Contents indexed selectively.
'Professor Barry Spurr and I were in class together with Dame Leonie Kramer in the early 1970s. Then, as a friend and student colleague, he was always a wonderfully strong and committed champion of Australian literature, especially poetry. I have watched with awe and wonder his rise to academic distinction at the University of Sydney as Australia’s first Professor of Poetry and Poetics. I was particularly interested in his passion for religious poetry in English and his deep and searching expertise on T.S. Eliot, especially the Four Quartets. The sad circumstances of Barry’s retirement from the University of Sydney in 2015 after forty years of service at that institution are perhaps well known. These circumstances illustrate the illusion of so-called academic freedom in this country, which allows the digital hacking of a private correspondence to become the basis for a politically motivated vendetta against some of Barry’s probably misperceived attitudes. The fact that this situation was never brought to a fair hearing and was the direct cause of Barry’s enforced retirement sent shock waves through the academic community at the University of Sydney and more widely in this country.' (Introduction)
'I bought Bernadette Brennan’s informative and entertaining A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work second-hand in Ganesha, a bookshop on the main street of sleepy Sanur, Bali in December 2018 (having run out of holiday reading). Garner had fascinated me since the film of her debut novel Monkey Grip (1982), directed by Ken Cameron and starring Noni Hazlehurst as Nora and Colin Friels as Javo. I had also been fortunate to know Dr Brennan during her tenure at the University of Sydney, and it was exciting to find such a book among piles of romance novels and crime fiction. A Writing Life has a chronological structure and incorporates biographical detail about Garner in order to illuminate aspects of her writing and it treats all her outputs, fiction, non-fiction, and the film scripts for The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992) and Two Friends (1986).' (Introduction)