to eNews and the launch of our Autumn 2004 publishing
In this issue,
Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews
the Director's Desk
of you who have been following IP's rapid development over the
past seven years may be surprised by the range and
diversity of titles in our upcoming Spring 2004 Season. Eight
new titles will soon be out there, and the scattering of our
new authors from Brisbane to Perth reinforcess IP’s position
as a significant national publisher.
In order of launch events (not importance!), in early October,
have Wendy Evan’s The Diggings Are Silent an intriguing
collection of short fiction that was high rated in the 2004 IP
Picks competition. Wendy’s a WA author, and several years
ago she teamed up with musician Alan Ferguson,
the title story to music. We’ll be releasing Alan’s
the same time as Wendy’s book.
Later that month, I'll travel to Victoria for events in Melbourne
and Benalla in support of Joel Deane’s novel Another and
Cate Kennedy’s second poetry collection, Joyflight. Both
were 2004 IP Picks winners in their respective categories. Joel
has already had some impressive pre-publication publicity for
his IP Picks 2004 winning novel Another,
owing only partly to the book. He’s
just been appointed chief speechwriter for Victorian Premier
expect to see a literary flair in the Premier’s speeches from
now on—doubtlessly a welcome change! Cate Kennedy’s
first book was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Awards
last year, so we have high hopes for Joyflight.
In November, the IP Season travels to New South Wales for the launch
of Nora Krouk’s Skin
for Comfort, joint IP Picks 2004 winner
with Joyflight. Nora was one of many Jews who fled persecution
in Russia decades ago, living for a number of years in China. Her
book travels between those historical locales but also makes many
stops in contemporary Australia and Israel to reflect on current issues.
Nora’s book will be launched as the final event of the NSW Writers’s
Centre Independent Publishers’ Bookfair. I’m
also expecting to help launch the latest Glass House Books title,
a page-turning crime novel by Central Coast based Margaret Metz. Live
By the Bottle was also highly regarded by the IP Picks
judging panel this year.
Last but not least is my latest multimedia work, Paul
which will be released by IP Digital. The play had its dramatic debut
in 4MBS’ summer festival and has since been recorded in their
studio for production on CD, including images of the key paintings
of Gauguin and van Gogh and suitable period music and sound effects.
Watch for a progress report on My Planets, my multimedia fictive memoir,
coming soon to a DVD screen near you. Currently a team from IP, the
Arterial Group and QUT’s Cultural Industries faculty are bringing
together the multimedia elements, with post-production scheduled to
begin later this year.
Never a dull moment on board the IP juggernaut!
Dr David Reiter
RIP for the
I was pleased to be invited to serve on a panel at the
recent Byron Bay Writers’s Festival
where our subject was to decide the fate of online publishing. You
could call it payback time by the faithful supporters of the Physical
Book, who knew all along that publishers would eventually come
to their senses and realise that the market really isn’t
interested in e-books, and never was.
While IP is not an online publisher in the strict meaning of the
term, i.e. a digitiser of complete text, we certainly have enough
experience in the production and marketing of e-books, which I
define to be text online or on portable media, to venture an opinion
on the state of play in the industry.
My view has always been that simply putting text online and waiting
for the marketplace to deluge you with orders was never going to
be a replacement for the vehicle of first-choice, the physical
book. After a flurry of interest in our initial text on CD e-books,
the market has essentially dried up.
But the point I argued on the panel has always been IP’s
view: for digital publishing to be accepted: publishers must find
ways to take advantage of what the technology has to offer beyond
the digitising of text. Hence our line of literary multimedia—The
Knife, and the upcoming Paul and Vincent and
My Planets—but also our innovative Text + Audio Series, which
includes Chris Mansell’s The
Fickle Brat and Hannaford/Waller’s
These titles have etched themselves a place in the market. The
Gallery was our most popular title in 2001, outselling even our
print titles, and the multmedia murder mystery Sharpened Knife has also proved to be attractive to buyers.
There is no turning back the clock to the Pre-digital Age. As digital
forms continue to converge, there will be increasing demand for
content that can play or be viewed on pay-as-you-view TV, laptops,
on DVD players and on the new generation of PDAs and mobile phones.
Literary practitioners ignore this handwriting at their peril.
There are so many new avenues emerging for creative expression,
and artists should embrace, not feel threatened by, them.
The other panelists had a similar view, so the hoped-for bun fight
never really eventuated. I thought one of the most telling examples
was from the perspective of the person at Pan-McMillan in charge
of promoting Matthew Reilly, a best-selling print author. Research
had shown that Reilly’s
market was heavily slanted toward teen-age boys, so the author
decided to try a modified Stephen King by putting a new work online
in instalments. Contrary to King who tested the market by asking
people to pay for each installment, Reilly was determined to give
away his new work as a thank-you to his many fans. Was the site
popular? It was. Were there any concerns about reading unbroken
blocks of text on the screen? Apparently not.
This many have had more to do with the price being right than anything
else. But it does prove that people are willing to read text online
if the incentive is there. My point is that we can provide an even
greater incentive, that might even motivate people to get out their
credit cards, if we give them content adapted to our rapidly evolving
To breathe new life into Mark Twain’s
witty retort about the premature reports of his death, the pronouncements
of the death of the e-book are doubtlessly exaggerated, so long
as publishers and artists realise that the form must continue to
adapt along with the emerging technology, and that they can play
a pivotal role in creating content for the Digital Age.
Last issue we thrilled you
with the news of our new EFT details; this time we announce that
IP has a new ABN:
39 091 060 945
These details are also on our Orders page, and will doubtlessly
serve ascompelling reading for people eager to pay us for our
titles or services.
