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Author: Alice Desmond

The Novel Prize: entries opening 1 April

Giramondo Publishing, Fitzcarraldo Editions and New Directions are pleased to announce that The Novel Prize, the biennial award for a book-length work of literary fiction written in English by published and unpublished writers around the world, will open for entries for submissions on 1 April 2022.

The Novel Prize offers US$10,000 to the winner and simultaneous publication of their novel in Australia and New Zealand by Sydney publisher Giramondo, in the UK and Ireland by the London-based Fitzcarraldo Editions, and in North America by New York’s New Directions. The prize recognises works which explore and expand the possibilities of the form, and are innovative and imaginative in style.

The inaugural winner of The Novel Prize was Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au, which was selected from over 1500 entries worldwide. Cold Enough for Snow was published in Australia, the UK and the US in February 2022, and is set to be published in eighteen territories. Jessica Au said: ‘The Novel Prize has been an incredible experience – to have had the opportunity to work with publishers of the calibre of Fitzcarraldo Editions, Giramondo Publishing and New Directions, and for Cold Enough for Snow to be translated internationally from there, is something I will continue to be both amazed by and grateful for.’

The Novel Prize is managed by the three publishers working in collaboration. Entries will be open from 1 April to 1 June 2022, with Giramondo reading submissions from Asia and Australasia, Fitzcarraldo Editions from Africa and Europe, and New Directions from the Americas. A shortlist will be made public in December 2022, with the winner announced in February 2023. The winning novel will be published in early 2024.

For more information please visit

Praise for The Dancer

It’s an extraordinary book and it just got under my skin and has filled my mind. It’s a book about my generation and the damage done so there’s a lot to recognise and it’s a book that keeps faith, with Philippa Cullen and the dance of life against the odds…The cascade of Philippa’s relationships…is awesome in every way…It is a book about Australia and our impossible relationship with the outside world…the changes that reached for the outer limits in the 70s.

Nicholas Jose

I adored The Dancer…it was absolutely the perfect reading for the tail end of the long lockdown – so transportative, it felt like I was actually going places, when I hadn’t left the house for months, and still didn’t quite have the option to! Loved the daring of the first 100 pages too, and now wish more biographies took the long view of a life.

Sam Twyford-Moore

This book is enlivening in every, extraordinary way. I want to live inside it like one of the leaves Philippa Cullen pressed between the pages of the books she read; her own and the ones she borrowed from other people.

Anna MacDonald

I finished The Dancer yesterday and am sad, for two reasons: one, because it’s been my companion during two weeks of camping and now it’s finished, and two, because Cullen’s vibrant life was cut so short. I had a bit of a cry towards the end…I really loved the book.

Tom Carment

A biography for, not of…And as always with Juers, an evocation of something more than a single life, or period, or place: events, characters, phenomena that might at first seem incidental but belong to a complexity and rich interconnection of things that she is fascinated by and which we, as readers, are seduced into finding equally relevant and illuminating.

David Malouf

I’ve plunged into The Dancer and it’s got a wonderful grip on me…I’ve never read anything quite like it. It’s one of those rare books that become an alternative world while you’re reading it… I keep thinking of…the lists of her daily tasks and duties – this moved me…the dense texture of her existence as both an artist and as an ordinary woman with friends and family she loved – how it was made up of great strokes of ambition and imagination and drama and LABOUR and at the same time of tiny, faithful, reliable, seemingly inconsequential quotidian details.

Helen Garner

Andy Jackson and Fiona Kelly McGregor shortlisted for Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Congratulations to Andy Jackson and Fiona Kelly McGregor, who have each been shortlisted for the 2022 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for their works Human Looking (Poetry) and Buried Not Dead (Non-fiction).

Of Jackson’s Human Looking the judges said:

Andy Jackson’s fifth collection is nothing short of textured. While fiercely anecdotal, conversational and crafted, Jackson’s art is consistent in its illumination of the discourse and lived experience in disability. These poems range in craft from his own childhood medical files, responses to pop culture and connective odes in erasure to literature’s greats. Deep and experienced, accessible and challenging, Human Looking casts honestly filtered light on our bodies. How we see them, respond to them and how we live within them, this collection is dimensional in its lyricism and form. An undeniably potent collection ‘tenderly sketched’ by its creator.

