novels, it's perplexing. It's not entertaining in the same way. But if you read it as fictocritical work, it's not so strange. I think it is a precurser to fictocritical work. But another thing is that my soulmates in writing are and were writing stuff that is often 'stranger' than my work. There's a whole alternative tradition that most people are unaware of. There are experimental poets and prose writers like Gilbert Sorrentino, Sherril Jaffe, Michael Brownstein, Kenneth Koch, Ron Padgett, Ken Bolton, Robbe Grillet, Kris Hemensley, Walter Billeter, Mary Fallon, all those German writers (I read some of them in translation), there are too many to list. The vocabulary of the alternative tradition, I guess you could call it postmodern, is disrupted text, shifting register, confused chronology, switching from first to third person, multiple viewpoints, you name it. Just as conventional naturalistic writers use character and plot.'

11th September, 2005


(from the Poets Union, in conjunction with the Australia Council)

First offered in 2002, the aim of these fellowships is to allow outstanding young poets opportunities to make their work known to the public, and to further their skills by working with experienced mentors. Recent mentors have included Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Peter Minter, Jordie Albiston and Judith Beveridge.
Two Fellowships will be awarded. The closing date for applications is 11 November 2005. The successful candidates will be notified later that month. Entrants must be aged between 18 and 30 years (inclusive) on 31 December 2005.
Each Fellow will receive:
A six-month mentorship with an experienced poet, from January to July 2006. Wherever possible, a mentor will be selected from the same geographical region as the Fellow.
Publication in Five Bells, the national Poets Union journal of poetry and poetics.
Accommodation expenses and registration fees (worth $595 each), and travel assistance for the Wollongong Poetry Workshops, held 12-19 January 2006.
Publication of a 32-page chapbook of poems.
The opportunity to present work in Sydney during the Australian Poetry Festival.
Conditions of entry
Application for a Fellowship is open to all citizens and permanent residents of Australia, aged 18-30 (inclusive) on 31 December 2005. Members of the Poets Union Committee and their immediate families are ineligible.
Selection will be on the basis of a poetry manuscript of 150 lines or less. The manuscript may be a single long poem, or a selection of shorter ones. Shorter poems may be thematically related, but do not have to be. Name and contact details should appear on each page of the submission. Fellows will be chosen by experienced poets nominated by the Poets Union. The programme will be co-ordinated by Martin Langford.
Applicants may submit material which has been previously published, or which has won other awards.
The entry fee is $10. Multiple entires are permissible, at $10 for each entry. Cheques or money orders should be made payable to the Poets Union.
Manuscripts will not be returned: applicants should make sure that they keep copies of their work.
Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for notification of results.
Submissions must be received by the last post on Friday 11 November 2005.
Mail entries to:
The Australian Young Poets Fellowships
Poets Union Inc
PO Box 91
Balmain NSW 2041
Enquiries should be directed to the Poets Union on (02) 9818 5366, or email

11th September, 2005


This afternoon (Sunday), Moorilla Winery, Hobart - a get together to honour Margaret Scott.

11th September, 2005


- Booker Prize shortlisted British writer Ali Smith in an interview with a New York magazine.

11th September, 2005


Banville, John         The Sea                     Picador
Barnes, Julian         Arthur & George         Jonathan Cape
Barry, Sebastian     A Long Long Way        Faber & Faber
Ishiguro, Kazuo     Never Let Me Go        Faber & Faber
Smith, Ali              The Accidental            Hamish Hamilton
Smith, Zadie          On Beauty                   Hamish Hamilton

11th September, 2005


(from an article by Camille T. Taiara, The Boston Phoenix)

Can a story really be "censored" in the Internet age, when information from millions of sources whips around the world in a matter of seconds? Absolutely, says Sut Jhally, professor of communications at the University of Massachusetts and executive director of the Media Education Foundation.

