This year Melbourne Prize for Literature had a new category (may it continue!!!) – Writers Prize it is called – for seriously long (10 to 20 thousand words), previously unpublished essays by Victorian writers. The winning essay by Kate Ryan (winning in more ways than one) plus four shortlisted essays got published, thanks to the Griffith Review, as an ebook. My essay ‘no Skin’ is a revisiting of the idea of traumascapes ten years later, and some other stuff. It’s the last one in the book because of the letter my surname starts with.
I am finally running a course I’ve been aching to get off the ground for ages – big thanks to Kate and Alexis at the Writers Vic! This course is a kind of ANTI-‘get your brilliant book written and published in under a month’. It says that writing is hard and that getting it (writing) right is sometimes diabolically hard. I’ve really wanted to pick out some of the most difficult-to-get-right aspects of writing literary non-fiction and focus on those. Here is a link to an interview with me, in which I explain what I am doing and why.
At Writers Vic, on three consecutive Saturdays in October, starting from October 10th.
What can I say? Commissioned by the Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival, adapted and staged by Gary Abrahams, performed at the new Alex Theatre in St Kilda, featuring an unpredictable collision of classical and contemporary Jewish literary texts – it’s going to be SOMETHING. Description – here. Tickets – here. I was extremely lucky to work with Gary on developing an original dramatic monologue for this performance. Learned a lot. Can’t wait to see what happens on the stage (a bit worried about soiling myself with the writerly anxiety though).
I am teaching a course @ Writers Vic called ‘The Hard Bits in Literary Non-Fiction’ (my title, my course) – the focus is on some of the most difficult-to-get-right aspects of writing literary non-fiction of any length. Ethics. Voice. Integrating Research. 3 consecutive full Saturdays in October.
Here is a link to an essay commissioned by Right Now – an online media organisation dedicated to monitoring and analysing – in great and necessary depth – human rights issues in Australia. They are a not-for-profit yet have managed to secure funding (Roselina Press! well done!) to pay writers real money for a series of focused, long essays. I don’t need to say anything about how it feels these days,in our sunburned country, to be paid real money for a longform piece on a topic of immense importance, do I? Mine is on how a great many of the first-gen thinkers and public intellectuals have been effectively barred from participating in Australia’s public life from 1940s to the present day. The big question: how can we account for the on-going disinterest, contempt even, shown by the mainstream Australian society to the vast immigrant intellectual capital? The essay is illustrated rather strikingly (I think) by Steve Tierney. This pic on the left is his work.
Here is a link to my review of ‘If This Is a Woman: Inside Ravensbruck, Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women’ by Sarah Helm published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday.
Sunday just gone – Women of Letters’ February salon at Northcote’s Regal Ballroom. Topic – Letter to Rude Awakening! The start of my letter:
Dear Rude Awakening, hello. I realise now you came to me three times.
First, you were a Musician. People would get under each other’s skin to your music. Love songs. Set in half-forgotten cities that lay, like camels, in sand and dust. With retired coronels left behind by history. A god-shaped hole or a hole-shaped God. Love songs, but not how-deep-is-your-love love songs. One day, not in Australia mercifully, you became a star. Now hundreds of thousands of people were falling for each other, fucking, feeling their hearts beat and bind, to your songs. And somehow in this Ascent of yours, which felt, yes, almost inevitable, your very modest capacity for love and friendship, the unfeelingness of your heart, the scale of your self-involvement, never entered the frame.