News from the Editor's Desk

 

ABR Fellowship news

Our largest and strongest field to date vied for the latest Australian Book Review Sidney Myer Fund Fellowship, worth $5000. The four judges – Tony Birch, Helen Brack, Colin Golvan, and Peter Rose – chose Sydney writer, critic, and anthologist Felicity Plunkett. Dr Plunkett will examine the music of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and its reception. Her profile of this charismatic artist will form the centrepiece of our Performing Arts issue in June.

Writers now have until 20 March to apply for the fourth ABR Fellowship, also worth $5000. The new one – the ABR Copyright Agency Fellowship – is for an article or profile with an Asian theme, part of ABR’s new Asian project, which is being generously supported by the Copyright Agency, and details of which will follow in coming issues. Full details of this Fellowship (which is funded by ABR’s generous Patrons) are now available here. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their projects with the Editor before submitting their proposals.

Funded by ABR Patrons and philanthropic foundations such as the Sidney Myer Fund and The Ian Potter Foundation, the ABR Fellowship program is intended to reward outstanding Australian writers and to advance the magazine’s commitment to critical debate and literary values. We welcome approaches from readers and donors interested in helping us to extend this creative program.

 

 

Poetry rising in NSW

George Bernard Shaw once joined a gymnasium that boasted a Professor of Boxing. We don’t know about its pugilistic program, but the University of Technology, Sydney now has its own Professor of Poetry. Robert Adamson, the distinguished Sydney poet who last year won the Patrick White Award, takes up the post this month. The CAL Chair in Australian Poetry – funded by the Copyright Agency for three years – is the first of its kind in Australia and is based on the famous, and often entertainingly contentious, Oxford professorship.

On his appointment Robert Adamson remarked: ‘When Seamus Heaney took up the Oxford Chair he lifted the profile of poetry in the UK and was tremendously popular. I intend to follow this example and inspire more people to read, write, and enjoy poetry.’

New South Wales has clearly stolen a march on the other states. Robert Adamson will work closely with the first City of Sydney Poet, Kate Middleton (who reviews The Best Australian Poems 2011 for us in this issue).

 

 

Bracing times

If the publishing industry faces unique challenges, lexicography is a minefield, with sharp decreases in sales (those hefty, lucrative sales of yore) in some markets, and the proliferation of free online dictionary websites (often just old, out-of-print dictionaries, innocent of current usage). Sarah Ogilvie, the new Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at ANU, and Chief Editor of Oxford Dictionaries, Australia, clearly welcomes these technological and intellectual challenges, as she makes clear in her article in this issue, in which she reflects on the future of dictionaries in the digital age. Dr Ogilvie, who succeeds our resident grammarian and regular contributor, Bruce Moore, will write for us each month.

 

 

Seymour Biography Lecture

Montaigne-like, Robert Dessaix may be fond of ‘sitting in [his] tower, cogitating’, as he writes at the beginning of his new ‘collection of musings’, As I Was Saying (Vintage, March); but on song he is one of our most compelling public speakers. After he delivered the 2011 Seymour Biography Lecture at the National Library of Australia last October, many people remarked that this was the finest thing they had heard from him: funny, naughty, erudite, uniquely performative; but also quite intensely moving as the author of books such as A Mother’s Disgrace and Night Letters meditated on his deeper reasons for writing and on the artist’s mortality.

Happily, Robert Dessaix will repeat this extraordinary lecture (‘Pushing against the Dark: Writing about the Hidden Self’) during Adelaide Writers’ Week. This free event, which will close Writers’ Week, is scheduled for Thursday, 8 March, at 3.45 p.m. ABR will publish the lecture in a forthcoming issue, to complement earlier Seymour Biography Lectures. Jane Goodall reviews As I Was Saying for us in the March issue.

 

 

ABR Online Edition

ABR Online Edition, launched last April, has proved a big success, especially with institutions. We’re delighted that hundreds of thousands of students and academics now have daily access to ABR via their campus computers. Online users now have immediate access to ABR stretching back to November 2010. Pleasingly, overseas universities are starting to subscribe, as well as many Australian ones.

We want to make ABR Online Edition more attractive to individuals who like to read magazines online, or who like the idea of a complementary electronic version of their print edition. Accordingly, we have reduced the ABR Online Edition annual subscription rate to $40 – cheap as microchips. Print subscribers can also subscribe to the online edition for an extra $20 a year. Those wanting thirty-day access pay $6. In addition, we have dropped the annual subscription rate for schools and public libraries to $150.

 

Prizes galore

The number of entries in the Peter Porter Poetry Prize went on rising. When we finished counting we had just under 800 entries – almost twice as many as last year. In March we will publish the five shortlisted poems. The winner, who will receive $4000, will be named in our April issue.

Next month, too, we will announce details of the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, which generated so much interest last year, and which was shared by Gregory Day and Carrie Tiffany.

 

 

Sound and vision

Subscribe or renew your print subscription this month to receive a book – an audio book. Bolinda Publishing has supplied ten for us to give to prompt new subscribers. Authors include Christos Tsiolkas, Kim Scott, and Jodi Picoult (reading herself). Twenty-five new or renewing subscribers will receive a copy of the documentary The Tall Man – adapted from the award-winning book by Chloe Hooper – courtesy of Madman. Subscribe or renew now by calling (03) 9429 6700, or visit the subscription page on ABR’s website. Please note that, such is demand, all our special offers are limited to one per subscriber.

 

 

CONTENTS: FEBRUARY 2012
Published in February 2012 no. 338

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