Beejay Silcox began writing for ABR in September 2016 after infiltrating a Trump rally in rural Virginia. In 2018, she was ABR’s Fortieth Birthday Fellow. Her literary criticism and cultural commentary appears in national and international review publications.... (read more)
I enjoy critics who read beyond the content of the book to discuss what they think the book or author is trying to achieve. Even better if they discover that the book does something the author wasn’t expecting or didn’t deliberately plan.... (read more)
Very rarely, a poem comes almost complete. Even then I’ll tinker. That could mean as many as twenty drafts. A typical poem will take fifty to seventy before it rings clear, without a false note, or a word that trips the tongue. Some drafts are minimal – one or two words. I save them all as Word documents and number them sequentially. That way, I can always go back to an earlier draft if I take a wrong turn.... (read more)
I adore No Such Thing as a Fish, which is practically narcotic for those of a curious disposition. I love Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin. Bear Brook was utterly compelling and superbly structured. Closer to home, I love Rachael Brown’s Trace series. She’s set the benchmark for Australian investigative podcasts.... (read more)
The use of the word ‘learnings’ should be an offence punishable by death. On the other hand, fine old Australian words like ‘lair’, ‘cove’, and ‘skite’ are long overdue for a comeback. ‘Crapulous’, a wonderful synonym for hungover, is pretty good too.... (read more)
Catherine Kenneally: The first thing that strikes me is that there are now two books in a row with Christian symbols on the cover.
Peter Goldsworthy: Yes, well I didn’t have much say in the cover of that one. They showed it to me. Interestingly there was the novel, Honk if You Are Jesus and then a novella called Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam – probably more interesting to me because that’s my own work. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe that’s the mythical 1960s generation getting into middle age and starting to worry about death and the afterlife and all that stuff.
I’ve always been fascinated by those almost banal adolescent questions, why is there something rather than nothing. I’ve never fully outgrown them, and maybe you shouldn’t outgrow them. It is the basic question, why are we here?, and all those whys that continue to fascinate me.... (read more)
Award-winning Western Australian poet Philip Salem is both surprised and delighted by the response to his first novel, Playback. Simon Patton spoke to him recently during a brief visit to Melbourne.... (read more)
Helen Daniel: I find The Sitters very different from The Ancestor Game, which seems to me much more elaborate and complex. This new novel, which is about absence and silence, is an occasion of great economy and restraint.
Alex Miller: I think a couple of times in the book I actually say the story is my secret. In other words, I’m not going to tell you the story, I’m going to leave that out. Having left the story out, this is what’s left, which is always a kind of aim with me, and I think with any writer probably, to try to do as much as possible with as little. To leave it all out.... (read more)
I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to a number of older poets, many of whom are no longer with us. I count myself fortunate to have met poets such as Carl Rakosi, Gael Turnbull, Ed Dorn, Jonathan Williams, Lee Harwood, and Tom Raworth. If I could use a time machine, I’d like to talk to William Carlos Williams, especially about the radical work he produced in the 1920s.... (read more)