Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy 150th Island Magazine

Sesquicentenary roll your tongues around that fine word for a moment Sesquicentenary.


It is Island magazine’s sesquicentenarial edition this season, it’s 150th. A significant issue to mark a magazine that began its life as The Tasmanian Review in June 1979. It includes the work of Andrew Sant, one of the magazine’s first editors as well as work from Cassandra Pybus who was editor in the early 1990s, her tenure not without controversy and one that still has tendrils in our literary community today.
Island has seen the first published works of many of the country’s most respected writers, indeed many who have graced the contents have been recognised internationally.
It has been an early publication outlet for figures in our broader literary community, including Amanda Lohrey, James Boyce and Richard Flanagan. Recent publications have seen work from Susie Greenhill, winner of the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers and Robbie Arnott, who has recently signed a contract for a novel with Text.
The first issue states that the two criteria which determine the selection of material are “excellence and variety” and these factors remain the same after nearly forty years of publishing. Issue one includes an essay about ‘Creativity and the Australian Media’ by Michael Denholm, one of the founders, whose work today on Tasmanian literary history will become an important resource for us all in future.
In contrast to the purely black and white first edition, and though the magazine has existed in many forms, for decades under the wise design eye of Lynda Warner, the magazine now sits comfortably alongside stylish design magazines, and it wears its arts on its sleeve.
150 features the endlessly fascinating and arcane work of Tricky Walsh and I’m so glad that we, the reader can experience her Tiefenzeit in a form different than on the gallery walls. There is fiction from Amanda Lohrey, who has been involved with the publication to varying degrees from day one. As also from day one, there are topical essays, 150 featuring work from Behrouz Boochani, ‘Chanting of Crickets, Ceremonies of Cruelty’. Berhrouz is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist and he is detained on Manus Island.
My favourite edition is issue 63. Mainly because of the perfect incongruity of the cover image, It is a photo of Michael Mansell, Tasmanian Aboriginal Activist, meeting the Queen. Inside Henry Reynolds interviews Mansell, alongside an essay by Richard Flanagan ‘The Stars and the Mountain’ and poetry from Tony Birch ‘Ladies’ Lounge’.
The other edition I adore is 125, featuring the painting ‘The Collector’ by Geoff Dyer of David Walsh, standing bloody and indignant, flanked by slabs of meat from one of the works in his collection. This edition was produced under the astute eye of Sarah Kanowski, who suffered the indignity, new in her tenure, to have lost funding from Arts Tasmania, though a keen and aware rallying from literary community around Australia afforded the magazine continued life. It was beautiful to see that support rising loudly, from day one.
A recent initiative of the magazine has been a wise partnership with Chatter Matters, opening, acknowledging and working with our state of illiteracy, to celebrate reading and writing in all its forms. Island is a beautiful, relevant and crucial publication and while I’ll toast the
sesquicentenary, I’d also like to toast the tercentenary:quinquennial and the quatercentenary. Oh such lovely words.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Paige Turner September

Let’s pay some homage to our most trusted reading friends, those who are able to suggest the perfect book for our own unique reading requirements, those who intimately understand what we like to read and even more importantly, why you like to read. And let’s be honest, there are not many of those kind of friends around. There are other ways in to good books of course, a mention on the cover by a trusted writer, a review from someone who reviews with integrity – but recently there have been a spate of endorsements on covers by writers I have a lot of time for, but they are endorsing vapid crap. I wonder if they get paid for an endorsement and whether or not they do I call on them to have more integrity.

September in Tasmania is full of excellent ways to celebrate the written word. To begin with, it is the sesquicentennial of Island magazine (this means they are publishing their 150th edition this month). In a state with such low literacy, that there has been such a sustained celebration of the written word is to be celebrated loudly.


Cassandra Pybus, a former editor of Island, who is also featured in the latest edition of the magazine, and indeed who edited it for a rather controversial time has recently been included in the Griffith Review Novella Project V, which also includes Krissy Kneen, Chris Somerville and Frank Moorhouse.

