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

Paige Turner November

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