Thursday, December 8, 2016

Paige Turner, December 2016

Blessed are the booksellers, especially at this dastardly time of year, where the Christmas retail spirit leaches every echo of goodwill from your shopping laden pores. Consider them, hauling tonnes of books, displaying them beautifully, finding your perfect gift and wrapping until their fingers are shredded and paper stained. And smiling throughout. Blessed are the booksellers.

2016 has been a devastating riot for many, with the death of a lot of pop stars, and Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It has also been a year of fantastic new books and new reading discoveries. Some quick highlights from me include a baptism by fire into the world of comics and graphic novels, notably JW Clennett’s alt history of Tasmania, The Diemenois, Lydia Davis, a US writer and translator whose short stories and novels astound me with their simplicity and weirdness is a new favourite writer and Roberto Calasso’s gorgeous little book The Art of Publishing touched and inspired me.

Personally I’ve met some excellent writers both in Tasmania and around the region and I look forward to continuing my work with writers from Iran, India, Tasmania and Burma in particular. There is some astonishing contemporary work coming from these areas. At Transportation Press, Tasmania’s newest publisher (and close to my heart, as I am Editor in Chief) we will be announcing two excellent projects early in the new year, but as a teaser; Of Wine and Words will riff off the ancient Persian connection between wine and poetry, and Smoke, an international microfiction competition, generously sponsored by FullersBookshop will be launched.

Around Tasmania in December, as the darling booksellers cower under piles of your Christmas shopping lists, a number of events are still going ahead.
On December 6 at Fullers in Hobart, Musquito, Brutality and Exile by Michael Powell will be launched by eminent historian Henry Reynolds at 5.30. Musquito, a legendary Aboriginal man was transported first to Norfolk Island then Van Diemen’s Land and became well known for organising against white settlers. He was hanged in his part in the murders at Grindstone Bay in 1825. This book offers excellent insight into Aboriginal resistance in NSW and Van Diemen’s Land. (pictured).
On December 14 also at Fullers Bookshop, Francesca Haig will be chatting with me about the second novel in her Fire Sermon trilogy. These books are richly imagined and action packed post-apocalyptic thrillers. Kirkus Review said of the first two that they “poised to become the next must-read hit”. I’m looking forward to this, especially in the face of the burgeoning new genre ‘CliFi’ – climate change fiction, generally post apocalyptic. Other notables in this genre include Clade by James Bradley, The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau and Briohny Doyle’s wicked The Island Will Sink.

On December 15, again at Fullers, the 2nd edition of The Abels, Tasmania’s finest mountains, each over 1100m high. Hear from the crack team of bushwalkers that has bagged every peak as they give a studied portrayal of each mountain. Learn the best routes to take, how and when to take them, and find intricate notes on mountain nomenclature and history.
The Hobart Bookshop is hosting the launch of Hani Abdile’s I Will Rise on December 16 at 5.30pm. Hani is a Somali asylum seeker who came to Australia by boat when she was only 17 years old. She is an award winning slam poet and you can hear her at the Bankstown Slam here

Celebrate Tasmanian books another way this Christmas with Tassie Books on Facebook. It’s an excellent way to interact with local writers and to buy local. Thoughtfully managed by author Anne Morgan, this page offers direct links to writers andpublishers

Some excellent news from Island, one of Australia’s leading lit mags. Not only was their Poetry Editor, Sarah Holland-Batt, listed as a finalist for her poetry collection The Hazards (UQP 2015), she won. As well, David Ireland’s The World Repair Video Game, published in Island in serial form and subsequently published by Island as a limited-edition hardback, was short listed as a finalist in the Fiction category.

Tasmania’sbiggest and most recognised publisher, Forty South have some new books out, Shadows in Suriname by Margaretta Pos tells her family’s history in Suriname. Anne Blythe-Cooper was runner up in the Erica Bell Manuscript Prize and this has manifested as The Shape of Water, a fictionalised account of Sophia Degraves, the wife of the same Degraves who started Cascade Brewery and was responsible for Australia’s olden theatre, The Theatre Royal in Hobart. They have also just released a new book by Adele Ogier Jones called The Coffee Palace.

A new book, Big Stake by SJ Brown, the third in the DI Mahoney series is out. It is a cop drama set in Hobart. This book turns the spotlight on the damage inflicted by the prevalence of gambling in modern Australia.

Blessed are the booksellers and consider them, sweating under the stench of desperation and sticky tape. I wish you all beautiful summers of reading, learning and yarning.

