Friday, May 20, 2011

A lovely poem I wish I'd written.

No Time

In a rush this weekday morning,
I tap the horn as I speed past the cemetery
where my parents are buried
side by side beneath a slab of smooth granite.

Then, all day, I think of him rising up
to give me that look
of knowing disapproval
while my mother calmly tells him to lie back down.

Source: Poetry (December 2000).

Edsel Grizzler Book Gig

Great news! As part of this year's Brisbane Writers Festival WordPlay schools program, students from the Queensland University of Technology, under the direction of Carolyn Heim, will be doing two Book Gig performances of Edsel Grizzler. The dates for the performances are Wednesday 7 September (12.30pm), and Friday 9 September (12.30pm). I'll be there to answer questions and enjoy the show, so get along if you can! I'm also doing a whole bunch of other sessions with the festival. It's always a great program up there: all your details can be found here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2011

The venue was the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House. The date was the 16th May, 2011. And the event was the announcement of the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

This was the first year that the winners haven't known prior, making it more like the Oscars, except that the presenter read something about the winner in each category before reading the name, thereby giving a ten second heads-up to anyone paying attention.

It's good to see this morning that the mainstream media has broken with tradition and published the names of the winners in all categories, rather than just the 'big' ones. And those big ones were Alex Miller for Lovesong, and Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons for Fraser's biography. But of most interest to many of us were the winners of the Ethel Turner and Patricia Wrightson prizes, won by Cath Crowley (Graffiti Moon) and Sophie Masson (The Hunt for Ned Kelly) respectively. Both shortlists were stacked with potential winners, but unfortunately there could only be one in each list. I have to say that those who missed out took it in very good grace. I admire their nerve - I don't know if I could have been quite so calm during the tense wait.

But the biggest cheer (and a standing ovation) was for Libby Gleeson who, in a huge surprise to her, won the $20,000 Special Award for her past and ongoing contribution not only to young people's literature, but the literary community at large, especially her efforts in establishing the Lending Rights scheme that we all look forward to each year.

It was also a great night for the Western Sydney Young People's Literature Project, soon to be renamed Westwords. This project, overseen by Judith Ridge, kept getting mentions all night, including from Libby in her acceptance speech. From memory, Libby (who chairs the project's board) said something like, 'Watch out for us - we're going to be big.'

Monday, May 2, 2011

A weekend in Gloucester

Seems a lot of new writers festivals are popping up all around the place. More and more schools are putting them on, mostly modelled on the marvellous Somerset Celebration of Literature on the Gold Coast. Then there are the community festivals, such as the new Bellingen Writers Festival.

And there's this one - the Gloucester Writers Festival, held for the first time during the weekend just past. It wasn't a bad lineup of presenters, either - Pamela Freeman, Pam Rusby, Anthony Lawrence, Les Murray and Barry Maitland, to name but a few.

We all had a great time, with a number of events on offer, including a poetry sprint, a young writers' short story competition, and a number of workshops in addition to the panel sessions. I met a number of new people, like the lovely Julie Ditrich, who presented on the topic of graphic novels, and Jesse Blackadder, as well as the organiser, Lindy Dupree.

Then there were the CWA ladies and their pumpkin scones.

And the place! Oh, the place! Anyone who's never been to Gloucester should do i
t, and do it soon. On the drive up there on Friday, I found myself driving past the first day of the Stroud show. Now, I just want to say this: I very rarely go to the Royal Easter Show. I pretty much hate it. Too many people spending money they don't have on things they don't need and food they don't really like while they look at things they don't really understand. But proper country shows are great. I spent a lovely hour wandering around, looking at the campdrafting and the cattle dog trials and the produce displays. They even had a competition for "Best afternoon tea tray with food for one".

And pumpkin scones.