A wealth of literary-minded titbits (yes, that is the proper Australian spelling) to share with you this week:
* Only one week until Writers at the Convent. I don’t have a lot of dough at the moment (read: broke) but I can’t miss the Australian Fiction session at 8pm on the Saturday. It’ll be my Valentines Day treat to myself. Robert Drewe’s Grace is one of my favourite novels, I love Peter Goldsworthy’s collection The List of All Answers, and I’m yet to read Steven Carroll, but the topic is, of course, one that interests me immensely. I also hope to make it to some of the sessions on evolution, and the Middle East. Go check something out if you’re in Melbourne. I haven’t been to the Abbotsford Convent yet, but I hear it’s a stunning place.
* Plans for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival are in full swing. I was lucky enough to attend in 2006, and it was the most wonderful writers’ festival I’ve been to. International guests in intimate, heated, and important discussions, and so many chances for stimulating conversation and education in a beautiful environment – Ubud, Bali. The 2009 theme will be Suka Duka: Compassion and Solidarity. It runs from the October 7-11. From director Janet DeNeefe’s email:
Suka Duka is an ancient communal wisdom that for centuries has been one of the main pillars of Bali’s traditional institutions and communities. The principle has guided the members of the traditional institutions, such as banjar (neighbourhood organisations) and desa pakraman (customary villages), to act as one single entity in dealing with life’s hardships and blessings. The suffering of one member will be shouldered by all, while the joy of one will be shared by the other.
The theme reflects the Festival’s commitment to turn this literary gathering into an inspiring moment, through which writers and readers from every corner of the world can establish a mutual understanding as well as a common platform to remind the world of the need to think and act as one single, compassionate entity, particularly during this epoch of violent conflicts and social turmoil.
In 2009, the enduring power of the human spirit over suffering and hardship will be explored alongside stories that have changed lives and tales of profound wisdom. Environmental issues and the rise of fundamentalism will be further debated with globalisation, censorship of media and world poverty. The art of storytelling will be celebrated together with discussions on writing about travel, food, poetry and song.
The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will continue its culinary tradition with visiting chefs descending on the kitchens of some of Ubud’s most gracious hotels. They will join forces with our leading literary stars to present the kind of languorous lunches and dinners for which we have become famous.
Invited guests include Nobel Laureates JM Coetzee and Wole Soyinka, Kate Grenville, Abdourahman Waberi, Mohammed Hanif, Laura Esquivel and Hari Kunzru.
I met one of my favourite Australian writers in Ubud in 2006, Gail Jones (and yes, I used to have short, blonde hair):
* The Lifted Brow 4 is launching in Brisbane, with some of my favourite people:
Next Tuesday, February 10th, Chris Currie, Thomas Benjamin Guerney, Benjamin Law, and Ronnie Scott will get grilled about the Brow by sexual memoirist Krissy Kneen at West End’s own Avid Reader. Free entry! Free wine! 6pm. RSVP to 07 3846 3422.
Then Wednesday, February 11th, Fulton Lights is on The Inconvenience Party, 6am-9, 4ZzZ (102.1 FM in Brisbane). Fulton Lights will play songs live in-studio. You’ll also hear some tracks from Brow 4.
Finally Thursday, February 12th, round out your Carnival of Brows with our launch party at The Zoo. Joel Saunders + Crazy Hearse, Fulton Lights (USA), and Mt. Augustus play.
Read stories by Joe Meno, Anna Krien, Jess Walter, Joanna Howard, and Ben Law, or hear tracks by The Panda Band, The Wrens, Thee More Shallows, Frightened Rabbit, Arms, and No Kids. Also the runners-up from our Fake Bookshelf competiton – Janika Dobbie, Bethan Mure, and Thomas Perry: http://www.theliftedbrow.com/?page_id=53.
And write us letters. Address them to the editors, or contributors via us. Tough questions, suggestions, complaints – all is welcome. We will read everything. We will try to respond, but may not. We’ll want to print some of them (in which case we’ll ask). [email protected].
