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Polly Simons

Polly Simons is a Sydney-based arts writer, critic, and bookseller. A former editor with News Limited, she has written for Time Out (Sydney and Melbourne), The Sunday Telegraph, The Australian, and among others. She is a former judge of the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Polly Simons reviews 'The Golden Book' by Kate Ryan, 'The Beautiful Words' by Vanessa McCausland, and 'The Wingmaker' by Mette Jakobsen

January–February 2022, no. 439 22 December 2021
When Anne Shirley dreamed of finding a ‘bosom friend’ in Avonlea, she did more than conjure Diana Barry into existence. The heroine of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908) imprinted on us an almost impossible standard for what to expect from our earliest female friendships: a lifelong source of joy sustained by a mutual devotion to each other’s best interests. More often than ... (read more)

Polly Simons reviews 'Reading Like an Australian Writer' edited by Belinda Castles

May 2021, no. 431 27 April 2021
‘When I first began reading Nam Le’s Love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice, I was sceptical: a story about a writer writing a story? A writer at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, no less? Isn’t this a little self-indulgent? Hasn’t this been done before?’ So begins Fiona McFarlane in her essay for Reading Like an Australian Writer, a new collection of writings on wr ... (read more)

Stop Girl | Belvoir St Theatre

ABR Arts 26 March 2021
Picture this: it’s 7pm. The news begins. There’s the jingle, a few stories about Australian political goings-on, then a piece about a war-torn country overseas. What do you see? A foreign correspondent, flak jacket on, standing in a bombed-out street or a hospital ward full of bloodied bodies. They speak for a few minutes, describing the horror. The news moves on. We go back to our lives. But ... (read more)

'Playing Beatie Bow' | Sydney Theatre Company

ABR Arts 01 March 2021
Ruth Park’s novels were as much about Sydney as the people who live there. In Park’s famous The Harp in the South trilogy, the slums of Surry Hills are almost as lively and characterful as the Darcy family, whose story it relates. In Playing Beatie Bow, the changing face of The Rocks underpins every part of the narrative. ... (read more)

Polly Simons reviews 'A Jealous Tide' by Anna MacDonald

January–February 2021, no. 428 17 December 2020
Rivers seem to be something of a preoccupation for Melbourne writer Anna MacDonald. They feature prominently in her 2019 essay collection, Between the Word and the World, and are both setting and centrepiece to her first novel, A Jealous Tide. For MacDonald, rivers – whether London’s Thames or her beloved Yarra – are so much more than a way to navigate a city. They are also an invitation to ... (read more)

'My Brilliant Career' (Belvoir)

ABR Arts 14 December 2020
My Brilliant Career may not be Belvoir’s first post-pandemic show, but it’s surely the most joyous. Hot on the heels of a government exemption raising audience numbers to seventy-five per cent capacity, the mood on opening night was exuberant – almost as exuberant as Sybylla Melvyn, My Brilliant Career’s impossible yet impossible-not-to-love protagonist. Miles Franklin’s autobiographica ... (read more)