For those of you who pay by cheque or money order, it goes without
it seems that some people do need to be reminded—that all such
forms should be made out to Interactive Publications Pty Ltd, but under
our new ABN you can also make
IP, our trading name.
Common errors include cheques made out to Treetop Studio, which is
where we work, or to Interactive Press or Glass House Books (imprints,
rather than the company). Some people even make them out to David Reiter,
which sends our bank manager into meltdown.
Why does IP have a new ABN? It’s
a long story, and if you want the full sordid details it’ll
cost you at least one new title, so don’t
[In this issue, we focus on three
new authors: Cate Kennedy, Joel Deane and Wendy Evans.
I asked each of them to explain what inspires their writing. Their
responses are as diverse and unique as the titles we’re releasing
poetry collection was the joint winner of the IP
Picks 2004 Award for Poetry and is forthcoming in IP’s
Spring Season 2004. Her first collection, Signs
of Other Fires (Five
Islands Press, 2001) was Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s
Awards, and won the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize in 2002. Cate is
also an award winning author of fiction. She teaches creative writing
and lives on a farm on the Broken River in northeast Victoria.
I interviewed Cate about the inspirations for her writing, asking
her about the importance to her of `capturing the moment’ and
paying attention to the finer details of nature in Joyflight.
SM: When did you start writing poetry and why?
CK: I was always drawn to poetry as a child and keen to work out
how different poets controlled the effect they had on readers so
precisely. I never had an aptitude for numbers but even now I can
recall and recite rhyming poetry and song lyrics I learned as a child–something
about their rhythm and “fit” really appealed to me. Things
like particular turns of phrase stay with me, or writers reaching
to show something familiar in a completely fresh way.
SM: Who, if anyone, has influenced your poetry and why?
CK: Great poets, obviously like Seamus Heaney and Pablo Neruda have
influenced my writing–the pleasure in reading something passionately
felt and clearly expressed is a big inspiration. It doesn’t
have to be a poet, either, who makes me feel I’m learning something
about language–the writer Ray Bradbury influenced me a lot
as a teenager, his writing seemed so lyrical and multi-layered. When
I’m feeling out of ideas I read Gwen Harwood, who I’ve
always loved, to get myself back on track.
SM: What are some of the things that inspire you to write poetry?
CK: The other day in the Guardian I read a poetry review where the
author called nature “that most hackneyed of inspirations”.
I gulped! The natural world continues to be the thing that gets me
to the desk to write–or, maybe more accurately, observing how
humans interact with the natural world, and what that provokes to
the surface, which is always worth exploring. I live on a farm, so
it follows that I’m not going to be writing about urban landscapes
or city images. Like everyone, I write to process crises, or emotional
upheavals, just to make sense of them. I try to have my antennae
out to watch the details more carefully, and to question my own responses.
SM: Do you feel that writing poetry comes naturally to you or do
you have to work at it?
CK: I think I have to work at it. I find I fall between two aims:
to find a naturalistic, accessible tone and to really locate the
distillation of the idea. Sometimes my poems seem too prosaic to
me, and I need to push harder to shape those ideas poetically.
SM: You are also an accomplished author of fiction. Are there differences
in the inspiration for these genres? A different purpose to your
writing for one or the other? Do you favour one over the other?
CK: I think, fundamentally, my inspiration is the same–I want
to give you the jolt the experience or observation gave me. It’s
really satisfying to write dialogue that rings true and good, revealing
action in prose, but obviously you can do a great deal more with
imagery in poetry, and play with structure a lot more to provoke
a desired effect. Either way, I think I’m a “narrative” thinker.
I like story, so crafting good prose that explores dense and complex
characters is always going to be something I’m interested in.
Maybe this is an adolescent overhang from Ray Bradbury days, but
I’m wondering if there isn’t some form which finds a
middle ground between prose and poetry – something driven by
the narrative structure of prose but which opens up the metaphorical,
lyrical potential of language the way poetry does. I’d say
that’s what I’m learning to do.
SM: Your book cover features
a photograph of three children standing with a small plane and this
Joy Flight is also the subject of the title poem and the book’s
title. Why was this story so important to you?
CK: My Dad had a long career in the Airforce, and I like the idea
that this was the first day of setting that decision in motion. The
moment we hardly recognise which takes us somewhere we can never
SM: Why did you choose to write about it?
CK: It happened just like it says in the poem–we
were talking after the death of my uncles about the time they went
on that flight. I’d
never heard the story till then, yet Dad actually kept this old photo
someone had taken to commemorate the Tiger Moth arriving in that
little town. Maybe it was that idea of death cutting us off, so we
lose all those stories unless they’re told and passed on. I
do see stories as talismans, something precious and potent we carry
with us. And I do think now that we’re looking to fiction to
tell us those truths. I think we’re trusting the “news
media” less and less, and people’s stories–their
flawed but sincerely-felt versions of the truth–more and more.
As what’s “real” becomes more and more contested
we go back to story, the things that feel meaningful. I guess the
poem’s exploring the sense of responsibility of this, what
it’s asking of us.
SM: And is this idea important to the book as a whole?
CK: Maybe in the sense that we “capture the moment” but
in fact the moment captures us.
That’s how the natural world works too–we’re struggling
to impose significance on it but it goes on implacably–relentlessly,
almost–showing us that we’re incidental, impermanent,
and that the impression we actually make is the moment we would never
SM: You show an incredible attention to detail in your poetry. This
is particularly evidenced when writing about the natural world and
how it intersects with our human experience. It seems to me many
of us travel through our lives missing these finer details.
CK: Couldn’t agree with you more.
SM: In your opinion, why are they so important?
