Peninsula Writing – #1 – Winter 1983

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The first issue of Peninsula Writing came out in Winter, 1983, for the Mornington Peninsula which had ‘long been in need of an outlet for creative writing’. The manifesto was to provide a forum for writers from the Peninsula and beyond.

The first edition set the pattern for issues to follow: a terrific cover by Gavin Duffy, short stories, poetry, some reviews and some artwork and graphics, including some artwork by Phillip Mead. All for $3.75.

In that first edition there were stories by Margaret Pearce, Doug Shingleton, David Kerr, Valerie Albiston, J. Mann and poetry by Desmond Judge, John Goodall, Bruce Lundgren, Shane Doheny, Anne Parratt and Reece Caterson. I reviewed The Younger Australian Poets and Liam Davison reviewed The Plains by Gerald Murnane.

Below: the editorial for Issue 1

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Below: Contents for Issue 1

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Below: Pages 4-5 of Issue 1, featuring artwork by Philip Mead

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Below: Page 36-37, featuring art work by Phillip Mead and a story by Valerie Albiston

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Below: Pages 44 and 45. Poem by Reece Caterson, art work by Phillip Mead

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Birdcall

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As I blogged about earlier, I joined a good sized audience this week at 45 Downstairs to hear some short fiction loosely focused on the idea of ‘love and loss’, short story readings from Carrie Tiffany, Arnold Zable and Toni Jordan, which were all interesting and 45 Downstairs is a great place to hear writing.

However, I was really there to hear Liam Davison’s work read. And I was so pleased with the choice, a story called Birdcall which was featured in the Best Australian Short Stories 2013, (Blackinc)

It’s a beautiful story, classically about love and loss, but imbued for all of there with the heard-rending sadness at the loss of the author.  It’s a beautiful story, about a father and son, about putting away the past, about connections and disconnections. The central image of the birdsong, and the bird-caller is wonderfully balanced and subtle and restrained, like his best writing so often was.

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It was also beautifully read by actor Paul English (above). It’s not an easy story to read, with its birdsong (see the opening below) built into the story. Easy to get wrong. And Liam’s voice is also hard to read sometimes, the tone matters, and English got it just right.

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It was very moving to hear Liam’s words out loud again, with lots of his family and friends in the audience too. And I thought I held it together pretty well; I really wanted to hear the story and listen to it, listen to it as a beautifully written piece of fiction and not get all mixed up with thinking about everything else around it.

And I mostly did that, but when we got to the passage below I couldn’t help but think of all the writing that we now won’t get from Liam and that hurts. And maybe I lost it a little then.

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Liam Davison featured at Shorts@45

I saw this week that a forthcoming event at FortyFive Downstairs (Flinders St, Melbourne) is going to feature a reading of a short story by writer Liam Davison, tragically killed last year. In my opinion Liam’s stories were among his very best work; his collection The Shipwreck Party is one of my favourites. It will be interesting to see what story they choose and no doubt moving for his friends and admirers to hear his work aloud again and reflect on the work that didn’t get written.

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More details here.

Here’s to summer

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One of the nice things about living in Melbourne is that you actually get to experience four distinct seasons. I think I’d find it disconcerting now to live somewhere where things don’t change much, or maybe the changes are more obvious (wet season / dry season) or more invisible. Four seasons works well for me! I was listening to a meteorologist on the radio yesterday proclaiming the start of summer as Dec 21, the longest day. But I’d always thought of it as December 1. Wouldn’t the longest day be in the middle of summer?

I saw a great diagram a few years ago of Aboriginal conceptions of ‘seasons’ and how different they look. And this Herring Island website, argues for a six season kind of division in Melbourne. I don’t know. The four seasons has such resonance for those of us with European background (all those Keats poems…) and it may not really work for Australia or even Melbourne, but I kind of like it. Anyway, here’s to summer.  A nice feeling to be on holidays and setting up some writing.

It’s probably also a perfect time to thank everyone who’s been reading and responding to this blog over the last year. Just when you think no-one is listening, you find someone is. Best wishes to you all for whatever season you find  yourself in right now.

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Top picture from a 1948 Little Golden Book. ‘Six seasons of Melbourne’ below from Herring Island site quoted above.

Best Australian Writing 2013

I was delighted to hear recently that a poem of mine called ‘Hands’ has been selected for inclusion in Best Australian Poems 2013, published by BlackInc. John Tranter is editing this year’s collection and writes on the BlackInc website:

‘I was struck … by just how many poems depended on the ancient devices of the storyteller … Many have a lyrical or meditative feel, but most have a story to tell, captured in a brief glimpse of the meaning of life, or a dramatic climax.’—

I’m really pleased because the annual BlackInc collections are so impressive; they do an annual one on poems, essays and stories. Long-time readers of this blog will know I was featured last year too.

You can read more, and look at lists of all the contributors here: http://bestaustralianwriting.com.au The books will be available in hard-copy and digital form from November 5th and make fantastic Christmas presents!

 

Seeing the place for the first time

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
(T.S. Eliot)

I like those moments that help you see a place as it might have been in the past, especially places you might have thought you knew pretty well. I’m interested in those juxtapositions of photos you sometimes see, where you overlay the historical image over the modern city, and see how much (or how little) has changed.

Couple that, with the power and pathos of the concept of dispossession and you have the potential to transform your perspective.

So it was for me recently when I was lucky enough to do the Birrarung walk with Dean Stewart from the Koori Heritage Trust. He took us along a non-descript section of the Yarra in Melbourne from near the Aquarium up to the monstrosity that is Crown Casino and allowed us a window into a different world: the world of early Melbourne as well as the place as it existed before there was such a concept as ‘Melbourne’.

It was a privilege to be allowed into the world as he sees it. He showed us images of early Melbourne, from the perspective where they were painted, but more powerfully shared with us the place as it was before: the wetlands, the crossing place over the waterfall and the smells and sounds of the birds, animals and vegetation as it was then. It was a moving experience, not just because of the passion and understanding of the place, but because of the sense of all that has been lost too.

I recommend it if you’re visiting Melbourne, or if you’ve lived in Melbourne all your life and you think you know it. You probably don’t.

You can read more about this walk, from the AGE and the Sydney Morning Herald HERE.