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Monday musings on Australian literature: ACT Writers Showcase

December 3, 2012

It’s been a good week for literature in the ACT. Not only was the UC Book Project announced but on Thursday, our centenary anthology The invisible thread was launched.

Irma Gold, The invisible thread

Irma Gold, editor, at the launch of The invisible Thread

The launch was a well-organised event: it found the perfect balance between formality and informality, and didn’t run too long! The book was launched by writer Felicity Packard, best known as one of the award winning writers on the Underbelly series. She spoke entertainingly about the invisible threads – people, places, events – between her and the book. It was nicely and appropriately done. She was followed by four readings from the book, three by authors Blanche d’Alpuget, Adrian Caesar and Francesca Rendle-Short, and one by Meredith McKinney, daughter of Judith Wright. Being of a certain age, I related to the fact that Wright’s and Caesar’s poems both dealt in some way with age. Editor Irma Gold concluded the launch with the usual thanks … and the whole was emceed by local radio announcer Alex Sloan. The venue – the New Acton courtyard – was perfect for the warm spring evening. It was a treat to be present.

The invisible thread, by Irma Gold

Cover (Courtesy: Irma Gold and Halstead Press)

Irma has also been interviewing many of the still-living authors included in the anthology. The interviews – and the stylish book trailer – can be seen on her You Tube channel. Well worth checking out during those hazy lazy post-Christmas days if you don’t have time now. Nigel Featherstone whom I’ve reviewed is there, as is the exciting poet and rap artist Omar Musa, as is the new-to-me poet Melinda Smith, as is … well you get the point. More interviews are to be added weekly over the next couple of months.

But, these are not, really, the point of today’s post. At the launch Irma announced another initiative associated with the book – wow, that woman has worked hard. It’s the ACT Writers Showcase, a website dedicated to, obviously, showcasing writers from the ACT. Irma explained at the launch that the anthology includes only 70 of the 100 plus writers considered for it. The showcase is an attempt to ensure that all writers are noticed, promoted and, most importantly, receive the due they deserve. Irma, herself, for example, is not in the book – but she is in the showcase.

Authors can be located via the search box or the writers’ index. There is a brief bio and list of publications for each author, and an excerpt of their work. I’m told this is a pretty unique site – but, whether it is or not, it’s not only a great resource for readers but also makes a significant contribution to documenting “all that’s past and what’s to come”* in ACT literary culture.

Are you aware of any similar initiatives in your corner of the world?

* from “A Valediction”, by Adrian Caesar

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2012 6:44 am

    I was about to ask whether you said hi to Omar for me, but then I reread it and I don’t think he was actually *at* the event. And now I’m going to have that FECCA spoken word piece in my head all day! :P

    • December 4, 2012 7:21 am

      No, he wasn’t … I think he might live in Melbourne now? It would have been great to see him. I heard him on the ABC radio recently too.

  2. December 5, 2012 5:54 am

    What a wonderful event you got to attend! You’ve got lots of great bookish things happening there lately!

  3. December 6, 2012 12:21 pm

    Reading the entry on Irma Gold at the Showcase reminded me of the late lamented Muse, which I’d already forgotten existed. It’s a pity it’s gone, but this is a nice initiative which at least partly fills some of the hole it has left. I never would have known about it without your blog, so thank you v much.

    • December 6, 2012 3:47 pm

      Oh yes, zmkc, it was a nice magazine. Anyhow, I’m glad my blog has helped publicise this new initiative.

  4. December 7, 2012 5:39 pm

    This sounds like a great initiative. No I shamefully don’t belong to or follow anything similar in my part of the world. Online yes, but this is not really enough. Then there are literary festivals during the year – when one makes the effort they usually pay back a lot in terms of inspiration and contacts. Yes, Christmas looks like the right time to be looking into this. Ahh the time factor!

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