* A Pod of Poets will feature some fantastic poets, including Josephine Rowe:
A Pod of Poets is a unique partnership between ABC Radio National’s Poetica program and the Australia Council for the Arts that brought eleven Australian poets to the microphone to read and talk about their writing.
The project was inspired by Poetica‘s audience who consistently request podcasts of programs, a difficult request to fulfil because of copyright restrictions. Each of the forty-minute Pod of Poets episodes is read by the author and features only rights-free music, enabling the podcasts to be created.
The eleven podcasts recorded and produced by Poetica, include established and emerging poets: Robert Adamson, Les Murray, Joanne Burns, John Kinsella, Josephine Rowe, Craig Billingham, LK Holt, Aidan Coleman, Jayne Fenton Keane, Martin Harrison, Sam Wagan Watson, Kathryn Lomer, Esther Ottaway, John Clarke and Jordie Albiston.
The A Pod of Poets website (abc.net.au/rn/poetica) includes all podcasts, transcripts, photographs and biographical information about each of the poets.
Poetica (ABC Radio National Saturday 3pm, repeat Thursday 3pm) will play the episodes throughout 2009.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
* And for any poets reading, here’s a really special opportunity:
CAFÉ POET PROGRAM
Submissions are now being sought for our CAFÉ POET PROGRAM. The Australian Poetry Centre is seeking poets, in each Australian State or Territory, interested to sit as ‘poet-in-residence’ in a café in their capital city for a period of six months getting free tea or coffee while you write. Please apply by emailing [email protected] with an expression of interest stating a) all your contact details, b) what you would get out of being the poet in residence, c) a clear personal objective focussing on what you would like to achieve with your poetry in the six months and d) a measurable public objective to benefit others, such as being prepared to give a reading at the end of it, or providing the cafe with a poem to display.
Deadlines for applications are Feb 20th, 2009.
For more details see the Australian Poetry Centre website or call the office on (03) 9527 4063.
* It took me a little while to get to this month’s Australian Literary Review. I didn’t read everything, but there was an amazing feature review by Frank Moorhouse called ‘The Crime of the Curious Citizen’. It touched on some things I’ve been thinking about lately (and brought up with Christos Tsiolkas), regarding a society in danger of having too many (moral and physical) restrictions. To quote Moorhouse: ‘There is nothing wrong with being horrified or sickened and nothing terribly bad happens to us when we are. I think it is more likely that something good will happen: we might be moved.’ This piece is really worth reading if you can get your hands on it.
* While on the topic of newspaper literary supplements, the Washington Post is discontinuing its Book World as a separate supplement. See news story here (via Antony Loewenstein). The notion of print publications becoming thinner due to online versions, economic concerns, or even environmental concerns is all well and good, but I bet the book pages always go before the sports pages. I don’t always read the ALR as mentioned above, or the A2 in The Age and so on, but if I do pick up a newspaper, I love to see some substantial, intellectual and critical engagements with literature and the arts in general. If it all moves online, no one will be getting paid to write extended, thoughtful essays like Frank Moorhouse’s. The top Australian literary journals rely mostly on funding, and can only pay their contributors little, and their audiences aren’t those of major newspapers. There are a lot of great pieces online, but there is a lot of crap as well, we all know that. I suppose we will all just have to find outlets we trust (such as the blogs and online sources in my blogroll that I rely on) when dead-tree media dries up.
* To fill you in on me stuff. It’s been a hard week, with a friend of mine being very, very sick (but he will be okay). I spent time with some lovely people though (I’m lucky), and I got through a book-and-a-half. There is a lot of frustration in me at the moment as I am not only carrying around 90s novel, which I haven’t had enough time to work on, but rounded ideas for two short stories. I need a full day to draft each one, and I can’t see a full day on the horizon.
* Tomorrow I have a meeting with someone who has read Smoke & Dancing. I may, or may not, tell you how that goes…
* Keep reading Furious Horses during ‘Sneaky Celebrity Writers Month’ and try and guess which story is mine! They’re all great reads thus far, check them in your lunch break through the week!
* I rode my bike in 46 degrees today. Ever hear your own skin crackle? Ever felt a blowtorch blast your eyes? I am possibly insane.