and welcome to the first edition of eNews for 2007!
This issue is jam-packed full of information – including the results
of the 2007 IP Picks Awards. Meet
the winners in our Focus section, where you can read
more about their winning manuscripts from the judges’ reports.
questioning if Big is really Beautiful when it comes to library
systems in his Editorial,
David talks about Style in
his how-to column, and it’s a great read, particularly
for all budding authors out there. Also make sure to check out
our Staff News and join us in welcoming our new Assistant Editors
Courtney and Katia. Those of you who had contact
with our intern Jennifer Newberry will wish her well as she prepares
for a big trip to Europe!
Out and About is a big
section this issue, with a wrap up of our Spring Season and
the events including the first IP Soirée and the Gala
Launch. If the slideshow there makes you keen to see and hear
more, check out our first-ever podcast.
Our IP authors have been doing extremely well in the contest
sweepstakes, and we have all the information on their awards.
Be sure to check out the IP Digital Buzz this
issue and explore all the links to our content on CDBaby, YouTube, CustomFlix
and, of course, our new podcast site. Prepare to be dazzled!
Happy New Year and brace yourself for a big year for IP—our tenth
the Director's Desk
1997, I founded IP with the publication of my fourth poetry
in Spain and Selected Poems. The
book had been accepted by Penguin, Australia—before
the bean counters took over and discovered that poetry publishing
didn’t pay. It still doesn’t pay, at least in
the terms that commercial publishers understand, but I believe
in the importance of poetry.
Ten years on, and more than 70 IP titles later, we are still publishing
poetry: five titles in 2006, and at least that many this year. We have
an expanding prose list as well as an innovative digital list. The Australia
Council has awarded us grants in each of the last five years—no small
achievement when you consider we are competing with the Big Guys in those
grant rounds. Even Arts Queensland, which has inexplicably turned its back
on commercial arts enterprises, still sees IP as a key part of Queensland’s ‘vibrant
I’m also proud of our track record as a publisher of emerging talent—and
not just young talent. We continue to publish first and second time authors
that larger publishers hesitate to take on. It’s often not a question
of merit for the larger publishers, it’s about risk. Fortunately,
we’ve found a way to streamline our operations to keep costs down.
And we’ve relied, over the years, on a horde of dedicated volunteers
and interns from our local universities who believe in IP. Some of them
like Sara Moss, our inaugural eNews Editor and Poetry Editor, became a
virtual fixture on the staff page; others like Erica Sontheimer stayed
for only a short time but still made a tremendous contribution while they
were here. They know who they are, and I thank each one of them for spurring
IP into this, our 10th Anniversary year.
2007 will be an exciting year for us, and I hope for you, too. In this
issue we announce the winners and commended in IP
Picks 2007 and new export initiatives to Europe and North America.
To capture the essence of what we’ve achieved since 1997, we’re
publishing a Best of IP CD that showcases selections from our authors over
our first decade, as well as answering the question where are they now?
of authors we published early on. A dazzling integration of text and multimedia,
it’s sure to be a collectable, so make sure you get your copy. Best
of all, we’ll be selling the CD to individuals for a mere $10—for
obvious reasons—or even less if you order other IP titles at the
same time. Check out Your Deals next issue for the details.
Finally, I’m pleased to announce our new children’s imprint, IP
Kidz. It will publish quality work in multimedia as well as print,
and the first cab off the rank will be my own picture book, Real
Guns, in partnership with Irish artist Patrick Murphy. Check out
the story below on how the book came from Lothian Books to IP. From today,
we’re open to proposals from writers and illustrators for future
IP Kidz titles.
Dr David Reiter
BIG is Not Beautiful
weeks ago I wrote to the Lord Mayor of Brisbane about
a problem I see in the Brisbane City Council Library
system. While my concerns were specific to this library
system, the issues have implications for libraries—and
independent publishers—across Australia and
Here are extracts from my letter:
The BCC Libraries are by far the largest and
most centralised system in Australia. I should know: as the Director
of a national publishing company, my company deals with most of them.
But is larger better? In this case, I think definitely not!
There are 32 branch libraries in the BCC system. While Brisbane is
divided into a system of "hubs", even at the hub level few
decisions requiring expenditures seem to be made without referring
them to headquarters. The goal I suppose is greater financial efficiency.
In reality the branch libraries are unresponsive to emerging and local
needs, with the effect that nothing gets done without referring it
to "head office".
And does head office do a good job of overseeing the activities and
budgets of these 32 branch libraries? As a local publisher, again I
would say no. I have been unable to contact anyone from head office
for years, despite numerous requests for meetings. They do not respond
to emails or return messages. You'd be lucky to ever contact a living
person at head office without being deflected to Voice Mail.
Yes, I do have a business interest in seeing change at the BCC Libraries.
IP is the second largest publisher of literary titles in Queensland,
yet we are very poorly represented in the BCC collection. We are at
the cutting edge of digital publishing in Australia, and yet very few
of our innovative digital titles find their way into the BCC collection.
Ironically, we are much more strongly represented in the collection
of regional libraries surrounding Brisbane such as Logan, Ipswich,
Redlands and Gold Coast—as well as many libraries interstate.
We would love to have access to BCC Libraries to do readings, hold
book launches, or run workshops. But it takes months for proposals
to be considered by head office, if they get considered at all. So
individual libraries that might want to invite a visiting author to
read or hold a workshop at their library are unable to do so, unless
the author volunteers their time. This is not an attractive prospect
for authors who may already be absorbing costs to travel to Brisbane.
Is this an isolated problem for IP? Probably not. It's not unusual
for people to be put on waiting lists for months waiting for a popular
title and then have to pay for the privilege of collecting the book
when it finally comes in.
Perhaps the BCC Libraries would be better off investing more in books
and less on bureaucracy. Certainly, the residents of Brisbane would
be better served by a decentralised system more responsive to their
needs that emphasises LOCAL or SYSTEM-WIDE priorities and adequate
ordering of books.
Since writing that, I’ve received a letter from the Lord Mayor
(or more likely someone writing on his behalf) praising the overall
circulation figures of the library system and pointing to the relatively
weak check-out rate of some of our titles (names withheld to protect
the innocent authors). The Mayor said he was satisfied with the performance
of the library system on that basis.
