West Cork Literary Festival

Cover of WQ Magazine Feb 13I’m back! Much of the latter half of 2012 was spent travelling – first on Duyfken, then to Ireland, then South Africa. While in Ireland I was privileged to attend the wonderful West Cork Literary Festival, where I fell under the spell of poet, voyager and travel memoirist Theo Dorgan. Check out my festival review in the February edition of WQ, and fall in love with Theo here.

“Bantry, a small harbourside town in the far west of Ireland, may not be famed in song and story like Galway or Tipperary, but it stages a spectacular annual gathering of readers and writers.

The story of how an international publishing house and world-class literary festival sprang in West Cork should inspire rural and regional literature-lovers everywhere…”

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Short fiction published in Islet online magazine

Hey folks, I’ve had a short piece published in Islet – check it out here.


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Promising places

My review of Kári Gíslason’s book, The Promise of Iceland, has been published on Writing Bar. Read it here.

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“Sammy’s gone away, aboard a man o’ war”

I can now officially reveal that I’m shipping aboard Duyfken as a volunteer crew member. I’ll be joining the ship in Cooktown and sailing to Weipa, which should take approximately two weeks. She’s sailing home from Sydney to Fremantle, where she was built 14 years ago.

It’s very strange, trying to write something succinct about this, because since I first heard of Duyfken just a couple of months ago she’s become something of an obsession. I hope to write more lucidly after the voyage! Follow our progress on Facebook: Duyfken 1606.

I’ll be taking a break from blogging because I’ll be out of internet range on the ship, and heading for Ireland almost as soon as I get back, where the travel schedule may not allow much time for posting. I’ll be attending the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, the International Drama in Education Research Institute (IDIERI) in Limerick, and Galway Arts Festival in – you guessed it!

Don’t miss me too  much – I’ll be back in August, with plenty to say and share.

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Article on blogging

Hi all. Just letting you know I have an article on blogging published in this month’s edition of WQ, the Queensland Writers Centre newsletter. If you’re a Queensland writer, I recommend joining the Centre – lots of useful information in the newsletter each month, including competitions and opportunities, as well as thoughtful and up-to-the-minute articles. Happy reading!

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New love

Look at this ship, look at this lovely ship! I spent yesterday attacking her with a hair dryer. Well, actually a heat gun, but it works like a hair dryer, with low and high settings. If you turn it too high, bits of the hull start to smoulder; too low and you’ll never dry the timber where the iron keel meets the wood, and if you paint over it like that it’ll rot. So. Hair dryer. I’m not going to tell you all about Duyfken now, because I’m hoping this is the start of a beautiful friendship. But check her out here – she’s really special.

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Loving it

I’ve been thinking a lot about something I said in my Cavewoman post, and that Say Gudday said in response – we “love” caves. Say Gudday talked of spending a lot of time in caves as a kid. As a PhD candidate, an academic, a professional, an adult, I’m not supposed to say I “love” something – too unscientific, too undifferentiated, too childish. “What, precisely, is the emotional quality of this ‘love’? From what characteristics of the object, and of you as subject, does this ‘love’ result? Are you sure you’re not talking about the sublime? ”

Kids, on the other hand, feel free to tell you all the things they “love”, from Mum and Dad to icecream to One Direction to horses to rollercoasters to the Harry Potter series. I suppose they mean something slightly different when they use the word “love” in each of those cases. Often, though, I think what we express with our “love” is the sense that something catches our imagination. Like most kids, I love tall ships, steam trains, narrowboats on canals, old bridges, kites, pirates, gypsies, magic, The Force, mirrors, locked doors and forgotten keys, myths and fables and fairytales, dreams, fossils and crystals, volcanoes and cyclones, and all manner of other things that grab my imagination and transport me to strange places. Why is it that, as an adult, if you express “love” for any of these things you’re likely to be labelled either flaky or a nerd? Are we supposed to grow up too cool to have our imaginations captured? Something went wrong with me, then: I’m a dyed-in-the-wool multi-hued ultra-flaky super-nerd.

I love observatories where you get to look through telescopes at objects like The Jewel Box open star cluster and the Hamburger Nebula (both around 6,500 light-years away). I love snorkelling, seeing more species of fish and sponge and soft coral than I will ever be able to name, no matter how much I pore over my Sea Fishes of Australia. I keep tadpoles for the delight of seeing them (eventually!) turn into frogs, and stick insect eggs for the fun of seeing the hair-fine hatchlings swarming over each other to escape into the big world. I love metamorphoses and transformations. I love museums and old cities, because of the sense that people were walking these streets or handling these artefacts hundreds and thousands of years ago. And I love caves, because they challenge me to think unthinkable thoughts about the time-scale of the earth and the cosmos.

So, back to the problem of analysing, particularizing, articulating, the particular kinds of joy it is possible to experience in the face of places: jouissance, plaisir, the sublime, beauty, immanence, transcendence, being-in-the-world? Philosophers and literary critics have been hard at it for centuries. It’s quite daunting to be trying to add my mite to the pile.

But I’m loving it.

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