If you have any book news contact me at

Monday, October 31, 2016

Paige Turner - November

Journalist Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature last year. She is a journalist from Belarus whose book, Secondhand Time, the Last of the Soviets, translated by Bela Shayevich, is a truly transformative read. For decades Alexievich had placed her tape recorder on the table and in the book she presents the devastating people’s history of the USSR. This year’s Nobel Laureate of Literature is, controversially, the mystical poet of the people, Bob Dylan. A film made from Alexievich's essay Voices from Chernobyl is featuring as part of the Tasmanian Eco Film Festival on November 20, in Hobart. 

Closer to home there is a great selection of events happening around Tasmania in November, wherever your noble affiliations lie. The Story Island Project is a new organisation that celebrates the power of a story, and the people of an island. They are having a public celebration at the Moonah Arts Centre on  24 November at 6pm. Australian of the Year Local Hero and Sydney Story Factory co-founder Cath Keenan will speak at the event. Wetlands are slimy and amazing places and to celebrate their unique habitat, Tasmanian students are invited to submit a poem into a poetry competition. For more information click here

Red Parka Designer Jennifer Cossins is releasing a gorgeously illustrated book called A-Z of Endangered Animals (pictured here). The launch will take place at the Red Parka Shop on Criterion St, Hobart in the afternoon of November 2. For further information click here. 10% of the profits will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

This year’s Sustainable Living Festival will feature a poetry slam and a story slam where you have a chance to get on stage and delight, astound or murder a poem or story. While I will not judge you, I am a judge for the story comp and the incomparable Storyteller Spinks is MC. For details click here. 

The Adam and Eve ABC Guide to the Art of Ageing Disgracefully is being launched at Petrarchs in Launceston on November 25, 6pm. This is a slightly risqué stocking filler about some of the challenges we face as we age. It’s a quick read that will give you a few laughs and some excellent food for thought about how you might like to age...disgracefully.

Also at Petrarchs in November are the following events:Country girl and bestselling Tasmanian Ruro (rural romance) writer extraordinaire, Rachael Treasure will be signing copies of her new book Down the Dirt Roads on November 5 at 11am. Photographer Owen Hughes will be signing copies of his latest book Love This Island Tasmania on November 12 at 11am. Owen successfully captures the diversity of our cities and regions, our strong sense of community and the pleasure we take in joining others to celebrate and play.

Two of my favourite things are flowers and books and I may head north for Woolmer’s Festival of Roses, especially as Petrarchs will be on site hosting the book side of this floral event. The following authors will be speaking; Janice Sutton on her book, Garlic Feast 11am, Karen Hall, about Wychwood, - Indira Naidoo will discuss The Edible Garden and The Edible City and Ben Milbourne will yarn about his book Tasmanian Trail. All of this on a single Sunday (the 13th) in November.

In Hobart, Fullers havesome good looking events including Robyn Williams from ABC’s The Science Show discussing his book In Love with Betty the Crow, on November 8, Melissa Ashby on November 10 discussing The Birdman’s Wife, and Briohny Doyle will be chatting about her dystopic fiction (is it dystofiction?) The Island Will Sink, on Friday 18th. Captain Blueberry strikes again – and The Journey of Admiral Bolognaise will be launched on November 12, the day after the launch of Margaretta Pos’ new book Shadows in Suriname. Make sure you RSVP!

The Hobart Bookshop is hosting the launch of Tony Brennan’s A Beauty That Catches, a collection of poetry on November 3. On November 9 Jen Gibson will launch Meanderings by Betty Mckenzie-Tubb and on November 24th, Dianne Coon, secretary of the Volunteer Ambulance Officers Association will launch Ro Evelyn’s first novel, The Volunteer.

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. Click here for details.

Matthew Evans and Nick Haddow will be having a hearty yarn about cheese and tucker and their array of books, including Nick’s new one, Milk Made, a book about cheese, at the State Cinema in Hobart on Monday, November 7. Click here for further informationand to book tickets.

Tony Fenton spent a lot of his childhood roaming around Melaleuca and Port Davey with his grandfather, the legendary Deny King. His book, Fleeting Hopes, an immaculately researched history of the area is complete and ready to go to print. He’s crowdfunding to make this happen. I’ve pledged and am busting to read it. You should pledge too. 

The Tasmanian Writers Centre are hosting a Twitch Celebration at the Centre’s Reading Lounge on Tuesday 22 November at 6pm. This will feature readings from some of the young writers involved in this excellent program. They have a workshop called Perfect your Non-Fiction Book Proposal with Mary Cunnane on November 20. The centre has also extended the deadline for Young Writers in the City, Devonport until November 7. Get on it.

If you have some book news or events you would like to share, email me at

A version of this column was published in Warp. 

