Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Paige Turner - July

Lugubrious and lubricious are two wonderful words I’ve recently been rolling around my tongue. I set myself a challenge to include at least one in this month’s column and have exceeded even my own expectations and it is only the first paragraph. Auspicious.

Good things ahead include the Poets and Painters Exhibition which opens on July 18 at the Moonah Art Centre. Featuring nine poets paired with nine painters, this exhibition is part of a wonderful continuum in a long series of these creative fusions. I look forward to seeing and reading this work.

Adam Ouston was the judge of the inaugural Smoke international microfiction competition from Transportation Press. A collection of the winning work will be launched at Quartermasters Arms in Elizabeth St Hobart from 5.30 on July 19. Readings, and a chance to have a yarn with Transportation Press’ International Guard Tadgh Muller, meet the writers, the judge and me too, delight of delights that I am. Fullers Bookshop are the generous sponsors of Smoke. The stories will be printed on individual pieces of fine paper, available in bundles and by PDF, direct from the press.

The day after this, Ouston will be in conversation with Robert Dessaix at Fullers. They will be marking the launch of Dessaix’ reissued backlist. His books are a such a special treasure and while I’m yet to lay eyes on these editions I am sure they will be beautiful publications; it would be a waste otherwise. They will be
talking about each of Dessaix’ books, piecing together an overarching narrative of his work.

Australian Slam Poetry heats are au go go in July. Slamduggery is presenting "Words of Winter" on Tuesday 18th at the Oak in Launceston. Consider it a chance to warm your vocals and our cockles before the Tasmanian heats of the Australian Poetry Slam. The Launceston heat is on 1 August at the Oak, Hobart at World’s End on 8 August, Deloraine at the Empire on 16 August and Ulverstone on 11 August at The Gnomon Pavillion. Check them out on Facebook.
The final will be held at the Launceston Workers Club, 30th August. from 7pm.

Releasing the Genie is an anthology of erotic poetry edited by Marilyn Arnold and Evie Wood. It will be launched by Tasmanian author Robyn Friend at Petrarch's Bookshop, Launceston, on Friday 7th July. The poets will read from their work. Also at Petrarch’s, on July 6 is the launch of
Transported by Brian Harrison-Lever.

On July 8, Launceston based Poet Musing will be reading at MellowFest. Poet Musing, aka Stephen Johnstone is a mental health advocate and he is performing at 4.30pm that day,.
The illustrious Hobart Bookshop has two events lined up for July, firstly Monica McInerney, an event they are very excited about. This event will celebrate the release of her new book The Trip of a Lifetime. The second event is the launch of the effervescent Eugenia Williams’ The Stone Fiddler on 21st July.

Flit is a fringe literary fest with an open call happening in Hobart in September. Click here for more details 

The Society of Women Writers Tasmania presents The Robyn Mathison Poetry Prize 2017. With a first prize of $200.00, second of $50, and a variety of acknowledgment certificates up for grabs and a closing date of August 31, you still have time. It is open to all poets and more details can be found here.

Also up for grabs is the Margot Manchester Memorial Short Story Writing Award. This gets my prize for alliteration. These guys are seeking short stories between 1200- 1500 words in length, no theme with cash money up for grabs for the winning authors. This also closes on August 31st and more information is available here.

Lesley Harrison has launched her first book, Behind the Boomgate, which is about what it’s like to live in caravan parks. She utilised a broad range of sources when writing the book, ranging from doctorates on the subject, government reports as well as lived experience. Books can be purchased from Foot and Playsted and Petrarch's Bookshop or the author on lharriso2 at

Award winning Tasmanian musician and writer Sofi Chapman's lesbian romance 'Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa' returns to the stage for the celebrations of Melbourne’s legendary La Mama theatre's 50th birthday Mini-Fest Weds. 26-Fri 28 July at Carlton Courthouse, Melbourne.

The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre are soon to release the program for the Writers and Readers Festival in September, I am seriously tantalized. In July they are hosting an essay writing workshop with James Dryburgh. Creative Non Fiction and the Art of the Essay is happening on July 23rd.  Pictured is James' first book, Essays From Near and Far.

On July 24th, Seasonal Poets winter readings at Hadley’s will feature Louise Oxley, Pete Hay and Kristen Lang. More info here.

