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Lisa Gorton

The ABR Podcast 

Released every Thursday, the ABR podcast features our finest reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary.

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Gregory Day

Episode #183

'The Neighbour's Beans'

By Gregory Day


In this week’s ABR podcast we feature one of the winners of the 2011 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Gregory Day’s ‘The Neighbour’s Beans’ was joint winner of the prize that year with Carrie Tiffany’s ‘Before He Left the Family’. Gregory Day commented at the time that ‘the short story form encourages an intense display of the writer’s craft whilst being a potent vehicle for the compression of emotion’. Gregory Day is a novelist, poet, and composer from the Eastern Otways region of southwest Victoria. Listen to Gregory Day’s ‘The Neighbour’s Beans’, published in the October 2011 issue of ABR.

Recent episodes:

Mirabilia is the plural form of the Latin mirabile: wonderful thing, marvel. Since the publication of her first book, Press Release, in 2007, Lisa Gorton has cultivated such a voice in Australian poetry. Mordant political wit, formal and thematic bricolage, a liquid control of the line, and the ability to trace patterns across the strata of history and society – to rove between time and the timeless – have long characterised Gorton’s oeuvre. She showcases the full complement of her gifts in this wondrous and disquieting new collection.

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A new prize for Miles Franklin

Miles Franklin turns fifty this year. Well, 128, to be strictly biographical. Three years after the death of Miles Franklin (1879–1954), the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award was inaugurated. This year, the judges have rather more money to present ($42,000) than they did in 1957, when Patrick White’s Voss won the Award.

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‘I would like to write about dominance, revulsion, separation, the horrible struggles between people who love each other,’ wrote Helen Garner, foreshadowing How to End a Story, the final instalment of her published diaries, following Yellow Notebook (2019) and One Day I’ll Remember This (2020). While the first two volumes spanned eight years apiece, How to End a Story spans only three. Starting in 1995, shortly after shortly after the release of Garner’s The First Stone, it details the dissolution of her marriage to another writer, V. As Lisa Gorton notes, this volume differs from its precursors both in tone and focus: ‘This one is as compelling as a detective story. This one is edited with the sense of an ending.’

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The first two volumes of Helen Garner’s diaries – Yellow Notebook (2019) and One Day I’ll Remember This (2020) – cover eight years apiece. This one covers three. It is an intense, even claustrophobic story of the breakup of a marriage – a story told in the incidental, fragmentary form of a diary.

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Only one manuscript of Beowulf has survived. It was in Sir Robert Cotton’s library. Cotton had been a student of that careful genius William Camden, who, through a lifetime’s work, formulated a different view of history: not the record of victory but the recollection of lost worlds and times. He and his fellow Antiquarians searched out fragments and ruins: Roman urns in the fields, Saxon burials under St Paul’s, a giant’s thigh-bone under a London cellar. They collected ancient manuscripts.

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Lexicographers, not just newspapers and television, respond to disasters. Language is never fixed, never finished, never done. In recent months, language has been shaped by the coronavirus. In this episode, Amanda Laugesen, director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at ANU and editor of The Australian National Dictionary, discusses coronaspeak, the language of lockdown. 

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Lisa Gorton began publishing in ABR in 2003. Since then she's given us several dozen review essays and poems. Lisa has published three poetry collections, most recently the acclaimed Empirical, a Giramondo publication. Her novel, The Life of Houses, shared the 2016 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction. 

This month we published Lisa's long poem 'On the Characterisation of Male Poets' Mothers'. As Lisa explains, the poem almost entirely comprises a medley of quotes that describe famous poets' mothers – sourced all from Wikipedia.

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Charles Baudelaire’s mother—
                       orphaned at seven—living
                       on the charity of friends—
                       at twenty-six married
                       an ex-priest, widower—     
After her husband died she married again
                       and was happy—

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John CoetzeeJ.M. Coetzee was born in South Africa and educated in South Africa and the United States. ...

It is strangely moving to learn how a reader thinks about something I’ve written. Mostly, I’ve been lucky to have reviewers who crystallise, for me, some pattern in my thinking or inchoate hope for the work. It helps me to start something new. I learn as much, perhaps, from reviews of other people’s work – other approaches, a sense of connection.

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