Saturday, December 30, 2017

Paige Turner, January

May this gentle summer wrap you in some sweet tendrils, afford you relaxation and also some dedicated reading time. And a hammock and some proper time immersed in the sea. And sunrises and stone fruit, and strawberries. Juicy, sun warmed strawberries. And peace of mind, and some love, too, while we are about it.
I have been hanging around with Vladimir Putin, in the form of The Man Without a Face, the unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen and balancing this with Women and Power by Mary Beard. Women and Power is a book tiny in structure but huge in content, tracing misogyny back through Western culture and explains why women have had such a hard time getting heard, with culturally endemic silencing and mocking of women’s voices. Beard is a historical scholar of significance and she explains how abuse and tirades against women on Twitter are the continuum of Ancient Greece’s Aristophanes’ mockery of women’s voices. Both of these books, as well as Masha Gessen’s latest The Future is History, How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, are setting a summer reading tone for me.

The other part of my summer reading will consist of new poems from Tasmania and from Iran, as Transportation Press launches its 2018-2019 publishing program with Wine and Words, poems from Tasmania and Iran. We are welcoming Shirindokht Nourmanesh back as editor of the Iranian content and the esteemed Tasmanian poet and scholar, Pete Hay is on board to source and edit the best new writing from Tasmanian poets. Check out the website for more information, better still sign up for the newsletter on the website.

MonaFoma is happening in the middle of the month. North and south. I’m busting to hear Maxine Beneba Clarke, award winning poet and author, most recently of The Hate Race, perform some slam poetry during the festival. Slam’s a powerful form that takes poetry to a whole new universe, where words crystallised through the filter of form are taken into a performative space.

Cut Common, with the smart and savvy Steph Eslake at the helm and which showcases emerging artists across the country will be launching its first ever print magazine in 2018 and will be having a roving launch in twenty places (I love this idea). You can get more information here.

Fullers Bookshop’s event program hardly stopped for Christmas – and in January they are hosting the launch of Treaty and Statehood by Michael Mansell. This is on January 12 at 5.30pm and Bob Brown and Jimmy Everett are both speaking. Not to be missed by any Tasmanians. So many elders in one room and from what I can glean about the book, new territory and topics that we should be considering. For further information and to RSVP –
I’m delighted to break the news that Nigella Lawson will be in town, and speaking at the Federation Concert Hall on February 1. Nigella is famous for her general lusciousness as well as her cooking and her magnificent cookbooks (I love them! So many TV chefs but her recipes are solid). She will be discussing her new book At My Table. Tickets will soon be available at the TSO Box Office, and for more information contact Fullers, as they are the organisers of this event.

Speaking of cookbooks, Pie Hard is a super new Tasmanian one, from Amelia Cree and Honni Cox. About all things pies – sweet, savoury, and all the trappings and tricks. The recipes include a Strawberry Champagne Cheesecake and a Chilli Chocolate Ganache Tart which may be featuring in a pie filled summer.

January’s Bright Thinking event, from the New Philosopher and Womankind, crew, in partnership with Island mag will return on January 11 at the delicious Salamanca Arts Centre. The topic will be ‘Property’ and panellists will be announced soon. Bright Thinking is a monthly philo café that Marc Sautet (founder of the first philo café) would approve of: one that is participatory rather than dictatorial. A topic is chosen ahead of time for each event to allow attendees to prepare; the hope is that people participate and put forward their point of view. It is open to all thinkers who are looking for solutions to the fundamental problems faced by humankind. For more information, check out the New Philosopher website.

