‘Marion’s Farewell’. Hobart, Wednesday 16th May 2018

TERRY WHITEBEACH

(A tribute honouring Marion Stoneman for her service to the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre, 2008-2017)

Marion is very easy person to like. A woman of integrity: modest, friendly, helpful, supportive, non-judgemental, efficient and always ready to walk the extra mile. She has fulfilled her role at the Tas Writers Centre fathoms deeper and stratospheres higher than her original brief and in our view, gone the extra hundred thousand miles – and is still going, even after her resignation!

When she asked me 10 years ago for a reference to support her application for a position with the TWC – I was very happy to give her one – what I’d seen of her was pretty impressive – and I didn’t know the half of it, at that stage.

From her unassuming manner you’d never guess what a skilled and brilliant worker Marion is: never one to blow her own trumpet she just gets things done, quickly and quietly, solves problems, supports writers, smooths away difficulties and gets through a formidable load of tasks with apparent ease. She may be paddling away madly under the surface but she’ll still make time to chat about a project, guide you through tricky processes, supply information, put out a newsletter, make a venue comfortable and welcoming, see to members’ needs – and all this with unfailing courtesy, never betraying impatience or making you feel you are taking up her valuable time.

Almost a fixture at every TWC event is Marion’s smiling face and pleasant manner, putting people at ease and getting the job done, oiling the wheels – and even putting the wheels back on when they fall off. A true service giver. And her service, as the cliché has it, is given with a smile.

Has she always been like this, I asked Megan once, and Megan replied that from early childhood Marion has had a sunny nature. You always feel great after a chat with her – yep, the sun comes out and you go on your way feeling that much better.

Our good fortune is to have had Marion’s services at TWC for a decade, and our sorrow is that her last few months at TWC were full of such horrible stress and trauma that she found it necessary to resign in order to save her sanity. I might add that we have asked her to reconsider that decision once the Centre becomes viable again, and she has agreed to do so, in principle. Also by any ethical standards she is entitled to a proportion of her long service leave, after nearly ten years. The new board is fully aware of this and it is our hope that this situation may be rectified.

Marion supported the past director admirably, especially as things got more and more difficult, hung in there to make sure the annual report correctly documented TWC’s great achievements and doggedly fulfilled her responsibilities in what had become a very uncomfortable working environment.

Our deep thanks and profound good wishes go with you, Marion. Have a good holiday and after that, please sail back our way and STICK AROUND. You are such a valued member of the Tasmanian reading and writing community. And so say all of us!

States of Poetry Tasmania – Series Two

A. E. Houseman memorably said: I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat. It’s not an easy matter to justify one’s decisions when faced with numerous poems from which to make a limited selection. There’s no programmatic guide to what makes a poem successful although the impact of a good poem is something we all know and recognise. Generally it has something to do with registering a sense of shock – it might be the shock of the new, unexpected or strange, or it might be the shock of the familiar – it can take one off guard to be confronted by what one knows but didn’t know one knew. And what creates the shock?

(Sarah Day, ‘State Editor’s Introduction’ to ‘States of Poetry Tasmania – Series Two’; more at Australian Book Review) – and featuring poetry by Anne Kellas, Gina Mercer, James Charlton, Jim Everett-puralia meenamatta, Ben Walter and Christiane Conésa-Bostock.

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre – resumed AGM

Brief notes from last night’s meeting (4th May 2018), the resumed AGM. Another good crowd in attendance. I didn’t take much notice of numbers … 75 or so?

Six people put up their hands for election to the Board. Can’t remember names, other than those of Robyn Friend and Terry Whitebeach. A chairman, deputy chairman and secretary were elected from these, there were no takers on the night for the position of treasurer.

Given the TWC’s financial difficulties, options of an alternative location for the centre were explored. Three possibilities were mentioned – one, with free use of an office, space for a library and a meeting room for events (but not covering telephone and internet costs), will be discussed with Hobart City Council this week. (Visitors to the TWC, if it were relocated to the HCC, would be issued visitors’ passes on entry to the building). Parking would be a problem, as it would with two other options also under consideration, in the Salamanca and Hunter Street vicinities. (Brief mention was also made of the news during the week that the HCC has decided not to support the nomination of Hobart as a UNESCO City of Literature – [read Anna Reynolds’ summary] ).