Tansy Rayner Roberts is offering writing workshops for kids during the school holidays at Kingston Linc (July 14, Exploring Fairyland & July 18, Hero Quest). More details on Tansy’s website

On Saturday 29th between 1-3pm, Poems for Peace will be read at Collins Bookshop, Launceston. This is part of the Tamar Valley Peace Festival

And that’s a lovely way to end this month’s column. Drop me a line Racheledwards488 at

PS I think you should look at this artist. He is my cousin and I love him fiercely, and his work takes my breath away. Will Whitehouse.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review - Tasmania’s Forgotten Frontier by John Beswick

Tasmania’s Forgotten Frontier, a history of exploration, exploitation and settlement around Tasmania's far north-east coast
by John Beswick

This is an impeccably researched, clearly written history of North East Tasmania, an area rich in ancient culture, maritime history and agricultural settlements. Author John Beswick is a former Deputy Premier of Tasmania and a sixth generation Tasmanian whose ancestors were amongst the first white pioneers in the region.
His obvious affiliation and personal knowledge of the region shines through in the book and he has an especially endearing style of writing about seafarers.
The book covers in detail; first contact, the sealers, the Van Diemonian Wars, the farmers, the industries, and contains a wealth of curious anecdotes.
Some of these include mention of the escaped convicts who became pirates and ran vessels around Preservation Island and that of Mrs Eliza Bowen who is said to have gone grey overnight at seeing the Loch Finlas, a large barque bound for Peru founder and wreck before her eyes. It is said that generations of locals have enjoyed possession of beautiful sets of crockery salvaged from the vessel.
The book, while generally compelling and clearly written becomes a little dessicated towards the end, covering in great detail pastoral leases and details of livestock. It is a little dry for the lay reader. These swathes are luckily broken up with intriguing sometimes poignant stories of individuals and political intrigue whose tendrils still hold the state in sway today, including some innuendo around British Tobacco (BT) and the creation of the Mount William National Park and the involvement of Kevin Lyons, the Deputy Premier, who resigned in 1972 following exposure of his corruption. Lyons received $25 000 from BT to write his memoirs, a book that has not ever eventuated. In separate incidents, Federal Hotels paid $29 000 off Lyon’s mortgage, as well as the offering him a job with an equivalent salary. The latter is covered closely in James Boyce’s recent expose into gambling and corruption in Tasmania, Losing Streak.
While the book contains lots of detail it does not cover the Aboriginal community in the NE, after the decline of the sealing industry. This is an oversight in which author Beswick is not alone. The structure of many books on Tasmanian history focus solely on white settlement alone, rarely glancing at the history in the Aboriginal community, which, in the NE were especially important. An uncomfortable oversight with this particular text is the fact that Chapter One is called ‘The Europeans Arrive’.
The years that Beswick spent on his meticulous research have certainly paid off. This is a comprehensive book that explores in detail an area of Tasmania that does not have many books dedicated to it. Forty South continue to publish strongly, augmenting a rich written Tasmanian history and this book is a prime example. While it is not a book for everyone focused as it is on such a tiny pocket of the world, it is a book for those interested in the region, as well as recent Tasmanian history and development.

An edited version of this review appeared in TasWeekends, June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mandy and Khin and the Yangon Literary Magazine

Podcast of an interview with Mandy Moe Pwint Tu and Khin Chan Myae Maung, co founders of the Yangon Literary Magazine and I was fortunate enough to sit down with them when I was in Yangon last year.
In this articulate and eye opeing interview, they muse on the energy in the literary and creative space in Yangon these days, the origin story of the magazine they cofounded along with Paul Chan Htoo Sang, and the move to print alongside the production of  digital editions

They talk about their own writing and their influences, and they comment on the feminist movement in Myanmar today.

The discussion about what may be considered "thematically Burmese," is fascinating, with a conclusion - that it's either politics or love.

The interview took place at the time of Lionel Shriver's incendiary comments about cultural appropriation and the ensuing debate and commentary. Mandy and Khin respond to this situation by describing their personal experiences seeking publication,  The interview is marred, however, by my unwieldy rant-style lead in question about this particular subject. They also ofer some perspective and insight into books about Myanmar by foreigners.

Mandy and Khin were such a pleasure to interview. Erudite, intelligent, opinionated.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Paige Turner, June 2017

Waaay too much going on to allow space for any chitchat banter or personal rhapsodisations on recent reads. (I took Paul Auster with me to Bangkok, The New York Trilogy, adored it to pieces, three stories of detectives and identities lost and assumed and as slippery as fiction. Then Olga Masters’ Collected Short Stories which was dry and dusty and I did not persist, then Gao XingJian, Nobel laureate and his One Man’s Bible, sexy, lively alongside a despotic regime. I will return to him.

