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News from ABR

June 2021, no. 432

News from ABR

June 2021, no. 432

Bustin’ out all over

Voila! At last we have an extra issue, something we’ve wanted to effect for several years. No longer will readers have to endure winter with a June–July double issue of the magazine. A discrete July issue will follow.

We hope you enjoy the extra issue. It’s slightly different in composition from other ones, with more creative writing, several commentaries, and longer review essays, such as Declan Fry’s questioning reading of two new books by Stan Grant, and Lisa Gorton’s brilliant study of the new translation of Beowulf.

Hessom Razavi – the ABR Behrouz Boochani Fellow – continues his series of essays about Australia’s binary myth about people seeking asylum. In this chapter, Dr Razavi draws on conversations with a dozen journalists, lawyers, psychologists, people working with refugees, and Behrouz Boochani himself, now settled in New Zealand after his own long incarceration on Manus Island.

Ilana Snyder – long-time contributor to and board member of ABR – writes about the recent infernal imbroglio in Gaza (stilled, if only temporarily, as we go to press). Ilana is head of the New Israel Fund Australia.

Martin Thomas – past winner of the Calibre Essay Prize, currently based at King’s College London, where he co-directs the Menzies Australia Institute – revisits Patrick White thirty-one years after his death and asks why White – the only Australian to win the Nobel Prize for literature (J.M. Coetzee moved to Australia after winning his) – is now so little read or heeded. Professor Thomas concludes that White’s supranational outlook and his reluctance to define himself as ‘Australian’ are among the reasons why he has receded from view. He suspects that White, surveying us from ‘some gumtree in the sky’, would be ‘bathing in the lack of glory’ – perverse and utterly individual to the last.

This extra issue is only possible in this form – and without a hike in the subscription cost – because of the generous support of Matthew Sandblom and Wendy Beckett’s Blake Beckett Fund. We thank them warmly.

We hope you enjoy the June issue.


Their stinking crew

Gregory Kratzmann, who has died aged seventy-four after a brief illness, was a frequent contributor to the magazine from 2006 to 2012 (he wrote for us eighteen times). Almost thirty years ago, our Editor commissioned Kratzmann – a medievalist who taught English at La Trobe University – to write the biography of Gwen Harwood, who was to die a couple of years later, in 1995. Gwen loved the idea, and the two became great friends and confidants. Unfortunately, the OUP biography never eventuated. Kratzmann, despite his subject’s enthusiasm, ran into obstacles of a kind familiar to many modern biographers. Kratzmann went on to co-edit (with Alison Hoddinott) Harwood’s Collected Poems 1943–1995 (2003). He also edited A Steady Stream of Correspondence: Selected letters of Gwen Harwood 1943–1955 (2001), surely among the most brilliant letters ever penned in this country.

Happily for us, a biography is now in sight. Ann-Marie Priest is the author, and Black Inc. will publish it next year. In this issue, Priest writes about Gwen Harwood’s succession of brilliant hoaxes, raids on literary targets, and noms de plume. Most famous or notorious of the former was L’Affaire Bulletin (as Harwood dubbed it), when Harwood – frustrated by editorial favouritism and condescension to female poets from Hobart – published two poems in the Bulletin under the guise of ‘Walter Lehmann’. Only later did Donald Horne, ‘hapless’ editor of the Bulletin, realise that the poems were acrostics: they read ‘So long Bulletin’ and ‘Fuck all editors’.

Horne was, shall we say, unimpressed, but Gwen Harwood never resiled. Fifteen years later she wrote Tony Riddell: ‘Fuck all the judges and editors too, fuck all the critics and their stinking crew’. 


Prizes galore

When the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize closed in early May, we had received 1,428 entries – the same number we received in 2020. Encouragingly, more than 500 of these came from overseas – from thirty-six countries in all. International interest in our three prizes, and by extension the magazine itself, is growing all the time, with major benefits for our contributors, for authors and publishers featured in the magazine – and for ABR.

Judging is now underway, and we look forward to publishing the three shortlisted short stories in our August issue.

The Calibre Essay Prize has taken longer than expected because of an illness in the Editor’s family, which has greatly restricted the time available for extracurricular tasks. The judging is being finalised now. We will publish the winning essay in the July issue. We’re grateful to entrants for their forbearance.

Meanwhile the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, the oldest of our prizes, will open in mid-July. It’s the eighteenth time we have presented a poetry prize, which now honours the memory of another magnificent Australian poet.


Melbourne Prize for Literature

Entries are open for the triennial 2021 Melbourne Prize for Literature. This time, the categories have changed. Victorian writers can now enter their work for the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Literature, the $15,000 Writers Prize, and the new $20,000 Professional Development Award. Entries close on 19 July, and the finalists will be announced in September, followed by the winners in November. See www.melbourneprize.org for more information.