Sylvia Martin: ‘Sky Swimming’ launch speech

Something about Vance and Nettie Palmer – some titbit of information, I can’t recall details – caught my attention last year, and I mentioned it to friends. They kindly, (foolishly) lent me a copy of ‘Ink in Her Veins: the troubled life of Aileen Palmer’ (the Palmer’s daughter), authored by Sylvia Martin. I took the book home and stored it in a ‘safe place’, from where it subsequently slipped my mind.

Recalling the loan months later, I searched and finally  recovered the book from its ‘safe place’, and — embarrassed — returned it unread.

I note now that Sylvia Martin has published a new book, ‘Sky Swimming’ (UWA Press, 2020), a memoir. Rochford Street Review  published Sylvia’s son Matthew’s launch of the book in June 2020.

In a UWA Press promotion, Sylvia Martin speaks of and reads from ‘Sky Swimming’, while Sophie Cunningham and Peta Murray offer generous praise:

In this delicate memoir Sylvia Martin considers the ways in which researching other women’s lives have led her deeper into her own. She asks how do you build, how do you write, a life?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM

Martin inducts us into the thrill of the biographical chase in this series of lyrical, yet unsentimental, vignettes. Sky Swimming is in turns rhapsodic and elegiac.
PETA MURRAY

A book to savour? And avoid storing temporarily in a ‘safe space’?

Ralph


Matthew Stephens:

I say this book is personal because I suspect many of us in this room feel they know the subjects of these books: Mary, Ida and Aileen, their partners, lovers and networks quite intimately. Significant Australian figures who would be far less well known if Sylvia had not cast her inquisitive, respectful yet forensic, eye on the lives of these women and their worlds.

Some of these women appear in this current volume, Aileen Palmer in particular, but I would like to focus for a moment on Mum’s own life rather than of her biographical subjects. In her chapter ‘Shadowing the Boyds’ she opens with her re-acquaintance with making music, and writes:

I am learning the piano, more than half a century after I last played. Eventually, I would like to be able to play Erik Satie. My father was a piano teacher and we even had two pianos in the house for a time when I was a child; one stood in my bedroom. In a London music shop in the 1970s, I found a book of sheet music by Satie and, with fond memories of his music enhancing the mood of European films such as Carlos Saura’s Elisa, vida mía, I brought the book back to Melbourne and presented it to Dad. He was not familiar with the early twentieth-century French composer but he quickly mastered Satie’s haunting melodies, shifting tonalities and eccentric musical instructions.

Today, at the end of my first lesson for decades, my teacher starts to play the first of the Trois Gnossiennes. As I watch him play, his smooth fingers on the keys fade into the gnarled fingers of my father: their slightly swollen joints after he developed arthritis; the split nail on the index finger of his right hand, relic of a long-forgotten accident. My eyes blur with tears.

[Read Matthew Stephens’ full launch speech at Rochford Street Review]

 

Journal ‘Plumwood Mountain’: Managing Editor and Editorial Administration Team

‘Plumwood Mountain’, an important and classy Australian journal working within the boundaries of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics, is seeking a Managing Editor and Editorial Administration Team.

This is interesting news on a number of levels, not least for the journal’s transparency and its openness to change…

It’s also interesting to read poet Peter Boyle’s response to the question —

‘…  in the current climate of ecological crisis and political wrangling over funding to the arts, what role do you feel poetry does, or could, play in our society?

— posed by Denise O’Hagan, in an interview published in ‘The Nib’ (Sept 2020):

As far as the ecological crisis goes, it is part of our consciousness. It infuses the world we live in, so the sense of living in dark times inevitably comes into the poetry any open, receptive poet writes. There is a strong eco-poetics movement in Australia and a journal like Plumwood Mountain features a lot of it. Many people write directly about environmental and social issues, and much very accomplished, very interesting poetry is written that way, but I think poetry can also operate more indirectly, in a subtler way. Personally, the poetry that speaks to me most can be about anything, or it might start with one thing and then slide into being about something else. I especially like poems that look for the spaces between things, sidestep and swerve, and end up taking me somewhere new.

Ralph


Managing Editor and Editorial Administration Team – Call for Expressions of Interest

Journal ‘Plumwood Mountain’ is in a time of transition.

After 7 years, Managing Editor Anne Elvey will be stepping down at the end of 2020. At the same time the Editorial Board intends to deepen its commitments to decentring or deemphasising the human in ecopoetics while holding this vision in a wider frame of cultural responsibility both in Australia and internationally.

