Who killed the 'beautiful', 'wealthy', but 'selfish and heartless', Irene Francis? Was it her husband, a 'rich Queenslander', or was it Larry Bannerman, 'handsome young athlete' and 'likely gold-medallist' at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics? Or was it Bannerman’s sister or father, each of whom believed Francis was 'preventing Larry from training'?
The Weekly ran a competition in association with the publication of Neville’s serialised novel. The second prize winner, Mr. F. A. Woods of Queensland, was excited to be attending the Melbourne Olympics because, he predicted: 'There won't be another Olympic contest here for 80 years'.
London’s Olympic Park is not only the major site for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is also home to a new poetry installation. An initiative of William Sieghart, founder of the UK’s National Poetry Day, the Winning Words installation aims to ‘celebrate and promote poetry’.
Sieghart hopes that Winning Words will, in the future, ‘carpet the nation in poetry’ by encouraging villages, towns and cities across the UK to create their own poetry installations.
More information on Winning Words can be found here.
Challenging pre-conceived ideas is always a tricky business. But sacred cows are meat and drink to academics, and Dr Katherine Bode, in her project, Reading By Numbers, has not shirked the job of challenging accepted ideas about Australian novels and their history.
And she used AustLit to help her do it.
The established arguments Bode investigates include:
- that colonial authors were entirely – or even predominantly – reliant on British publishers (they weren't)
- that men were the most successful authors of nineteenth-century Australian novels (also untrue; women outstripped men in the lucrative serial writing field and in the frequency of book publication in Britain).
Bode also challenges the notion that contemporary Australian literature and publishing are in crisis because of the dominance of multinational publishing conglomerates.
On 4 August, Jennifer Harrison, Michael Sharkey and Philip Salom discuss 'How to Inhabit a Poem'. This was recorded live at an Australian Poetry National Symposium in Newcastle, home of the Newcastle Poetry Prize.
On 1 September, to celebrate National Poetry Week 2012, Poetica will feature a round-the-nation sampling of recent Australian poetry. On 8 September, the program will present a retrospective on the life and work of the late Dorothy Porter. A week later, Christopher Brennan’s classic poem, 'The Wanderer', will feature, in a recording by Sir Robert Menzies.
The poetry of Tim Thorne, originator of the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, will feature on 20 October. The following week's program, 27 October, will discuss new and selected poems drawn from 20 years of Gig Ryan's writing.
Older programs can still be heard by streaming or downloading the audio. Recent highlights include The Land’s Meaning: The Poetry of Randolph Stow, and Shining with Meaning: The Poetry of Judith Wright.
Poetica is first broadcast on Saturdays at 3.05pm, and repeated the following Wednesday at 9.05 pm.
Whispers, a new, bi-monthly salon event to celebrate new and emerging Queensland writers, kicks off on Saturday, 11 August. The event will run from 3-5 pm, at The Library Cafe at the State Library of Queensland. This new reading event is an initiative of the Queensland Writers' Centre and will feature authors of both fiction and non-fiction.
Whispers' events can be followed on Facebook.
The future of the Dictionary of Sydney is in jeopardy, following a threat by the Council of the City of Sydney to withdraw promised funding for 2012-2013. The news was reported on the Dictionary's blog yesterday. Staff there are trying to raise awareness of the threat to win support for the project's continuance.
The Dictionary is a collaborative, ever-expanding resource. It provides locals, visitors and academics with detailed information about Sydney and its history in a digital format.
In May, 2011, the Council voted to fund this ground-breaking digital history project for five years, but is now considering withholding those funds. While the Dictionary has attracted some philanthropic funding, the amount raised would not save it from closure. If the promised Council funds are not made available, the Dictionary will have to close next month. Staff will lose their jobs and no new material will be published. Existing projects will be mothballed.
The Dictionary of Sydney has been live less than three years and staff believe it would be a great shame to see this outstanding digital history project fold. The matter may be debated at the next City Council meeting on Monday 30 July 2012, so support for the Dictionary is being sought now.
Anyone wishing to show support for the Dictionary's work can lobby the City of Sydney Council directly. Dictionary staff have created a template for letters. The link also contains the contact email addresses for councillors.
Readers, reviewers, authors and academics have joined forces to try to put pressure on Fairfax Media after the recent axing of literary, arts and features editors' jobs at the Canberra Times. A Facebook campaign has been set up, called Save the Canberra Times Literary Pages. It has a subsidiary page, Save Canny Times Book Pages, that can be 'Liked'. People are welcome to lend their voices and comments, to 'friend' the campaign, and to write their own letters to the editor. People can also tweet, using the hashtag #LitArtsCanTimes.