Judges’ report

The judges said of McGregor’s essay collection:

Buried Not Dead maps an alternative topography of Sydney, exhuming queer and artistic subcultures from the shiny metropolis’s margins. Blurring boundaries between profile, personal essay, arts criticism and reportage, these essays roam through the utopian possibilities of ’90s clubbing and techno; embodied portraits of unruly artists (gender-scrambling cabaret/burlesque/drag acts, poets, performance artists, tattooists, autotheorists before the genre had a name); elegies for the city subsumed by gentrification and over-policing. Fiona McGregor becomes cartographer of an ephemeral queer underground, thrumming with joy and creation and life. We were here, these vital essays insist, and the art we made mattered.

Judges’ report

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday 3 February 2022. Voting is now open for a People’s Choice Award.

Adam Aitken wins the Patrick White Award

A huge congratulations to Adam Aitken, who has won this year’s $15,000 Patrick White Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Australian literature.

Commented Aitken:

I feel deeply honoured to win the Patrick White Award, which validates my lifelong commitment to poetry and storytelling. The recognition it confers gives me the self-belief to continue writing, as it has for previous recipients. I am more convinced now than ever before that each book I have written speaks of this country with all its complexities, and that my own struggle to express my part in it has been worth a lifetime of labour.

The Patrick White Award was established by Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick White to advance Australian literature ‘by encouraging the writing of novels, short stories, poetry and plays for publication or performance’. For the past forty-seven years it has been awarded to an author who has made an ongoing contribution to Australian literature but may not have received adequate recognition.

Aitken’s new book of poetry, Revenants, will be published in February 2022, and is available to pre-order.

Photo: Neela Griffiths

Book launch: The Magpie Wing by Max Easton (featuring live bands)

Described by The Guardian as an ‘original, exceptional novel’, Max Easton’s The Magpie Wing will be launched at Pratten Park Bowling Club by author Briohny Doyle, followed by live music from bands Del Lumanta and Witness K.

Sunday 12 December, 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm AEDT

Pratten Park Bowling Club
42 Arthur Street
Ashfield, NSW 2131

Event schedule:

  • 4pm: Doors open
  • 5pm: Book launch
  • 6.30pm: Live bands

Copies of The Magpie Wing will be available for purchase on the night, with book signings available. Food and drink will also be available for purchase from the venue.

About the book

Helen, Walt and Duncan are looking for ways to entertain themselves in the sprawl of Sydney’s western suburbs. Walt, scrappy and idealistic, wants to prove a point and turns to petty vandalism. His friend Duncan is commited to his fledgling football career, and seeks out sexual encounters in unfamiliar houses. Walt’s sister Helen, in search of something larger than herself, is forced by scandal to leave the family home. As they move into adulthood they gravitate to the dingy glamour of the inner-city suburbs, looking to escape their families’ complicated histories, and to find new identities, artistic, sexual and political. The Magpie Wing is set on football fields, in sharehouses, at punk gigs, and in dilapidated and gentrifying pubs. Max Easton’s debut novel moves from the nineties to the present, and between the suburbs and the inner city, exploring how communities that appear worlds apart – underground music scenes, rugby league clubs, communist splinter groups – often share unexpected roots.

The Magpie Wing was published by Giramondo in September 2021. Order a copy.

About Max Easton

Max Easton is a writer from south-west Sydney whose work has appeared in Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, Science for the People, The Lifted Brow and Mess+Noise. He is the creator of the underground music podcast Barely Human, and has played in a number of Sydney punk bands including BB & The Blips, The Baby, Basic Human and Romance. He is a former research scientist and rugby league player, once appearing in an under-seventeens development squad for the Western Suburbs Magpies. The Magpie Wing is his first novel.

About Briohny Doyle

Briohny Doyle’s latest novel, Echolalia is out now through PRH Vintage. Her previous books include Adult Fantasy (Scribe 2017) and The Island Will Sink (Brow Books 2016) Briohny’s criticism, short fiction and poetry have appeared in The Sunday Times, The Monthly, The Age, Overland, Going Down Swinging, and Meanjin. She has performed her work at the Sydney Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Briohny was a 2017 Endeavour post doctoral fellow at Yale University and the University of California Santa Cruz. She is a 2020 Fulbright Scholar. She is a lecturer in Writing, Literature, and Culture at Deakin University.