“As part of our continuing affirmation of more-than-human agencies, of intersections between environmental activism and cultures of poetry, and of the complex entanglements of race, gender, sexuality, location and class in an emerging ecopoetics, the journal wants to expand its editorial board to reflect these commitments. As part of this development, the new Managing Editor has the option to find a new name for the journal.”

Expressions of interest are called for a Managing Editor and Editorial Administration Team that would with an Editorial Board shape the future of the journal and undertake the tasks of bringing it to publication. These are voluntary positions.

Three kinds of Expression of Interest are invited

From an individual who would become managing editor and who would build an editorial administration team; or

From a team of three or four who would take on the roles of managing editor and editorial administration team between them; or

From an existing journal in the fields of environmental humanities or literature which would incorporate, as a significant component, an ecological poetry and poetics section/corner as a successor to ‘Plumwood Mountain journal’ with a suitable dedicated editor.

The preference is for Indigenous leadership in the management and editorship of the journal, and diversity in the editorial administration teams and editorial boards that adds to existing diversities of representation on the board.

The incoming Managing Editor will be strongly encouraged and supported to explore funding opportunities to pay contributors to the journal and to cover administrative and management costs.

More at ‘Plumwood Mountain’.

Launch: Andrew Burke’s ‘New and Selected Poems 2020’

The launch of Andrew Burke’s new poetry collection ‘New and Selected’ takes place at 7pm 20th September.  Peter Holland will perform the honours — at Moana Hall, upstairs of 618 Hay Street Mall in Perth, Western Australia.

The launch event is free with a cash bar. ‘And my book is a bargain at $20 (cash),’ Andrew says. He adds ‘I don’t have a credit card machine so cash would do nicely, thank you.’

The book is also for sale (at a cost of $20, including free postage within Australia) — online, from Walleah Press, as well as directly from Andrew: you can email him at burkeandre@gmail.com (please add BOOK SALE within your email header).

And remember to pay him a visit at Hi Spirits, particularly if you’re a jazz buff!

Maria Ressa’s conviction should matter to everyone who cares about democracy

By Peter Greste, ‘The Guardian’, 15th June 2020

On Monday morning a court in Manila found the pair guilty of “cyberlibel” for a story published in 2012 on the news website Rappler.com that Ressa founded and now leads. The judge released them on bail pending an appeal but, if they lose, they could spend up to seven years in prison.

To reach her verdict, the judge had to accept the prosecution’s breathtakingly thin arguments. First, that the website had violated the cyberlibel law, even though the story was published four months before the law even existed. The judge agreed that Rappler had “republished” the story, when it corrected a spelling error in 2014, thus making it subject to the law. The judge also accepted the prosecution’s theory of “continuous publication”, to get around the fact that the statute of limitations on libel in the Philippines is just one year.

More at The Guardian

Australian Book Review and the Australia Council

Australian Book Review, while congratulating successful applicants, deplores the Australia Council’s decision not to fund it and other literary magazines in the 2021–24 round. For the first time in decades, Australia’s national literary and arts review will not be funded by the federal government. 

We are witnessing a cultural bloodbath in Australia that has been years in the making

Some of Australia’s most important and innovative arts organisations have lost their federal funding: the lifeline that they had counted on to try and ride out these extraordinary times. The list of organisations being “transitioned out” of Australia Council funding includes the Sydney Writers’ festival; many of the nation’s literary magazines, including Australian Book Review, Overland and the Sydney Review of Books, and a long string of theatre and dance companies, such as Sydney’s Australian Theatre for Young People, Adelaide’s Restless Dance Theatre, Perth’s Blue Room and Melbourne’s famous small theatre La Mama.

  • By Ben Eltham, ‘The Guardian’, 6th April 2020. More at

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/apr/06/we-are-witnessing-a-cultural-bloodbath-in-australia-that-has-been-years-in-the-making

University of Western Australia’s decision to close publishing house sparks outrage

(Stephanie Convery, ‘The Guardian’, Fri 8th November 2019)

Five staff at UWAP will either have their contracts terminated or be made redundant as a consequence of the proposed shut down.

Publishing director Terri-Ann White said the decision came “completely out of the blue”.

“It was really surprising when we found out on Tuesday and we were delivered a document that outlined the next steps and intentions for the future,” she told Guardian Australia.