Letters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Susan Nicholls, who set up the Facebook group, suggests letter-writers express support for local and regional content in Canberra's arts and literary pages.
Nicholls says a 'blizzard of letters' has been sent to the Canberra Times's editor to protest the staff cuts. However, no letters have yet been published, according to an opinion piece by Frank O'Shea.
O'Shea said: 'We know about the outsourcing because the ABC and The Australian have told us. There has been no mention in the CT, none whatsoever. Not surprisingly, when people found out they wrote letters to the editor – I am personally aware of at least three who have done so – but none have been published. The understanding in Canberra is that a diktat went out that such letters were not to be published.'
Bookseller + Publisher reported that the story about the Canberra Times's staff cuts was the most clicked on story in last week's Weekly Book Newsletter.
The winners of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been announced. Gillian Mears scooped up the Fiction Prize (and pocketed $80,000) for her novel, Foal's Bread, which recently won the ALS Gold Medal. The judges praised the book, saying it was 'written in transfixing prose and with an, at times, aching affinity for the harsh landscape the book describes'.
Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies won the Poetry Prize, awarded this year for the first time. The judges singled out Davies's work for its 'tragicomic vision which is by turns dramatic, alarming and luminous in its formal expression'.
In the non-fiction category, Mark McKenna won for An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark. The runners-up were Geoffrey Blainey, A. J. Brown, Adrian Hyland and Anthony Macris. The Prize for Australian History was won by Bill Gammage's The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia. The judges said Gammage 'demonstrates a rare capacity to open a fresh horizon, capturing both history and his reader'.
When We Were Two by Robert Newton took out the Young Adult Fiction category, and the Children’s Fiction prize was won by Goodnight, Mice!, written by Frances Watts and illustrated by Judy Watson. The judges praised it an 'an almost perfect bedtime book'.
Consolation prizes of $5,000 go to all shortlisted writers, while category winners each take home $80,000 tax-free.
For those who like to listen to poetry, as well as read it, Radio National's Poetica still has on file a series of eleven recordings called A Pod of Poets. The 40-minute podcasts, some of which are dedicated to the work of a single writer, feature poets reading their own writings. Some of the poets are well-established names, like John Kinsella and Les Murray. Others are new writers. A surprise inclusion is John Clarke, probably better known as a satirist. In his interview, Clarke shows he is a superb parodist of other writers' styles.
The audio is available to download. Additional related material comprises transcripts, photographs, and interviews. You can subscribe to the series to get the lot. In addition to Kinsella, Murray and Clarke, the featured poets include Robert Adamson, Joanne Burns, Josephine Rowe, Craig Billingham, L.K. Holt, Aidan Coleman, Jayne Fenton Keane, Martin Harrison, Sam Wagan Watson, Kathryn Lomer, Esther Ottaway and Jordie Albiston.
Also still available for download is the recent Love Poetry program, in which a number of Australians nominated their favourite love poem. John Clarke features there too, along with Mem Fox, David Williamson and Robert Dessaix.
The axing of literary, arts and features editors' positions at the Canberra Times has dismayed authors, book shop owners, publishers, readers and reviewers. 'I think it’s going to be absolutely disastrous,' Marion Halligan, author and columnist for the paper's Panorama magazine, told Tuesday's Australian.
He may not be the bookies' favourite but Barry Hill is in contention for the UK's Forward Prize for Poetry. Oddly enough, two other people named Hill have also been shortlisted this year: Selima Hill, and Geoffrey Hill, who was also shortlisted last year. Beverley Bie Brahic and Jorie Graham round out the list.
The Forward Prize was 'created in 1991 to bring contemporary poetry to a wider audience'. The competition is open to both established and emerging poets, and the winner in the best collection category will take home £10,000 in prize money. Hill's collection of poems, Naked Clay: Drawing from Lucian Freud, was inspired by Freud's paintings.
The announcement of the winner will take place in London, on 3 October, the eve of the UK's National Poetry Day. Previous winners of the best collection category include Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy and Ted Hughes.
Other awards include a £5,000 prize for best first collection, and a £1,000 prize for best single poem. John Kinsella has been shortlisted for the single poem award, for his work 'Mea Culpa: Cleaning the Gutters'.
