Released every Wednesday, the ABR podcast features our finest reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary.
Yves Rees on Sound Citizens by Catherine Fisher
In the pre-television era of the early twentieth century, radio reigned supreme. It offered news and light entertainment, but also a means of communion and solidarity for the many women confined to the domestic sphere. In her new book Sound Citizens, historian Dr Catherine Fisher explores how a cohort of professional women broadcasters, activists, and politicians began utilising radio to improve the status and rights of women in Australia. In today’s episode, we hear from writer and historian Dr Yves Rees, who reviewed the book for ABR’s recent September issue. Rees is a David Myers Research Fellow in History at La Trobe University and co-host of the history podcast Archive Fever. Yves has published widely across Australian gender, transnational and economic history, and also writes on transgender identity and politics.
Is it possible to parse Australian writers by states and territories? In today's episode, Tony Hughes-d'Aeth – Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Western Australia – speculates about new ways of contemplating Australian writers through the lens of regionalism. As he writes in his upcoming essay 'Thinking in a regional accent: New ways of contemplating Australian writers': 'Yes, we are divided into states and territories, but are these anything other than lines on a map, drawn with a ruler and a set square, and the occasional river? The contrast between the political map of Australia and the now iconic AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia graphically exposes the poverty of the Australian regional imagination and the essential irreality of our territorial demarcations. More particularly, for someone like me, is it right to conceive of Australia in terms of literary regions?'... (read more)
Whatever we might think of him, Donald Trump has proven to be one of the most transformative figures in recent history. In today's episode, Timothy J. Lynch talks to ABR Editor Peter Rose about three new and highly critical books on Trump: Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump, A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, and The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton. As Lynch writes in his review, 'There is a paradox that these books illustrate but cannot resolve: why is a man so chaotic, so reviled, so malignant also so transformational?’... (read more)
In this week’s ABR Podcast, Peter Rose speaks to Michael L. Ondaatje (Professor of History at the Australian Catholic University) about black American voters’ attitudes towards Donald Trump and the Republican Party. They also discuss recent startling developments in an already tumultuous presidential election.
Michael L. Ondaatje’s article ‘Black and Republican in the age of Trump’ is one of a series of commentaries funded by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. It appears in the October issue.... (read more)
In today's episode, Johanna Leggatt speaks to ABR Editor Peter Rose about growing disquiet about ‘cancel culture’, censorious voices on social media, and Twitter's threat to writers and journalists. Beginning with the recent case of Rachel Baxendale, a journalist at The Australian, who was subjected to much invective because of her persistent questions about the quarantine fiasco in Victoria, Leggatt laments the ‘routine trashing of reputations on Twitter’ and wonders why Twitter has ‘devolved into a channel for our most juvenile emotions’.... (read more)
In today's episode, Jack Callil speaks to ABR Patron's Fellow Felicity Plunkett about Ali Smith's Seasonal Quartet and her final instalment, Summer. As Plunkett writes in her October issue review, 'Smith's quartet is a work of splitting and mending, repair instead of despair.'... (read more)
In today's episode, C.J. Garrow reads his short story 'Egg Timer', which placed second in this year's ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Mykaela Saunders was placed first for 'River Story', which you can also listen to here. CJ Garrow has been shortlisted for other international prizes, including the Fish Prize in Ireland and the George Garrett Fiction Prize in the United States. 'Egg Timer', his first piece of published fiction, explores pandemical times through the eyes of a child.... (read more)
In today's episode, author and critic James Bradley speaks to ABR's digital editor Jack Callil about David Mitchell's latest novel Utopia Avenue. Mitchell is perhaps best known for his 2004 work Cloud Atlas, a work of sprawling interconnected narratives. In a similar vein, Utopia Avenue traces the intricate lives of four band members during their ascent to fame during the bustle of the 1960s. Yet as James Bradley details, the book is less concerned with history or music then with its own 'metaphysical game'.... (read more)
The Calibre Essay Prize, now in its fourteenth year, goes on producing some of the finest longform essays from around the world. This year we received about 600 entries from 29 different countries. The overall prize went to Yves Rees for their essay 'Reading the Mess Backwards', which Yves reads in a recent podcast episode.
Placed second was 'The Dolorimeter' by Sydney-based poet and academic Kate Middleton. Kate's essay, which appears in the September issue of ABR, is a personal meditation on her experience with illness and dealing with the medical profession over many years.... (read more)
We continue our poetry podcasts with the first in a series of readings by poets living in a particular state. It complements in a way ABR’s old States of Poetry anthologies (all still available online).
This time we’re inviting a number of poets to record a poem of theirs that is set outside their home state (whether interstate or overseas – or indeed in space, as you will hear). The poems can be published or unpublished ones. We list all the readers and poems on our website. Given the present lockdown in that state, we’re starting in Victoria. After all, if we can't leave home, we might as well do so imaginatively.... (read more)
Language has always been shaped by the times. In today's episode, Amanda Laugesen, Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, reveals how the national vocabulary has been transformed by recession, depression, financial crises, and periods of high unemployment. A list to which we sombrely might add the current pandemic.... (read more)