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News from the Editor's Desk - December 2018

December 2018, no. 407

News from the Editor's Desk - December 2018

December 2018, no. 407

News from the Editors Desk

$8,500 Peter Porter Poetry Prize closing soon!

Peter PorterPeter Porter (1929–2010)

Poets don’t have long to enter the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, worth a total of $8,500. All poets have until midnight 3 December to submit their entry. This year’s judges are Judith Bishop, John Hawke, and Paul Kane.

The Porter Prize is one of Australia’s most lucrative and respected awards for poetry. It honours the life and work of the great Australian poet Peter Porter (1929–2010), an honoured contributor to ABR for many years. All poets writing in English are eligible to enter.

Essayists have longer: the Calibre Essay Prize (worth $7,500) doesn’t close until 15 January 2018.

Meanwhile, we look forward to announcing details of the 2019 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize in the next issue.


ABR Patrons’ Fellowship

Applications to the 2019 Australian Book Review Fellowship are now open

Following the success of the Fortieth Birthday Fellowship, we welcome applications for the 2019 ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, which is also worth $10,000.

Like the current Fellowship, held by Beejay Silcox, the new one is unthemed. We are not seeking a single, lengthy essay; rather, we are looking for a sustained contribution to the magazine throughout the year – the kind of nuanced, engaging journalism that Beejay Silcox has brought to ABR. We seek proposals from Australian critics, commentators, and scholars for four substantial contributions to the magazine: review essays, commentaries, and/or interviews. All our ABR Fellows enjoy a special status at the magazine, and this suite of contributions will be a highlight of our publishing year.

Full information about the new Fellowship can be found here. As always, those interested in applying are encouraged to sound out the Editor, Peter Rose (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) beforehand.

Applications close on 10 December 2018. The Fellow will be named in early 2019.

The Fellowship is funded by the ABR Patrons; all of whom are gratefully acknowledged.

In our November issue, Beejay Silcox reflects on trauma fiction in her article titled ‘The Art of Pain: Writing in the Age of Trauma’.

ARC debacle

ABR, like many of our colleagues and partners in the academic community, was appalled to learn of former Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s veto of eleven Australian Research Council grants, an intervention that only came to light on October 25 because of dogged work at the Senate Estimates hearings, initiated by Labor Senator Kim Carr. Once again, only the humanities were targeted.

This ministerial intervention (unusual but not unprecedented) upsets the rigorous peer-review process that underpins the ARC grant-making process. A group of respected and enquiring researchers have been publicly humiliated as not being worthy of some fatuous pub test. Now their colleagues in the higher education community are threatened with a ‘national interest’ test that seems likely to complicate and politicise this already exhaustive, time-consuming annual process.

We invited Professor Joy Damousi – President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities – to comment. Her article, which can be read here, is also followed by statements by thirteen senior colleagues around the country, found here.


David Goldblatt retrospective at MCA

Eyesight testing at the Vosloosrus Eye Clinic of the Boksburg Lions Club. 1980 silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper. Image courtesy Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg and Cape Town © The David Goldblatt Legacy TrustEyesight testing at the Vosloosrus Eye Clinic of the Boksburg Lions Club. 1980 silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper. Image courtesy Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg and Cape Town © The David Goldblatt Legacy Trust

The Museum of Contemporary Art is currently exhibiting an extensive photographic retrospective of David Goldblatt, a seminal South African photographer. Goldblatt gained international recognition for his work documenting South Africa, both during apartheid and proceeding it, crafting an unflinching portrait of the nation’s people, its workforce, and landscapes. Alison Stieven-Taylor reviews the collection, David Goldblatt: Photographs 1948–2018, and describes it as ‘an exhibition you need to plan for’, one ‘not designed for a quick whip-around’.


Alison Lester wins $60,000 Melbourne Prize

Alison Lester (photograph via Affirm Press)Alison Lester (photograph via Affirm Press)

Alison Lester has become the first children’s author to win the Melbourne Prize for Literature. Last month she was named the winner of the 2018 Prize, which is worth $60,000. Lester has been riveting children for more than thirty years; she has published about twenty-five books.

Lester was chosen from a formidable shortlist comprising Tony Birch, Gideon Haigh, Christos Tsiolkas, and Alexis Wright. Maria Tumarkin was chosen as the winner of the Best Writing Award for her non-fiction work Axiomatic, published by Brow Books. This enterprising new independent publisher also saw another of its writers pick up the Readings Residency Award, with Jamie Marina Lau announced as winner for her first book, Pink Mountain on Locust Island.


Plentiful Poetry

Dorothy Porter (1956–2008)The Australian poet Dorothy Porter (1956–2008)

Several contributors to our Books of the Year feature remark on the large number of estimable poetry collections published in 2018. Elsewhere, we review four of them, including David Malouf’s An Open Book (UQP) and Les Murray’s Collected Poems (Black Inc.), both of which are nominated by several critics.

Our special feature also carries a tribute to Dorothy Porter, fondly remembered by her countless readers and by this magazine (she wrote for us from 1992 to 2008). Dorothy died on 10 December 2008, aged only fifty-four. In the following issue, Advances remarked that she was a kind of diva of Australian poetry. Dot’s divadom is secure: she’s still read, and circulating, and missed.

We’re delighted to publish a brief memoir of Dorothy Porter by her long-time partner, Andrea Goldsmith.


Alexis Wright to speak on censorship and storytelling

Alexis Wright (photo by Giramondo Publishing)Alexis Wright (photo by Giramondo Publishing)

Acclaimed author Alexis Wright will present the 2018 Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture at State Library Victoria. Wright is a previous winner of both the Stella Award (Tracker, 2018) and the Miles Franklin Award (Carpentaria, 2007). Her lecture, titled ‘Censorship and Telling the Untold Stories’, will examine society’s changing attitude to storytelling amid heightened sensitivity and censorship. ‘Are we already controlled to the point that we do not even recognise how we are being censored from speaking out, or telling the truth, because we know the consequences of creating waves?’ Ms Wright has written. ‘I wonder what would become of humankind if we no longer told the stories of who we are.”

The Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture will be held at 6 pm on Monday, December 3 in the Village Roadshow Theatrette at State Library Victoria. It is a free event but bookings are essential. To book, click here.


Office closure

We’re all taking a short break after this busy and transformative year. The office will close from December 24 to 28, reopening on Monday, December 31.

Thanks, meanwhile, to our subscribers, readers, partners, board members, editorial advisers, and volunteers. It’s been another remarkable year for private donations: we are most grateful to all our Patrons. Without your continuing support the magazine would, of necessity, be a smaller and less ambitious entity. Particular thanks to the 300 or so critics and writers who have published with us this year – 93 of them wholly new to the magazine.

Finally, my personal thanks to Amy Baillieu, Grace Chang, Christopher Menz, and Jack Callil – the tiny cohort that keeps this magazine humming. Ed.


Film tickets

Cold WarThis month, thanks to Palace Films, ten new or renewing ABR subscribers will win a double pass to Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, winner of the Best Director prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.To be in the running please email Grace Chang at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

From the New Issue

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