(Image credit for photograph of Barry Hill, above: Susan Gordon-Brown, Barry Hill. Photograph, gelatin silver, 2004. Courtesy of Digital Collections, National Library of Australia.)
Are you a writer who needs some quiet space and time to finish a manuscript? If so, consider booking yourself a stint in gaol.
The Cells for Writers program, a joint initiative of the National Trust (Victoria) and Writers Victoria, offers writers quiet places in which to work. The spaces are actually former prison cells on the top floor of the Old Melbourne Gaol, in Russell Street, Melbourne.
Roderick Poole, Director of Writers Victoria, recommends the program: 'For any writer who has a pressing need to avoid distractions, the cells provide perfect minimalist seclusion.'
Writers can apply to use one of the cells as a studio for a fixed, four-week period. Costs will be subsidised. In return, writers must agree to participate in an Open Cell event on the last Sunday of the month. At these events, writers can share their experiences of working this way.
Applications are open to writers at all stages of writing - beginning, emerging and established. The cost of renting a cell for a month is $120 for Writers Victoria members and $180 for non-members. Further information is included in the application form. Preference will be given to writers working on projects that might have some association with the Gaol, for example, crime writers, historians or biographers.
Cells come equipped with light, power and heating. A desk, chair and personal computer will be provided but no telephone or Internet access. Writers will be granted supervised access to the Gaol's archives and reference collection during their stay.
Even if writers are driven to distraction by looming deadlines, the cell cannot be trashed. Leaving the cell in the same state as it was at the start of the residency is one of the contract conditions.
In a nice touch of irony, writers need to have concluded a current police check (issued within the last six months) as a condition of applying.
Blackfellas ... Writefellas is the title of the next BL.INK: black ink performance evening to be held in Brisbane on Thursday 19 July. Hosted by Steven Oliver, this BL.INK event will feature performances by Sean Dow, Kaylah Tyson and Yvette Walker.
The event will take place from 6pm at The Library Cafe, level 1, State Library of Queensland.
BL.INK events are held on the third Thursday of the month at the Cafe, and aim to tell 'New Stories through Indigenous eyes. Indigenous creators share their stories, new works and dealings of blackness'.
The program of upcoming events and performances for the rest of the year is here.
Do you have advice or experience to share? Thoughts about the book industry's future, or its past? If so, the ASA wants to hear from you.
The society is not looking for clips that promote you or your work, but for pieces that are reflective (such as Sophie Masson’s Letter from a Novelist to Her Younger Self), advisory (such as Digital Rights by Alex Adsett), or otherwise related to authorship. The aim is for submitted clips to be of use to other writers.
Films can be simple piece-to-camera works or multimedia presentations. Size is capped, with three minutes the maximum acceptable length. Any images and music used in clips must either belong to you, the creator, or be free of copyright restrictions. The ASA states that all copyright in the videos will reside with authors. ASA members should submit videos as a compressed zip file in m4v format, along with name, phone number and membership number to email@example.com.
Keesing Press was originally established in 1993, funded by a bequest from writer, critic and poet, the late Nancy Keesing. 'The Committee of Management decided that a publishing imprint in her name was a fitting tribute to a long-standing ASA member who was known for her generosity, her commitment to writing and her concern for fellow writers.'
Current Keesing Press titles include Australian Book Contracts (now in its 4th edition) and Between the Lines: A Legal Guide for Writers and Illustrators by Lynne Spender.
The children’s literature community in Australia has farewelled two members in recent weeks.
Jean Chapman (-2012) had a literary career extending across four decades. She wrote scripts for ABC radio broadcasts (including Kindergarten of the Air) and for ABC Television’s Playschool. Her many children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, often drew on traditional stories from around the world or featured Australian native animals. Chapman compiled several anthologies of children’s stories including Cockatoo Soup (1987). Published to coincide with Australia’s Bicentenary, Cockatoo Soup celebrates the nation’s multicultural heritage.
Pamela Lofts (1949-2012) was well known as both an artist and a children’s book illustrator. A long-standing resident of Alice Springs, Lofts collaborated with Indigenous storytellers in bringing Aboriginal culture and dreaming stories to a wider audience. This is evidenced particularly in the An Aboriginal Story series, compiled by Lofts in the 1980s. More recently, Lofts provided the illustrations for Hunwick’s Egg (written by Mem Fox) and Snug as a Hug: An Australian Lullaby (written by Marcia Kay Vaughan).