CK: Whatever insight we’re going
to have, it’s going to be
when we are paying attention to those fleeting moments, when we escape
into the present, rather than being fixated on the past or the future.
Rather than living in a state of delayed gratification, I wish we
would savour that gratification now–give away our ludicrous
attempts to control outcomes. I feel very lucky to have lived for
a few years in Mexico, where it’s possible to experience this
constant, flexing, sinuous present. In my first book Signs of
Other Fires, which is pretty much all about being swamped with
that realisation, I wrote a poem called “There Is This Moment”, which talks
about the sense of being taken up by the day like a thread; it says: “I
am being used / to make something”. I love the sense of being
encompassed into the moment, swept up and knitted together into something,
if I can only pay attention and see what’s being shown to me.
SM: Why should we pay attention?
CK: I love what Kafka says about this: “Be quite still and
solitary. / The world will freely offer itself to you. / To be unmasked,
it has no choice. / It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
If we want that, we have to shut up and be ready to pay attention.
SM: How important is your connection with the natural world, the
environment you are living in, to your writing?
CK: Very important. I feel like over a period of years I’ve
weaned myself off over-stimulus! I’m not addicted to constant
entertainment any more–I’m actually becoming a bit of
a recluse. Maybe it’s been shaped by living in Mexico, but
one thing I don’t think will ever leave me now is my sense
of privilege–being able to read, having thousands of books,
a computer, a safe, clean, beautiful place to live, and hours of
time to dedicate to doing something I love.
SM: In 2002 you won the Vincent Buckley Award and travelled to Ireland.
There are several poems in the second half of your collection that
were written during this trip, including the incredibly powerful “The
Poor Commissioners”. In this poem, and many others there is
a strong sense of history, in a personal and family sense and a wider
social sense. Do you see this as an important element of your poetry?
CK: It worries me that schools are phasing out teaching history,
because I feel that most of the context in which I make sense of
things is to do with the past. In fact, it’s the only context.
I teach senior students creative writing and they always have the
same question when they’re asked to write a story or creative
response: “But what am I going to write mine ABOUT?” It’s
as if we’re removing all context and meaning from their experiences
then expecting them to discuss them in an insightful, enlightened
way–in fact, we punish teenagers for not respecting the “lessons
of the past”, accusing them of being totally self-centred,
when we’ve coached them all their lives in ignoring anything
outside their own frame of reference (and to take their meaning,
instead, from the accumulation of status objects.)
History works like the ultimate “reality check” for me;
a jumping-off point to consider the whole sweep of human behaviour
and my own identity within it. We repeat history, and that always
seems richly ironic.
SM: You teach creative writing. If you could only give one piece
of important advice to authors, particularly beginners, what would
CK: I would say forget about syntax, meter, technicalities while
you’re learning–just focus on making an emotional connection.
If I had to express that as a metaphor, I’d say craft a mirror
you can see yourself in, then take it outside and see who else can
see themselves in it–when other people look and recognise themselves,
you’ll know you’ve written something good.
SM: What would you most like your readers to take away from their
experience of Joyflight?
CK: Barbara Kingsolver says the purpose of writing is to “probe
the tender spots of an imperfect world.”
I would love readers to recognise a few of those tender spots from
Joel Deane’s first novel won the 2004
IP Picks Award for Fiction and will also be released in
our Spring Season. Joel is a journalist, producer, editor,
novelist and poet. His latest incarnation is as speechwriter for
Victorian Premier, Steve Brachs.
another is set in the urban fringes of what
could be any Australian city. It explores the life of the Purcells,
a family haunted by the shadows of their violent past and clinging
precariously to their existence in another, a desolate housing
I asked Joel about the inspirations for his writing generally and
what prompted him to write this story in particular.
SM: Joel when did you start writing fiction and why?
JD: I guess I’ve always been a storyteller. I wrote and performed
two plays when I was in primary school and was a chronic bullshit
artist as a child–but it wasn’t until I hit sixteen
that I started to write seriously. By seriously, I mean for survival.
At that time, I was struggling. Reading and writing poetry literally
saved me. I started cranking out poems rather than essays and started
failing school. At least one of my teachers thought I was on drugs.
I also started writing a very autobiographical novel around that
time, but abandoned it. When I was 20 I wrote a novella, which
I shelved. I wrote a screenplay, but threw it away. I then started
writing short stories, but stopped after Overland published one
of my pieces when I was 26. That convinced me that I was ready
to write a decent novel. So I started work on another.
SM: Who do you think has most influenced your writing?
JD: Poems and poets have had the most influence on my writing.
Neruda, Paz, Ginsberg, Auden, Blake, Wright, Plath, Hughes, Wordsworth,
Yeats, Dickinson, Matthews, Crane, Donne, Patterson, Slessor, Frost,
Jarrell, and a bunch of others all heavily influenced me as a young
writer. Right now, I’m taken by John Kinsella, trying to
catch up to MTC Cronin and connecting the dots with Michael Farrell.
I also saw a terrific reading by David Prater in Melbourne the
other night and love Paul Mitchell’s stuff.
I have also been influenced by a lot of books–such as Wuthering
Heights, Beloved, The English Patient, The Unbearable Lightness
of Being, Power Without Glory, The Heart of Darkness, Ironweed,
Captivity Captive, The True History of the Kelly Gang, Cloud Street,
A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Other Stories, Love in
a Time of Cholera, Lolita, Les Miserables, War and Peace, Ulysses,
The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Catcher
in the Rye.
SM: You write both poetry and fiction. Are there differences in
the inspiration for these genres? A different purpose to your writing
in one or the other? Do you favour one over the other?
