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Sally Morgan

Westerly, Vol. 54, No. 2 edited by Sally Morgan and Blaze Kwaymullina

February 2010, no. 318

After a decade as an annual, the enduring Western Australian journal, Westerly, will now publish a ‘traditional’ issue midyear and a ‘creative’ issue later in the year. This début ‘creative’ issue includes Indigenous writing and art (mostly the former). Guest editors Sally Morgan and Blaze Kwaymullina have produced a collection that is entertaining, informative and diverse.

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Tashi and the Phoenix by by Anna and Barbara Fienberg

May 2009, no. 311

Young children often use the word ‘sad’ to describe negative or confusing emotions. ‘What you did made me sad,’ they will say. But children, as they get older, learn to offer richer explanations of interior states: grief, exasperation, shock, bewilderment, hurt, ecstasy and joy. It is language that gives us this flexibility of response. The best books offer us language that matches and sometimes even exceeds the richness of our experiences.

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The first thing to be noted about this collection of essays is that it is aimed at a quite specific market – HSC/VCE students. There is a list of ‘Study Questions’ at the end, and the language of the essays is consistently pitched at an upper secondary school level. Readers who want more complex responses to My Place would be better served by consulting the eclectic bibliography to the text as a starting point.

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Publishers are like invisible ink. Their imprint is in the mysterious appearance of books on shelves. This explains their obsession with crime novels.

To some authors they appear as good fairies, to others the Brothers Grimm. Publishers can be blamed for pages that fall out (Look ma, a self-exploding paperback!), for a book’s non-appearance at a country town called Ulmere. For appearing too early or too late for review. For a book being reviewed badly, and thus its non-appearance – in shops, newspapers and prized shortlistings.

As an author, it’s good therapy to blame someone and there’s nothing more cleansing than to blame a publisher. I know, because I’ve done it myself. A literary absolution feels good the whole day through.

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My Place by Sally Morgan

August 1987, no, 93

Reading My Place by Sally Morgan reminds one of how powerful a book can be when there is an urgent story to be told. This book, let me say at the outset, is wonderful.

Sally Morgan and her four brothers and sisters grew up in Perth in the 1950s and 1960s. They are part Aboriginal, but didn’t know it then. They knew they were darker, different, perhaps they were Greek; their mother and grandmother told them they were Indian and this answer satisfied the kids at school, and them for a time.

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