‘Disturbing’: government intervenes in Melbourne Uni publishing turmoil


By Henrietta Cook & Clay Luca, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31st Jan 2019

Some university insiders believe Ms Adler’s decision to publish ABC reporter Louise Milligan’s controversial award-winning book about Cardinal George Pell was a catalyst for the overhaul.

But others say the changes were due to the publisher’s financial performance and concerns some academics’ works were being overlooked in favour of more commercial texts backed by Ms Adler.

Former New South Wales premier and foreign minister Bob Carr and former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs, both of whom have been published by Ms Adler, were among those who quit the board in disgust.

Well-known publisher Hilary McPhee, an MUP author and former board member, said Australian publishers needed to “publish high and low and scholarly books that people want to read, not just academic books. MUP have done a great mix for a long time”.

‘It’s a sad day’: Melbourne Uni Publishing board quit amid turmoil

By Henrietta Cook and Jason Steger, The Sydney Morning Herald, 30th Jan 2019

Melbourne University Publishing chief executive Louise Adler and five board members have dramatically resigned after the university decided to shift its focus to publishing academic books.

Former NSW premier Bob Carr, who was among the directors who stood down, said the independent publisher had been replaced with a “a boutique, cloistered press for scholars only.”

More at The Sydney Morning Herald

Stephanie Conn in ‘Banshee’: the poem ‘Family Line’

It brings back fond memories to Tasmanians appreciative of poetry to read new work by Northern Ireland poet Stephanie Conn in Irish literary journal Banshee.

Stephanie was a guest in October 2017 of the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, coinciding with a visit to her sister-in-law who lives in the north of the island.

Since then she’s been busy with a new collection, published by Doire Press (Ireland) early in 2018 and entitled ‘Island’ (taking its inspiration from Stephanie’s ancestors, farmers and fishermen and women on Copeland Island off the County Down coast); John Foggin (6th Jan 2019) traces an appreciative appraisal of her work on his blog The Great Fogginzo’s Cobweb here. Also check out Northern Vision’s vimeo production Novel Ideas.

‘Keats is dead…’: How young women are changing the rules of poetry

Donna Ferguson, ‘The Observer’, 27 Jan 2019

“Publishers have noticed there is an appetite for the writing of women and that if they ignore that appetite, they are not going to sell as many books. Young women working in publishing can also see what is popular online and say: this has a market.”

Emma Wright, 33, was one of those women. She set up her own poetry publishing house, The Emma Press, at the age of 25 after noticing that all the big publishers and poetry magazines were run by men – and that certain styles of poetry were not being published. “And it wasn’t because it wasn’t good. It was just not represented. It wasn’t in vogue. But the form, the subject matter and the style really resonated with me. I thought: who are the tastemakers? They did tend to be these older men,” she says.

Read more at The Observer

Links: Walleah Press

Bruce Pascoe’s introduction to Louise Crisp’s new poetry collection ‘Yuiquimbiang’

Read. This is poetry. Both a praise and a lament for Country. Read. There is little like it. Australia struggles with an embrace of the past, but Louise Crisp does not flinch from the intimacy of fact. If there is regret here, there is also hope – hope and a plea to you, reader, to witness the works of those for whom the land is not their mother.

Aboriginal people were born from Mother Earth and have no alternative but total allegiance. But acceptance of the colonial means that the Australian frontier has been misrepresented in what has been taught in our schools, and the economy and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been ignored. Country is that economy, and Crisp has devoted her life’s research to its upkeep. We must embrace the country beyond Donald Bradman, Vegemite and The Man from Snowy River. We have to look at the bush as its own place, not just as a repository for sheep and cattle.

Read the full text of Bruce’s introduction to Yuiquimbiang (Cordite Publishing Inc.) HERE.

Stories in September (a Tasmanian film and writing project)


Have you made a film or documentary, produced an audio feature or written a story about Tasmanian people or places recently? If yes, ‘Stories in September’ would love to hear from you.

Enter your story now for a chance to be part of the ’30 Stories in 30 Days’ event. Your work could be 1 of 30 stories selected to be be screened at the State Cinema in Hobart on September 1, and featured online throughout the month.

There are also some great prizes including three, 3-month residencies at Parliament Coworking, a night’s accommodation at MACq 01 Storytelling Hotel in Hobart and free subscription to ‘Stories in September’ for 12 months.

Story entries are open until midnight on July 15, 2018.

Do you love stories about Tasmania and its people?

If yes, then you’ll love ’30 Stories in 30 Days’ event which celebrates Tasmanian storytellers and brings together the mediums of film, audio and print for the first time, teaming up with the State Cinema to offer four sessions on Saturday September 1, filled with film, audio and print stories from all over Tasmania. Pre-release tickets to these screenings are available for purchase now. Seats will be limited so book early to avoid missing out.

You can also subscribe to this website from September 1 for just $30. Only subscribers will have access to watch and listen to our 30 Stories in 30 Days storytellers, plus a whole range of additional diverse and amazing Tasmanian stories for 12 months.