And I did manage to organise a meeting at Peter Pal, the key supplier
for Brisbane Libraries. While sympathetic to our plight, the BCC contact
there shrugged her shoulders at our literary titles and sighed about
the BCC’s shrinking budget for that sort of thing. A few days
later we received an order of one copy of each for two of our new poetry
books. That should certainly cover demand from BCC’s 32 branch
As budgets shrink like water supplies in our dams, librarians often
refer to circulation figures for previous titles by a publisher, or
similar titles in that genre, as a means of justifying NOT ordering
books at the margin, especially poetry and short fiction and books
by emerging Australia authors. Instead, their budget is weighted toward
ordering multiple copies of “popular” titles by name authors
that their clientele queue up for.
The implications are obvious. If our libraries do not see maintaining
current collections of quality poetry and literary fiction by Australian
authors as a priority, independent publishers who publish this work
and consumers who seek more than the usual pap by authors on the international
talk show circuit will be in trouble. With so many our bookshops bending
to the economic imperative, who will be left to showcase our native
It’s not entirely the fault of librarians who balance their budget
at the cost of ensuring the cultural scope of their collections. City
councils must share the blame for perennially under-funding their libraries.
And none is more remarkable in under-funding than Brisbane City Council.
It’s no wonder the Lord Mayor of Brisbane is happy with the state
of his library system: his bureaucrats know better than to speak out,
and the public is seemingly unaware of the looming crisis in our library
Maybe it’s time the people started questioning this. Not everyone
wants to read Stephen King, or just Stephen King. Limiting choice to
commoditised books will weaken our cultural fabric, just as ignoring
endangered species can bring down ecosystems.
Disagree with the Lord Mayor on the quality of the BCC Libraries? Email him
wait is over! We're pleased to announce the Winners and Commended
Entries in IP Picks 2007. In Focus we examine the judges’ report
and meet the short-listed entrants. We want to thank all the
entrants for submitting their work to Picks this year and wish
them well with their future writing.]
judges met on 19 January to discuss the short-listed entries
and to confirm the winners and commended places.
Winner: Back Burning, a collection of
short fiction by Sylvia Petter (Australian, living in Vienna, Austria)
Highly Commended: The Village
That Wasn’t, a novel by Paul Sterling (Ballarat,
Best Creative Non-Fiction
Winner: Dreaming of Sunshine,
a travelogue by Chris Dowding (Brisbane)
Highly Commended: Ivan,
from the Adriatic to the Pacific, a biography by Coral
Petkovich (Spearwood, WA)
Winner: What Can Be Proven,
by Mark O’Flynn (Leura, NSW)
Highly Commended: Straggling
into Winter, a tanka journal by Kathy Kituai (Ainslie,
Commended: Age of Anomalies,
by Hal Judge (Braddon, ACT)
Best First Book
Winner: With One Brush,
a poetry collection by Jan Dean (Cardiff, NSW)
Commended: Let Sleeping
Gods Lie, a novel by Dianne Gray (Braddon, ACT)
The number of submissions was about the same as last year, but the
judges were pleased to see an increase from Queensland-based authors
that comprised 33% of submissions, followed by NSW (19%), Victoria
(17%) and WA (11%).
Entries were received from every State and Territory in Australia,
confirming IP Picks as a national competition.
There was a marked increase in the number of entries in the Best First
Book category (35%), followed by Poetry (28%), Fiction (21%) and Creative
Once again, the judges were pleased by the overall quality of submissions,
especially in the Poetry category. Mary Trabucco adds these reflections
on behalf of the judges:
I marvelled at the range of poetic
voices and ideas that emerged this year, from a tanka
journal to an experimental collection of social commentary.
Each entry invited me to look within and imagine how,
before it became this wonderfully rounded and beautiful
thing, the manuscript began with images, scraps of dialogue,
and memories noted down, and how this storehouse contained
the furniture from which the manuscript was furnished.
As a writer myself, the root ideas of things interested me: how the
poet worked through from an origin, and whether they had succeeded
in making that inspiration into a work of art. Sometimes, an idea was
worked through in logical order without the transformation occurring.
At other times the transformation was complete. For example, in Jan
Dean’s “The White Curtain”, I was led on a journey.
I wondered whether this poem began with Dean imagining who the real
woman behind Gauguin’s iconic ‘golden’ woman might
have been. This might not have been how the poem began, but I could
imagine the writer’s journey, and this intrigued me.
Connections between different submissions were also interesting: a
number tackled madness and abuse of women, and a recurring theme was
memory, and the Australian landscape. These affinities made me realise
how much we share the raw material and psychology of art, and how we
have to make it new and interesting in order to make an impact.
Nearly every submission contained at least a few poems that really
succeeded—a vivid image that really cut through and reached the
reader—but those that we have awarded succeeded consistently,
both in ideas and assuredness of writing. They also have something
special—that magic touch that made me think ‘this should
be a book!’
were several Science Fiction and Fantasy entries, but unfortunately
the quality was not as high as in the other fiction submissions.
The judges would like to see more submissions next year from
writers in this area, as well as other sub-genres such as crime.
Finally, the judges remarked on the high success rate of entries from
the ACT this year.
take a closer look at the IP Picks 07 winning and commended entrants
here, with Lauren Daniels (LD) providing a commentary on the
prose short-list and Assistant Editor Mary Trabucco commenting
on the poetry results.]
by Sylvia Petter, Winner
Sylvia Petter’s short story collection is a spin-of-the-globe compilation
of her award-winning talent, hewn together with the archetypal and vivacious
themes of love, death, passion and relationship.
From the first story in her collection, scented with coriander and steeled
with a clarity sharpened by a random exchange with a stranger, the voice
of the speaker effortlessly reaches the ear of the reader throughout
As the taxi speeds off I think of my family waiting
for me at home, of my husband, my daughters. I want to tell them about
their grandmother. I want to tell them about timing, how a new fire
can burn once an old one has died. I also want to tell them about back
burning and fires that are lit to quell bigger flames.
Much like her life, Petter’s stories whisk inspiration from across
the globe. From London, Vienna and Algeria to Prague, from the shadows
of Dachau to the Blue Mountains of Australia, the panoramic settings
entrance the reader. Resounding from these locations, the lyrical voices
of her characters emerge like poetry:
My name is Jason and I was spun from the strands
of my true love’s mind.