About Del Lumanta

Performing something new in a live setting. Listen to the 2021 release Sunken Places.

About Witness K

The four-piece Witness K take their name from the whistleblower former officer of the Australian federal security apparatus, who revealed the Australian government’s bugging of Timor-Leste’s offices during lucrative maritime border negotiations. They are currently finishing an album for ever/never records due in 2022.

The Magpie Wing, a playlist

In The Magpie Wing, brother and sister Walt and Helen find a brief sense of belonging in the underground music communities of inner Sydney after fleeing the family home in the city’s southwestern suburbs. Their motivations for escape(ism) are in the book, but there’s a lot that doesn’t make it onto the page when it comes to the world of music they discovered, via the early internet, back issues of DIY punk zines and informal CD-swapping networks.

To Walt and Helen – and many like them – there was a historical promise made by anyone from Minutemen to Royal Trux, Butthole Surfers to Discharge: that something thrilling and vital is available if you go looking for it. Add to that promise the mystery that came with every bizarro punk band discovered in the mid 2000s on Limewire (bands that couldn’t be heard on 2WS radio). It all amounts to a potent recipe! 

This playlist (aside from being a promotional stunt for the book’s upcoming physical launch on Sunday December 12th at the Pratten Park Bowling Club) takes the bands named as influences in the book, and places them with the Sydney bands that Walt and Helen would have played with, supported, or watched, between the years of 2009 and 2018 (that is, if the book didn’t have FICTION stamped on the cover). 

Maybe that makes some sense of the sound of the book’s mid-section – sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, often leading its characters to anywhere from inspiration to self-destruction. I think it’s a nice listen!

— Max Easton, November 2021


1. Justice Yeldham – Colour Me Your Colour (2007)
2. Pussy Galore – Understand Me (1989)
3. Circle Pit – Neon Idol (2020)
4. Royal Trux – Hallucination (1992)
5. Naked on the Vague – Treading Water (2010)
6. Minutemen – Definitions (1980)
7. Ruined Fortune – Closing Till (2014)
8. Blues Control – Love’s A Rondo (2012)
9. Holy Balm – Fashion (2016)
10. The Replacements – Bastards of Young (1985)
11. Sex Tourists – Guts (2017)
12. Dicks – Rich Daddy (1983)
13. Royal Headache – Psychotic Episode (2011)
14. Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown (1979)
15. Oily Boys – Cabramaverick (2020)
16. Discharge – The Nightmare Continues (1982)
17. Low Life – RBB (2019)
18. Fear – Let’s Have a War (1981)
19. Cured Pink – Pop Up Shop (2020)
20. Butthole Surfers – Strangers Die Every Day (1986)
21. Lucy Cliche – Shallow Shadow (2015)
22. 4 Skins – A.C.A.B. (1982)
23. Orion – Sexy Alien (2017)

Rawah Arja and Laurie Duggan shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

Congratulations to Rawah Arja and Laurie Duggan who have been shortlisted for the 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for young adult literature and poetry, respectively.

On The F Team the judges said:

Arwa’s characters are unique, flawed and authentic… Rawah’s characters peel back the many layers of Australian society and bares our flaws, our strengths and our heart on the page. They humanise people from marginalised communities who are not widely represented in young adult literature yet make up an important part of the cultural landscape of modern Australia.

The F Team is a powerful, relevant and timely book that questions what it means to be a man, what it means to be human and what it means to be Australian.

On Homer Street the judges said:

Laurie Duggan is very much a poet in the objectivist and minimalist tradition. He is a consistent adaptor of the raw material of the real. Duggan’s poetry is anti-romantic and preoccupied with the mundane. It is a poetry which, to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase, lacks tentacular roots, but it shows a very fine ear and an instinctive and masterly sense of form. Ultimately – and to encompass the great movements of the last century– Duggan’s poetry comes out of the innovations of William Carlos Williams but he is also a poet capable of very adept adaptations of Martial and he has always been attracted to the revisionist music of Pound at his most imagistic and clean. Duggan also shows an affinity for more recent American poets – Charles Olson and Paul Blackburn among them – but he is essentially a geographer of the imagination which is why his poetry is so preoccupied with topography and is such a testament to his skills as a master craftsman. Homer Street exhibits all this virtuosically and with the greatest variety.

Winners of the awards will be announced in December.

