The ABR Podcast

The ABR Podcast 

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

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Peter Porter

Episode #90

Samuel Watts on the unnaming of Moreland City Council

More history, not less

‍Melbourne’s Moreland City Council recently agreed to adopt a new name, after petitioning by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung community leaders and prominent local non-Indigenous representatives. The petitioners argued that the name ‘Moreland’, adopted in 1839 by Scottish settler Farquhar McCrae, derived from a Jamaican slave plantation. Renaming the council was an opportunity to bring about greater awareness of both the global legacies of enslavement and the history of Indigenous dispossession. In this week’s episode, Samuel Watts reflects on the politics of memorialisation and its impact on public conceptions of history.


Samuel Watts is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the experiences of African Americans in the Deep South during Reconstruction. His piece on the storming of the US Capitol was featured on ABR Podcast no.49.




Recent episodes:

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.

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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'.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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In today's episode, listen to Mykaela Saunders read the entirety of her remarkable 'River Story', which won this year's ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Mykaela is a Koori writer, teacher, and community researcher. Of Dharug and Lebanese ancestry, she’s working-class and queer, and belongs to the Tweed Aboriginal community. Mykaela has worked in Aboriginal education since 2003, and her research explores trans-generational trauma and healing in her community. 

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Fire Front, edited by Gomeroi author and scholar Alison Whittaker, is an anthology of contemporary First Nations poetry. Featuring several eminent Australian writers – including Ellen van Neerven, Tony Birch, Alexis Wright, and many more – this collection serves as a testament to the contemporary renaissance of First Nations poetry. It is divided into five thematic sections, each introduced by an essay written by a prominent Aboriginal writer and thinker, such as Bruce Pascoe, Ali Cobby Eckermann, and Evelyn Araluen.

In this episode, listen to Declan Fry discuss Fire Front before reading his review of the book. 

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Andy Warhol, who died in 1987, remains one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. His works command stratospheric prices, yet some regard him as a huckster, vacuous and inflated. He perfected a kind of cynical celebrity: the denizen of Studio 54, the consort of Lee Radziwill and all. Fame for Warhol became a kind of world-weary obsession. 

In today's episode, Paul McDermott – comedian, writer, and occasional painter – examines this contradictory artist, who is the subject of a new biography written by Blake Gopnik.

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The Peter Porter Poetry Prize is one of the world's leading prizes for an unpublished poem. It's named after one of Australia's finest poets, Peter Porter: a regular contributor to ABR. Now in its seventeenth year, the Porter Prize is worth a total of $10,000. Entries are open now, with a closing date of October 1. Click here for more information.

As poets around the world hone their entries, here's an opportunity to listen to all previous winning poems of the Porter Prize, going right back to 2005. There's nothing like hearing an author read their own work, and each poem in this episode is read by the poets themselves.

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ABR has published an environment issue every year since 2014, with our next one appearing in October. This themed issue has transformed our coverage of sustainability, climate change and the environment – right throughout the year.

During this ever-worsening climate crisis, it’s good to look back at the ABR Fellowship essay that appeared in our 2015 environment issue – Ashley Hay’s ‘The Forest at the Edge of Time’. Ashley has published novels and multiple works of non-fiction. In 2002, Ashley published Gum, a book that explores the eucalypt. Here she revisits the ‘majestic or scrawny’ gum. 

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