Clamoring, sighing, sometimes whispering from the frames of their stories,
the cast of Backburning share their wisdom as willingly as their hearts,
inviting us right into their lounge-rooms to contemplate the path which
grazes our feet:
“It is still too early for you to understand in German. But I shall give
you a line from a poem I have taken a lifetime to understand.” The room
was still as Franz spoke: “Blindly following my goal, I see not the path
I tread.” His eyes held theirs. “Think about it,” he said. “We
shall talk next time.”
Sylvia Petter’s Backburning crackles with story and the audience
will pause from the narratives if only to realise they are, in fact,
dusted with the clematis pollen wafting from the pages. One of the core
elements making this collection so successful is evoked, with a simple
precision by one of her characters:
“You have to live language,” he would
say. “It’s not just words; it’s all the senses.”
Petter was born in 1949 in Vienna and grew up in Australia. She
began writing fiction in the early nineties, participating in online
writing workshops. She has read and given papers at conferences
of the Society for the Study of the Short Story in English, notably
in New Orleans in 2002 and Alcala de Henares, Spain, in 2004.
Her stories have been published widely online and in print, and have
been mentioned in The Economist (UK) and Archipelago (US).
Her first collection of stories, The Past Present, was published
by IUMIX Ltd, UK, in 2001 in print and electronic formats.
Village That Wasn’t by Paul Sterling, Highly Commended
Paul Sterling’s novel is in the classic tradition of Our Town by
When people from Melbourne travel South or East,
they pass us by. They visit Geelong, Apollo Bay, Lorne, Ballarat, Bendigo
or Warnambool and some of them even get as far as Adelaide. If they
visit the Grampians, they will see Hamilton, Ararat or Halls Gap, but
not us. They will sweep by, to the South or to the North, tossing fast
food wrappers and plastic bottles into the fields and verges, without
even knowing we exist. In fact, the village of Buggerum does not even
appear on the RACV road maps, and that is surprising when you consider
just how important and infallible the RACV is supposed to be.
Sterling’s novel is a subtle—sometimes humble, often hilarious—tribute
to the small town Australia which resides in our hearts, our memory and
even just off the verandah. The narrative encompasses a proud, good-natured
and sometimes cheeky Aussie equivalent of Grover’s Corners, populated
with endearing, sometimes familiar, characters of the raving inventors
and trio of retired, keenly observant school teachers.
Given the task of collecting the stories that surround the lives of the
residents of Buggerum, the local postman turned narrator walks us through
his quiet country town and introduces us to a delightful cast beginning
with most intriguing character of all, the town itself:
The first name given to the village by the original
settlers has been stricken from the records. Virginia Gardens smelt
of English roses, vintage carriages with leather seats and of hot buttered
scones. After the Second World War, when the only two survivors came
home, we decided we might be better off if we forgot England which
had banished our ancestors and used our sons for cannon fodder and
give our village a local name. So we asked the only Aboriginal in the
village, Ben Deakin, whether he thought we should get rid of the English
name and choose a traditional land name from his own ancestry. He thought
for a while, and then he said, ‘Buggerum.’
Paul has worked in international trade in the private and public
sectors in Australia and overseas. He now lives in Ballarat, writing
short stories and novels.
has won more than two dozen prizes in regional short story competitions,
and has had more than twenty stories and articles published in
Australia. His first novel in English, the story of a French
couple adapting to life in Australia, appeared on Australian
bookshelves this September, distributed by Pan Macmillan.
of Sunshine by Chris Dowding, Winner
Three months after their wedding, the speaker and his wife leave familiar
comforts—their Australian lives, jobs and families—to embark
on a journey which enriches their perspectives and unexpectedly brings
a fresh appreciation for home.
I wasn’t exactly sure why I wanted to go,
but I knew Ireland called me. I had been sheltered from life for most
of my years. I was born in 1972 and grew up in Redland Bay, a tiny
farming village of a few hundred people.
In departing the small town overlooking Moreton Bay and the two-storey
house built by his father, the speaker chronicles his experiences as
a newlywed, living and working in Dublin as a transformative experience.
For me, the reality of travel came as a bit of
a shock. I was bitten by bed bugs in hostels, terrified by ‘extreme
sports’ bus drivers and shoved out of the way by little old ladies
in grocery stores.
Layered with historical sweeps and peppered with research, the intimacy
of the memoir is supported by insights into many of the crucial moments
of Irish culture, including details surrounding the essential icon:
Sir Arthur Guinness, the founder, signed a 9000-year
lease for the original parcel of land at the bargain price of £45
per annum in 1759.
Dowding’s travel memoir balances keen observations with a good
dose of humour:
The [weather] reporters tended to be upbeat,
outgoing types, who strove to put a happy angle on weather that was
likely to be cold, wet and briefly sunny on the same day. Reports were
couched in vague terms like ‘brightening rainy weather’.
The reporter on Channel Four spent most of her allotted time talking
about the weather in Spain, Morocco and the Black Sea.
As the speaker moves into unfamiliar territory, confronting and overcoming
difficulties and meeting people from varied backgrounds, a synthesis
begins. The speaker meets himself—a true appreciation of his Australian
upbringing surfaces alongside an understanding that he is not only the
product of his culture. He is also one who can freely choose who he will
Dowding grew up in Redland Bay, a rural seaside community thirty
kilometres south of Brisbane, Australia. He attended the local
school in an era when kids got excited by doing tricks with yo-yo’s
or poorly executed stunts on their BMXs.
In the 1990s, he studied civil engineering at QUT in Brisbane. After
graduating, he lived a quiet solitary existence until he met his future
Chris and Kerryn moved to Ireland in 2001. Both Kerryn and Ireland had
a sense of spontaneity and surprise that Chris had previously avoided
in his life. This was so unusual for him that he began writing about
Chris and Kerryn now live in inner city Brisbane with their cat, Mia.
Ivan from Adriatic to Pacific by
Coral Petkovich, Highly Commended
Tomorrow morning he would be on his way, leaving
Europe for an unknown future…. For better or for worse, he did
not ask himself—it was a new beginning, and that was enough.
Today’s audiences express a consistent desire to see a world drawn
together through true stories as well as good fiction. With united fronts
emerging to tackle all sorts of encompassing issues—from global
warming to peaceful cross-cultural interchange—we are increasingly
aware of our interconnectedness.
