Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Good People by Hannah Kent, podcast

The Good People is Hannah Kent’s much anticipated second novel. Set in 19th century Ireland, it is the story of maiden, mother and crone; Mary, Nora and Nance and a changeling child, Michael. It’s the story of the "disagreeable relationship between the ancient traditions and Catholicism", of a world in “secret sympathy with itself” and human attempts to have agency and our preference for the rational. It’s also a novel both dark and enjoyable with an accessible narrative with some gorgeous turns of phrase. I sat down with Hannah when she was in town for the Tasmanian launch of The Good People. You can listen to the interview here.

Here is an interview (podcast) about Burial Rites, her first novel, which tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman executed in Iceland.

The Good People, Picador, 781743534908

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bruny Island Bird Festival

Dusky Woodswallow, photo Chris Tzaros
Bird nerds, birders, birdos, twitchers and all the rest of us have another welcome reason to visit Bruny Island over the weekend 14-17 of October, with the return of the Bruny Island Bird Festival.
The inaugural festival was set up in 2010 as the brainchild of three organizations; BrunyI sland Environmental Network, Inala Nature Tours and Birdlife Tasmania but the wellspring and motivation for the festival comes from the desire to have people look at how intact habitat really is and to celebrate the amazing island and its birdlife.

Tasmania is home to 12 endemic bird species all of which sometimes find themselves at home on Bruny Island, and importantly the island is sometimes the only place the critically endangered Swift Parrot is found. Logging was finally suspended on the island primarily to further protect the habitat of this beautiful parrot.

The festival is not just for those with a passion for bird and bird life, it offers a wide range of events from a family day on Saturday, a range of tours with Discovery Rangers, and Nick Mooney will be hosting a session called Claws, Beaks and Wings, the weaponry of birds, where the rare opportunity to dissect a Wedge Tail Eagle is offered. It is important to note that this specimen, was generously donated to the festival following its accidental death by electrocution.

The festival caters for adults and children, and there will be a Bird Ball Masquerade on the Saturday evening, a Poets Breakfast at Dennes Pt, MCd by Pete Hay, with poets Sarah Day, Jane Williams, Adrienne Eberhard, Karen Knight and Liz McQuilkin, and also a nature writers’ open mike MC’d by Pete Hay. Pete Hay will also be in conversation with Michael Leunig, though this is now sold out – but you can still hear Leunig launch the festival proper – and there is also the opening of the Bird Festival Art Exhibition again, by special festival guest, you guessed it, Michael Leunig, followed by the launch of the second edition of Birdsong: A Celebration of Bruny Island Birds.

Nicole Gill, is a scientist who has not only just had an essay included in the Best Australian Science Writing 2016, but has also been shortlisted for The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for ScienceWriting. She is hosting ‘Nature Writing: From Outdoor Adventures to Articles’ where she will explore how young people can earn money writing about birds and other wild creatures. This session will show you how to craft entertaining articles and include tips on how to pitch your story ideas to magazines and other non fiction markets.

It’s hard to find an excuse not to go to Bruny Island, half an hour out of Hobart, accessible by ferry, ringed by beaches and forests, and saturated with thousands and thousands of years of history. I hope to see you there.

The article was first published in Warp magazine, October 2016.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Paige Turner October - books and writing events in Tasmania in October

It’s not often a book prize increases sales of a book, the Man Booker Prize being a rare example, but since the 1980s I have paid heed to books which have been awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards. The CBCA is a truly worthy body that pays wise attention and advocates for writing for young people and right now their Tasmanian branch is seeking new blood and energy to keep a presence on the ground. The branch not only celebrates writers, it organizes author tours, judges the CBCA awards, advises on literature for families and celebrates the importance of literacy in our state. The current committee is retiring and is recruiting. If you care about writing for young people please contact The next meeting is at 11am 22nd October at Zeps in Campbelltown. DO IT.