The talents of both Chapman and Lofts endure in their books.
Australian Book Review (ABR) has taken up residence in Melbourne’s newly renovated Boyd Centre, located in the Southbank precinct. The Centre is described as ‘Melbourne’s first integrated community service space’ and was formerly the home of J. H. Boyd Girls' High School.
Among other organisations moving into Boyd is the Southbank Library. The new library is holding regular poetry slam workshops and is currently hosting Alia Gabres (a co-director of The Centre for Poetics and Justice) as Cafe Poet-in-Residence.
To discover more about Boyd’s creative and cultural spaces, visit the Centre’s website.
The Literature Centre, formerly the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre, has established a partnership with BHP Billiton. The mining giant will invest $600,000 in the Centre over the next three years.
The Centre’s founder and director, Lesley Reece, told the West Australian newspaper: ‘This is the first major corporate sponsorship for children's literature in this country and a great affirmation of the importance of our work’. ('BHP Boost for Kids Literature', 12 May 2012)
Located in the Old Fremantle Prison, The Literature Centre ‘offers a diverse range of student programmes in metropolitan, rural and regional areas of Western Australia’. More than 35,000 students per year join with authors, illustrators and education officers to experience ‘inspiring and interactive workshops, using a range of original manuscripts, preliminary drawings, and artwork’.
Western Australia’s Culture and the Arts Minister John Day announced the shortlists for the 2011 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards on 5 July 2012. Almost 600 entries were received for a total of eight award categories.
Competition in the nonfiction category was so fierce that the judges took the unusual step of nominating four highly commended works in addition to the six shortlisted titles. Books on the nonfiction shortlist include Alice Pung’s Her Father’s Daughter, Benjamin Gilmour’s Paramedico: Around the World by Ambulance and Eileen Harrison and Carolyn Landon’s Black Swan: A Koorie Woman’s Life.
In addition to the eight awards chosen by the judging panel, there is also a People’s Choice Award. This award is chosen from among the six shortlisted fiction titles. Public voting for the People’s Choice category commences on 23 July and runs until 27 August. Winners in all categories will be announced on 20 September.
The complete shortlists for the 2011 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards are available on the State Library of Western Australia’s website; a voting form for the People’s Choice Award will be available on this site soon.
Gillian Mears is the winner of the 2012 ALS Gold Medal for her novel Foal’s Bread. All three of Mears’s novels are now major award winners. Her first, The Mint Lawn (1991), won the Australian / Vogel National Literary Award in 1990 and her second, The Grass Sister (1995), won the Commonwealth Writers Prize, South-East Asia and South Pacific Region, in 1996.
The ALS Gold Medal, administered by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL), was announced during the 2012 ASAL Conference in Wellington, New Zealand. The Gold Medal is presented annually ‘for an outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year’. This year's judges wrote that ‘Mears’s narrative weaves seamlessly the great tragedies of both World Wars with the more intimate suffering experienced by an extended farming family of horse breeders and show jumpers ... At the heart of this novel is the love story of Noah [Childs] and Roley Nancarrow, a story of wondrous beauty and destructive waste.’ (Judges' citation)
Mears is also shortlisted for the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. The winners of those awards will be announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean on 23 July 2012.
Melbourne, in keeping with its status as a UNESCO City of Literature, unveiled Literature Lane in May this year.
The lane, previously nameless, celebrates writers and writing. The laneway's walls are decorated with book cover art.
Literature Lane will be a lasting legacy of the National Year of Reading. The lane was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, a former teacher who is also one of the Ambassadors for the NYOR.
Literature Lane joins other famous Melbourne lanes, including AC/DC Lane (named after the rock band of the same name) and Dame Edna Place (named after Barry Humphries's alter ego, Dame Edna Everage).
Melbourne is one of only six UNESCO Cities of Literature worldwide. Others include Dublin (appointed in 2010) and Edinburgh (the first to be so appointed, in 2004). Melbourne was the second, in 2008.
Aspiring authors have less than a week left to submit their work for consideration by the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. The program, a combined effort by the Queensland Writers' Centre and Hachette Australia, aims to find and help develop the work of new Australian writers. Both fiction and non-fiction works will be considered.
Up to ten emerging writers will be selected to work with editors from Hachette Australia and other industry professionals to develop their manuscript and learn about the industry over the course of four intensive days. The development program will take place in November.
Past programs have paid dividends.