Online event: Andy Jackson in conversation with Jill Jones

Thursday 18 November, 6.30pm AEDT

Join Andy Jackson in conversation with Jill Jones as they discuss Jackson’s latest collection of poetry, Human Lookingpublished by Giramondo in October 2021. The event is free and streamed live online. Register on Crowdcast to reserve a place.

Nicolette Stasko on J.S. Harry

From the introduction to New and Selected Poems

Over thirty years ago I met J.S. Harry, fittingly or perhaps ironically, because of a bird. Readers familiar with her work will know that Harry’s keen observations of avian life make up a large portion of her poetry. The bird was a rainbow lorikeet named Birdie – rescued as a chick after falling out of its nest. At the time, Harry was poet-in-residence at the Australian National University and needed to make up some potion for Birdie which required a food processor. So she called us as the only people she knew in Canberra. Arriving with barbecue chicken and chips as thanks (this tells you something about her as she was a lifelong vegetarian) she proceeded to mix a batch of mysterious ingredients which included bee pollen. When we moved to Sydney, Harry often visited us carrying a very large cage decorated abundantly with native flora and silver beet leaves. Birdie was left free to wander around – much to the delight of my five-year-old and the utter fascination and confusion of the dog, who couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was so well cared for that a miraculous egg was eventually laid to everyone’s surprise, as much as Birdie’s.

During her time at the ANU, Harry was expected to meet with individual students, and conduct workshops. We attended readings, which included her fellow residents Jennifer Maiden and Vicki Viidikas. It seemed Jann and I did a lot of driving around in her huge blue-and-white car talking about poetry, becoming friends easily and quickly in spite of the vast differences between us and our work.

When she returned to Sydney we spent hours on the phone gossiping and reading our poems aloud – eventually sending copies to each other. I remember sitting in my little study in Narrabundah and opening her letter that contained one of the first rabbit poems, ‘Calcutta’. I laughed out loud at the wicked satire, the ingenious originality of it. Eventually the rabbit poems were collected and published in Not Finding Wittgenstein by Giramondo in 2007. It won the Age Poetry Book of the Year Award. The eponymous rabbit hero of the series was called Peter Henry Lepus, and was said to have Creole ancestry. Originally the rabbit was based on the beloved children’s books by Beatrix Potter but the request for permission to use the character was met with such outrage and the threat of lawsuits by the Potter literary estate, that it left Jann with a lifelong terror of copyright.

This was not the end of Peter Henry however. He went on to meet many more philosophers and travel to the Middle East, in poems which were written near the end of Jann’s life, and are included in this collection.

Jann often met me after work when I flew to Sydney for consultancy work; one time for dinner in the rooftop restaurant of the hotel where I was staying. Ordering fish for her, thinking it was a suitable vegetarian dish, I watched her pick at it while we looked at the neon skyline of the city. She never said a word. Another time we sat on the floor of the hotel room and ate salads from David Jones (I was a bit more cluey by then), talking about poetry and reading aloud. Having sent her a new poem, I was anxious to hear what she thought. In her typically frank way she said the ending was ‘flat’. As I attempted to defend the last line she asked me to read it aloud. I did and she admitted that it worked perfectly with my voice. She was inflexibly honest and yet also willing to accept that she might be wrong.

Jann was the most charitable and caring person I’ve known – supporting all kinds of poets and buying poetry books even though it seemed she had no money. She was also immensely private (partly the reason for the use of initials for her public name). Two male ‘senior’ poets showed up when Jann launched my first book, and told me that they were only there to see if J.S. Harry was a man or woman. Apparently there were bets on it. Until her health began to fail and she needed help to shop and clean, I never knew where she lived or visited her house. Her usual shopping list was mince (for the birds), white bread (for the possums), cheese slices (for herself) and stationery supplies. The house was so full of papers and books it was hard to walk around.

Jann came often to our various places in Sydney and we would talk sometimes until four in the morning – she drinking the strong black coffee I would brew, I wine, and both of us smoking with gusto. This is when questions of whether a ‘holey doily’ was a tautology, or whether a full stop or a colon was best, would be discussed. This may sound silly or boring but it never was. Amongst other things Jann could be very funny, with a dry Australian sense of humour. Her vast knowledge made conversation fascinating. We were both reading Wittgenstein and other theorists on language and poetics. Jann was extremely precise in her work and these apparent incidentals mattered. I think that a fundamental dichotomy in her approach caused her some existential angst: how could she make the poem as exact as possible and yet still leave ‘room in each poem for the imagination of the reader to move around in’. She eventually came to an understanding that enabled her to write brilliant and satisfying poetry embracing Bertrand Russell’s notion that ‘a word has a meaning, more or less vague; but the meaning is only to be discovered by observing its use. The use comes first, and the meaning is distilled out of it.’