JD: My poems are, effectively, my internal cartography.
My fiction is more about how I see the external world. Quite often,
idea for a piece comes from a poem, but, once I’ve finished,
it is at least 40,000 words away from that impetus. I don’t
favour one form over the other. To me they are like two brothers–with
poetry the introvert, fiction the extrovert.
SM: You also write professionally as a journalist and speechwriter.
Do you think this experience strengthens your creative writing?
JD: I effectively grew up in a newsroom–starting work at
The Sun in Melbourne when I was 17. I wanted to experience
the wider world. I also wanted to get out of home fast and support
myself. Newspapers were the exit strategy. That was more than 17
years ago. Since then, journalism and politics
have educated me (I didn’t go to university), taught me how
the world works, and introduced me to a wide array of people.
That being said, I’d have to say my personal life–family
in particular–has had a much greater impact on my creative
work. I come from an arty-farty family. My Mum’s a nurse
and my Dad’s a taxi driver, but they’ve sired two musicians,
a painter, a film aficionado, and me. There’s always been
peer group pressure within my family to be creative. If I’m
not writing, my brother and three sisters want to know why.
SM: Do you think your skills as a creative writer bring a certain
individual flair to your speechwriting and journalism?
JD: Creatively, journalism and speechwriting are relatively easy–compared
to fiction and poetry–but they are trades with their own
requirements and disciplines. I enjoy plying those trades, realize
I’m lucky to be earning money from writing-related endeavours,
and enjoy cranking out a good speech or article. Whether it’s
a poem or a speech, I enjoy playing with the sounds words make
when you bang them together.
The form constraints of journalism and speechwriting also tend
to drive me towards more creative pursuits. I need an outlet. An
SM: Can you give us an example of where your creativity has led
to a humorous or surprising outcome? Do you have any anecdotes
you would like to share with us?
JD: When I was living in San Francisco I landed
a reading at a Beat exhibition in the M.H. de Young Museum in Golden
It was a big deal at the time. They had Jack Kerouac’s original
manuscript of On the Road on display–a roll of typing
paper taped together so that Kerouac, who was allegedly hopped
pills, could crank out
his opus in one long jam. It looked like one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Another relic they rolled out was Allen Ginsberg. This was not
long before Ginsberg’s death, but he gave a ripsnorter of
a reading–he only wanted to read new stuff and even grabbed
an accordion and squeezed out a few poems-as-song. It was like
he was trying to channel William Blake. I was very impressed–and
honoured to perform on the same stage.
SM: Your novel is set on the urban
fringes in a very alienating landscape with characters who live
on the margins
of society. Is this purely a work of imaginative fiction for you
or was it also inspired by personal observations/experiences?
JD:another is based on things I’ve
done, things I’ve
seen, things I’ve heard and things I’ve made up. It’s
not autobiographical, but I am in there. For instance, I identify
very strongly with Toby’s inarticulate alienation. As for
Suzie, I didn’t realize when I was writing her, but she is
largely based on someone I know and love. Also, the feeling of
another, the place, the sense of isolation and dislocation, of
being trapped, is exactly how I felt when I
started writing seriously as a teenager.
SM: another could be seen as a powerfully political novel, a critique
of Australian society. The characters are representative of a growing
underclass of the socially and economically disenfranchised. It
certainly seems to challenge the popular myth of Australia as the “fair
JD: I didn’t set out to write a political novel. My only
intention was to tell Suzie and Toby’s story in the most
direct, unvarnished fashion–bristling with strong voices
and vivid images. What fired me was my affection for the main characters
and anger at the situation they found themselves in.
Regarding our “fair go” society, it doesn’t exist.
If people are self-satisfied enough to think this a “fair
go” society they must also believe the Earth’s flat.
As a society, we must keep striving for social justice.
SM: Was there a political motivation of which you were aware while
writing this novel? Were you consciously drawing people’s
attention to the realities of life on the fringes?
JD: I wasn’t consciously trying to make a political statement,
but I am very political and many of the stories I am interested
in have a connection to social justice issues. For instance, I’d
love to write something with the punch of Frank Hardy’s Power
Without Glory and the poise of Victor Pelevin’s The
SM: What impressions would you most like the reader to take from this?
JD: I’d like the reader to wonder whether another sits on the perimeter
of their city. I’d also hope they cared about Toby and Suzie.
SM:another also depicts a “cycle” of family
violence and shows us the ordinariness and every day nature of violence. Even
when the characters we
grow close to throughout the novel commit criminally violent acts, we do not
lose our human connection with them.
JD: Violence is like Vegemite. It’s in everyone’s cupboard–and
the taste for it is quite often handed down from generation to generation. It’s
a mistake to think that violence is out of the ordinary. People who commit violent
acts are just like me–but they’ve found themselves in a set of circumstances
they couldn’t cope with. Ultimately, circumstances teach us who we are.
And the lessons can be ugly.
SM: Do you see this depiction/exploration of violence as an important element
of another? If so, what motivated you to explore this in the manner you did?
JD: When I started another I wanted to discover Toby. I saw him as someone who
could have been me–with the same rage and alienation I felt, but could
never adequately express. I wrote to unearth Toby.
Suzie was the first major discovery I made during the writing–and she took
over the book to a degree. After that, the circumstances unfolded. The violence
SM: You have created realistic and individual characters in another.
Do you create
your characters on the basis of people you know?
JD: Some characters are partly based on people I know. And some of the circumstances–such
as Brendan’s naked drive on the hood of his car, Danny in the hospital,
Suzie’s self-harm, and hanging around the airport with nowhere to go–are
based on things I know and things I’ve done.