"The Internet is a great place to go if you already know that the mainstream media is heavily biased" and you actively search out sites on the outer limits of the Web, he notes. "The challenge for a democratic society is how to get vital information not only at the margins but at the center of our culture."

11th September, 2005


"It is with great sadness we advise of the death of Donald Horne AO, a Councillor of the ASA, former President (1984) and a member since 1965 on 8 September 2005." - a report from the Australian Society of Authors.

3rd September, 2005


Saddened to learn poet Selwyn Pritchard passed away at the end of June. A lovely man ... his poetry perhaps epitomised by a few words of intro that appear on his website: "I want poems which don't distance themselves, hold aloof, poems about living against the background of collapsing democracy, religion, social life and the corporate greed which is ruining our world...Poems that matter! I try to write them if I can."

30th August 2005


Yesterday. This is a sad one.


Interesting to see a new journal -  fascicle - appear online , a US based (though not entirely focussed) project featuring poetry, prose, plays, online chapbooks, essays on translation, reviews, local poetry news (limited to US locales - at this stage, at least), interviews and dialogue. I'm in awe of the ambitious scope of this project; as Andrew Burke remarked in his response on poetryetc, "Absolutely brilliant. The world can go hang! I'm reading this lot".

28th August 2005

An Interview with Irish fiction writer John McGahern (the Guardian newspaper)

'Ireland has changed more in the last 20 years than it did in the preceding 200 years,' he says. 'From 1800 until 1970, it was a 19th-century society. It was only then that the Church started collapsing. I think that it is by focusing on the local that you can best capture that change. If you were to focus on the universal, you'd end up with vagueness. John Donne said, "Let us make one little room, and everywhere." That's what I believe, really, that everything interesting begins with one person and one place.'

26th August 2005


Media Release, Friday 26 August 2005 - Melbourne University]

Poets dominated literary and art prizes worth $30,000 awarded by the University of Melbourne’s Australian Centre last night.
The awards were presented by the Australian writer Kate Grenville at a Melbourne Writers’ Festival event.
Professor Kate Darian-Smith, Director of the Australian Centre, says “these are the most prestigious non-government literary awards in the country, and they play an important role in fostering Australian writing and ideas”.
Among the prizes was the $10,000 Kate Challis RAKA award, one of the most valuable and sought after prizes for Indigenous art.
This year the Australia Council in partnership with the Australian Centre launched the valuable Asher Literary Award, also valued at $10,000.
This prize is the gift of the late Helen Asher, a refugee from Nazi Germany who found sanctuary in Australia, and who became active in the literary and cultural life of her new home. She specified that the prize should go to a woman writer whose work dealt with an anti-war theme.
Award recipients are:

** Alexander Brown, this year’s winner of the Kate Challis RAKA Award for Indigenous poets. Working with linguist Brian Geytenbeek, Mr Brown collected, translated and assembled songs of the Ngarla People from the Pilbara region in WA (who retain ownership of the songs). The collection has been published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press under the title of Ngarla Songs.

** Jane Williams, a poet who won the $3,500 DJ (Dinny) O’Hearn Memorial Fellowship for emerging Australian writers. Her entry beat 90 others across the genres of fiction, poetry and drama.

** Robert Kenny, who for his manuscript, ‘The Lamb Enters the Dreaming: Nathanael Pepper & the Ruptured World’ (forthcoming by Scribe Publications), received the $5,000 Peter Blazey Fellowship for a work in progress in the genres of autobiography, biography or life writing. His work is the life-story of the ‘first’ Wotjubaluk youth to be converted to Christianity in Victoria.

** Eva Sallis, who won the $10,000 Asher Literary Award for The Marsh Birds (Allen & Unwin). Sallis’s story of the bewilderment and experiences of refugees is the first winner of this new award for women writers on anti-war themes.

** Bronwyn Lea, an Australian poet who received the $3,500 Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. This award provides an opportunity to visit Ireland as an inspiration for writing or for research.


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