Petkovich’s novel responds to this sense that individual stories
connect us with our greater story. We’re invited to follow Ivan’s
journey from a childhood in the Balkans thrown into turmoil by World
War II towards a new life and fresh optimism found in Australia.
Through a story like Ivan’s, we rise to greet our neighbours and
follow their paths, from displacement to hope. From its opening lines,
the work invites us to see into the life of a refugee with our hearts:
Today there are hundreds of thousands of refugees
scattered throughout the trouble spots of the world. We see them on
television, crowded into miserable huts or tents, apathetic, poorly
dressed and half-starved. “Isn’t that terrible?” we
say and for the most part we feel compassion. But there is also relief – the
problem is not ours to solve….
We are reminded, in the character and person of Ivan, that refugees are
always present within our collective history. Through the underlying
themes of strength, courage and intimacy which propel this story, the
author draws the pages of Ivan: From the Adriatic to the Pacific to remind
us to trust that life—battered and dislocated at times—continues.
has always enjoyed writing. Her 21st birthday present from
her parents was an Underwood typewriter. She has continued to write
in Australia where she has had several short stories published
and one highly commended in a competition.
Coral belongs to a small writers’ group and she continues to write
short stories. She lives with her family in Spearwood, Western Australia.
Can Be Proven by Mark O'Flynn, Winner
A strange and compelling world is revealed in Mark O’Flynn’s
What Can Be Proven, and yet reading it is like returning to familiar
things that we have forgotten. Some things have become rarer since the
heady days of twentieth century modernism: discipline of craft, intellectual
ideas, an elevated poetic voice, but also the capacity for revealing
familiar things in a strange new light. Beginning with “Cherry
Picking”, we are introduced to poetry with an almost physical presence
because each word leaves a weight like the ‘imprint of the iron
ladder hard against shins’.
However, there is more to enjoy here than the language. The Australian
landscape becomes that mythic ground against which our psychology is
examined. In these days of water restrictions and climate change, water
features prominently. In “Cherry Picking”, the turn of the
weather in the orchard does the opposite from what rain should do in
a country that dreams of the stuff:
a year’s enterprise ruined in a downpour
Ends a season; ends all modest ambition
In O’Flynn’s hands, farming in Australia takes on Shakespearean
dimensions. Despite the loss, the protagonist’s dreams continue
to ‘persecute’ them: this ‘never say die’ attitude
sets the tone for the poems that follow.
What is real and what mythical in the landscape is explored in the following
poem, “Wake in Booligal”, which turns on the idea of what
it might mean when ‘home’ is a place where rivers are simulacra,
The collection travels through evocative scenes, from the wild seaside
that conjures South American magic realism in “The Lighthouse Keeper”,
to landscapes of memory in “Shopping Complex” and “My
Father’s Voice”, to the battlegrounds of history in “Allotropes
of Tin”. Sometimes the quarry is bleak, at other times wonderful,
like the bird-filled ‘cloudless heavens’ left to the heroic
lighthouse keeper’s wife. The poet also turns to themes of imprisonment,
hunting, and a range of animal subjects from rabbits to bats and pigs.
The overall thread holding these different subjects together is a focus
on what is strange and unexplainable, on mysterious and fleeting impressions,
like the appearance of Japanese tourists who ‘hurl themselves /
into the view […]’ at the end of “Unbuttoned”,
which leaves the poem on a note of unexpected tragedy after the rather
mundane path through the walking trail to the lookout. Unexpectedly,
like the unknown mysteries of “The Stolen Book of Kells”,
this collection is more interested in what cannot be proven, than by
what can. The irony of the title is reflected beautifully in the opening
poem, in which rain can mean tragedy.
O’Flynn began writing for the theatre after graduating from
the Victorian College of the Arts. He has had seven plays professionally
produced, including Paterson’s Curse, published
in 1988. As a playwright he has worked for numerous community theatre
companies. He has also published a novella, Captain Cook (1987)
and two books of poetry, The Too Bright Sun (1996) and The
Good Oil (2000). His fiction, reviews, essays and poetry have
been published in a wide variety of journals and magazines. His
most recent play Eleanor & Eve was produced at Railway
Street Theatre Company in 2003. A novel, Grassdogs, was
published by Harper/Collins earlier this year. In 2007 he is due
to travel to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland to work on a
new novel. Mark lives in the Blue Mountains.
Into Winter by Kathy Kituai, Highly Commended
A serene and very human voice emerges from a year-long tanka journal
in which the changing seasons reflect the poet’s thoughts on illness,
love, and world events. Perhaps it is the form of tanka itself, with
its five-line structure that can so easily be held in the mind and meditated
on, which has enabled Kituai to cultivate the equilibrium that fills
her collection; on the other hand, maybe it is the cycle of seasons,
the close observation of nature and animals, the isolation and confessional
nature of writing a journal, which has long been this poet’s practice,
which leaves us with the conclusion that this collection has brought
about a quiet redemption after great loss.
Yet Straggling into Winter rejects the redemptive cycle from a death-filled
winter into the new life of spring that characterises Western iconography.
One of its gifts is the freshness of a cross-cultural perspective, where
cherry blossoms draining to the sea reflect the jubilance of Japanese
students graduating; mostly the poems are set in Australia but the originality
of this perspective colours everything. The great delight of the tanka
is the jewel-like images it produces: how a bowl captures moonlight,
willow twigs flaring at sunset, a poet wandering into a fog, as he suffers
an aneurism, scattered plates abandoned, pumpkin shoots, playing checkers
when the doorbell rings. Poems that chronicle the progress of illness,
the ‘black butterfly’ of cancer, alternate with visiting
wild birds and animals and moments of humour, even in the hospital, where
crutches are stolen by hospital ‘terrorists’, musings on
the Israel/Palestine tragedy, and the nature of old age and love.
As Kituai ponders the way we need wardens for the journeys of birth and
death, I was struck by how her journal could be just such a thing for
many people. Kituai may be one of those rare writers who reject the idea
that illness and death are things that have to be worked through and
then left behind; rather, by beginning and ending with winter, she suggests
death and loss are where we begin and what we work towards. There’s
peace in that thought.
grew up by the Swan River, watching fish glitter in the shadows.
