2019 Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2019 Hazel Rowley Fellowship is:

Maggie Tonkin (South Australia) for a biography of renowned Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard
Brigitta Olubas (NSW) for a biography of writer Shirley Hazzard
Eleanor Hogan (Northern Territory) for her project on the friendship between Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates
Stephenie Cahalan (Tasmania) writing about artist Jean Belette, ‘The Modern Woman of Australian Modernism’
Gabrielle Carey (NSW) for a biography of Elizabeth von Arnim, who was Katherine Mansfield’s cousin and a writer herself, known for her novel Elizabeth and Her German Garden
James Boyce (Tasmania) for a new biography of Governor Lachlan Macquarie
James Mairata (NSW) for a biography about Australian film and television producer Hal McElroy
Diana James (NSW) for her proposal ‘Open Hearted Country: Nganyinytja’s Story’

More at Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

‘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”.

More at The Sydney Morning Herald

Behrouz Boochani: detained asylum seeker wins Australia’s richest literary prize

Calla Wahlquist, The Guardian, 31st Jan 2019

The winner of Australia’s richest literary prize did not attend the ceremony.

His absence was not by choice.

Behrouz Boochani, whose debut book won both the $25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian premier’s literary awards and the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature on Thursday night, is not allowed into Australia.

The Kurdish Iranian writer is an asylum seeker who has been kept in purgatory on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for almost six years, first behind the wire of the Australian offshore detention centre, and then in alternative accommodation on the island.

Now his book No Friend But the Mountains – composed one text message at a time from within the detention centre – has been recognised by a government from the same country that denied him access and locked him up.

Read more at The Guardian

[A (condensed) version of Behrouz Boochani’s ‘A letter from Manus Island’ was performed in Hobart last year at MAC’s Concert for Refugees].

‘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.

Prime Minister’s Literary awards 2018: Gerald Murnane wins for ‘exquisite’ novel


Steph Harmon, ‘The Guardian’: 5th Dec 2018

Gerald Murnane has beaten Peter Carey, Richard Flanagan, Kim Scott and Michelle de Kretser to win $80,000 for his novel Border Districts in the fiction category at the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary awards. Judged by panel, the awards are among the most prestigious in Australia and the richest, with $600,000 in total prize money awarded across six categories, including $5,000 for each of the 30 shortlisted authors.

More at ‘The Guardian’

‘It’s uncanny’: acclaim at last for Gerald Murnane, lost genius of Australian letters

Gay Alcorn, 21st Sept 2018, ‘The Guardian’

“I have something to say first,” says Gerald Murnane, to around 250 people who have come to hear Australia’s difficult literary genius in a rare outing. “You people here tonight can count yourselves fortunate … because this is going to be my last public appearance.”

Everyone laughs, including Murnane, who at 79 has said that before and stopped writing for many years before resuming. He’s finished with it now, he says, and Border Districts, released last year, will be his final novel.

More from Gay Alcorn at The Guardian

The world is being undone before us. If we do not reimagine Australia, we will be undone too

Richard Flanagan, ‘The Guardian’ 5th August 2018

When my father died at the age of 98 he had largely divested himself of possessions. Among what little remained was an old desk in which he had collected various writings precious to him over the years: poems, sayings, quotes, a few pieces he had written, some correspondence. Among them my elder sister found a letter written by one of my father’s cousins many years before. In it she told my father that his mother, my grandmother, was of Aboriginal descent, and that in her family she had been brought up to never mention this fact outside of the home.

My father loved discussing interesting letters with his family. He never discussed this letter. Yet he kept it. The story of covering up Indigenous pasts was a common one in Tasmania, where such behaviour was for some a form of survival. There is no documentation to prove my father’s cousin’s story is true, but that doesn’t make it untrue. It leaves the story as an unanswerable question mark over my family.

The theme of this year’s Garma festival is truth telling. My father’s story is about the questions truth raises, and where the truth takes us. I don’t tell this story to claim I am an Indigenous. I have too much respect for Indigenous people to make such a claim.

More from Richard Flanagan at The Guardian