Around 2005 Jann moved to Katoomba to be with her partner and fellow-poet Kerry Leves and we didn’t spend so much time together. She had known Kerry for many years – since early workshop days. It was during this time that she put together Not Finding Wittgenstein, no doubt with Kerry’s help. Later they moved back to Sydney so Kerry could begin a PhD. But in the end he was unable to finish it. He died about six months after receiving a devastating diagnosis. As usual she let her poetry do the speaking for her: the beautiful poems that appeared in Public Private (published by Vagabond in 2013) express her sadness and loss but also her stoic resilience in the face of it – turning to the natural world for solace and celebration.

I remember one time when she called me to read a poem she was writing, published in that collection as ‘Plop!’. Because it was an early draft (Jann wrote and printed numerous drafts – sometimes up to twenty or more until she was satisfied – all of which she kept for future reference) she was experimenting with the laugh of a kookaburra. She actually imitated the bird very well and tried out different possibilities in the poem but I still didn’t think it worked. She didn’t say anything else about it but when the poem appeared all of the kookaburra sounds were omitted. By then her own health battles had begun in earnest and she spent a great deal of time in hospital undergoing surgeries and physio. Eventually it was clear none of the surgery or other cures were working. In spite of the short notice, her family were able to find a place for her in a nursing home where she could receive round the clock care. At first Jann was totally resistant to the place and very suspicious, as one would expect. Eventually she settled into a routine and even became fond of the carers her family hired to provide assistance in areas the home could not. For six months or so we (Rob Shield, a friend she had earlier met when he was called to fix her computer) worked on the Peter Lepus poems that can be found in the final ‘Return to Baghdad’ section of this book. They were already past draft stage and just needed a little fine-tuning. Rob mostly read them aloud as Jann didn’t particularly like the way I read her work and he was most familiar with them. She had a remarkable sense of cadence and even when she was very ill, she could pick a misstep or a false line break. Corrections were made on the computer. These poems are highly detailed and fairly complex. Harry had kept a very close eye on the events unfolding in Iraq and was somewhat expert about the political situation, using all of her skills as an autodidact to consult multiple resources including a huge collection of newspapers. The poems are not as humorous as the early rabbit poems, though the unusual characters and satire relieve the seriousness. They are intensely critical of war (as she had always been as far back as Vietnam) and the stupidity and cruelty of human beings. Peter Henry Lepus has finally had his rabbit eyes fully opened and he has sadly become somewhat cynical.

At some point a New and Selected was mooted and we switched our energies to working on this volume. By that time Jann’s illness had progressed and she was often in pain or fuzzy because of the drugs she took to ease that pain. Very quickly she decided to cut three or four poems from the selection, but from there the task became much more difficult. After spending weeks, sometimes months or years, crafting a poem it is very hard to abandon it. But space was a significant problem, as she had gone on to publish seven collections after her first, Deer Under The Skin, in 1971. It was all a little unorganised and we weren’t getting very far so I typed a list of all her published poetry to help organise the process. And we went from there – each time a poem was read it was given a cross, a tick or question mark. Still, it was sometimes hard to stay on track, as the discussions about the individual poems went off in all directions. There were poems we didn’t even get to. The list became invaluable in deciding the selection – the more ticks, the more solid the poem’s place in the collection. In finalising the contents I read and re-read the poems. I could hear Jann’s voice (she was always a magnetic reader) and sometimes I felt incredibly sad that she was gone and I would never hear her again. There were times I had to make an editorial decision – the responsibility weighed heavily on me but knowing Jann so well, and being privy to the discussions around the poems, I am mostly comfortable in choices that could easily be said represent the best of J.S. Harry. New and Selected Poems would be published. I promised I would make every effort to see that it was. And with the help of Ivor Indyk and Rob Shield, the book is the fulfilment of that promise.