White said that UWAP had been “very open” to embarking on open-access and digital publishing alongside its print priorities, but that the university’s preference appeared to be to “close off one path and start another”.

White said she was very concerned about the lack of provision in the proposed shutdown for servicing the 350 authors on UWAP’s backlist, and for the future of the 35 books scheduled to be published in 2020.

More at ‘The Guardian’

Heather Rose: ‘When I get lost in my imagination I don’t feel the pain’

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, ‘The Guardian’, 7th October 2017

For her new novel, Bruny, Rose turns her attention to the Tasmanian island of the same name where she holidayed growing up and where she took her children camping and to the beach, just a short ferry ride from her home in Hobart.

“As a child it was always so captivating: you drive on, then you cross the channel and it always felt like going to another world,” she says. “And it was even more remote and even less populated. I think the silence down there really gets to me: there’s no traffic. You can almost hear the stars it’s so quiet.”

Bruny, however, is not a quiet novel; it is about explosions and warring political families and conflict. In it, America has an isolationist president; China has become a formidable world power; and Islamic State rules an expanding caliphate. What’s more, the Chinese and Tasmanian governments have invested in a new project, a $2bn bridge connecting Bruny Island to the mainland. The novel opens with a terrorist attack: the bridge has been blown up.

Cover image for Bruny by Heather Rose
 Photograph: Allen & Unwin

More at The Guardian

‘Otoliths’, # 54

Issue fifty-four of Otoliths, the southern winter 2019 issue is now live.

It features Karl Kempton’s discourses 5 & 6, alongside text, visual, &, yes, aural work from Edward Kulemin, Tom Montag, Elaine Woo, DS Maolalaí, Lynn Strongin, Eric Hoffman, Irene Koronas, Doug Bolling, C.R.E. Wells, Owen Bullock, Daniel Y. Harris, Pete Spence, Sanjeev Sethi, Judith Roitman, Steve Dalachinsky, J. D. Nelson, Diane Keys, Rich Murphy, Norman Abjorensen, Kevin Tosca, Kyle Hemmings, John Greiner, Steve Kirby, Jim Leftwich, Pat Nolan, Scott Helmes, Thomas Fink, Heath Brougher, Michael Orr, Olchar Lindsann, Volodymyr Bilyk, Jim Meirose, Caleb Puckett, hiromi suzuki, Reuben Woolley, Mary Kasimor, Mark DeCarteret, Jonel Abellanosa, AG Davis, Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo, J. Crouse, Glenn Ingersoll, Daniel de Culla, Richard Kostelanetz, Michael J Leach, John Martone, Sophie Finlay & Matthew Hall, Sheila E. Murphy, John M. Bennett, Erik Fuhrer, Janna Grace, B. T. Joy, Drew B. David, Anne Gorrick, Márton Koppány, Ricky Garni, Thomas M. Cassidy, Rachel Cunniffe, David Baptiste Chirot, Linda M. Walker, Joel Chace, Joseph Buehler, Toby Fitch, Yoko Danno, Hugh Tribbey, Olivier Schopfer, Jeff Miller, Elmedic Kadric, Joseph Salvatore Aversano, M.J. Iuppa, Colin Stewart Jones, Brendan Slater, Natsuko Hirata, Joe Balaz, Hrishikesh Srinivas, Kellyn Elson, Robert Beveridge, Aidan Coleman, Javant Biarujia, Tony Beyer, Keith Higginbotham, Andrew Topel, Joseph Harrington, Clara B. Jones, Nick Nelson, Kristin Garth, Judith Skillman, Andrew Taylor, Jim George, Jeff Harrison, Jeff Bagato, Daniel f. Bradley, Texas Fontanella & Stuart Wheatley, Penelope Weiss, Dave Read, Keith Nunes, Anna Cates, Sacha Archer, Douglas Barbour, John Levy, Marilyn Stablein, M. C. Rush, Cecelia Chapman & Jeff Crouch, gobscure, Tim Wright, Jen Schneider, William Repass, Ian Gibbins, Jill Jones, Marcia Arrieta, Gian Luigi Braggio, Holly Day, Mary Ellen Derwis, Tim Pilgrim, John McCluskey, Les Wicks, R. Keith, Michael Brandonisio, Tom Beckett, Bob Heman, Ella Skilbeck-Porter, John Pursch, Jesse Glass, Kristian Patruno, Martin Stannard, & Demosthenes Agrafiotis.