SS: You said that, partly because of your educational background, you are ‘not scared’ of drawing on the sciences. Are there topics or discourses that you are anxious about addressing in your poetry?

SW: Firstly, I would be afraid to write about science if there was a danger I would treat it too crudely or clumsily. There’s a massive difference between being an amateur enthusiast and being qualified to write about concepts or use them as metaphors or poetic tools or portals. So that is something I am very aware of.

As a privileged white woman, there are other areas I hesitate not exactly to write about, but to share. Who am I to write about immigration and prejudice? Am I qualified to write about human trafficking from my privileged position? Should that matter at all? There is a risk of exploiting peoples’ misery. So I try to approach these subjects with that awareness. I am writing about the definition of weeds – plants in the wrong places, and how that might apply to people.

More at University of Liverpool: Literature and Science Hub: Interview with Sarah Westcott


I wrote an essay on Hazy in Island magazine about 10 years ago titled “A Tasmanian Intellectual”. It concluded: “Peter Hay was the only teacher I met during my university years who excited in me the belief that the place I was from, its stories and ghosts and mystifying absences, were deserving of serious explanation…”

By Martin Flanagan; more at The Age, 7th Oct 2016.



Forever Young by Steven Carroll (HarperCollins Publishers)
The Life of Houses by Lisa Gorton (Giramondo)
The World Repair Video Game by David Ireland AM (Island Magazine Inc.)
Quicksand by Steve Toltz (Penguin)
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)


Net Needle by Robert Adamson (Black Inc.)
Cocky’s Joy by Michael Farrell (Giramondo)
The Hazards by Sarah Holland-Batt (University of Queensland Press)
Waiting for the Past by Les Murray AO (Black Inc.)
The Ladder by Simon West (Puncher & Wattmann)


Tom Roberts and the Art of Portraiture by Julie Cotter (Thames & Hudson)
On Stalin’s Team: the Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics by Sheila Fitzpatrick (Melbourne University Press)
Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather by Karen Lamb (University of Queensland Press)
Second Half First by Drusilla Modjeska (Penguin Random House Australia)
Island Home by Tim Winton (Penguin)

Prize for Australian History

The Story of Australia’s People. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia by Geoffrey Blainey AO (Penguin)
Let My People Go: the Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959–89 by Sam Lipski and Suzanne D Rutland (Hybrid Publishers)
Red Professor: the Cold War Life of Fred Rose by Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt (Wakefield Press )
Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life by Doug Morrissey (Connor Court Publishing)
The War with Germany: Volume III—The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War by Robert Stevenson (Oxford University Press)

Young Adult fiction

Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison (Magabala Books)
Illuminae: The Illuminae Files _01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)
Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin)

Children’s fiction

Adelaide’s Secret World by Elise Hurst (Allen & Unwin)
Sister Heart by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press)
Perfect by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Hardie Grant Egmont)
The Greatest Gatsby : A Visual Book of Grammar by Tohby Riddle (Penguin Random House Australia)
Mr Huff by Anna Walker (Penguin Random House Australia)


The launch of Peter Boyle’s fabulous new book Ghostspeaking takes place this afternoon, Friday 23 September at Gleebooks, Sydney, launched by Luke Fischer who’ll also chair a discussion with Peter, Michelle Cahill, Judith Beveridge, and David Brooks (tbc) on themes connected to the book. The event is free, RSVP (02) 9660 2333.



Applications close 30 October 2016

A pathway to publication

Varuna’s unique Publisher Introduction Program (PIP) is one of Australia’s most dynamic literary partnerships, opening important doors for exceptional new writers in a creative, collaborative process that aims to deliver finely honed manuscripts to leading publishers.

Each year, the program gives up to 12 selected writers of novels, short stories and literary non-fiction the chance to nurture their manuscripts to publication stage with:

• Private writing time in an environment of guidance, community and conversation – awardees will receive a one-week residency at Varuna, the National Writers House in the World Heritage Blue Mountains, between June and August 2017.

• A literary mentor – you will be matched with a mentor who understands manuscript development and knows the publishing process. You will have a one-hour consultation on your manuscript during the residency and again when you have completed the manuscript.

• A date with a publisher – when your manuscript is completed, it will be read by one of seven leading Australian publishers — Black Inc., Pan Macmillan, Random House, Scribe Publications, Text Publishing, UQP or UWA Publishing. Your writing mentor will support you in the process of presenting your final manuscript to the publisher for their consideration.

What writers say

It’s a 40 year old dream starting with smurf-inspired short stories to full length novels, but I’m finally able to announce that Pan Macmillan have signed me up on a two book deal having won the Publishing Introduction Program through Varuna House in 2016. I’ll be working with the same editor and publisher who edits for Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), Cloudwish (Fiona Wood) and Andy Griffiths (13 Storey Treehouse series). I am very humbled to be in this position and when I went to meet the publisher for lunch I nearly sat down on the floor under the Pan Macmillan sign and cried–with pure happiness. A new chapter begins. I must thank Varuna House and the Publishing Introduction Program; it’s amazing mentors and supporters have helped me get to this point in my writing career. WRITING DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE!
Taryn Bashford, PIP 2016

Who should apply

writers working on the development of a new work of fiction, narrative non-fiction or writing for young adults to apply for PIP. Drafts submitted may be for full-length works or collections of short stories. Your manuscript should be well advanced in its development with your application clearly showing that you are confident of both your direction and the voice for the work. Look at Varuna’s website for more information about what different publishers are looking for when selecting work.