Link for story: http://storiesinseptember.com/

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.

Launch: Tim Thorne’s new poetry collection ‘Running Out Of Entropy’

If you’re in Hobart on Thursday March 1st and in the mood for some standout poetry, join us for the launch – by Jane Williams – of Tim Thorne’s newest collection of poetry ‘Running out of Entropy’ (Walleah Press) at 5:30 pm at Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square.

This is Tim Thorne’s fifteenth collection of poetry over a career spanning more than fifty years. He was Director of the Tasmanian Poetry Festival from 1985 to 2001, during which time he duly entered the festival’s premier event – the Launceston Poetry Cup – year after year, but never managed to take home the honours. He’s won the event twice in the years since, in 2006 and 2008.

‘He’s clearly making up for lost time,’ opined the festival’s subsequent director – Cameron Hindrum – on the occasion of Thorne’s second win in 2008. ‘He didn’t win it at all in the seventeen years he ran the poetry cup, but has won it twice since I’ve been Director.’

‘What’s really disappointing is that I probably never will surpass Colin Berry’s record of two cups in two different millenia,’ Thorne replied regretfully. ‘But by God, I aim to try’.

Thorne’s verse is typified by its caustic wit, political engagement, wide-ranging subject matter, sheer generosity and – to summon an occasionally debased descriptor – integrity. His work has won a number of prizes, grants and fellowships from the Australia Council and Arts Tasmania, the Eleanor Dark Foundation (1993), Launceston Poetry Cup (2006, ’08), William Baylebridge Award (2007), Christopher Brennan Award (2012) and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize (2014).

There’ll also be a launch, by Cameron Hindrum, in Launceston – at Petrarch’s Bookshop, 89 Brisbane Street – at 6:00 pm, Friday 16th March. Please join us.

Varuna Publisher Introduction Program 2018 – Shortlist Announced

[5th Feb 2018] – Varuna announces its Publisher Introduction Program for 2018

Varuna is pleased to announce the shortlist for the Publisher Introduction Program (PIP 2018).
This year we selected 25 unpublished manuscripts written by new or emerging Australian writers to send to our eight publishing partners.

From these shortlisted manuscripts, we have asked our publishing partners to each award one writer a PIP Fellowship, which includes a one-week residency, a literary mentor and the guarantee that the writer’s manuscript will be read by one of eight leading Australian publishers.

We thank each of our Publishing partners for taking the time to consider the work of these writers. We also thank Varuna consultants Tegan Bennett-Daylight, Alex Craig, Mary Cunnane and Vanessa Kirkpatrick who assessed the 150 manuscripts that writers submitted to Varuna for the 2018 program. Feedback from our assessors is below.

And the shortlisted writers and their manuscripts are:

Black Inc.
Ripe by Natalie Sprite
The Sand by Cameron Hindrum
Stuck by Trish Bolton

Harper Collins
Geordie by Susan Coleridge
Heading South by Tina Morganella
Confinement by Sarah Nesbitt

Pan Macmillan
Tattoo by Carmel Reilly
The Phrenologist’s Cabinet by Matthew Russell
Twenty Sixty-Three by Miles Hunt

Penguin Random House
The Skeleton Crew by Andrew Swales
Very Minor Demons by Sara Knox
The All-Star Star Bazaar by Warwick Sprawson

Ugly Lights by Adam Narnst
Don’t Forget Your Reef Shoes by Grace Kirk
Hide and other stories by Su-May Tan

You are Here by Anita Smith
The Simple Difficulty by Benjamin Ball
The Pound Pear by Rosalyn Bent

The Long Life of Abigail by Kathryn Lyster
The Moon Within by Barbara Hill
Steam by Judith Brooks
The Blackbirds by Ali Chigwidden

UWA Press
Reclaiming the Kitchen by Debra Wain
Resistance by Bill Collopy
A Tiding of Magpies by Sally Bothroyd

Assessors Reports

Mary Cunnane:
Most of the some one hundred submissions I read gave clear evidence of the talent and ambition of emerging Australian writers who are, in fact, at various stages of emergence — some having had work already published and/or degrees in creative writing and/or had won prizes or commendations. On the other hand, some submissions were first efforts. Most of the entries displayed energy, imagination, passion and commitment. Inevitably– and regardless of the degree of experience – these were not always yet matched by technical competence, i.e. mastery of exposition and form, and a clear idea (in the way that publishers expect) of the intended audience.

There was a preponderance of fiction, much of it in the crime genre. Unsurprisingly, given the times we are in, dystopian fiction also featured, as did literary fiction and genre novels directly aimed at women. Memoir featured as well, as did some biography and creative non-fiction.

In evaluating submissions I looked for a combination of raw talent (especially as exemplified by a compelling voice) technical skill, market potential, and a sense that the writer was ready and able to work with an editor to take the manuscript to a publishable level – much the same criteria I applied to projects submitted to me when I was a publisher and subsequently a literary agent. Some submissions by beginners met these criteria, while others by entrants further down the track in terms of emergence did not.

