Essays and Commentary

'Sound Bridges: A Profile of Gurrumul' by Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
In April 2011 the Australian edition of Rolling Stone featured a cover photo of Yolngu multi-instrumentalist and singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu ... ... (read more)

There is no recommended apprenticeship for writers. Nor are there any prescribed personal or professional qualifications. Hermits, obsessives, insurance clerks, customs officers, women who embroider, men who write letters, public servants, soldiers, drunks, provincial doctors and gulag inmates have all become great writers. How? A mystery. But avidity – about the ...

Luke Slattery reviews 'Being There' by David Malouf

Luke Slattery
Monday, 27 April 2015

In ‘Birthday Poem at Thirty’, a young David Malouf considers his place in the scheme of things as dawn breaks over an unnamed and unlovely ‘northern town’. The poet, who seems dislodged from home, regards himself with a dry eye – ‘no visible scars / no medals’ – and wonders where he will go from here, and how far. ‘Far indeed’, is the answer life ...

2015 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Staying with the trouble'

Sophie Cunningham
Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Percy Grainger walked to avoid self-flagellation. David Sedaris walked to placate his Fitbit. Virginia Woolf walked the streets of London, and later the South Downs, endlessly: because she loved it, because she was walking her dogs, because she needed to think clearly. For Henry Thoreau, every walk was a sort of ‘crusade’ ...

... (read more)

'The Golden Age of Television?' by James McNamara

James McNamara
Tuesday, 24 March 2015

In 2013, US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich asked Australians to stop pirating Game of Thrones. A single episode of HBO’s gritty fantasy drama had been illegally downloaded over four million times, equalling the legitimate viewership of the program. ‘As the Ambassador here in Australia,’ Mr Bleich wrote, ‘it was especially troubling to find out that Austral ...

It’s Raining in Mango: Pictures from the Family Album was first published in 1987, on the eve of the bicentenary of white settlement in Australia, when many versions of the story of Australia were advanced and debated. Thea Astley’s book presents a family, the Laffeys, as a microcosm of the national story. It is a novel made up of stories told by Connie ...

‘Everyone I talk to remembers Tirra Lirra by the River as a wonderful book, sometimes even as a life-changing one. But why don’t we hear anything about it today?’ This was a young journalist who ... ... (read more)

In 1978, Australia’s two most coveted national literary prizes of the time were both won by women: Helen Garner’s first novel Monkey Grip (1977) won the National Book Council Award for fiction, and the Miles Franklin Literary Award was won by Tirra Lirra by the River (1978), Jessica Anderson’s fourth novel. Both of these books have since become c ...

2008 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'A Storm and a Teacup'

Mark Tredinnick
Thursday, 08 January 2015

During a lull in the fiercest weather event the south-east of the continent has seen in thirty years – we call them ‘events’ these days, as though someone’s putting them on – I went out on a Sunday morning and bought myself a book.

I should tell you that we live on an acre in the country one hundred and t ...

Missing from my own life

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Thursday, 08 January 2015

About ten years ago I was interviewed on Irish radio on a matter entirely unconnected with writing. The first question the interviewer asked me was, ‘Is that yourself, Elisabeth?’ This ungrammatical question struck me as both hilarious and pertinent. I don’t remember much about the interview except that leading question.

‘Is that yourself?’ In 1959 ...