Loud MouthTheatre Company presents SHIT by Patricia Cornelius at The Backspace from June 21. The fabulous Maeve Macgregor is directing and the precis runs like this -Bobby and Sam are survivors who combat the restrictions enforced on them by their gender and their class, and our expectations of them: but how much can they get away with? Tickets at Theatre Royal.

Poet Gina Mercer and yoga teacher, Shanti Panaretos are hosting a retreat with yoga, writing and very good food. Gina is a recognised Tasmanian poet and this sounds like a lovely weekend; guided in movement, encouraged in writing and eating good food. It is taking place in Dodges Ferry at the end of July. Get in touch- shantimacan AT

Forty South have got a few newbies out, I’m reading Tasmania’s Forgotten Frontier, a history of exploration, exploitation and settlement around Tasmania’s Far North-East Coast by John Beswick. Fergus Gives a Hoot (pictured) by Kathleen McLaren is being launched by Donald Knowler, journalist, author and the most wonderful writer of birds on 1 June, 5.30pm at the Hobart Bookshop. The book is about roadkill and it is for kids.

The Tasmanian Writers Centre are in a busy and curious space in the lead up to their Writers and Readers Fest, the program is coming soon. They are also hosting the sharply generous Benjamin Law, on June 18 for a workshop on Memoir and Life Writing.
22 June is a Twitch event, Twitch being the centre’s youf arm, currently without a rudder I believe. I’ll still celebrate the Young Writers in the City: Glenorchy event, 5.30pm at the Moonah Arts Centre. More information? Click here.
The wonderful James Dryburgh is also hosting a workshop with TWC about writing essays. James' collection Essays from Near and Far gives an introduction to his thoughtful writing.

The Comic Art Workshop do excellent things. They did a residency on Maria Island and the next one is in Yogyakarta, Indonesia later this year. Some of the work from the Maria residency is in an exhibition at the chapel in the Penitentiary on Maria, at Darlington. More reason to visit Maria and remember to tell the tourists to watch out for the waist high devils that may attack.

Hobart local Kate Gordon is working with multi-award-winning publisher Twelfth Planet Press to launch their new children's imprint. Titania's books will be aimed at children between the ages of 3 to 13 and will have a focus on diversity and inclusiveness, within magical worlds. The first project for Titania will be a children's book by award-winning writer and scholar Nike Sulway. You can follow Titania on Twitter at @Titania_TPP, or via their their Facebook page.

Twelfth Planet has also launched crowdfunding for an ambitious anthology, Mother of Invention, which will feature diverse, challenging stories about gender as it relates to the creation of artificial intelligence and robotics.

On June 2 at Utas the Human Rights Art and Film Festival, is screening Constance on the Edge. There’s a panel discussion and more details can be found here or by searching HRAFF on Facebook. The eponymous Constance is a strong Acholi woman who was one of the first refugees from South Sudan to settle in Wagga Wagga with her family in 2005

Alongside the stylish and interesting quarterly Island mag publishes, they also host one of Australia’s most important poetry prizes, The Gwen Harwood. Entries close in August. Utas is running a writing prize with Island, open to all current and former students and staff of the institution. Well worth a look. Island 149 will be out for winter reading and contains an art feature on Sonia Heap’s the Armoury,  Bruce Pascoe’s Lin Onus Oration- Sea Wolves and a piece on Chauncy Vale and Nan Chauncy by Brigid Magner plus an essay on Queenstown and the Unconformity fest, by Tas Poetry Festival Director Cameron Hindrum.

Fullers in Hobart, on June 8 is hosting the launch of Nic Gill’s book Animal Eco Warriors, Humans and animals working together to protect the planet which looks wonderful. Nicole is one of Australia’s increasingly recognised science writers and this is her first book.

Tansy Rayner Roberts is leading a workshop called Scavenger Fiction at the Resource Coop in South Hobart on June 25. This is a creative workshop set amongst the South Hobart Tip Shop Bookshelves; the works as inspiration and Tansy there to guide through the writing process. Bookings are essential for this June 25 workshop, or call 6332 3891

Make sure you check out the Huon Valley Midwinter Festival’s call for entrants to the Storytelling Cup - coming soon.

And if you want to drop me a line, tell me what you’re reading or what you’re writing or any other news – racheledwards488 AT

A version of this column was also published in Warp, June 2017

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 ...