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. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

August Paige Turner column

It was a ripper night at the pub last night and some mates and I have begun to devise PRANKFEST (watch this space). Later in the evening I picked up a copy of the latest Warp, for which I write a monthly column and was slightly perturbed to see that my August Paige Turner column was not there, that March had been re-published. So here's August folks! With hyperlinks. Modern technology sends me all aquiver. 

Tasmania has a new bookshop. I am so delighted to type that sentence, I did not believe I would, ever. It takes the form of Collins Booksellers and you’ll find it in Launceston, in the site of the former Fullers du Nord.

Undertow, is an exceptional cultural magazine that pops up now and again. This time they’ve made the wise decision to retail at various outlets, including Fullers, The Gentle Void and Sticky Institute. In this issue they have spoken to Calypso Brown, Hobart Hackerspace and Visual Bulk. It also has work from Mish Meijers and Tricky Walsh and an advice column. Worth it at $5 a pop.  
There is a selection of widely varied literary events happening around the state, ranging from football: with an instore signing with AFL legend Mark ‘Bomber’ Thomson at Not Just Books in Burnie, between 11am-1pm on Monday, August 22nd. Thomson played in three premierships with Essendon and coached Geelong to two premierships. I’d be willing to bet there’s a book involved too.

Fullers are also launching How Far Can You Go by John Maclean on Wednesday, August 17 at 7pm and on Thursday, August 18 at 5.30 they are hosting the launch of The Game of Their Lives by Nick Richardson. A week later, on Thursday, August 25th Wild Island by Jennifer Livett will be launched. Please

To – Mt Field, with the release of The Field of Dreams, a new book from Mark Clemens. The release of this book coincides with the 100 year anniversary of Tasmania’s oldest National Park, Mt Field and follows Clemens’ award winning publication, The Mountain. Clemens is also running a crowdfunding campaign to support the launch of this book. The celebration will happen on August 29 at the State Cinema. The book will be launched by Aboriginal elder and playwright, Jim Everett and there will be an auction for six limited edition framed prints from this gorgeous book (pictured). 

Now we travel slightly further afield to Marina Abramovic and Tasmanian writer, Heather Rose’ new novel, Museum of Modern Love. At the time of writing, it is rumoured that the launch will take place at Hamlet Café in Hobart on Friday 26 August. Heather has been working on this, her seventh novel, for many years and the publication is highly anticipated.

At Fullers in Hobart, they are excited about the forthcoming release of the music CD of The Mathematics Book. This book continues being a best seller, it has a strangle hold on the non-fiction #1 spot. Beyond me, but I do love this kind of collaboration, the liminal soaring space where art and science deepen each other.

Forty South, Tasmania’s biggest publisher have an event in collaboration with the Tasmanian Writers' Centre on Saturday 20 August at Hadleys in Hobart from 5pm. The first part of the program will be a panel discussion on 'Writing for Tasmania 40°South - our state's iconic magazine’. This panel will include editor, Chris Champion and regular writers Nicholas Brodie, Carol Freeman, Mike Kerr and Clarissa Horwood. The second part will be the launch celebration of the Forty South Short Story Anthology 2016 to be launched by Chris Gallagher, Director of the Tasmanian Writers' Centre. Event details can be found on the Writers' Centre website.

Aleesah Darlinson, winner of the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature, (non-fiction) and author of over thirty-five books for children and young adults has a new picture book titled Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine. It’s coming out in time to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the extinction of the Tasmanian tiger on National Threatened Species Day. Aleesah is touring Tasmania during August and September and will be running an Adult Writing Workshop titled ‘Writing Narrative: The Art of Story’ at 1:30pm on Friday, 5 August at Scottsdale LINC Library.

The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre continue to offer a great program through Twitch, the young writers’ wing of the organisation, including Youth ARC freecreative writing workshops for anyone and everyone aged 12-25.   The workshops are on every Tuesday in August from 3.30-5.30pm. More info: 
And the August Twitch Tuesday will feature one of the best short story writers in Australia, Adam Ouston. He’ll be discussing how to write short stories.

The Youth Arts and Recreation Centre magazine Platform is providing an opportunity for writers aged 12-25 with any level of experience who are interested in one-on-one mentorship with a professional journalist (Warp writer Stephanie Eslake) through the interview and feature writing stages. You will have the opportunity to have your writing workshopped and published in the magazine. All invited, express your interest this month to Melinda Antal, or call 6231 5150.

Straight, able bodied men need not apply for Loud Mouth Theatre’s
 "Not You, Paul" writers' forum and EOI evening. This is a free event with playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer and plans to develop a process that counters alarming disparity in the arts. This evening will include a call for expressions of interest for six writers visible in the Hobart writing for performance community to work with twelve writers from diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds, over a number of weekends throughout a twelve month period to all share skills and develop new works. Monday August 8th, 7pm, Peacock Theatre.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi: The Voice of Hope: conversations with Alan Clements

Since this book was first published, Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed from house arrest and rightfully taken her place in the Burmese parliament.
Alan Clements is one of the first Westerners to ordain as a monk in Burma, under the guidance of Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. In 1995, after Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1991) and after her release from six years of incarceration, he invited her to tell her story. This is published in The Voice of Hope.