Reading groups have traditionally been the mainstay of middle aged, middle class women. That is not to say that there are some variations that smash that rule. One is launching in Launceston. It’s called the Tough Guy Book Club and they meet each month for a beer and a yarn. It sounds reasonable, especially in the greater context of men often lacking the ability to discuss thoughts and feelings and the affects this lack can have on their mental health. However, I wish their purview was to read a bit wider than simply ‘masculine’ books because it is essentially wiser to explore territory you don’t know, rather than bunkering down in your beliefs without seeking a broader understanding of the world. Here’s a link to a recent article that was published in The Examiner

On October 9, 
Vice Versa, new & selected poems by Arjun von Caemmerer is being launched at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music. This is poetry that uses language like plasticine. It engages the reader in the service of poetry, medicine, yoga, art, love, music, and friendship and creates a world that allows the reader to plunge into the very depths of poetry. The launch will take place at 3pm October 9th and tickets are available here 

New from Forty South, Tasmania’s biggest publisher is a children’s book not only making science fun but also celebrating auroras. It’s called 
There’s Magic in the Sky! The story of the Aurora by Shanna Rudov-Clark.

Up North at Burnie’s Not Just Books, loved Tasmanian Ruro writer (yep, try and say that out loud, it means Rural Romance), Rachael Treasure is celebrating the launch of her memoir Down the Dirt Roads. Rachael is a bloody good egg, if I can put it in rural parlance, and a rum’un to boot. She will speak at the Metro Cinema in Burnie on October27 and there will be a Q & A followed by a book signing, Bookings essential.

Tasmanian historical author and biographer, Stephen Dando-Collins will be at Petrarchs in Launceston to celebrate his new book The Hero Maker. This book explores the contradictions of one of Australia's most successful, but troubled, writers, Paul Brickhill and his extraordinary story; from youth with a debilitating stutter, to Sun journalist, to Spitfire pilot and POW, to feted author. 

Dando Collins will also be at Fullers on October 13 as part of their rich events calendar in October which also includes chef Philip Kuruvita with From the Menu, Hobart on October 6.

Hannah Kent, author of the fascinating novel that told the story of the last woman hanged in Iceland, is back with a follow up to Burial Rites and will be in conversation with my favourite effervescent Tasmanian, Posie Graeme-Evans about the long awaited The Good People (pictured). Here is a link I did with Hannah about her first book, the wonderful Burial Rites, the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman hanged in Iceland in 1829.  

I'm looking foward to chatting with Hannah later this week about her new book.

Editor and writer, Helen Hayward will be talking about her new book Homework on October 9. On October 14, Katherine Johnson will be celebrating the launch of The Better Son. 
October 19 will see a Tasmanian celebration of the excellent lit mag Going Down Swinging. The illustrious band, Heart Beach will be playing and Robbie Arnott will be reading from a piece of his in their latest issue. One not to be missed. Don’t miss, on October 25 poet Anne Kellas talking about her new collection White Room Poems. She will be in conversation with Ben Walter. 

Furious Penguins is looking for people to read their favourite Joseph Conrad passages at a special event in December. The tribute reading will be held on the Derwent bank adjacent to the scuttled remains of Conrad's ship, The Otago. Poets and writers who would like to read their own original work about or inspired by Conrad are also welcome to participate. Please see here for details.

Performance storyteller Bert Spinks will appear as roving correspondent “The Owl” throughout the Unconformity festival. He will be reporting on the story of Queenstown in poetry and prose, telling site-specific stories that blur the lines between past and the present. Blending everything from natural history to pub gossip, these performances will attempt to unravel how Queenstown came to be, from millions of years ago to now. The Unconformity will run in Queenstownfrom 14-16 October.

Got any book news, events or gossip you’d care to see in these pages?–Email me racheledwards488@gmail.comRachel Edwards

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dope Doco 2004, Tasmania

This is a file I thought I had lost years ago. It is a sound documentary* that explores marijuana consumption of a small and lovely group of people in Hobart in 2004.
Here is the hyperlink to the sound documentary**

**link to podcast

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review of Physick by Pete Hay

Review of Physick by Pete Hay

The poem ‘Sound to the World’ blazes with an intensity that runs throughout Pete Hay’s new collection of poetry, Physick.  

“I will keep a jurnal this is the ferst day.
It will parse the time I hope.
The man Devlin down the Turnip Feldes he gose down the town
he give me paper and this stubb of pencil."

The poem embodies the voice of Gentle Annie, inspired by Gentle Annie Falls at the Waterworks in Hobart. ‘She’ – or the poet -  writes, in a robust vernacular of her time from above the town ship she has fled, in her ‘jurnal’. This poem was first published in the elusive Picton Grange Review, which prints only three copies and are allowed with the reader for only 48 hours each, brainchild of the increasingly recognised Tasmanian writer Ben Walter. I nearly wept passing this one on, to lose that poem from sight – but here it is, still both dark and luminescent and in the company of a whole book of poems that demand to be both whispered and roared.

