News from ABR

July 2022, no. 444

News from ABR

July 2022, no. 444

Boyd Turns Ten

ABR was one of the original tenants when the Boyd Community Hub opened to much fanfare in 2012. From lion dancing to African drums to an adult-size Elmo, it was an occasion to remember as the magazine started a new chapter south of the Yarra. After the official opening, attendees filed up the staircase to our office, where they were treated to further festivities: a welcome from Editor Peter Rose and readings by ABR notables, including Lisa Gorton, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, and Rodney Hall. Over the years, such festivities have become a familiar sight at Boyd, with events ranging from ABR prize ceremonies to Shakespeare Sonnetathons to a memorable conversation between Gerald Murnane and Andy Griffiths downstairs in the Southbank Library.

Rather fittingly, ABR is located in Studio 2, which was the sewing classroom in the old J.H. Boyd Girls High School (1930–85). We remain most grateful to the City of Melbourne’s Creative Spaces program for accommodating us at this wonderful community hub.

Since 2012, Boyd has flourished, offering a range of educative, cultural, and health services and initiatives. In addition to serving as the magazine’s headquarters, it is home to Southbank Library, Creative Spaces-affiliated artistic endeavours, and child health and parental support services for Southbank’s burgeoning and diverse community. Nestled amid ever-spreading high-rise developments and the intricate tracery of the city’s arterial roads, Boyd remains a sanctuary for those living in the vicinity and a friendly waypoint for ABR’s contributors over the years.

On 7 July, Boyd will celebrate its tenth birthday. ABR will open its doors to the public from 4 until 6 pm – with plenty of giveaways and the odd impromptu reading. We encourage subscribers, readers, and those simply curious about ABR to come and peer behind the curtain of one of Australia’s leading cultural magazines. Boyd may have been a school in the past, but we promise no pedagogy (on this occasion at least) – only celebration!


Peter Porter Poetry Prize

ABR first offered a poetry prize in 2005, with total prize money of $3,000. Stephen Edgar was the inaugural winner, with ‘Man on the Moon’. Also shortlisted were Kevin Gillam, Jennifer Harrison, Sandra Hill, Maria Takolander, and Mark Tredinnick.

The prize was renamed the Peter Porter Poetry Prize in 2011, one year after the death of Peter Porter, several of whose poems appeared in the magazine. In 2014, the competition became international – open to all poets writing in English.

We’re delighted to be able to offer the prize for the nineteenth time, with total prize money of $10,000 (of which the winner receives $6,000). Entries will open on 11 July, with a closing date of 3 October.

The judges on this occasion are Sarah Holland-Batt (Chair of ABR, author of the new collection The Jaguar, and winner of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry), Des Cowley (Principal Librarian, History of the Book and Arts at the State Library of Victoria and publisher of the Red Letter series of chapbooks), and James Jiang (Assistant Editor of ABR and poetry critic).

The Porter Prize is made possible in this lucrative form because of the generosity of senior Patron Morag Fraser AM (past Chair of ABR and Peter Porter’s biographer), with additional support from poet Andrew Taylor AM. We are most grateful to both of them.


Brian Matthews (1936–2022)

Brian Matthews, closely associated with its founding editor, John McLaren, began writing for ABR in 1981, three years after its revival. He went on writing for the magazine for forty years – a total of fifty-four reviews and articles, all of them beautifully crafted and quite distinctive in tone and range. His was a notable contribution to the second series, as frequent users of our digital archive will attest.

Brian’s literary journalism – also represented in Eureka Street and The Weekend Australian – was but one of his myriad contributions to Australian letters. Across his duties as a teacher, scholar, biographer, literary historian, memoirist, department head, and Chair of the Literature Board, his influence was potent and his circle of friends and admirers extensive.

Brian’s son David Matthews – Professor of Medieval and Medievalism Studies at the University of Manchester, and himself an ABR contributor since 1986 – writes about his father and his work in this July issue.


Ray Lawler – 101 not out 

Over the years, Advances has often lamented the paucity of unaffiliated writers who have received national honours, so we were pleased when Ray Lawler – author of the country’s most famous play, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (which had its première in 1955) – received an AO in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. About time too! Mr Lawler, who received an OBE back in 1980, turned 101 in May.

Another true man of the theatre, and a bastion of this magazine in countless ways, was also rightly honoured. Ian Dickson – author of about fifty ABR reviews since 2013 (most of them theatre reviews) – received an AM for services to philanthropy. ABR is just one of the arts organisations that has benefited from Ian’s generosity. The ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize exists in its present form because of Ian Dickson AM.


Tours galore 

Lockdowns being a thing of the past, we’re delighted to be able to offer our first overseas tour since 2018. Peter Rose and Christopher Menz will lead a party of twenty guests to four destinations in England: Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Bath, and London. This fifteen-day tour will take in museums, libraries, galleries, theatres and music – and restaurants of course. The dates are 25 May to 8 June 2023. Join us for a series of events, insights, guided tours, and ABR’s unique brand of conviviality.

Once again we’re working with our commercial partner, Academy Travel. Those interested in joining the tour or finding out more about the itinerary should consult the Academy Travel website.

From the New Issue

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