Nicolette Stasko
Sydney 2021

Gerald Murnane: a note on Last Letter to a Reader

Nearly six years ago, when I had written the last of my poems for the collection Green Shadows and Other Poems, I felt sure that I could write nothing more for publication. I went on writing, of course, but only for my archives.

In mid-2020, during a so-called lockdown in the state of Victoria, I wrote the first few of the pieces in this book – but only for myself and for future readers of my archives. Not until I had mentioned my project to Ivor Indyk of Giramondo, did I think of my pieces as the first of a published collection. Thus encouraged, I went on writing long after the lockdown had ended, pleased to be able yet again to explain myself.

Gerald Murnane – August 2021

HEAT opens for submissions

HEAT, Giramondo’s literary journal, will be published in a third series from early 2022. We are now welcoming submissions of poetry, fiction, essays and hybrid forms. Our intention is to publish the best work being written in Australia and internationally, with a view to cultivating an openness to possibilities.

At the core of HEAT is a desire to challenge convention and ignite the imagination. We seek writing that is playful, eccentric, and formally dextrous, and resists the overly sincere and sentimental. Rather than being guided by subject or themes, we’re drawn to depth of thought, singularity of voice, and, above all, writing that speaks to the urgency and dynamism inherent in the word ‘heat’ itself.

Among the contributors to the first two series were Murray Bail, John Berger, Roberto Bolaño, Brian Castro, Inga Clendinnen, Gao Xingjian, Helen Garner, Lisa Gorton, Jorie Graham, Gail Jones, Kapka Kassabova, Etgar Keret, Deborah Levy, David Malouf, Herta Müller, Gerald Murnane, Les Murray, Dorothy Porter, Gig Ryan, Charles Simic and Alexis Wright.

Writers looking to submit to HEAT should familiarise themselves with the first two series of the journal and the Giramondo books catalogue. The new HEAT will be published bi-monthly in a smaller, more intimate format, which throws a sharper focus on the work of the featured authors. We therefore encourage writing which gives full reign to the author’s voice, without the restriction of a word limit. In the case of poetry, we would welcome longer poems, or a selection or sequence of poems.

Please know, we will not be publishing reviews or opinion pieces, at least in the conventional sense. We are, however, interested in writing that engages with other writers and their works. We’re also intrigued by obsessions and curiosities, lost or secret histories, literary quests and writing that brings research to life.

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept material that has appeared elsewhere in the English language.

Submissions will be open for the months of October and November. If your work isn’t ready in time for this deadline, we intend to open again in the new year.

To submit work to HEAT via our Submittable platform, click here.

Andy Jackson: a note on Human Looking

Bodies are emphatic, yet ambiguous. So it’s only fitting that the title of this collection of bodily poems is similarly forceful, but with a double-meaning. There are two ways of saying ‘human looking’; one with a hyphen, the other with a comma. In other words, these poems are about how we judge others to be human yet not-quite-human. They’re also about the humanness of the gaze, the vulnerability of the person doing the looking.

Human Looking was written as the creative component of a PhD, but don’t for a moment think they’re academic or abstract. Since puberty, I’ve lived with a visible disability, and have had to carry around the weight of other people’s looking. Wrestling with this is Sisyphean; simply putting it down isn’t an option. In a sense, this is my fifth poetry collection about deformity and the fault-lines of human community, though I’ve never written poems quite like this.

These poems – some biographical, some autobiographical, some both – are stareable bodies, and they seek to stare back. In the process of writing them, I often experienced a kind of metaphorical far-sightedness – the closer I got to someone, the more blurred their life became. So, while I always preferred affinity or solidarity to appropriation or detachment, I also tried to make my own limitations transparent. Human looking is always partial, unstable and incomplete. So is this book.

It tackles various mythologies and histories, the online world, sculpture and painting, photography, contemporary medical technology, financial precarity, estrangement and solidarity, violence and tenderness. Plenty of these poems emerge out of everyday life, too, where the interruptions are more subtle – illness, uncanny experiences of place, social encounters, ageing and love. These are disabled poems, so these are human poems.

— Andy Jackson

Evelyn Juers: a note on The Dancer

For several years I was working on a book about Europeans who explored Australia. At the same time I was tending a small archive about my friend, the dancer and choreographer Philippa Cullen, who once said that if she died young, I should write about her. She was twenty-five when she died, in 1975. While the explorers’ biographies involved conscientious research, information about Philippa was gathered more haphazardly. I’d meet people who knew her, discover things I’d forgotten, scribble notes on scraps of paper, clip newspaper articles about experimental art, dance, India, youth, death. And about the 1970s, which really did not seem that long ago.