SM: Did it ever get difficult to live with Toby, Suzy et. al while writing the
novel or are you able to successfully compartmentalise the different aspects
of your professional writing career?
JD: No. In the rereading, though, parts of the book disturb
SM: Did you ever find them intruding on other areas of your life? I can imagine
it would be difficult to write an uplifting speech or promotional media with
Suzie in your ear, for example?
JD: Suzie and Toby are still with me. As are all the poems I’ve ever written.
For better or worse, they are pieces of me. They help make the rest of my life
SM: One of the great strengths of another is your atmospheric depiction of place
and strong imagery. Has your work as a poet strengthened this aspect of your
JD: When I wrote another I thought of it as a poem–a 45,000 word narrative
poem. I wanted it to be evocative and visual–and felt that the country,
which is so much wiser than us, should be the bedrock of the story.
SM: How long did it take you to write another?
JD: The first draft took five months. The final version
years. Between the first draft and the final version I lost two or three years.
Maybe more. There were a series of domestic catastrophes that forced me to stop
altogether to care for my wife, Kirsten. I nearly lost her; very nearly lost
myself. It was a time in my life that was beyond words, and I’m still dealing
with the consequences of that period. I was a very angry man. My rage knew no
It changed me.
Kirsten and I also have two children, Sophie and Noah. Our eldest, Sophie, was
diagnosed with Down Syndrome in utero. Sophie is a very healthy, happy little
girl now, turning four in December, but the five months waiting for her to be
born, not knowing the extent of her disabilities, were unspeakable.
To get back to your question, writing in all forms has had to fit around my private
dramas for the past seven years. There was a time, early in 2003, when I thought
myself a spent force, but, with help, started to get working again, slowly but
surely. Late last year I redrafted
another for the umpteenth time and wrote my first significant poem, “Romeo
in years. It was like coming up for air. I’m now keen to refloat an unfinished
American novel that’s 40,000
[Joel’s been enjoying some excellent press coverage
in Victoria, due in part to his recent appointment
as the Premier’s speechwriter. In a recent
article for The
Age, Dan Silkstone notes “He will bring
to the position a flair for the written word seldom seen in the corridors
of Parliament House.”
In closing, Silkstone speculated that if Joel were to enter and win
the Victorian Premier’s Award with another, “he would
be in the unprecedented position of writing both the Premier's speech
in making the award and his own acceptance words. Not to mention,
of course, the prizewinning book.”
[Also forthcoming in October is this
collection of stories by Wendy Evans, which was commended in IP
Picks 2004. The book will be launched in Perth in October
with a CD based on the title story by musician and composer
This is just a brief intro to Wendy. Our next issue will feature
a full story on the book and her collaboration with Alan.]
you crossed Dylan Thomas with Henry Lawson, Ben Elton, Fay Weldon
and Colleen McCullough, you’d get a creative bundle like
Wendy J Evans. Unless you believe David Price, one time international
president of the National Speakers’ Association, who once
introduced her to a conference audience as “the biggest bulldust
artist in Australia!”
The former English, Art and Drama teacher, with a B.Sc, worked briefly as a
geologist in the Pilbara iron-ore mines in the 70s, before deciding that, while
rocks might tell the story of the earth, they were rotten conversationalists!
During 14 years in the North-West she wrote, produced and acted in plays, off-beat
pantomimes, revues such as Wendy on Whaleback, poetry, short stories and lyrics
for folk songs.
‘My voice is like agricultural machinery,’ she says of her performance
skills, ‘but I could make people laugh. When I started writing songs which
made people cry I left the vocals to those with ability! That’s when I
wrote two musicals for State and National Folk Festivals.’
After a stint as a full time landscape artist, she became an entertainments
manager, bringing international stars to the Outback, before turning to journalism
as a career.
‘I was making news. Others were being paid to write about it. I thought, ‘Stuff
that for a deal,’ and started doing my own press,” she explains. ‘I
was free-lancing to five papers at one time.’
Though she had written for the West Australian for eight years, she
made her mark in Community Newspapers, wanting to stay close to people and
their concerns. She won many awards from 1985 to 1999, editor of several mastheads,
trained the company’s journalists, wrote a witty weekly column and was
appointed political reporter for the group.
After “retiring” to learn how to write novels, she was head-hunted
by the State Government as principal policy adviser on community relations
to the Ministers for Planning, Heritage, Finance, Lands, Electoral Reform and
Fair Trading. She is now a PR Officer at Fremantle Hospital, where she sees
the cutting edge of medical developments and the face of human suffering.
‘All experience is research,’ she says. ‘I weave what I learn
into my novels and short stories. The art of story-telling is, at heart, the
ability to listen to people and to translate real life into fiction, through
use of the imagination.’
Our writing competition
is certainly on the national calendar.
We had enquiries throughout the year. When will it be open
again for submissions? Would we consider new categories?
The answer to the first question is NOW, and the second, YES! For conditions
and an entry form, simply send us an email with
Picks as your Subject, or post us an SASE addressed to IP Picks 2005,
IP, Treetop Studio,
90 Kuhler Court, Carindale 4152.
Now in its fourth year, Picks opened for submissions from 1 August
and will close, as usual, on 30 November. For the first time, we are
offering publication to the winner of a new category, Creative Non-fiction.
One of the reasons for the expansion has been the success of two
recent Glass House Books titles: Perfect
People by Dianne Cleary
and Inge by John Veron. The first is essentially a how-to about how the rich
and famous think of success, while Inge is a biography of a North Queensland
island resident. Both have creative flair, and that’s
what we’re looking for in entries
in the new category.
While we guarantee royalty
publication to the winners in each category, we sometimes also offer
commended entries a contract, so you don’t
necessarily have to win to become an IP author!