Kickstart Arts are running their diverse Creative Exchange and one particular event that has made me curious is the Celtic History Studies with Kristen Erskine. The first session is on September 24th and more information can be found here.

There are a wonderful array of book launches and events happening around the state, Fullers, as ever has a rich events program and I’m looking forward to being in conversation with Jock Serong about his new book On the Java Range on September 8. They will also be hosting Cazaly, the Legend by Robert Allen on September 21st and that’s surelytime for us all to break out the song voce magna. 

On Saturday, September 2, Fullers will host the first of the Chatter Matters Children’s Reading Series, with speech pathologist, ‘courage facilitator’ and 2017 Tasmanian Australian of the year, Rosie Martin. Storytelling sessions with the aim of helping kids develop language and communication skills. For more information about the above events click here.

The Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival is running between 14-17 of September and features some interesting looking panels and workshops. Guests include Omar Sakr, one of the most exciting poets on the ground in Australia, and writer and feminist Clementine Ford,– eloquent, considered and smart. Alongside the program of speakers, the festival is also offering a series of workshops including one with Maria Tumarkin, whose collection of essays, Courage, I adore.


The festival has some gems on the menu, though it is very safe programming, especially when you look at the diversity at recent mainland festivals. The Writers Centre did not receive any funding during Arts Tasmania’s latest round. I hope this challenge offers the centre an opportunity for introspection and to revivify and diversify. I would love to see the Centre as a hub that truly celebrates literature and literacy across the board, and to advocate for the burgeoning and exciting literary communities in Tasmania. I must state I was a peer assessor though had no part in the final funding decision and the above information is in the public domain. 

Hobart Bookshop is also hosting some good looking events in September, including the launch of Margaret Lea Wallace’s Bruny Island Bounty on Thursday 21st at 5.30. This will be launched by Pete Hay and is a book that will take you on a journey around the island to experience dynamic land, sea and skyscapes, and abundant wildlife with every species of bird endemic to Tasmania. 

Hobart Bookshop is hosting the double launch of Jane William’s new poetry collection Parts of the Main, along with Ian Kennedy William’s short story collection Leaving the Comfort Zone, on September 7. http://www.hobartbookshop.com.au/upcoming/

On September 2, 3pm at the Moonah Arts Centre, a new book called Badgers and Porcupines is being launched. This is a collection of stories and art from people living with younger onset dementia - and it is gorgeous. I may be biased as I've been working as a Writer in Residence with Alzheimer's Tasmania. This is an event open to the public, there will be readings, wine and cheese and the official launch done by the Honorable Elise Archer, speaker in the House of Assembly. 

 

Up North at Haus Creative there is a Q&A for Jo Green's S^ORD on September 9th at 2pm. For further information check out Haus Creative on Facebook.

Christine Matheson Green is launching her book Theatre Of War. With 10 restaurants and 2 cooking schools behind her, Christine shares the trials and despair of being a female boss in a man’s world. She fed celebrities and crime lords, and it was a risky, busy life. Check out justthesizzle.com

Forty South, as well as being the biggest publisher in Tasmania also publish Tasmania 40° South magazine and are generous to the literary community, running and auspicing various writers awards. They have recently announced the winner and finalists for the Tasmanian Writers' Prize 2017. The anthology will be launched by James Dryburgh at the Writers and Readers Festival at 4pm on Saturday 16th September at Hadleys. This is a free event and open to the public.

And, on September 1 the beautiful Wild IslandGallery will host the launch of the book pictured here, Magic Land, featuring images remastered, and many unseen for a long while, of one of the maestros of Tasmanian wilderness photographer, Peter Dombrovskis.

The wonderful 'All That We Are' crew are hosting a workshop for parents, teachers, and anyone interested in giving children a voice in their world, to a range of simple strategies for creating artwork, supporting storytelling and straightforward ways of publishing the work of children. I love this for a lot of reasons - that it is about getting children publishing, that it celebrates reading and writing, and that it is a direct engagement with the community and getting people skilled up. More information can be found here.




Got some news for me? Drop me a line Racheledwards488@gmail.com

A version of this column also appeared in September Warp




Paige Turner November

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