Persistence pays. Thus I would urge those who didn’t make it into the final round not to be too discouraged or indeed to throw in the towel completely. There are many successful authors whose manuscripts, for one reason or another, made long trips down the runway to lift-off and publication.

It was an honor and a pleasure to be part of this important program. I thank Varuna’s Veechi Stuart and Amy Sambrooke for the opportunity, and for their efficient administration and hospitality. And I thank my fellow assessors for their good humour and collegiality.

Tegan Bennett Daylight:
I was so grateful for the opportunity to read these manuscripts for Varuna’s PIP program. Between us, we read close to 150 manuscripts of fiction and non-fiction. One of the great privileges of being a reader is hearing people’s stories. Everyone had something they needed to say, and it was an honour to hear them.
I was especially impressed by the hard work and clear dedication to the literature that most of these writers demonstrated. It was humbling to think of so many people quietly working against the tide of everyday business – rereading, editing, writing new material, shaping their stories for us. I would like to congratulate every person who submitted a manuscript to this program, for their dedication, their intellectual labour, and their bravery. Writing is hard, and it is an achievement to have completed a book – whatever the outcome.

We all agreed that voice was the thing we looked for, above almost anything else. To that I would add language. I was most interested in manuscripts that did something extra with language – something beyond simply telling a story. There is a reason we write books rather than make films or paint pictures. Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is the message, and I was most thrilled when I found a writer who was using the language, the actual words themselves, and the way they were arranged in a sentence, to affect the reader.

I’d like also to thank Alex Craig, Mary Cunnane and Vanessa Kirkpatrick. These three readers were patient, creative, courageous and thoughtful – and all fought for manuscripts that they felt deserved extra attention! Writers can be sure their manuscripts were in loving hands here.

Alex Craig:
An abundance of talent and the ambitious scope of many of the submissions made it an absolute pleasure to review this year’s list.

The twenty-five manuscripts that constitute the shortlist were selected for their compelling voice, their exploration and command of their chosen subject and genre and sheer inventiveness. It was so exciting to see how many writers are taking big risks in world building, style and engaging storytelling. Standouts here included historical fiction, crime – both dark and droll, fantasy, thrillers, short stories as well as some fascinating literary and popular fiction.

Many of those manuscripts on the longlist also had very fine qualities but are in an earlier draft stage, still making the discoveries a writer has to make alone before a manuscript is ready to enter the collaborative process of mentoring and editorial feedback.

Some of the submissions were still finding their way, developing writing skills both on a structural level and on the line, learning about plot, pacing, characterisation, craft, and ‘show, don’t tell’. And then there were those manuscripts that are in search of actual story – too much violence for violence sake, tragedy depicted without context, and first-person voices that are yet to move beyond the terrain of the self.

All this is part of development, and drafting and redrafting, of learning the craft, and it’s inspiring to see the depth of potential among this year’s writers.

Vanessa Kirkpatrick:
It was a pleasure to read the applications submitted for the 2018 Publisher Introduction Program, and it was wonderful to meet with the other assessors for a lively and thought-provoking discussion, facilitated by Varuna’s Creative Director, Amy Sambrooke, to determine the shortlist.

There were many interesting and competitive applications, but for this particular program we needed to assess not only on the basis of artistic merit, but on what we believed would be attractive to publishers. Successful applicants also needed to demonstrate that they would benefit from the writer development that is an integral part of this program.

A well-developed understanding of the book’s potential readership also made the application more competitive. It is worth considering the genre you are writing within very carefully and thinking about the books that have inspired and influenced you: where do you see your own manuscript in relation to books that have been published recently, and does the content of your manuscript fit with your target age group? (This last question was particularly pertinent in relation to young adult fiction submissions.)

Some manuscripts seemed too driven by the writer’s idea – in terms of content, style or plot- of what they wanted to achieve, and may have been more powerfully realised if the writer had allowed the work to take shape in a more organic way. An overwhelming majority of the crime fiction manuscripts submitted had a sexually-assaulted murdered young woman as their focal point, and although this is in line with the current (and enduring) cultural obsession with dead female bodies, I would have found it refreshing for these talented writers to turn their imaginations towards exploring other possibilities within this genre.

Two strong hooks for me into a piece of writing have always been narrative drive and strong characterization – but even more important is that difficult-to-define quality of voice. While voice describes that unique combination of elements that make up a writer’s craft – description, dialogue, characterization, plot, imagery and so on – it eludes precise definition as it is more than the sum of its parts. I think of voice as inhabiting the space between reader and writer: a strong voice engages your imagination, leaps off the page, leads you into a new world, and makes believable what in any other context may seem incredible or even impossible. Many submissions were secure in their craft, yet drew too much attention to their own style or structure, so that the reader was left admiring the manuscript’s beautiful exoskeleton rather than being swallowed whole into the world of story. Overall, it is this immersion that I as a reader was most on the lookout for.

I wish you all the best of luck with your writing.