Some people hesitate when they see there is no cash prize for the winning
entries, but Picks is entirely funded by IP at this stage. We hope
that won’t always be the case, and
we’re on the lookout for potential
sponsors, so, if you have any ideas, please let us know!
In the meantime, consider entering a ms yourself, or feel free to pass
on the word!
We had successful launches across
the board of our Autumn 2004 titles in Brisbane, Melbourne and
History was both revisited and created anew when Merle Thornton
returned to the landmark Regatta Hotel in Brisbane to launch her
IP title After Moonlight.
The Regatta was of course the site of Merle’s famous protest
in the 60s, when she and Ro Bogner chained themselves to the public
bar of the Regatta to protest against the exclusion
of women. This incident had much wider and more important ramifications.
The exclusion was representative of society’s exclusion of
women generally. The protest was a loud and symbolic “enough’s
enough”. When Merle went on to campaign
successfully to end the discriminatory policy barring married women
from employment in the public service, the two actions became
known as “the two bars”.
Peace was made on both sides on April 21, when the Regatta, fresh
from a recent multi-million dollar refurbishment hosted the event
in the aptly named Merle Thornton Room. It is not every day an
internationally renowned actress and celebrity launches one of
our titles but Sigrid
Thornton did the honours for her mother. She also gave an inspiring
reading from the text and then engaged Merle in a
session on the book.
This gave the packed house of 150 guests some interesting insights
into the novel and Merle’s writing process.
Your newsletter editor had a somewhat obscured view of the event
from the book table—which did brisk business all evening—much
to our Director’s delight!
After Moonlight continues to attract attention in
all the right places. A two page spread appeared
in the Age newspaper on 18 July, which we encourage you to link
to for more information on Merle and her book.
The Brisbane launch was followed a month later by an equally successful
event at ScreenSound Australia in South Melbourne. Sigrid was joined
in her support of the book by her husband film-maker Tom Burstall and
members of the local Thornton and Burstall clans.
Sigrid gave an even better performance of selections from the
book, which inspired our Director to have a chat with her about
the entire book for our Audio + Text Series. Discussions are
ongoing, so watch this space!
After an event at Readings Bookshop in Melbourne,
Merle returned to Brisbane
in July to appear as a featured guest of the Queensland Writers
Centre’s Wordpool readings series.
She made the most of her time here, with an interview on ABC Queensland
with Hilary Beaton, who will soon be retiring as Director of the
Writers’ Centre and also with
the Arts Editor Sandra
Maclean for an upcoming feature in the Courier-Mail.
following week, Director David Reiter shuttled Merle to readings
at West Logan City Library and two Gold Coast Libraries to an enthusiastic
reception. Merle weathered all the travelling to and fro like a trooper.
She’s been doing it since the
60s and shows no signs of letting up: Remember the Regatta!
A launch of a very different sort took
place in mid-April at Sydney’s
Westmead Childrens’ Hospital. Perfect
People is a new Glass House Books release by Sydney management
consultant Dianne Cleary. In it, Dianne goes behind
machines to track down over 100 of Australia’s most successful
and famous people, and, through candid interviews, reveals some of
their dreams, fears, imperfections, blunders and gaffs—all
in the name of giving us advice on what comprises “success” in
The hospital hosted the event, which was attended by several of the
VIPs included in the book, and, in the true spirit of Mother’s
Day, members of the audience came up to the signing table with armfulls
of books. This was a delight of course to our Director, but also
to Dr David Bennett, who will be accepting a donation for research
at the Hospital from Dianne’s
proceeds from the book.
Since then, Dianne has been very active in promoting her book via the
national and local media. Even Peter Gooch of 4QR in Brisbane hopped
on the bandwagon recently by suggesting that Perfect People should
have been on the list for this year’s One
Book, One Brisbane promotion. (This had nothing to do with the fact that he was one of
Nixon’s poetry collection, Café Boogie,
was launched in Sydney’s
Gleebooks on the 6th of June. Poet joanne burns launched
the title for Jenni in front of an enthusiastic crowd. An abridged
version of joanne’s speech follows.]
Many of you will have been impressed by Jenni Nixon’s distinctive,
robust performances of her poetry over quite a number of years, so
it’s very pleasing to be here together today for the launch
of her first book of poetry, Café Boogie published
by Interactive Press. You will now be able to read a whole collection
of her poems, rather than to catch them through the air for a minute
or two at a reading performance, or to read them one or two at a
time in a journal, magazine or anthology.
While there are some entertainments in Café Boogie,
as the title might suggest, Café Boogie is a
confronting collection, a collection that speaks of, that acknowledges
the tough, the grim, the troubled, in the lives of the persons and
personas that inhabit the pages of this book. As Jenni says in “earthly
I’m no writer of pretty garden views
blooming roses autumnal hues / I see aphids and rust.
The unflinching voice of her poems makes us the readers and listeners
pay attention to her words, and this attentiveness is reinforced
by the measure, the beat of her phrasing, through the series of the
she so often uses. The epigraph from the writings of the late Vicki
Viidikas at the front of the book:
‘words like swordfish through
rain a kind of essential salvage’ well describe what Jenni
Nixon has set out to do in this collection…
This sense of ‘salvaging’ to which I referred also involves
a sense of ‘change’ and there are other moments in Café Boogie of
release from the tough times. In “sounds of flight” the
persona finds comfort in the singing of Jeannie Lewis, e.g. till
time brings change, Nixon writes and
in my empty sky I hear her sing/ life is for living.’
the poem “abundance” almost
a voice play, studded with lines of conversation, the persona, pissed
off at the endless anger and resentment of her various neighbours
consults astro advice from the net.