Observing nature in childhood has led to poems on bird life in
all four of her poetry collections.
Composer Rosemary Austin created a musical score from the title poem
of her second collection, The Lace Maker. Choreographer and
dancer Elizabeth Caron performed to her poetry at the Adelaide Fringe
Festival, and Peggy Spratt created visual art in response to her first
Kathy has won the CJ Denis Poetry Prize and the Annual St Kilda
Competition and been a finalist in the Broadway Poetry Prize, Somerset
National Poetry Prize and the David Campbell Poetry Prize.
She teaches creative writing in Canberra.
of Anomalies by Hal Judge, Commended
As a collection, the experimental Age of Anomalies is not easily classifiable
because, as its title suggests, it is about contradictions and abnormalities.
Yet, by suggesting that an entire age, indeed our age, could be defined
by its irregular and paradoxical character, this poetry collection sets
itself the ambitious goal of somehow explaining and encompassing this
very phenomenon. The result is a kaleidoscopic, dystopian worldview.
Beginning with the small and deftly drawn nugget “Snail” and
satirical “Gloo Guns”, the perspective widens to social commentary
in “Sargassumfish”, ‘Area Denial” and the title
poem “Age of Anomalies”, revealing that Judge can handle
small detail but more often prefers a broad brush stroke. His style is
often sparse, and follows the rhythms of colloquial speech.
To avoid leaving the impression that Age of Anomalies is all about big
political and social ideas, I should note that a number of the poems
tackle personal themes. The best of these, “The Dream That Haunts
Me”, evokes a great sense of loss in a death that may or may not
have happened, depending on whether the dream is a premonition or a real
past, all carried in the surprisingly poignant image of the dreamer opening
and closing the fridge. “Downshift”, for all its simplicity,
is a poem during which you can pause momentarily amidst all the chaos
and sigh, realising what a likeable person Judge is, as he embraces the
slower rhythms of life. Between these personal poems and satires, political
poems such as “The Secret of Boundary Street” and ‘Mozambique
1994” emerge like beacons from a more serious voice, critical of
Australia’s treatment of the Aboriginal people, and exploring a
The collection builds to a series of grand poems which have in their
scope a panorama representing our troubled modern times, in which the
collection summons the strength to answer the question of the title:
how can we describe this age, defined as it is by anomaly? “The
City is Dying” does this remarkably well, because of the insight
and interest Judge takes in each facet of Australian society, from the
jobseeker to the bagman, to the busted tycoon, and crumbling hospital:
we see the impacts of turbo capitalism and welfare state. “Institute
of Happiness” is multi-voiced, explores paradoxes and Judge really
gets into his groove with a command of the language as he addresses the
reader directly, drawing them with excitement through a labyrinth of
scenes. The touching “Where is Arabic” counts the toll of
dead family members in the number of stones a boy clutches. Judge reaches
his epiphany with “Found Poems”, of which “Doing What’s
Right” is the most chilling and powerful, a pastiche of comments
from powerful corporations. Judge allows them to speak for themselves,
and they answer the question of the collection rather too well.
Judge is an emerging provocative writer from the polis of Canberra.
His poems have been published in over 20 literary publications
including Entropy, Poetry Monash, fourW, Blast, Muse, LiNQ,
Idiom, Ozpoet, New Matilda , The Surface (Scotland), Crikey,
Azzikra (Indonesia) and Short Fuse (Global Anthology).
His concrete poem “Area Denial” won the ACT Writers
Centre Award in 2006.
He is also a versatile writer of short stories, plays and screenplays.
Six of his experimental plays have been staged in Canberra and Sydney.
He is currently working on a commissioned feature length sci-fi movie.
His writing reflects a desire to experiment with wide range of forms,
technology, genres and themes.
He is currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at the
University of Canberra and writing prolifically.
One Brush by Jan Dean, Winner
I could hardly believe when reading this manuscript that the author could
sustain the luminous power of the poetry, and yet she did: each poem
built on those before, with seemingly effortless grace, turning visual
art, and especially that of the impressionists, into poetry.
In between evocative poems which explore artists, their work, and different
mediums, such as “The Body and Brushes with Blood”, “Signed
Auguste Rodin”, and “The White Curtain”, Dean’s
poems are occasionally about fruit: the opening “Six Persimmons”,
which on first reading immerses you in the sensuousness of the overripe
fruit so you cannot see beyond it, but on further reading yields fruit
you can actually pluck, it’s so real. “Skin a Fig” makes
erotic connections between the fruit’s texture and human skin,
more erotic still when the fruit are hidden away at the end. Dean also
writes about the occult and archaic, from “Banquet” which
take us to a hell or purgatory too intoxicating to be terrible, to “The
Woman in White’, in which we encounter a female spectre whose connection
to the preceding poem intrigues: could she explain why women were so
inextricably absent from Dean’s hell? The connections Dean weaves
between her poems, and in individual poems, hold rich secrets worth unravelling;
the fact that she gives little away about their meaning makes them more
The collection’s great strength is the uniqueness of the changing
perspectives Dean imagines for her poems: each time we leave the world
of painting behind we are momentarily disappointed, but the new subject
or device soon makes us forget. Particularly interesting were “The
Dream Paster Muses”, which shows us the world from the vertiginous
point of view of a man who plasters advertisements on huge billboards.
Dean herself is a visual artist in a number of poems best described as
word paintings: “The Door in the Wall” asks us to imagine
what is hidden behind a mysterious door: we can see a love garden, a
refuge, and also much more: all that the protagonist desires. “Acrobat” is
a still life interior, but animated, and a panoramic view from the room
where the artist stands, walls hung with art, trees bending outside,
the children in their playhouse, until a great tsunami comes. Most vivid
is the scene in “The Reading”, where we are brought right
into the room as the poet witnesses a historic reading of Les Murray’s.
If Dean has a message through With One Brush, it is gently given: perhaps
it is about the cycle of things, how, in “Script of Sorrows”,
we might return to a world less mad, and more at peace. By the end, in “Creeping” and “Sensations”,
we learn what we had suspected, that Dean’s view of things is hopeful,
that the world can regenerate, and even that we can return and be given
a second chance:
Waiting in amoebic form we’ll stay
floating along in boundless time, until
our shore leave comes…
and revitalised, we begin again
Amidst the conflicting visions of our times, a voice like Dean’s
is needed, because she is able to see things with compassion and hope,
even in the poem “Banded Rail”, in which a dead bird is
brought to the poet. This prompts her to imagine the bird’s point
of view in a truly ethical moment where we experience that spine-chilling
sensation of seeing with another’s eyes, when she acknowledges: ‘for
us to meet, you had to die.’ Existing in Dean’s world, even
if only for the duration of a book, is experiencing a world in which
many more things are alive than most of us had imagined, even a painting.