For full details and to apply, visit Varuna’s website

For any queries, contact:

Varuna – the National Writers House
141 Cascade St (PO Box 907)
Katoomba NSW 2780
Phone: (02) 4782 5674


Too often I hear (usually from men) that women never did anything in history to write about. What they are generally referring to are those ‘great deeds’ of men who were able to dedicate their lives to and sustain an uninterrupted focus on their area of specialisation. Women’s yearnings were sidelined and their lives circumscribed by multiple childbirth.

A.H. Chisholm wrote a ‘complete’ biography of Elizabeth Gould in 1944. In contrast, Melissa Ashley has written a fictional biography, or biographical fiction, of her in The Birdman’s Wife, which revitalises Elizabeth, colouring in her passions, her struggles, her continual negotiation of the demands of being a working artist and a mother.

This beautifully written novel presents a ‘complete’ picture of a family unit—that one man’s crowning achievements were in fact a family enterprise. John Gould may have been able to strut about like a peacock, but his ‘story’ his more complete when put in context alongside the female of his species, their young, and the materials from which he made his nest.

(From Kali Napier’s blog at Kali Napier)


Tickets are now on sale for the Mick Dark Talk for the Future 2016, to be held in Wentworth, NSW. This annual event honours the generosity and legacy of Varuna’s patron Mick Dark, with a talk to inspire community discussion of environmental issues of local and global significance. We hope very much that you would like to join us for an afternoon of galvanising discussion and food for thought as we present The Future is Wild: The Mick Dark Talk for the Future 2016.

In a conversation facilitated by Dr Kate Fagan, internationally respected speakers and writers Jane Gleeson-White and Claire Dunn will discuss the essential shift in thinking taking place in individuals, governments and global corporations as we recognise and act on the knowledge that that we are not separate from but intrinsically connected to nature.

Held in the beautiful Kindlehill School Performance Space, the discussion between these two superb writers and thinkers will draw out points of view grounded in economic and personal philosophy. In her book Six Capitals: The Revolution capitalism has to have, Jane Gleeson-White urged readers to extend the familiar concepts of financial and manufactured capital to include four new categories of wealth: intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural capital. Claire Dunn, a passionate advocate for “rewilding” our inner and outer landscapes, spent a year living off the grid and learning wilderness survival skills and wrote about this experience in her memoir My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild.

Book now at for this afternoon of wild economics, wild solutions and wild living.

When: 2.00pm, Sunday 25 September
Where: Kindlehill School Performance Space – 8 Lake St, Wentworth Falls – map
Tickets: $18 or $15 Concession
Supervised childcare available – $10/child – booking essential.

For more information, contact Georgia Adamson, varuna at varuna dot com dot au



Dear FB friends.

How do you solve a problem like this:

Many years ago I wrote a book and gave it a provocative title. Now – 40 years later – we are holding a conference to talk about that book and its legacy. Not surprisingly, we are giving the conference the same name as the book. We are trying to spread the word far and wide about the conference in the hope that it will attract a good crowd.
We have a fabulous line up of speakers (you can go to my website – which has the same name as me, with a at the end of it) and I think people would like to know about it.

Here is the actual link (hope it won’t stop this post being shared!) :

Damned Whores and God’s Police 40 years on – Three Day Conference

The problem?

FB has judged that the content of my posts are “profane” and will not allow me to boost them. This means that I cannot reach out to as many people as I would like.

I am not sure whether it is the title of my book (and hence the name of the conference) that is “profane”.
Or perhaps it is the quote from former prime minister Julia Gillard, who talked about my book in her book. This is what she said:

“As early as 1975, in her book Damned Whores and God’s Police, feminist and author Anne Summers explained that during our nation’s history, women were always categorised in one of these two roles. It felt to me as prime minister that the binary stereotypes were still there, that the only two choices available were good woman or bad woman. As a woman wielding power, with all the complexities of modern politics, I was never going to be portrayed as a good woman. So I must be the bad woman, a scheming shrew, a heartless harridan or a lying bitch.”
Julia Gillard, My Story (2014) pp.106-107

I was denied permission to boost a post containing this quote.

So here’s the thing. If you don’t mind, can you share this post widely just so people can find out about the conference.

I was prepared to pay FaceBook to boost my post.

Now even better if we can distribute it for free.

What do you think?

Anne Summers


… almost all of us here already know what an extra-ordinary fellow Pete Hay is. If you don’t know Pete yet, chat to your neighbour later, for they are likely to have a story as good as any I can tell. Suffice for me to say that Pete is our most important public intellectual not because he has a comment to make on every development in the news cycle but because he doesn’t.

Pete asks his own questions and rejects the chaining of knowledge to the small-minded and specialised expert. No other scholar has had such an influence in changing ideas about Tasmania. For four decades he has been resourcing, coaxing into being, an intelligent, compassionate, imaginative reflection of what it means to make home on this island, AND what it has meant in the past and what it might mean in the future.

(James Boyce, launching Pete Hay’s new poetry collection ‘Physick’, at Hobart Bookshop, 18th August 2016)

– Read James’ full speech here