It has been a wonderful year of reading and book events for Tasmania in 2017 and I expect more of the same as well as some invigoratingly creative publishing and writing ventures in 2018. If you have any news you would like to share, drop me a line

Peace and Love.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Review - Lost Rocks

Basalt by Ross Gibson
Conglomerate by Ben Walter
Crystal Bone by Greg Lehman
Marble by Ally Bishop
Lost Rocks

Review – Rachel Edwards

“Suddenly a gray rock becomes ashen or clouded with dream. A ring around a rock is luck. To find a red rock is to discover earthblood”, writes Lidia Yuknavitch in her eviscerating memoir The Chronology of Water. Yuknavitch seeks to wade through her grief by surrounding herself with rocks.
Rocks, despite their profound variety are often used as a symbol of heaviness and lack of movement and, outside of geology and childlike wonder, their poetry can be lost or ignored.

Rocks, despite their profound variety are often used as a symbol of heaviness and lack of movement and, outside of geology and childlike wonder, their poetry can be lost or ignored.

Lost Rocks, created by A Published Event (Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward) ignites a creative fascination with a series of rocks and minerals and, in their own words “is an accumulative event of mineralogical, metaphysical and metallurgical telling.”

Lost Rocks is also a collection of forty books that are being published, slowly, over four years. The project was conceptually inspired when Phillips and Woodward found a discarded rock board at the Tip Shop in Glenorchy. They have commissioned forty books in response to these rocks. The latest four books (of eight released so far) are Crystal Bone by Greg Lehman, Marble by Ally Bisshop, Conglomerate by Ben Walter, and Basalt by Ross Gibson. The books share a clean and simple design; white paperbacks with red silhouettes of the rock on the cover. They are small in stature, have delicate newsprint pages and they wear the process of publishing almost literally on their sleeves, bringing the formal structure of a book to the fore, including a page titled ‘colophon’. The colophon is a publisher’s device to either provide a decorative reference to the publisher, or simply the information legally required when publishing a book.

Prominent Tasmanian writer and thinker Greg Lehman’s Crystal Bone is both a deeply personal story as well as a devastating austere account of this rock and the almost centrifugal importance of it for this island’s first people. It includes diverse writing styles and a poetic recounting of a story of a tyrelore, an island wife. The images that accompany the ‘Crystal’ chapter - simple line drawings of flints, sculpted for blade and palms and annotated with the name of the place from where they have been removed is quietly devastating. The illustrations provide a desolate contrast to the lost stories of these rocks.

Ross Gibson’s Basalt describes the motion and movement of lava which then becomes basalt. In the text he returns to the paradoxical movement of this rock; the pulses of a lava flow still evident where it is found in nature. Gibson is an academic and a poet and while Basalt is a fascinating read, it has a didactic tone and there is something about the melding of poetry and geological process that did not mesh well for this reader.

Ben Walter, whose continuously transcendental writing tackles the rock conglomerate. He uses his element elegantly, as a literary device. A walker falls and hits his head on a “fist of conglomerate”. It is a raw story of a death in the Tasmanian wilderness, an inadvertent tragedy that occurs during a walk with mates. Walter writes the bush like few others down here, his words lithe and with little sentimentality, poetically descriptive.

Ally Bisshop has sculpted a tale from marble – its history, magic and the the numinous space it inhabits for gods and men. She talks about its mining and like Lehman utilises a range of stories of styles to capture this heavy rock.

These books are part of a beautiful publishing work of art, one that travels through geological and human time – a slow burn, drip feed of small, versatile publications. There is something about the Lost Rocks collection seems to inspire writers to enter new territory; cross genres and enter exciting literary spaces. It is a brilliant concept and I anticipate the forthcoming books with a sense of exhilaration

Versions of this review have been published in The Mercury and Warp.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Paige Turner - December

Holden Caulfield, is mild and banal next to Maria del Carmen Huerta, the narrator of Liveforever, a book that is both murky and luminous, and has been cited as a Colombian version of The Catcher in the Rye. Liveforever tracks a counterculture of 1970s Colombia with an intensity fuelled by rumba, dancing and salsa. The Catcher in the Rye’s Caulfield pales into wishy-washy adolescence up next to Maria, popping as she salsas across sweltering Cali. I’ve a sneaky copy of Catcher, on my little secondhand bookshop, On Her Selection and I’ll be posting my copy of Liveforever to someone I thought about a lot as I read it.*