In 2016 I attended the opening of an exhibition. With performances, photographs, video and sound, posters and programs, it commemorated her achievements. The white-haired crowd was huge and boisterous. And above all, it was the moving stories told by her family and friends, and the conversations which continued afterwards in cafés, phone calls, emails, and further meetings, that shone a light on the lively, intelligent, and complex young woman we all remembered. One of her colleagues described Philippa as a visionary, one of her friends said she had poetry, others recalled their delight or embarrassment, when she would unexpectedly start to dance in public, not like a prima donna, but in a subtle way that was mesmerising and made people and places – the street, the park, the train – part of her dance.

So I changed tack and momentum. I pushed the explorers aside, because it occurred to me that time and eye-witnesses would soon be dwindling, and it was more urgent to write something about – and for – Philippa Cullen.

— Evelyn Juers

Photo: Sally McInerney

Π.O. and Kristen Lang nominated for prestigious literary awards

We’re delighted that Π.O. is one of four authors shortlisted for the 2021 Melbourne Prize for Literature. The award is for a Victorian published author whose body of published work has made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature and to cultural and intellectual life.

Π.O. is a legendary figure in the Australian poetry scene, born in Greece and brought up in Fitzroy, the chronicler of Melbourne and its culture and migrations. He is a pioneer of performance poetry in Australia, and the author of many collections, including the epic works 24 Hours and Fitzroy: The BiographyHeide, the third book in his monumental Melbourne trilogy, was published by Giramondo in 2019 and won the 2020 Judith Wright Calanthe Award, Australia’s most prestigious poetry prize.

Winners will be announced in an online broadcast at 6pm on November 10. Public voting is now open for the Civic Choice Award, in which Π.O. is also nominated.

Congratulations also to Kristen Lang, whose collection Earth Dwellers is longlisted for the 2021 Laurel Prize – an international award for the best collection of environmental, ecopoetry or nature poetry. Prize winners will be announced at an event in Yorkshire on 8 October 2021.

September events: Sydney Spleen and No Document

We invite you to join us online for the launch of Toby Fitch’s new collection Sydney Spleen and for a conversation between Anwen Crawford and Declan Fry.

Book launch: Sydney Spleen by Toby Fitch

Friday 17 September, 8.30pm AEST

Sydney Spleen will be launched by Justin Clemens, and will feature readings from the author as well as Ursula Robinson-Shaw and Luke Patterson. 

This event is free and live-streamed online. Please register to attend.

Anwen Crawford in conversation with Declan Fry

Thursday 30 September, 6.30pm AEST

Join Anwen Crawford in conversation with Declan Fry as they discuss Crawford’s latest book, No Document.

The event is free and streamed live online. Register to reserve a place.

Eunice Andrada: a note on TAKE CARE

It is difficult to live in the ‘after’ of sexual assault when empire reminds you time and time again – through the broken justice system, the news, and the stories of people you care about – that what was done to you doesn’t matter. Through the writing of these poems, I’ve tried to map out what it means to live in the ‘after’ while holding the weapons of rage, hope and desire.

These poems explore the role of rape culture in the machinery of imperialism, where lands, waters, peoples and non-human communities are violated to uphold colonial powers. I also look at the ways rape culture works in the exploitation of Filipino women in global industries of care. My poems trouble convenient, nationalistic narratives about the care labour of Filipino women as ‘heroic’ nurses and ‘martyr’ domestic workers. These narratives obscure the violent truth of colonial labour pipelines that remove Filipino women of their agency, alienate them from their families and communities, and transform them into bodies in service of empire. I focus not on all women, not women of colour, not Asian women – but the women who raised me and those who look like them. In the writing of these poems, I’ve attempted to get as close as possible to the hurting bone. As the daughter of a former OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) who cared for others while others cared for me, I am interested in the ways our labour – particularly the labour of care – can be used as weapons against empire.

Writing poems makes me feel possible. I hope that reading these poems helps other survivors of assault and violence feel that living with joy, care and resistance is possible – and necessary.

— Eunice Andrada