I heard the Egypt story countless times, but then Dorothy Porter believed that if a story was worth telling, it warranted multiple retellings. In the late 1980s, before Dot and I met, she visited Egypt to gather material for her verse novel Akhenaten (1992). In Cairo, she joined a tour group taking in the major historical sights ...... (read more)
Years ago, when I was editing a magazine, John Clarke would occasionally ring, sometimes to discuss what might have been called business, but, more often, just out of the blue ...... (read more)
When Gore Vidal died a few weeks ago, his publisher issued a statement calling him the last survivor of a postwar crop of American literary giants. ‘It is hard to think of another … who cut as dashing and visible a figure in various public realms,’ said Vidal’s Doubleday editor, Gerald Howard. Less than a week later the obituary columns were taken over by ju ...
The coffin sat on a chrome trolley at the front of the pews. In the end we only need a box six feet by two, and how small it looks ... the imagination falters.... (read more)
To write about a biographer is to be aware of a presence, psychologically if not spectrally, sitting on your shoulder. This presence is not an angel, more like an imp, the minor demon that arouses bad deeds, or thoughts. In writing about a biographer we can feel not angelic inspiration, but the imp of doubt, saying: This is not good enough, I could do better.... (read more)
In an essay on the poetry of George Crabbe, Peter Porter wrote, ‘It is a great pleasure to me, a man for the littoral any day, to read Crabbe’s description of the East Anglian coast.’ Happily, there is by now a substantial and various array of writings about Porter’s work, and I would like simply to add that his being, metaphorically, ‘a man for the littor ...
Aboriginal poet and activist, Kevin Gilbert, died in Canberra on 1 April 1993 after a long battle with a respiratory disease. He was sixty years old.... (read more)
Although Sumner Locke Elliott spent more than half his life as an American, his native country Australia was, for him, his land of imagination where memory could be both crystallised and transformed and temporal and spatial boundaries ceased to exist. Of his ten published novels, six (or five and a half, as he liked to say) were set in Australia. Not coincidentally, I think, these were his most successful. His death in June, at the age of seventy-three, marked the passing of not only an incandescent literary talent but also a generous spirit, a superior and entertaining wit and, that rarest of all species, a successful yet humble man.... (read more)