At the recent Hobart launch of Physick, author Pete Hay wondered why a small publisher in Nottingham, a recently declared UNESCO City of Literature, would publish his book as surely no one in the UK would understand a word, possibly no one from the mainland either, he ventured – and maybe only some Tasmanians. It’s true that the book is rich with throaty convict and contemporary Tasmanian vernacular, and it’s true that many of the poems capture the heart and soul of the many strata’d lives of Tasmanians past and present, and the tortured ambrosia of the island, and it is true that some of the language used, particularly in the first (of three) sections of the book is foreign to the modern ear, but this book transcends any parochialism that the subject matter may cover.  
The first section of the book, Physique is concerned with poems that tell stories of people and place. They begin with a title, and a place, including the captivating ‘Death Song for Matthew Brady; Murrary Street, Hobart 1826’ inspired by an elusive reference that the author found to a death song sung, as Brady was hung for his bush ranging crimes. ‘Fair Old Clip’ Roberts Point Ferry Terminal, Bruny Island 2008, is another. The latter, through the story of a young woman’s horrible realization of the malevolence and ignorance of her boyfriend, captures a narrative not restricted to Tasmania, one of  racism and abuse, and one of decaying relationships. It also names up our forest wars and, from where I sit in literate, middle class safety, reminds me of the educational and literacy crevasses in our community.

Physis is the second part of the book, and it includes some ekphratic poems, inspired by paintings. A highlight of this section, ‘Reading PattiAnn Rogers at Recherche Bay’ crystallises a night on a boat and is indicative of the poise and humour that is shot through the book, bought to the surface in this poem, by mozzies on the boat, “Insect pulp punctuates the bulkhead”. This humour also manifests in pun-full titles such as Goethe By Sea and The Old Mind and the Sea.

Physick is a book of poetry that sears and coaxes and it could have been written by no one apart from the scholar, poet and elder that is Pete Hay. No one else takes the temperature of this island like him and no one else uses Tasmania as such an effective prism through which to consider human nature. Physick is a book of transcendent poetry which helps us understand not only place but the vagaries and passions of the human condition. It should be prescribed reading for all of us.

Here is a recording of Pete reading 'Sound to the World' at the launch.

Physick is published by Shoestring Press, Nottingham

A version of this review was first published in Tas Weekends, 10 September, 2017.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September Paige Turner Column

Burma, or Myanmar beckons me for the month of September, I’m off to visit poets and punks and to trek some trails in Shan country, but you’re spoilt for literary choices if you find yourself on the fair isle of Tasmania this month:

The legendary Tasmanian Poetry Festival is back, in and around Launceston from late September. This year’s highlights include a masterclass with Anne Kellas (more details below), a lecture by Chris Wallace-Crabbe, readings by Island poetry editor, Sarah Holland-Batt, Dan Disney, Young Dawkins, Luke Wren-Reid, Jill Jones, Emilie Zoey Baker, Tanya Evanson and Stephanie Conn, the Launceston Poetry Cup, open mic readings in Launceston and Deloraine AND sandwiches.  (Image: Johnathan Bowden).

Anne Kellas’ latest book of poetry, The White Room has received acclaim here and abroad and she will be delivering a masterclass called ‘Outside your comfort zone’ in Launceston on 24 September.
This masterclass is a prelude to the Tasmanian Poetry Festival and is designed to encourage practising poets to go to the uncomfortable edge of their creativity. Bring along a poem in progress, if possible, an early draft. Details on the Tasmanian Writers' Centre website.

This year’s Indigenous Literacy Day (ILD) takes place on September 7th 2016.  The Indigenous Literacy Foundation aims to spread awareness about the need to improve literacy levels and increase the opportunities for Indigenous children living in Australia. To coincide with ILD 2016, The Children’s Book Council of Australia, Tasmanian branch is working with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and The Tasmanian Writers Centre’ to run two days of events at Moonah Arts Centre titled Hidden Stories.
An evening event will take place on Wednesday 7th September with the theme of “Broadening the conversation”. This will be followed by a full afternoon of events on Sunday 11th September focusing on the theme “Celebrating the stories.” Some of the most respected Aboriginal writers and speakers from Tasmania and beyond have agreed to participate in an exciting program that will include storytelling, dance, song, discussion and film.
Full program and further details here.

