When Dorothy Hewett won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction with the first volume of her autobiography, Wild Card, it was a popular choice on the night. She’s a writer who has attracted all kinds of controversy, from libel suits to outrage over her flamboyant politics, both sexual and social. She has published four volumes of poetry, thirteen plays, but only one novel, called Bobbin Up, back in 1959. Jack Beazley, in a review for the Communist Review, criticised the novel for ‘an overstressing of physical relations’; a judgment that evidently didn’t deflect Dorothy Hewett from her interests, since physical relations, and the way that women feel about them, are still stressed in The Toucher. Setting herself a difficult task, Hewett has placed her central character, a woman writer, in a wheelchair, and without the company of a male lover, in order to talk about some of the things that preoccupy her now: old age, loneliness, physicality, relationships, personal history. She’s a generous talker, open and friendly, willing to think about any topic that is presented, and obviously very pleased to have produced another novel after years of believing that she couldn’t write one. I began by asking Dorothy Hewett how she felt about returning to the novel after so many years writing poetry and plays.... (read more)
The Best Australian Stories 2007 edited by Robert Drewe
You, certainly, understand what it’s like when you know for sure, and in your heart of hearts, that there is something rotten in the State of Denmark, but every time you put up your hand to point to the rottenness it is ignored, slapped down, or obfuscated. Lying, back-stabbing, shoving one’s own snout in the trough ahead of the mob, manoeuvring to get ahead, and destroying anything that might get in the way of a march towards the one goal of MONEY – no worries. All’s fair in war and publishing. But think about the larger picture, imagine a better way, work slowly and cautiously towards change? Get with it, baby, you’ve got to be kidding, that’s just feel-good stuff, forget it.... (read more)
The Name of the Mother: Writing illegitimacy by Marie Maclean
Are you a regional writer?
I suppose I am, if your definition of a regional writer is someone who evokes atmosphere and themes which have a particular relevance for a region. Firstly, to take the most obvious thing there has always been a particular buccaneering business style, dating from the days of the goldrush of the 1890s and in various eras since, and the whole 1980s materialistic era was written even larger on the West Coast than other places. Going even further back in historical terms when you think of the peculiarities of the exploration of this coast, both by the French and the Dutch, that is something which distinguishes the West Coast. Because of my particular enthusiasm for history and research and canvassing matters of the early exploration, it is a theme which has found its way into three or four of my books.... (read more)
It has a relevance in one sense because it is a worry, since we live in a world which seems to have taxological problems. People like to be able to put things in one category or another. I seem at the moment to be writing in a way that sits on the line.... (read more)
When I visited Bruce and Brenda Beaver in their Manly flat it was a sparkling day. The water of the Harbour was glittering, and the pines on the foreshore were stirring only slightly in the breeze. But, however soothing the weather, I was nervous. For me, Bruce Beaver is huge, a poet of the first order, and his extraordinarily difficult life, the periods of debilitating sickness and the various almost mythic stories that attach themselves to his history, all added up to make me feel very nervous indeed.
And his wife, Brenda had made it very clear that my being able to come to see him was a privilege. She protects him fiercely, with constant courage, and if I hadn’t read Bruce Beaver’s superb love poems to this woman, I would have been even more nervous when my companion and I knocked on their door.... (read more)