There is a shift of attitude… resentment / tightens the
lips gets in the way of abundant living.
Jenni Nixon’s use of spoken word fragments from various characters
and from bureaucratise, e.g. centrelink, throughout her poems creates
a crackling and vital presence. This effect no doubt emanates from
her years as an actor and as a performer of her own writings. In
fact the names of characters that appear in her poems have a ring
of the stage about them: Butch, Junky Jo, Smack
Sally, The Dealer, Poet, Pus, Angel, Butch Balladeer, Tugboat Johnny...
is levity in some of the poems as well. For example in “pasture
city” she has a lot of fun with a series of portraits/reflections
on the cow sculptures that grazed/graced the city of Sydney several
years back—especially in the Circular Quay area. Here she
is playful, fanciful—and political. It’s a bright piece
A suggestion of Jenni Nixon’s development as a writer and performer
of her own words can be found in “postcards from Gallipoli” where
she writes of her grandfather and his legacy: a
habit of collecting seed…./making notes in a journal…/tasting
words on the tongue ‘hippeastrum’ / germinating words
And this sense of heritage is more strongly suggested in one of the
final poems “Gulgong Heritage Festival”, where at this
Henry Lawson town, the poet persona is a finalist for the poetry
performance prize, which includes a statuette of Henry. She reflects
on her connections with Lawson in terms of past difficulties. But
in this poem she has
success, laughter and applause welcome my words. And
I do know she has won this prize, and also been runner up, and is
again a finalist for next weekend’s festival.
To conclude I’d like to leave you with some images of the poet
Jenni Nixon from “xpression/digression”. The poet is
fried up after recently experiencing the poet-rappers Def Poetry
jam at the Metro:
i want to yell at Cardinal Pell
words of regret
published in the paper
what the hell? George Pell
i’m no abomination.
This is a strong confident poem of artistic / political purpose where
adversity becomes transformative: a walking
stick my metronome / measures out the rhythm and finally this
restorative, expansive statement:
I’m doing fine getting the
creating music of mayhem making it mine.
Congratulations on your book, Def Jam Jenni!
— joanne burns 6/06/04
[A Note to our Sydney readers that
Jenni Nixon will be appearing at the Feminist Bookshop in Lilyfield
Saturday the 14th of August at 4pm. She will be performing poetry
from Café Boogie and will be available for book
signings. RSVP to the Feminist Bookshop:
Phone: (02) 9810 2666 or by email.]
sorry to report that Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford were unsuccessful
in their grant application
to Arts Queensland in the most recent round. Far from being dissuaded
from conducting their Central Queensland tour, Louise and Kristin
are determined to proceed, which is a credit to them and their commitment
to developing an artistic spirit in the regions!
We applaud Louise and Kristin, and hope that our readers up there
will join them at
At short notice, David managed to
take a weekend off to appear at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival
at the end of July. He noted that the ever-popular event was
actually sold out on the Saturday. His session was a panel on the
question of whether or not there’s
a future for online publishing. For more details, see this issue’s
< title>IP eNews </title>
Just before we went to print with this
issue, David headed south again, this time as a featured writer at
the University of Wollongong’s
Centre for Canadian and Australian Literature. Donning a hat that
he rarely wears these days, David was billed as one of three Canadian
authors. Never mind the fact that he’s
lived in Australia since 1986—the accent is still a give-away.
He and the Centre’s Director Dr Gerry
Turcotte agreed on an experience both had when they first moved here.
Though both were migrants, they felt invisible, since many of the more
settled Australians they met didn’t
regard them as true immigrants because English was their first language.
This actually wasn’t true in Gerry’s
case. He grew up in largely French-speaking Quebec province, though
he recounts a certain irony in having his French “accent” corrected
into more acceptable English by speech specialists at a time when speaking
French was regarded as a disadvantage by Quebecois who wanted to get
The event at the Canadian Writers’ Night
also featured Yoko , who spoke about her research into the experiences
of Japanese-Canadian women, and Andy Quan, a Vancouver-born poet, who
now calls Sydney home. Gerry Turcotte’s
latest book, Borderlines, a hybrid of photos and poetry, which
discusses his immgrant experience, was launched by the Canadian Consul-General
Richard. David read from his sequence of poems about the Inuit as well
as poems set in the historical mining town of Kaslo, British Columbia,
which can be found in his Selected and New, Kiss
[We have recently welcomed a new
staff member here at IP. Sue Nelson has joined us as Assistant
We are into our busiest publishing season ever, and Sue
has already been thrown in the deep end with extensive copy editing
and promotional writing duties. She is already a valued member of
the team and we look forward to a long and happy working relationship.
I asked Sue to introduce herself and tell us a little about her background.
Sue is a real surprise package—an unexpected mix of natural
therapist and professional editor!]
I lived all over Queensland as a child because my father was a DPI
Stock Inspector and was transferred every 3-4 years (my homes included
Warwick, Julia Creek, Bundaberg, Atherton, Charleville, Mackay, and
Books were my refuge in a constantly changing world and I leaned
heavily on the big family I belong to—I'm the second oldest
of 7 children.
I went to college at Toowoomba, formerly the Darling Downs Institute
of Advanced Education, now the University of Southern Queensland,
and completed a BA in Literature, History and Journalism. I loved
the Literature side of it. I had Bruce Dawe as my poetry lecturer
and I thank him for scaring me into delving deeper into the poems!
Anyone who has had tutorials with Bruce will understand what I mean!
