[From the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre website, here: ‘Remembering Brett Martin’]

The team at the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre was shocked and hugely saddened to hear about the death of local writer and photographer Brett Martin last week.

Brett was a former member of the TWC Board, including a spell as chair in 2008 and deputy chair in 2009.

Before moving to Tasmanian and taking up a role as librarian with the State Library of Tasmania from 2003, Brett previously worked at Wagga Wagga City Library in NSW. He published two novels and was actively involved in the arts in Canberra, throughout regional NSW and in Tasmania. He also served on several editorial committees as well as tutoring at Charles Sturt University.

Brett’s best known book was Marion, which launched at the Hobart Bookshop in 2014. The book and accompanying website reflects on the life of Marion Oak Sticht. Marion was born in 1865, grew up in Colorado, was educated at Vassar and travelled widely in Europe. She married the American metallurgist Robert Sticht in 1895 and they set out almost immediately for a mine on the remote west coast of Tasmania.

Robert Sticht carved an international reputation and amassed a world-class collection of rare books and fine art prints, all housed in Penghana, their magnificent house on the hill in Queenstown. But a calamitous investment trapped the Stichts in debt and they were unable to return to the USA. After Robert died in 1922 Marion was forced to retreat to the ghost-town of Balfour, exchanging the grand house with its many staff, for a bare-walled wooden shack. The trajectory of her life is tragic and largely unknown. Marion is representative of a class of well-educated, middle-class women of those times, whose stories are usually lost in the shadows cast by their husbands. Brett’s novel based on her life seeks to bring her into the light.

In 2014, Brett was an adviser on the Looking for Marion exhibition, which took place at the 2014 Queenstown Heritage Arts Festival.

In addition to his writing and research, Brett was a talented photographer. and has had a number of photographic exhibitions across the State. You can see details of his most recent at the Devonport Gallery here, and of his 2011 exhibition at Ritche’s Mill here.

Brett Martin will be hugely missed, and the team at TWC wishes to send its deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

There will be a celebration of Brett’s life in Swansea later this month, please contact the Writers Centre if you’d like to be kept informed of the details.


(By Mark Roberts at Rochford Street Review)

Rochford Street Review was saddened to learn of the recent death of poet and playwright John Upton. John was a professional playwright and had written for more that 20 Australian television series as well as having five stage plays produced. His political comedy MACHIAVELLI, MACHIAVELLI won the Australian Writers Guild award for Best New Play.

More at Vale John Upton


Wed 17th August, 2016 – 6:30-8:30 pm

Hares & Hyenas
63 Johnson Street

Sperm is the word. Anton Mischewski’s words ‘hunt without restraint’, coming again and again in different ways, rhythms and temperatures.
-Michael Farrell

In Pre-Tumourescent Anton Mischewski applies intellectual vigour and a passionate engagement with cultural history, literature and the arts to these poems about love and life. The results are poems of emotional force and lasting resonance. Mischewski’s ‘13 Ways of Looking at Sperm’, is one of the best parodies of Wallace Steven’s ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ you will read. Mischewski’s parody is made all the more ironic by being only twelve ways. In a poetry that references Emily Dickinson’s ‘Slant of Light’ in its heightened intensities Mischewski uses dashes to interesting effect in the manner of Dickinson. These are poems that are ‘tigered bright’ in their expressiveness and philosophical undercurrents.

[Also see vale-dr-anton-mischewski]


Born in 1964, Gillian Mears was heralded as a bright new literary talent in the late 1980s. She wrote prolifically in her 20s and early 30s, and won several awards before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “Imagine, at the age of 31, beginning to stagger like a Kurt Vonnegut syphilitic,” she wrote. On the eve of her 38th birthday, Mears almost died from acute endocarditis – an infection of the heart. “The duel decline of my body,” wrote Mears “is a mystery I’ve yet to decode”. Her health hampered her career. She is as talented as her peers Tim Winton and Richard Flanagan, yet her work has never received the same attention here in Australia or overseas.

Nonetheless, in 2011 she published the novel Foal’s Bread. Set on the show-jumping circuit of 1930s Australia, the novel was both a love story and a tale of illness and unfulfilled dreams. It was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award and won the Prime Minister’s Literary award. Despite this acclaim, it was to be her last novel. By the time Mears wrote to me in February 2016, she had been bedridden for five years and was perhaps better known as an advocate for voluntary euthanasia than a novelist.

By Philippa Chandler; more at The Guardian, 20 May 2016


Further reading

Foals Bread by Gillian Mears – review (by Alfred Hickling, The Guardian, 12 May 2012)

Vernacular at a gallop (by Helen Elliott, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 November 2011)

Podcast … ‘Gillian Mears: Foals Bread and living life’ (Sydney Writers Festival Blog, 26 May 2013)

A writer of rare talent: Kate Pardey reviews Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears Rochforde Street Review, 30 April 2012

Gillian Mears, author of Foal’s Bread, answers Ten Terrifying Questions Booktopia (John Purcell), 04 November 2011