ABR in the past has been critical of the paucity of writers receiving national honours and the over-representation of politicians, bureaucrats, and plutocrats, so it was pleasing to find several distinguished writers among those honoured on the Queen’s Birthday. Christopher Wallace-Crabbe, a stalwart friend of ABR, received an AM. (We have a poem of his in this issue.) Other writers honoured in this round were Professor Graeme Davison (AO), Professor George Williams (AO), and prolific biographer Peter FitzSimons (AM).
Fresh from winning this year’s National Biography Award for his biography of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin (Grand Obsessions, Lantern), Alasdair McGregor has just published an anthology of Antarctic writings. Antarctica: That Sweep of Savage Splendour (also from Penguin, this time under the Viking imprint). McGregor – a former architect – is a man of many parts: two of his paintings are reproduced in the book. James Bradley, editor of The Penguin Book of the Ocean (2010), will review Antarctica in the next issue.
Peter Porter Poetry Prize
For the eighth year in a row, we are seeking entries in our Poetry Prize, now named after Peter Porter (1929–2010). The first prize is worth $4000, and the other shortlisted poets will each receive $250. The judges this year are Judith Beveridge and David McCooey. Entries close on 21 November. Full details can be found here.
Truth be told, reviewers rarely hear from their subjects. The response to most reviews, whether critical or laudatory, is usually muted. But not in London, apparently. Last month, biographer and art historian Frances Spalding reviewed Alexandra Harris’s new book for us. In the review she wrote, ‘Romantic Moderns,like this year’s wisteria in England, is catching the attention of many.’ Returning home one evening, Professor Spalding found a small wisteria on her doorstep, a gift from the author, who had enjoyed the analogy (and the review). She told Advances: ‘I must be careful in the future not to compare her next book with a white elephant.’
Island magazine’s new editor, Sarah Kanowski, launched the magazine’s winter issue in style at the Mona Wine Bar, on 30 June. The new issue includes reviews of the museum, the art within, and the accompanying publication, Monanisms, along with several poems and short stories – one of which was penned by Mona’s onlie begetter, David Walsh. Daniel Thomas discussed Mona at length in our June issue.
Critic of the year
Geordie Williamson was a fitting recipient of the 2011 Pascall Prize, an annual award for a critic whose work has significantly contributed to the public appreciation, enjoyment, and understanding of the arts. Geordie, who received $15,000, has been chief literary critic of The Australian since 2008. His connection with ABR goes back even further than that. In his acceptance speech, Geordie noted that we commissioned his first review, back in November 2001. ABR congratulates this graceful and hugely well-read critic.
Six cheers for Federation
Federation has much to answer for – not least those anachronistic vice-regal palaces and posts – but it has given New South much to play with in its series of concise studies of the capital cities. First up came Peter Timms’s Hobart, Matthew Condon’s Brisbane, and Delia Falconer’s Sydney, which has just been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Non-Fiction Award (Delia is our subject on Open Page this month). Next in line is the Melbourne volume (August), from Sophie Cunningham. Later this year, New South will publish Kerryn Goldsworthy’s book on Adelaide, to be followed in 2012 by Wendy Were’s Perth and Paul Daley’s Canberra, in time for the centenary of the ‘feral capital’ (Philip Hodgins) in 2013. Mr Daley is clearly busy; later this year MUP will publish his book on that other great destination, Collingwood.
Australian Poetry Library
They all turned out on 25 May when Professor Marie Bashir, governor of New South Wales, launched the Australian Poetry Library website – and no wonder! This is a remarkable resource for Australian poets, readers, students, and educators. The website contains tens of thousands of poems by 217 of Australia’s leading poets, along with a range of critical, biographical, and audiovisual material. The site, more than three years in the making, was a joint project between the University of Sydney, CAL’s Cultural Fund, and the Australian Research Council. Brian Johns, chair of CAL’s Cultural Fund, remarked: ‘This is an imaginative way of supporting our poets, and linking their work to the educational sector to the benefit of all.’
CONTENTS: JULY–AUGUST 2011