Jan Dean, a former visual arts teacher, believes the six-months
as an exchange-English teacher in Japan, prior to her retirement, was
instrumental in her reconnecting with poetry in 1996. Since then, she
was runner-up in the 2002 Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award, and has won
several poetry competitions. Jan spent six years as President/Publicity
Officer of Poetry at the Pub (Newcastle) Inc.
Jan’s poetry has appeared in several publications including Sunweight:
the 2005 Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology; The Best Australian Poems
2005 (Black Inc); The Best Australian Poetry 2004 (UQP); Hecate; Quadrant; Blue
Dog: Australian Poetry; Southerly and The Weekend Australian
Sleeping Gods Lie by Dianne Gray, Highly Commended
Dianne Gray’s Let Sleeping Gods Lie swayed the judges with a flair
for Australian setting and humour, lively characterization and the playful
delivery of the rather tricky themes of religion and the quest for truth.
Let Sleeping Gods Lie is a gutsy fiction novel delivered through a natural,
easygoing style, allowing readers to steep in a vivid sense of country
Queensland as the storyline unfolds:
The last month of the sugar cane-cutting season
was not the best time to be in Far North Queensland. Sugar cane trains
sliced through farms and across highways, struggling to feed the last
loads of cane into the mouth of an ancient mill and clogging traffic
in thirty degree heat. Sugar-mill workers tilted their hard-hats to
scratch tired heads as they watched an old rusting smokestack wipe
its oily beard over Bookalong Creek. The air was thick with the unmistakable
aroma of molasses. Farmers opened their books to scoff at the pitiful
price of sugar. Tractors and harvesters fled into fields, choking on
dust and the price of diesel.
Madison Ingram hid behind a large mango tree at the side of the creek
and listened as the sound of the bike faded into the distance.
Gently calling upon all of the senses and adorned with natural beauty,
Dianne Gray’s Let Sleeping Gods Lie layers the narrative with powerful
themes examining religion and the shadow it can cast across a landscape,
through communities and within families. The plot is propelled by the
strong elements of mystery and moth-balled family secrets, while the
characters populating the story can’t help but make us laugh.
Gillian, on the other hand, never watched television.
It unnerved her. If she saw a good news story, a sad news story, movies,
advertisements, animal programs or anything involving slow motion and
music, she would cry. In fact, the only time Gillian ever cried was
in front of a television. She took after her mother in that respect,
who rated a good movie by the size of the mountain of used tissues
on the floor.
Gray has been a successful short story writer for the past ten
years. She has won several national awards and her stories have
appeared in HQ/Harper Collins anthology Enter, Ginninderra
Press’ Lunatics Lovers and Poets and a soon-to-be-published
Harlequin crime anthology.
Dianne has also received three Sisters in Crime awards and says she loves
nothing more than getting stuck into a great crime story with a good
twist. Dianne currently lives in Canberra but was inspired to write Let
Sleeping Gods Lie while living on a cane farm in Far North Queensland
where she worked at a sugar mill and a crocodile farm.
this issue, we bid a fond farewell to Jennifer Newberry. Jennifer
is saving up for a big trip to Europe, where we suspect she
may apply her content editing skills to a few Lonely Planet
publications. Have fun, Jen, and thanks for all your help!
And now we welcome the following to IP!
is in her final year at the Queensland University of Technology where
she is completing a major in Creative Writing, with minors in Interaction
Design and Performance Studies. Courtney left high school with a highest
achiever award in fine art, and jumped straight into University. Since
then, the last two years have been bliss for her as she gains skills
in her three great passions. Now at IP she is excited about exploring
these medias further and venturing into the world of literature and media
For the last four years Courtney has also worked in bookstores, as well
as having completed a certificate in retail, specialising in books. Surrounded
by books everyday she is both empowered to write, as well as terrible
intimidated. All Courtney wishes to do with her life is create powerful
stories through words, images, movement or voice. At IP she believes
she can help others do so.
Katia Nizic is a current QUT Creative Writing student with special
interests in editing, publishing and young adult fiction. During her
time at QUT she has contributed reviews to Utopia student magazine
and her editing skills to KURB magazine. Upon completing her degree in
2007, she hopes to pursue further study and obtain her Graduate Diploma
in Editing and Publishing from UQ.
has also been involved in the writing, production, shooting and
editing of a short product promotion film for a leading Australian
natural health company. She enjoys writing young adult fiction,
and is currently at work on a YA novel set in the imagined city
of “Little Edinburgh.”
In her spare time she works at a Dymocks book store and attempts to coerce
staff members into joining a book club. Her pursuit of a career in publishing
has also taken her to Sydney, where she completed a week of voluntary
work experience for Dolly magazine. She hopes to eventually
pursue a career as a writer and book editor.
would-be authors sign up for creative writing courses hoping
to discover their style, as if a minor in archaeology or even
genetics would help. But
do we have a single writing style, unique to ourselves, like
a fingerprint? The answer is no!
Historically, students were asked to imitate the style of the masters.
The assumption was that even if the students already had their own style,
it probably wasn’t a very good one, and exposing them to professional
writers might trigger some neuron growth in the students’ brain.
It’s a bit of a leap from imitation to initiation, though, and
many students would get put off by the large gap between what they thought
they could write and what they saw on the printed page. The greater benefit
was often overlooked: reading a variety of writing styles should suggest
that no single style will be the best for all occasions. The writer in
fact should be able to adopt a myriad of styles depending on the writing
Consider dialogue, for example. How does a writer convey the difference
between characters if she is only capable of writing in a single style?
Personality cries out for a fingerprint by which the character can be
distinguished from other characters. Sometimes this can be achieved simply
through content, where a character is obsessed with something that defines
him. However, what do you do with characters who largely share opinions
and interests? You need to differentiate them through style. You see
one character as better educated, so you use more complex sentences.