In the following years, I developed an all-consuming interest in
learning natural therapies, prompted by the relief I experienced
from acupuncture during my own health crisis. I took a 4-year
Acupuncture course at the Brisbane College of Traditional Acupuncture
and managed to conquer my initial (but understandable) reluctance
to ‘put those needles in’.
I moved from Brisbane to Gympie and proudly opened up my first Acupuncture
clinic. It was very busy and, after four years, I suffered
a 'burn-out' (I believe it's something that all practitioners must
some time in their careers).
I went overseas to Sweden for a complete break from treating patients.
I stayed on a beautiful dairy farm in the traditional area of Dalarna,
2 hours north-east of Stockholm with my college friend, Julie. While
I was there, Julie got a magnificent university job teaching English
This inspired me to seek a teaching job when I returned to Australia,
one year later. I then spent 4 years teaching at two Brisbane natural
therapy colleges which I greatly enjoyed. I taught a variety of Acupuncture
subjects including philosophy, diagnostic techniques, point location
and chinese massage.
By this time, I was back in the Gympie area but a little further
south, in a charming village-like town called Cooran belonging to
the Noosa hinterland. After a brief, but disastrous, attempt at managing
a health food shop in Pomona, I joined another clinic in nearby Cooroy
which has evolved into Picture of Health, a one-stop natural therapy
centre with many different therapists.
Although happily employed as a part-time Acupuncturist in this idyllic
hinterland area with no intention of “burning out”, my lifelong
interest in literature and writing has reawakened with a vengeance.
I have now enthusiastically completed a 2-year distance education
course with the University of Southern Queensland—a Graduate Diploma
of Editing and Publishing. The course emphasised the emergence of
digital publishing and its potential for a global reach.
While studying, I had a small job writing resort profiles for a Noosa-based
magazine. I thoroughly enjoyed this and felt that it was initiating
me back into the media and publishing world. I have also produced
newsletters for the clinic and contributed articles to the local
I support local industries in general but I very much admire independent
publishing companies such as IP because they are ready to explore
the exciting possibilities of electronic publishing. I am thrilled
to be on the team at IP and I look forward to working with all forms
of writing mediums.
After I directed
a friend to the Thylazine web site recently,
they asked “what
is Thylazine—I’ve clicked the link a few times and still
can't quite figure it out.” I thought about this and decided
what was needed was an unofficial tour of this extensive online resource.
The official description is: Thylazine Foundation:
Arts, Ethics and Literature and this serves as a very general
purpose. I asked Thylazine’s founder and director, Dr Coral
Hull what she considers Thylazine to be and she offered
the more intriguing ‘perhaps
something that defies extinction/making the invisible— visible.’
For the uninitiated, Thylazine is an online magazine featuring
art and literature; a charitable foundation raising money for various
causes related to animal and people rights; a directory of Australian
poets; an online collection of poetry for peace from over 131 poets
and counting—this project was initiated after the terrorist
attacks on September 11 2001; Thylazine is also a place
where the idea of
free culture is promoted and where Director, Coral Hull showcases
her own groundbreaking work on multiplicity—more on that later.
The best place to start is the beginning. I wouldn’t advise
that web surfer rush their Thylazine experience. Grab a herbal tea
the mouse for a good hour or more of reading. The content here is
all high quality and well worth spending the time.
thylazine.org will take you to the current issue of the biannual Thylazine
Issue 9 was still a work-in-progress at the time of writing. Two
poets are “featured” in each issue. This issue, they
are Francis Webb and Aileen Kelly. A further 10 poets are published
the Australian Poets Series selected by Coral Hull. In
addition to poetry there are also interviews, book reviews, articles
and featured artwork.
This issue, Coral Hull features her own work on “multiplicity”.
This series of images, with context provided by the artist, will
challenge all your previous notions of what is commonly referred
to as Multiple Personality Disorder. If you click the
link to Artesian Productions in the menu, you will find
more on this subject.
Perhaps you will come away from this work as
I did, ready to drop the automatic psychiatric lingo and consider
there are other ways of “being” in the world we might
not fully understand. It works as art in the most fundamental sense
challenging our preconceptions of “reality”.
Authors should check the Submission Guidelines thoroughly
before sending any work; the Featured Poets and Australian Poets
Series are already closed for 2004.
The Australian Poets for Peace could be your next stop. It
features the work of over 131 peace loving authors. This may
motivate you to visit the For Charity pages: current projects include
the 100 bush hats for kids in the Northern Territory
which aims to provide hats and sunscreen to the homeless. A more
desperate plight is difficult to imagine and this is a simple but
effective way to provide practical help. There are also efforts to
raise money for xmas gift hampers for needy families and hampers
for new babies in the NT.
Animal Rights are also a key focus here and there is
another page dedicated to pictures and stories on this issue.
The Foundation needs donations to keep going. It’s hard
to fathom that this substantial site is largely the work of one woman.
Coral has had to make some difficult decisions recently, the magazine
is no longer subscriber-based and until sufficient funds
are raised, Issue 10 will be delayed.
Without sufficient funding
Thylazine, like its namesake, could disappear. If we, as
a community of artists, value this wonderful publication, we need
to dip into our own pockets to ensure its survival.
Order any IP poetry title and get a second one for 50% off.
Buy any two titles from the IP Shop via our order page to qualify.
Do it before 1 September and and we’ll
throw in free postage and handling (a flat $5 charge applies thereafter.
YD:23_1. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit
card orders, add $2 per title.
Deal 2: Order an IP Six-pack for $66 + $6.
Your choice of any six IP titles published before 2003 for just $11
each, GST-inclusive, plus a flat $6 postage and handling
YD:23_2. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders,
FIPC members get a further
10% discount off the cost of either package
plus free postage. Sign up now and get the benefits of Club membership today.