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)
Writers are like cat burglars trying to crack a safe, twisting the dial first this way and then that, waiting to hear the click. When they’ve busted the safe, they can’t remember the combination they happened upon.... (read more)
I appreciate critics who enter into a conversation with a book and who draw upon curiosity, wonder, and deep thinking to judge. Maria Tumarkin writes magnificently about writers and books.... (read more)
I’m always little uneasy about the edge of élitism underlying the policing of language, but I have to confess to a loathing for psychological banalities like ‘closure’ and ‘unconditional love’, most of which are actually worse than meaningless.... (read more)
When I was younger and could tolerate copious amounts of alcohol, I really enjoyed writers’ festivals, especially in Canada, where they are often in stupendous landscapes. I made some lifelong friendships with marvellous writers and enjoyed memorable late-night conversations in the lobbies and bars of swish hotels.... (read more)
In the first review of my poetry, I discovered that my writing was ‘headache-inducing’ and ‘best avoided’. I was pleased that my book had at least caused a headache for that sinister reviewer! Over the years, though, even hysterically negative reviews – and, boy, do I attract them! – don’t excite or bother me too much. The best thing I’ve got from a review is knowing that there are readers who pay attention to a book’s composition, to the labour that I’ve put into producing the thing.... (read more)
The idea that reviewing books, concerts, theatre, and the visual arts was part of the function of a journal of record has practically gone. Now if you’re reviewed at all, you’re lucky to get a paragraph. The flip side is the blogger, with no constraints on length, who writes thousands of ill-disciplined words. Obviously, magazines such as ABR have taken up some of the slack, but there’s only so much they can do. When it comes to charting and evaluating daily arts practice, our newspapers have abnegated their duty.... (read more)