The TWC’s financial position means that any activities undertaken within the foreseeable future will be on a voluntary basis. Some money has been raised in support of the Centre over the past fortnight, from private donations as well as from a crowdfunding campaign, and questions were asked as to whether any of this might go towards the continued employment of three of the Centre’s part time workers. Appears that the crowdfunding portion of the monies can’t be accessed because the amount reached was nowhere near the figure ($50,000) striven for. No one was able to say what might happen to the monies already pledged, given this scenario. The crowdfunding page – briefly closed – has been reopened.

The possibility remains of some funding support being provided by the Australia Council, (via the grant round for arts projects and organisations that closed on 6th February?). The Centre’s still in the dark as to whether its application has been successful but hopes to hear ‘any day now’.

Postscript
Board members elected unopposed were: Sue Kennedy (Chair), Cary Lennard (Deputy Chair), Terry Whitebeach, Robyn Friend, Kate Eagles (Secretary/Public Officer), & Bethany Nader.

PPS
(From Lyn Reeves: “There was discussion about the crowd funding appeal. This is still open. There is no time limit for reaching the goal amount and funds can be withdrawn when needed without affecting the progress of the fund. Here is the LINK “)

Nobel prize in literature 2018 cancelled after sexual assault scandal

For the first time since 1949, the secretive jury that hands out the world’s most prestigious literary award will not unveil a winner this autumn, instead revealing two winners in 2019. The decision, announced at 9am Swedish time following a meeting on Thursday, comes after a string of sexual assault allegations made against the French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of academy member and poet Katarina Frostenson.

(Alison Flood, Friday 4th May 2018. More at The Guardian)

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre AGM 2018

The 2018 AGM of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre was held on Friday 20th April in Hobart, with a strong attendance – someone mentioned there were just a dozen or so at the AGM the previous year – due to the organisation facing a serious funding shortfall and, consequently, being in danger of closing.

The meeting opened with explanations and discussion around both the significance and the consequences of the loss of arts funding for 2018. Once proceedings turned to the election of office bearers, existing Board members tendered their resignations and stated they will not be renominating. As a consequence, the AGM was adjourned mid-proceedings and will be reconvened at Hadley’s Hotel, Hotel on Friday May 4th at 5.30 p.m.

As of 25th April, a TWC crowdfunding campaign has raised $2,725 in support of the Centre.

Richard Flanagan: ‘Our politics is a dreadful black comedy’ – press club speech in full

(Richard Flanagan, National Press Club address)

Indigenous Australia has, after great thought and wide discussion, asked that it be heard, and that this take the form of an advisory body to parliament – a body that would be recognised in the constitution.

Indigenous Australia wasn’t even recorded as a general category
“What a gift this is that we give you,” Galarrwuy Yunupingu has said, “if you choose to accept us in a meaningful way.”

The gift we are being offered is vast; the patrimony of 60,000 years, and with it the possibilities for the future that it opens up to us. We can choose to have our beginning and our centre in Indigenous culture. Or we can choose to walk away, into a misty world of lies and evasions, pregnant with the possibility of future catastrophe.

But this gift needs honouring in what Yunupingu calls a “meaningful way”. It needs honouring with institutions, with monuments, with this profound history being made central in our account of ourselves and, above all, with what the Indigenous people have asked for repeatedly: constitutional recognition.

In truth, we can no longer go forward without addressing this matter. We cannot hope to be a republic if this is not at the republic’s core, because otherwise we are only repeating the error of the colonialists and the federationists before us.

At a moment when democracy around the world is imperilled we are being offered, with the Uluru statement, the chance to complete our democracy, to make it stronger, more inclusive, and more robust.

And we would be foolish to turn that offer down.

Read more at The Guardian, 18th April, 2018

Gerald Murnane: one of Australia’s greatest writers you may never have heard of

Emmett Stinson, The Guardian, Thursday 5th April, 2018

Murnane is a deeply eccentric character; as he told the Times, “I think you can probably see that I’m sane, but I say and believe things that insane people believe.” After the death of his wife of 43 years, he moved to Goroke – population 623 – where he proudly serves as the secretary of the local golf club. An academic conference about his writing was recently held at the venue where he tended bar during the lunch break.

More at The Guardian