Another is working class, so she may speak in fragments, or even ungrammatical
Even in description or exposition, there may be reason to vary your style
or adapt it to the writing situation. A satiric or comic piece may require
under- or overstatement to achieve its best effect, whereas a neutral
style may be more appropriate when the narrator’s primary task
is to show the action.
Authors sometimes slip into a mismatch of prose and poetic styles. This
can happen when an author strains for a poetic moment in an otherwise
prosaic hour. On the verge of epiphany, a character is allowed to utter
a phrase worthy of Shakespeare. Problem is, the novel is contemporary
and naturalistic—and people haven’t spoken like Shakespeare
Continuity and consistency come into play here. You don’t want
to switch from a rowboat to a kayak in mid-sentence. Choose a style that
will work for your narrator and stick with it. Look for ways of differentiating
between your characters through their style of dialogue, which will be
different again from the style of your narrator, and then keep it consistent.
You’ll know it’s working for you if readers can identify
who’s speaking in a piece of extended dialogue without any narrative
I know judges of writing competitions who swear they can identify entrants
by the style of a piece, and this may well be so. Some authors fall back
on a style that works for them like a pair of worn but comfortable slippers.
It becomes a trademark that many would-be authors envy and try to recycle.
Generally, that’s a waste of time. You’re better off adapting
your style to the writing situation and to the demands of your characters
Writing) won the 2006 Smiths Bookshop Short Story Competition,
judged by Peter Corris for Michael’s short story “Stranger
Michael’s new book, Easter at Tobruk, will be released by IP in
our Autumn Season 07.
Bill Collopy (House
of Given) won third prize in the Age short story competition for
a story called “Suckered Into a Perfect line”. Literary editor
Jason Steger shared the judges’ comments on:
the often barbed and unspoken interiors
of mateship. In a landscape both brutal and elegant, the
voice of the duck-shooter narrator grips with a raw confessional
power. This tone of disclosure is brilliantly set against
dialogue which reveals exactly what is left unsaid between
the narrator and his mate.
The rich textures of the duck-shooter's lexicon and the delicately drawn
personifications of the river conjure vivid images and colours that remain
with the reader after the close of the story itself.
Last but not least, David Musgrave (On
Reflection) was awarded Highly Commended and $2000 in the Newcastle
Poetry Prize for his poem “Open Water”.
Our hearty congratulations to Michael, Bill and David!
Housden reports that the Society of Women Writers of Queensland
has just launched its latest anthology of poetry and prose writing. Behind
the Faces is part of the Society’s 30th anniversary.
SWWQ was founded in 1976 to further the craft of writing among women,
especially rural women for whom isolation was a problem. For these women
a postal magazine circulated rural Queensland so that aspiring writers
could read and critique each other’s work.
Meetings for City members offer workshops and guest speakers. These are
held at the new city library in Brisbane Square, on the corner of Adelaide
and George Streets on the second Tuesday of each month from 10am to 12pm.
They also run writing workshops on selected weekends throughout the year,
and hold an annual writers’ retreat and a competition for members
only. Their newsletter, Ring of Bright Water, is distributed
The Society welcomes women from beginning writers to published ones.
For more information contact their membership secretary, Tricia, by phone,
07 3203 6667 or email.
SWWQ is affiliated with sister societies in all other states and with
the Society of Women Writers and Journalists in London.
from full reviews that we’ve posted elsewhere (click
through to read the full review)]
Pierce of The Sydney Morning Herald mentioned Michelle
Cage as being among the poetry “debuts of note”.
Cordite ran a feature on
Joel Deane (Another, Subterranean
Radio Songs) in which he was interviewed by Paul Mitchell.
The interview covers both Joel’s work in poetry and
his work in politics as speechwriter for the Premier of Victoria,
Creek: Rainforest Wars by Nigel Turvey has been the recipient
of more wonderful reviews. Jim Sommerville says that the book “is
an excellent objective study of the violent confrontation there
in August 1979 and subsequently in the Washpool and Nightcap
Dr Neil Byron, commissioner of the Productivity Commission in Melbourne,
as well as commenting on how much he enjoyed the book, also discussed
what surprised him about it: “What I was unprepared for, but impresses
me even more, is the story telling, the characterisation, the rich detail
in the presentation of the minute features of the personalities involved,
on both sides of the war.”
News From The Arctic by Libby Hart was reviewed in Thylazine. Liz Hall-Downs writes that Libby’s
poetry has “a contemplative stillness and subtlety,
giving them the impression of an 'unfolding' of meaning as
the work is read and reread.”
David Reiter has announced that 2007, our 10th Anniversary
year, will see us launch into some serious export activity. We
made a good start in 2006 by signing up with CDBaby, who distribute
our CDs through their shop and catalogues to the North American
market. Just recently we set up shop with Customflix,
an American DVD and CD distributor owned by Amazon, to sell
our first DVD, Hemingway
Customflix not only replicates physical DVDs and CDs on demand as orders
come in but also formats them for distribution online via Amazon and
others to the growing portable DVD player and 3G phone market.
Know of any other Australian publishers doing this? Once again, we suspect
IP is well ahead of the pack.
We’re not sitting on our hands when it comes to our print publications,
either. Building on our relationship with Tower Books here in Oz, we
have now signed up with Lightning
Source, one of the largest print-on-demand distributors in the world.
Headquartered in the USA, where they serve the North American market,
Lightning Source also has a big operation in the UK, which covers distribution
The good news is that the unit price (the actual cost of printing a book)
is only slightly more than what IP’s been paying for conventional
short print runs in Australia. The better news is that Lightning Source
is a division of the huge Ingrams Book Group, and every title they get
is listed through Ingrams’ catalogues as well as the Amazon online
It gets even better for our overseas customers. They no longer have to
wait 10 days or more to get stock after they order it from us. They’ll
get what they order in a third of the time—and at local freight
We’ve invited existing IP authors to sign up for this export deal
and will be making it part of the contract for our new authors.
With the Lightning Source deal in hand, we’re currently talking
to some large conventional distributors in the UK about taking us on.
More on that in a future issue of eNews.
In the coming months we’ll be spreading the word to overseas libraries
and bookshops that IP titles are now in town and just a click away. Our
next 10 years are shaping up to be very exciting, indeed!
strands of buzzing to report this issue!
