Released every Wednesday, the ABR podcast features our finest reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary.
As read by Anita Punton
ABR’s Calibre Essay Prize is one of the world’s leading prizes for an original essay. This year, we received a record field of 638 essays. Today we hear from Anita Punton, who was placed a close second for her essay ‘May Day’, a poignant memoir about piecing together her father’s life after his death. Our judges – Sheila Fitzpatrick, Billy Griffiths, and Peter Rose – described Punton’s essay as ‘a rich and moving evocation of a relationship between father and daughter’, one ‘written with humour and flair, offering a complex portrait of Punton’s father: a brilliant, narcissistic man, whose life was full of contradictions.’
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.... (read more)
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.... (read more)
In his first article for ABR, 'Notes on a Pandemic', Behrouz Boochani Fellow Hessom Razavi offers a powerful reflection on the current Covid-19 crisis. Dr Razavi, an ophthalmologist, reflects on his own clinical experiences and interviews with senior medicos (including Dr Nick Coatsworth, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer) to provide a nuanced and compelling portrait of our changing lives. He examines the ways in which society has responded to the pandemic and questions what kind of world his daughter (due shortly) will be born into.... (read more)
All literature, but poetry in particular for some of us, becomes more important during the pandemic. Last month, we invited a group of poets and critics to read favourite poems of theirs, from any country or century. We know how much you enjoyed it; the response has been fantastic. So we've invited fifteen more poets and poetry lovers to read a poem that resonates for them and that might speak to others as we hunker down and live more privately.... (read more)
During the Covid-19 crisis, many of us are surfeiting on television drama from Netflix, Stan, and the rest of them. Back in 2015, we published James McNamara's Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship essay 'The Golden Age of Television?', which considers the ascendancy of television drama and its cultural significance. Listen to James reading his essay, which appear in ABR's film and television issue in April 2015.... (read more)
Peter Rose – before introducing this week’s ABR Podcast guest – updates readers on ABR’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Australia Council’s inexplicable decision not to fund ABR in 2021–24. Then Robyn Archer – renowned performer and ABR Laureate – currently hunkering down in Melbourne, reflects on how people are surviving and what Australia might look like when it emerges from this crisis.... (read more)
The extraordinary life of Truganini, an Aboriginal woman known as the 'last Tasmanian', is explored in this turbulent history by Cassandra Pybus. An inspiring and haunting story, Truganini’s life spanned psychological and cultural shifts nearly beyond comprehension. In this episode of The ABR Podcast, Billy Griffiths, author of the award-winning Deep Time Dreaming, reviews Truganini, Pybus's history of a woman reclaimed by the Tasmanian Indigenous community as a symbol of 'rights, identity, ownership, and survival'.... (read more)
The imminent closure of Australian Associated Press, or AAP, has sounded alarm bells for many citizens and journalists already worried about the lack of media diversity in Australia. AAP has long played a fundamental role in investigative journalism, which we need more than ever in an age of government intrusion, evasion, and over-reach. Johanna Leggatt, a journalist who has worked for Fairfax, News Corp, and AAP, writes about this troubling threat to journalism.... (read more)
In 1975 the governor general, John Kerr, removed a democratically elected Labor government, amid great intrigue and subterfuge. The dismissal of the Whitlam government remains one of the blights on our democracy – perhaps the most controversial event in Australian political history. And yet the full record of what happened in the weeksand months leading up to the dismissal is still unavailable to Australian citizens because of the intransigence of Queen Elizabeth and the expensive lengths to which the National Archives of Australia have gone to suppress access to John Kerr’s correspondence with Buckingham Palace.... (read more)
At this ominous time, as we all hunker down, hoping for a cure, perhaps only poetry offers true insight and consolation, if we lean on it, as we’ve always done in past crises. In this episode, 18 fine poets and close associates of ABR – such as John Coetzee, Robyn Archer, and Sarah Holland-Batt – read some favourite poems, works that seem to resonate in these anxious times. (All the poems are listed on the episode page).... (read more)