Phillipa Fioretti was accepted into the program in 2008 and her debut novel, The Book of Love, was published in 2010. Her second novel, The Fragment of Dreams, was released in April 2011. Favel Parrett was also accepted into the 2008 program and her debut novel, Past The Shallows, was published in 2011. It was shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award and won the Australian Book Industry Awards for Newcomer of the Year.
The longlists for this year's Ned Kelly Awards have been announced. This annual award, inaugurated in 1995, celebrates crimewriting, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as recognising titans of the genre by means of its Lifetime Achievement award.
In addition to that award, prizes are awarded in four categories:
- Best First Fiction
- Best Fiction
- Best True Crime
- The S.D. Harvey Short Story (for which the longlist is yet to be announced).
Melanie Joosten's novel Berlin Syndrome, which won the 2012 Kathleen Mitchell Award, is on the longlist for Best First Fiction. Barrister and former Media Watch presenter Stuart Littlemore QC is in contention for two awards - Best First Fiction and Best Fiction - for his book Harry Curry: Counsel of Choice.
The Best Fiction longlist features the usual suspects - Peter Corris, Garry Disher (2010 winner for Wyatt) and Kerry Greenwood. Colleen McCullough shows she's made a successful transition to crime fiction by making the Best Fiction longlist with The Prodigal Son.
Are you a poet? Do you like cricket? If so, then the Cricket Poetry Award may be within your grasp.
This annual competition is seeking poems that depict life in and around cricket as a game or sport, whether the setting be a backyard, a beach or street, a local park or a cricket club. Poems can be of any genre. They can tell a story, send things up, celebrate the lyrical experience of leather upon willow under the Australian sky or mourn the passing of the greats. The winner will take home $2000.
Last year's winner was 'Boxing Day Test' by Cecilia White. To get an idea of the calibre of entries, see last year's top 20 here. Competitors can submit one entry only, and poems must be no longer than 150 words.
The 2012 award judges are Ian Painter and Fonda Zenofon. The closing date for entries is Friday, 31 August.
The Cricket Poetry Award is run in conjunction with the Cricket Art Prize and the winner will be announced at the Art Prize's opening event, to be held at the Members' Pavilion, Sydney Cricket Ground, on 4 October. Click here for an entry form.
Fiction for young adults and children will be recognised in the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Individual award categories for Children's and Young Adult fiction sit alongside fiction, poetry, non-fiction and Australian history. Winners in each category receive $80,000 tax-free. Consolation prizes of $5000 go to all shortlisted writers.
This year, the shortlisted authors for the Young Adult Fiction category are:
- A Straight Line to My Heart, Bill Condon
- Being Here, Barry Jonsberg
- Pan’s Whisper, Sue Lawson
- When We Were Two, Robert Newton
- Alaska, Sue Saliba
The Children's Fiction contenders are:
- Evangeline, The Wish Keeper's Helper, Maggie Alderson
- The Jewel Fish of Karnak, Graeme Base
- Father's Day, Anne Brooksbank
- Come Down, Cat!, written by Sonya Hartnett and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo
- Goodnight, Mice!, written by Frances Watts and illustrated by Judy Watson
For those who want to follow the awards or add a comment, there is a Facebook page for the awards.
A requiem mass and funeral for the Reverend Emeritus Professor Peter Steele will be held in the chapel of Newman College, University of Melbourne on Monday, 2 July at 1.00 pm. Rosemary Dobson’s funeral will take place at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Manuka, ACT on Wednesday 4 July at 11.30 am.
Eulogies and obituaries for Dobson and Steele are already appearing in a range of media outlets. Suffice it here to record some of their own words:
Out of darkness I ask for solace
The clean, the truthful lines of winter:
And Time has shaken my mind, reaping
The fruit of pain, the fruit of grieving.
Bare tree, bare mind swept clean of anguish
Accept simplicities, be patient,
Await the bird in the bough, the tremor
Of life in the veins, another springtime.
Rosemary Dobson, from ‘Out of Winter’, Bulletin, 15 December 1954
It is said, here, that ‘The honours line up and grab
their candidates,’ at which we inspect our blotched competitor or mirror image:
worse, it is asked, ‘What do you feel like
when you close up the wall between you and the future?’
Barley begins to grow when broken.
Peter Steele, from ‘The Vigil’, Invisible Riders, 1999
AustLit invites friends and colleagues of Dobson and Steele to share their thoughts and memories via the ‘Add a Comment’ function on AustLit’s News Blog.