Many of our artists are now up on the iTunes
Store, thanks to our partnership with CDBaby,
our American digital distributor. You can now listen to and download
Once you’re on the iTunes Store, you can search by the artist or
the title. And you can purchase downloads by the track or the entire
album. If you happen to be passing through Portland, Oregon, you can
visit the CDBaby shop and purchase the physical CDs there.
Also on iTunes and on our own
podcast site is the trailer for David’s new DVD, Hemingway
in Spain and the highlights of our Spring Gala Launch at the Performance
Studio, 4MBS Classic-FM. You can subscribe to IP’s free podcast
series either from the site or from the iTunes Store. You can even leave
us comments on the site, but please be friendly since the world will
read what you have to say!
We expect to broadcast podcasts at least four times per year, so we hope
you’ll not only subscribe, but spread the word. We’re interested
in partnering with individuals and groups who have polished audio and/or
video content they want published as a podcast. Email us with a proposal
and we’ll get back to you.
You can also view the trailer for Hemingway in Spain on YouTube and
a shorter version of it on CustomFlix,
our American DVD distributor, where you can also order the NTSC formatted
Liam Guilar reports that he has uploaded his own short video to YouTube
for his poem “Lute Recitals”, which appears in his book and
Audio + Text CD I’ll
Howl Before You Bury Me. And Michelle Cahill (The
Accidental Cage) has set up her own website,
where you can view slideshows of the NSW launches of her book.
Soon to be released from IP Digital is our latest Audio + Text CD, 3rd
i, featuring author Basil Eliades. Basil’s poetry works well
on the page but it sparkles when you hear him in person. He’s a
brilliant performer of his work, and we’re pleased to add this
to our audio list for Autumn Season 2007. Look for a sample of his performance
style with funky musical accompaniment in our next podcast.
not a decision we took lightly, but IP now has a new imprint:
IP Kidz. Children’s
publishing is a speciality field, and we have no intention
of plunging into it headfirst. The titles we select will be
top-rate but, in keeping with our niche approach, perhaps not
the kind of work you see in the chain bookshops. Think arthouse,
The story about how IP Kidz came to be has a lot to do with a conjunction
of the stars. Several years ago, David sold the text for an illustrated
book called Real Guns to Lothian Books. But Lothian never managed to
publish it. They contracted with illustrators twice, and twice the illustrators
failed to come up with the goods.
A couple of years on, some pointed discussions ensued between David and
Lothian, and, finally, at a meeting in Brisbane between him and Peter
Lothian, a compromise was reached. Lothian returned the rights on Real
Guns to David and published his novel The Greenhouse Effect.
For a few years, Real Guns was shelved, and then, out of the blue, David
got a call from a well-established children’s author/illustrator
who said that she had seen the manuscript and that David simply had to
get it out. It was obviously the words that impressed her, and possibly
the story’s topicality. It concerns a young boy who, curious about
why his dad keeps a loaded gun in the house, sets about to look for it
and finds it, with nearly tragic consequences.
A few weeks later, we got a pitch from this Irish artist, Patrick Murphy,
looking for illustration assignments. David checked out his portfolio,
and loved his work. The stars had crossed paths again! Real Guns is scheduled
for release in May.
You’d be right to conclude that IP Kidz was born on a whim, or
at least partly so. Ten years on, the timing is right for IP to expand.
We now have the depth to support a children’s imprint and think
it will complement our other imprints, especially if we can develop some
digital content along the way.
As you’ve come to expect from IP, the quality of the writing will
always be the first consideration for acceptance into the IP Kidz stable,
and we hope to match our authors to the finest illustrators around. Here
Spring Season events went on right to the end of November,
starting with Brisbane events at the beginning of the month
and concluding down in Sydney with several launches and David’s
workshop Sell That Book at the NSW Writers’ Centre.
We were pleased to have Matt Foley, Chair
of the Queensland Writers’ Centre to welcome guests at the Corner
Bistro for our first Soirée. Matt has been a long time friend
and supporter of IP from the time that he served as Minister for the
Arts in the State Government. He still has a soft spot for poetry, so
I’m sure he was pleased to meet our four poets among the six new
IP authors at the event.
The idea behind the Soirée was to give our other guests the chance
to chat with the authors informally, and from the buzz on the restaurant’s
verandah and later on at the table inside, you could tell we were on
a winner. The dinner was sumptuous, so our thanks to Michelle and the
crew at TheCorner
Bistro for a wonderful night.
The next day, we got a bit more formal, but not much. We intended the
Gala Launch to be more about performance than about speeches, and so
it was. The Performance Studio at 4MBS was packed out for the session,
and we recorded all six authors. If you couldn’t make it to the
Gala, the good news is that we’ve posted it almost in its entirety
as our inaugural podcast,
so do have a listen!
Michelle Cahill was interviewed by Scott Levi live on ABC 92.5FM
at Erina Fair on the NSW Central Coast. This was before her IP book, The
Accidental Cage, was launched by Paul Crittenden MP at
the Ourimbah Campus Festival Of Literature.
David was kept quite busy in the last week of November in Sydney with
meetings with librarians, his Sell That Book workshop for the NSW Writers’ Centre,
launches for Paul Dawson’s Imagining
Winter at The Loft, University of Technology, Sydney and Nigel
Turvey’s launch of Terania
Creek: Rainforest Wars by Neville Wran at Dymocks, George Street.
He was also featured at the NSW Writers’ Centre Publisher’s
Book Fair along with Tilly Brasch, to speak about her book, No
Middle Name, which won the IP Picks 2005 award for Best Creative
David was double-booked so he couldn’t get to Michelle’s
Gleebooks launch, but he made up for it at her reception that evening
where he met poet Adam Aitken who launched The Accidental Cage at
A fitting end to an exhausting but enjoyable Spring Season tour!
to The Alibi Room (720 Brunswick St. New Farm) on Sunday March
4. The year kicks off with a bang with feature sets from international
poet/singer/songwriter Andy White (The Music of What Happens)
and local musician/word artist and owner of The Alibi Room, James
The Riverbend Poetry Series kicks
off for 2007 on Tuesday February 27th. Doors for the
event open at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Tickets are $10
and include a complimentary glass of wine and sushi nibbles.
Bookings can be made at Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford Street,
Bulimba or by phoning 3899 8555.
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