Book Talk

Australia’s first and largest open-access press, ANU Press, has hit the massive milestone of publishing one thousand titles. Reaching this benchmark in just under twenty years is a big goal for such a small press.

The original Australian National University Press was founded in the 1960s, with a traditional publishing model focused on book sales. It published important academic research for more than three decades before it was wound up in the early 1990s.

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Newcastle Writers Festival was the first Australian literary festival to cancel due to Covid on March 13, 2020, and the first to transition to an online program three weeks later. It was thus strangely fitting that I appeared at the launch of the festival’s 2022 program via Zoom for the first time. As a household contact – one of the kids contracted Covid – I couldn’t be at Newcastle City Hall in person to speak about the line-up of 110 writers appearing in our first in-person program since 2019. Three years without a festival. It still shocks me.

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Life Before Man (LBM), the poetry imprint of Gazebo Books, was founded by artist and publisher Phil Day in 2020. To date, seven books have been published, including works by Subhash Jaireth, Cassandra Atherton, Anthony Lawrence, Gary Catalano, and Alex Selenitsch. Forthcoming is a substantial international anthology of prose poetry, titled Alcatraz.

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In 2016, journalist Nedim Türfent reported on police brutality in Turkey. He subsequently received death threats and was put on trial by the Erdogan government on trumped-up charges. Despite witnesses at his trial confessing that they were tortured into giving false testimony, Türfent was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for supposedly ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’. As part of this sentence, he has spent almost two years in solitary confinement, in harrowing conditions.

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Supporting writers

by Della Rowley, Lynn Buchanan, and Irene Tomaszewski
Book Talk

Our aim in creating the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was to honour Hazel Rowley, who died unexpectedly in March 2011, and to support the writing of high-quality biography. Hazel was a world-class biographer who wrote four critically acclaimed books: about Christina Stead, Richard Wright, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. Her subjects were all courageous people who were willing to take risks to live their lives authentically and meaningfully. These were qualities Hazel shared.

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In November, Melbourne University Publishing will release the two-hundredth title in the second numbered series of its Miegunyah Press imprint. This is Doing Feminism: Women’s art and feminist criticism in Australia, compiled and edited by Anne Marsh, art historian and Professorial Research Fellow at the Victorian College of the Arts.

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Many readers will recall reports of the fire in April 2021 that damaged the University of Cape Town’s library, which, among other riches, housed invaluable collections of unique manuscripts and personal papers, and one of the most extensive African film collections in the world. The extent of the damage is still being assessed. Even worse, the fire that destroyed the National Museum of Brazil in July 2018 consumed twenty million objects, including unique documents, the oldest human remains ever found in Brazil, and audio recordings and documents of extinct indigenous languages.

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When I became editor-in-chief of Melbourne Poets Union Inc (MPU) in January 2019, there was an opportunity to take its publishing program in new and exciting directions. MPU, a Melbourne-based arts organisation whose raison d’être ever since its inception in 1977 has been poetry, had published anthologies and chapbooks. The Union Poets Series of chapbooks was a staple of its annual publishing program. It was an evolving situation as I rethought its chapbooks and other possibilities. Any change could not be cosmetic. As I completed work on MPU’s 2019 Union Poets Series, I envisaged other possibilities, more ambitious and ecumenical. The chapbooks needed a new, elegant look and to reflect the interests, preoccupations, and diversity of contemporary poets.

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In her acceptance speech for the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize, writer Arundhati Roy suggested that ‘there’s really no such thing as the “voiceless”’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.’ Framed around the topic of justice, Roy’s lecture invited listeners to think about the mechanisms of power that stifle voices of dissent, those that push against political systems designed to erode fundamental human rights. Roy’s statement resonates because it implies that there is an element of choice in how we respond to cases of oppression. It is a choice not just for authorities but for communities and individuals alike.

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Diversity and Australian Literary Studies

by Australian Literary Studies
Book Talk

ALS is pleased to announce a new Book Reviews Program for emerging and early-career scholars. Reviews will centre on scholarly and non-fiction books about Australian literary cultures and/or by Australian literary studies scholars. The program will include mentoring in academic publishing from our editorial team and payment of $200 (for unwaged, precariously employed, or postgraduate colleagues).

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