The Story Island Project is launching a book that showcases the stories collected from, and created by, communities across Hobart's northern suburbs, reimagining the life of the Brooker Highway. The book features writing and illustrations from young people as well as a contribution from Tasmanian author Danielle Wood. Stories of the Brooker Highway celebrates the northern suburbs as a place rich in stories, and a community filled with strong, creative voices. The book will be launched at 1pm, 7 December at Glenorchy LINC. All welcome.

Steph Parkyn’s linocut that was inspired by (in an ekphratic process) Gina Mercer’s poem, Handfeeding the Crocodile is perched boldly, and yellowly on my wall, a suitable backdrop to my current reading of Into the World, her first novel and one which covers subject matter that had me entranced from the outset. It is the fictionalised account of Marie-Louise Giradin who, disguised as a man joined the French explorers whose names are intertwined in our Tasmanian history, D’entrecastreaux, Kermandec, and Laballadiere amongst them, as they sailed on the vessels Recherche and Esperance in a bid to find their missing country man, La Perouse.
Into the World, which is a ripper read will be launching in Launceston at Petrarchs Bookshop on Friday 1st Dec at 6pm  and in Hobart at Fullers Bookshop on Friday 8th Dec at 5.30 pm. I’m fortunate to be in conversation with Steph for that event, North West – you don’t miss out, Steph will be delivering an author talk at Devonport LINC on Wed 13th December 2.30pm.
Island, hot off of the back of their fabulous 150th celebrations, will launch issue 151 on Sunday 3 December  at midday. They are riffing off the fabulous photo of esteemed Tasmanian author, Heather Rose who features both inside the mag, and on the cover, replete with a magnificent red apple, at Willie Smith’s Organic Cider Apple Shed down the Huon. For more details check out the Island magazine Facebook page.

 State Cinema Bookstore is holding their VIP shopper evening on December 7th in store between 5-9pm. 20% off compadres – and to join you simply have to be subscribed to their e-newsletter and/or be part of their loyalty program. You can even subscribe on the night.
The following paragraph is redundant, click on the link below to reveal the winners -
This column will go to print before the Tasmanian Premier’s Lit Prizes are announced late inNovember. I’m reluctant to share my picks but of each prize I’d recommend sinking your peepers into many of the books on the list, especially Heather Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love, The White Room Poems by Anne Kellas andPete Hay’s masterful collection, Physick.These alongside James Boyce’s LosingStreak. I’m tantalised and looking forward to the announcements.

The Tamar Valley Writers Festival is happening again next year and the dates are locked in for 14-16 of September. This is a lovely festival, similar vibe to the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival actually – and one that I will definitely be heading to again. The festival is also hosting Fiona McIntosh at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, in conjunction with Penguin Books and Petrarchs Bookshop. This will take place on Monday 4 December from 5.45pm until 7pm. Tickets are available from Petrarchs, ph: 63318088. Fiona McIntosh is a wonderfully diverse writer whose recent fiction work has spanned continents and tells the story of the lavender farm in Northern Tasmanian and its French antecedents.

Kristyn Harman, author of the award winning Aboriginal Convicts returns with Cleansing the Colony, Transporting Convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen’s Land,  a story about a little known cohort of 110 [people who were transported from New Zealand to serve as convict labourers in Van Diemen’s Land.
The stories of these people reflect the way the British sought to purge the colony of, as they saw it, a burgeoning criminal underclass. This is happening at 5.30pm on Thursday 7 of December at Fullers.

Finally, I wish you all a smooth Christmas and a joyous entry to the new year. I wish all those working in bookshops kia kaha, strong heart – for these trying times.
Peace xx.

If you have any book related news, drop me a line –

*It has been such a deep pleasure to hand this book over in person.

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 ...