This is an interview I did with Alan, when The Voice of Hope was re-released, a few years ago. It was first broadcast on Edge Radio's Book Show.

Link to the podcast.

Monday, June 13, 2016


Just who is Boney and what made him the protagonist of the (eponymous) international twentieth century bestsellers? Maybe you remember him from the 1970s television series...

All of these questions AND MORE will be answered by simply tuning in to hear the international expert on Arthur Upfield's Boney books,  Tasmania's own......EMMA MALONEY


Zeyar Lynn. Poet, Burma

In 2013 I went to Bangkok, one of my favourite places in the world. It was for the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators (APWT) conference and I spoke about literary prizes. That year I was one of the judges of the Tasmanian Literary Prizes, now known as the Tasmanian Premier's Literary Prizes. At the time I was also working at Island magazine with poetry editor, John Kinsella. John had recently published some excellent new poems from Burma, including some from Zeyar Lynn. Island partnered with APWT and Air Asia to bring Zeyar to Bangkok for the conference. 
Zeyar Lynn is widely regarded as the most influential living poet in Burma and his poem Sling Bag appeared in Island 128:Digitalism. Zeyar has written a series of poetry collections and he has translated, among others, Sylvia Plath, Wisława Szymborska, Donald Justice, John Ashbery and Charles Bernstein. He has also written a number of volumes on poetics.

The Diemenois. A graphic novel by JW Clennett

Review: The Diemenois, being the correct and true account of the sensational escape, seclusion, and cruel demise of a most infamous man by JW Clennett
The Diemenois is an impeccably drawn, fascinatingly written graphic novel that presents an alternative history of Tasmania in which the West (Ouest) of the state, post invasion, is a French possession. The action begins with an unwell man being taken on a long boat journey. Who is this mysterious man and why is he going to Baudin, the provincial capital (approximately where Smithton lies in this reality) of Van Diemen Ouest. It then roams far and wide and over the last two centuries, and introduces us to many individuals as the story (is it true though?) of the sea traveller, is revealed.
Claudet is the name the mysterious gentleman goes by and it is posited that he may indeed be Napoleon, not dead from liver cancer on St Helena, but whisked away by his supporters and bought to the new colony of Van Diemen Oeust and domiciled in the Maison des Abeilles.
Claudet refuses the offer of help from a local, who intimates knowledge of his true identity, and surrounds himself with those who do not inhabit Baudin. He lives a reclusive existence, leading the town folk to speculate wildly about him. He seems to have many enemies.
Interspersed in the story of Claudet, are a number of other threads; a researcher’s study notes from the 1990s until current times slowly reveal a deepening conviction that Claudet was Napoleon, and we, as readers are privy to this building case.  With the research presented, it becomes possible to believe that Claudet is Napoleon, though most of the academy are his detractors, and he is a self-proclaimed conspiracist.
Some character’s stories, like the researcher’s, are more fully revealed later in this exquisite tome, though there are many cameos. A portrait drawn both literally and figuratively, that I am still carrying with me is of Mumma Tebba. She is revealed to the reader on the night that the massacre, occurs, a turning point in the book. A “highly skilled Voudouisant,” Mumma Tebba is one of the many outsiders that Claudet has surrounded himself with and she chalks her incantations onto the floor of the scullery as the murderers approach her, too.
I wish I could make some kind of comparative reference to the exquisite visual nature of this book, but it is the first long graphic novel I have ever read – and it will not be the last! My concern was always that, as a devoted reader of words I would lose half the story by staying with the letters, not their accompanying imagery. This did not happen. The entire production had me entranced.
JW Clennett has been working on this book for over ten years and it has been published by a small independent publishing house, Hunter Publishers, to their credit. The exquisite drawings, delicate maps of the olden days, replete with new town names, the replication of old newspapers, encyclopedias and photos, alongside research notes and the quirky ‘comic’ style drawings all meld together to form one hell of an entertaining book. It’s dark, it’s intricate and it is a fascinating alternate history with rich story threads shot through. It is un-put-down-able.
This review was first published in the December edition of Warp.
The Diemenois, by JW Clennett
Hunter Publishing
ISBN -  9780980740585

Paige Turner November

  Edging towards the end of the year and towards summer, towards Christmas and all it allows us to manifest. Good luck and good sleeps to ...