Pete Hay is a poet and an elder, his new collection of poetry, Physick is available at Fullers and the Hobart Bookshop and I would encourage all of you, enamoured of poetry or not, to get your hands on it and roar some of these powerful poems out loud and to whisper some of them to yourselves too. 

Kick back at Kickstart with some spoken word performance, and acoustic song, delivered by poetry collective Furious Penguins. Feature performers include Anthony Francis and Tereska with open micslots available for those who'd like to strut their stuff; sign-ups on the night. Friday, 16 Sep, 7-9pm, $10 entry includes drinks and nibbles. Kickstart Arts, St Johns Ave, New Town. 

There’s a new erotic novel, based on fact, whose author has, unsurprisingly, chosen a pseudonym. Makes sense to me, we are a small community and I have seen all your heads on Tinder -The blurb says -  A compelling chronicle of one sexy summer in Tasmania, Seven Times Three is a true story of complex relationships, delicious secrets, and salacious self-discovery.
Kindle pre-orders are available now. Print and Kindle editions will be released on September 1st and available for purchase from here and from Haus Creative in Devonport. 
Stay tuned for more details about Haus Creative in Devonport, I am loving watching from afar this space develop….

Back down south, the Moonah Arts Centre is working with the Writers’ Centre to develop a Glenorchy version of the fabulous Twitch Young Writers in the City Project. Sites for the residencies are yet to be announced but expressions of interest are now being sought from young (16-25) Tasmanian writers who are seeking a paid opportunity to develop their craft. Keep an eye on the MAC and TWC websites for more details. This offers a unique opportunity to pursue inspiration in familiar and unfamiliar city spaces and the opportunity to write for 2 hours per day for at least 8 days between November and January 2016, with a grant of $500 per writer. On the 11 September  Young Writers in the City - Launceston will be presenting their work at the Junction Arts Festival soapbox event in Prince's Square at 1pm.

TheTamar Valley Writers’ Festival is holding their 2016 AGM on Wednesday 21st September at 7pm and the venue is Tamar Ridge Cellar Door facility, 1a Waldhorn Avenue, Rosevears. It is open to the public, however only paid-up members of FOGW will be eligible to vote. They would naturally welcome all new members, and encourage them to consider being more involved through nominating for a role on the committee.

Junction Festival is back between 7-11 of September in Launceston and will feature Bert Spinks with Poor Man’s Pot, a spoken word experience. Spinks, aka Storyteller Spinks (check out his delightful blog A Field Guide to Falling In Love in Tasmania) has hosted this show for over a year and, it cements the North of the state as Spoken Word Capital of Van Diemen’s Land.

If you have story, writing or word related news drop me a line -

This column was first published in Warp Mag, September 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Podcast - Interview with Anjum Hasan.

This is an interview with Anjum Hasan from some years ago. She has a new book on its way out, The Cosmopolitans and as I work through my archive of interviews it is timely for me to post this one.
   Anjum was visiting Australia for a festival and we chatted about her recent work and the novel Lunatic in my Head (Brass Monkey Books, 2010).
  Anjum has been longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, shortlisted for The Hindu Best Fiction Award and shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize. She is currently Books Editor for The Caravan.

Listen to the podcast here.

First broadcast on The Book Show, Edge Radio, 2011.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Books are nice to look at - the library at Wat Buddha Dhamma

Wat Buddha Dhamma was started by a wonderful, renegade monk called Phra Khantipalo and a feisty renegade nun, Ayya Khema. They both practised and taught in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism and founded this monastery which, since its 1970s inception has had a number of incarnations.
There is an enticing library in the monastery. When I practice meditation intensively I do not read and the library, during my stays at the monastery, has been both enticing and an opportunity to note my desire (my craving) to read.
This is a recorded interview (a podcast) with resident teacher, Ajahn Khemavaro and Venerable Passatika about the library, its books and book learning in the realm of Buddhist practice.
It is from a good few years ago, I think the time where I stayed a month.
"I am not a comfort eater, in this hollow life, but I am a comfort reader," said Venerable Passatika.
Here is a link to the coincidence of Brama Viharas we discuss.