Category Archives: Events

Well, scrape me down from the sky…

It’s been nearly three days. You’d think I would have managed to post the news before now. But it took me by surprise, and it’s taken a while to come down to earth.

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Last Friday, at the announcement of the WA Premier’s Book Awards,* I was awarded this year’s Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship. My fellow shortlistees were Lucy Dougan, Caitlin Maling, Rafeif Ismail and Carl Merrison, and it was a privilege to be in the company of these wonderful writers.

Congratulations to all the WA Premier’s Book Awards winners and shortlisted authors:

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Unlike an award given for a published book, a fellowship is not a prize; it’s a contract. It comes with expectations and responsibilities, and I’m so excited about the work ahead. The fellowship will enable me to make substantial progress on the new novel I’m working on, set in Perth and Coolgardie during the 1890s—a story of emigration and racism and extraordinary social change.

My thanks to the WA Government, the State Library of WA and the judging panel for this unparalleled opportunity.

*The event was live-streamed on YouTube (the feed begins at around 6 minutes).

A few photos, courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia…

 

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Susan Midalia, Jo Taylor, Amanda Curtin, Francine Nababan, Jan Nicholls

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

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Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Holden Sheppard

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Meg McKinlay

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Kim Scott

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

Premier's Book Awards night Friday 7 August 2020

 

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China sojourn…

Amanda Curtin(photo by WEI Donghua)

Photo courtesy Wei Donghua

I recently took a four-week break from the blog—from all social media, in fact—when I joined the 2019 Sun Yat-sen Writers’ Residency in China. The residency promotes the reading and writing of world literature by providing the space for international writers to engage with Chinese literature, culture and people.

I had the privilege of sharing these four unforgettable weeks with seven other writers—Damien Wilkins, New Zealand; Abigail Parry, United Kingdom; Geoffrey Nutter, United States; Alecia McKenzie, Jamaica; Ignacio Vleming, Spain; Helmuth A. Niederle, Austria; Irene Santori, Italy—as well as the residency creator and director, Professor Dai Fan, her colleagues from Sun Yat-sen University, and three groups of translation students.

During the residency, writers each had a piece of work (mine, the short story ‘Gratitude’, from Inherited) translated into Mandarin, and I found the process of working with student translators Junhai Yang and Yueyie Kong fascinating, rewarding, and occasionally confronting. I learned that some words in English have no literal equivalent in Mandarin, and a common question from the students—Does this mean…?—required stepping back in time, into the genesis of the story, to find ways of explaining overall intention as well as words and sentences. It gave me an appreciation of the collaborative art that translation is—or can be—and of the students’ sensitive, careful work. During the residency, each writer gave a reading of the work translated, with both the English and Mandarin versions projected on screen.

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Aside from providing time to write—and reflect—the residency gave us an outstanding opportunity to experience aspects of Chinese culture and history, life in cities and villages, and some of China’s amazing landscapes. We spent time in Yangshuo (Guanxi Autonomous Region), Gejiu City (Yunnan Province) and the Guangzhou and Zhuhai campuses of Sun Yat-sen University (Guangdong Province), and I gained a sense of just how vast China is on the day we spent eight hours on a high-speed train, covering more than a thousand kilometres.

Here are a few visual highlights.

Yulong riverside, surrounded by karst mountain formations, Yangshuo…

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View from Green Dragon Bridge

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Mountain Song, Yangshuo…

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Artists and calligraphers, Yangshuo…

 

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Not a very good student!

The coastal city of Zhuhai…

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The art of tea…

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Gejiu City…

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Azheke Village, Yuanyang Prefecture…

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Visits to schools and colleges…

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Wild, Weird & Wonderful in Margaret River…

For those of you who don’t know—and I’m sure most of you do—Margaret River is a world-acclaimed food and wine region in the South West of Western Australia, and one of Australia’s most beautiful and vibrant tourist destinations. It is also home to a fabulous writers festival, and I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival, 3–5 May, at Voyager Estate.

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The festival theme is Wild, Weird & Wonderful, and I like to think there’s a bit of all three in all of us.

I’m in very good company this year. Among those on the very long list of authors and presenters are Germaine Greer, Anna Funder, Kim Scott, Liz Byrski, Susan Midalia, Sarah Drummond, Ian Parmenter, Dave Warner, Michael Leunig and William McInnes.

I’ll be talking about Kathleen O’Connor of Paris with chair William Yeoman (Friday, 9.30–10.30am, Main Stage), and about Elemental in a session entitled ‘Salt, Sleet and Wild Seas’, with Sarah Drummond, author of The Sound, and chair Rashida Murphy (Friday, 2–3pm, Main Stage). You can view the full program here.

If you’re going, please come and say hello!

Need a reminder of just how glorious Margaret River is? Here are a few of my favourite photo-memories…

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Margaret River resident and all-round treasure Ian Parmenter

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Our Imagined Selves…

Most people who know me also know that I don’t get on with summer. Which is why I spent most of January somewhere a bit cooler…

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Ah, take me back…

But there’s one thing I do love about Perth summer—Perth Festival Writers Week! If you’re here next week, culminating in the weekend of 23–24 February, you’re in for a treat.

Curator William Yeoman, in his second festival—‘Our Imagined Selves’—has put together a fabulous program, with visiting guests Ben Okri, Anna Funder, Monica McInerney, David Malouf, Markus Zusak, Trent Dalton, Esi Edugyan, Fiona Wright, Jane Caro, Benjamin Law, Chloe Hooper, Hugh Mackay, Kristina Olsson, Carly Findlay, Angela Meyer and many others. Local writers are out in force, too, including Alice Nelson, S.A. Jones, Dervla McTiernan, Susan Midalia, David Whish-Wilson, Meg McKinlay, Steve Hawke, A.J. Betts and Carrie Cox.

I’m thrilled to be chairing a session with award-winning UK author Amy Sackville, who will be talking about her wonderful new novel, Painter to the King. And my fellow panellist in the ‘(Re)Writing History’ session is UK historical novelist Andrew Miller, whose latest, Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, I didn’t want to put down.

I’m also going to be trying very hard not to fangirl Gail Jones at the Sunday morning breakfast, ‘Ars Longa Vita Brevis’, during which she, Amy Sackville and I will be talking about our most recent works, all of them about art and artists.

My Saturday afternoon workshop ‘Writing Fiction: Getting Started’ is designed for those just starting out—or thinking about it—and covers basics like inspiration and creativity, and an introduction to the craft aspects of writing fiction.

Every year I warn myself not to go crazy in the bookshop, but I already have two four must-haves on my list, and I suspect that’s just the beginning!

Please come and say hello if you see me around, and I hope you have a wonderful festival.

 

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The short, the sweet and the historical…

The Australian Short Story Festival takes place in Perth on 19–21 October, at the Centre for Stories in Northbridge (with some events at other venues). The festival’s creative director, Susan Midalia, has put together a wonderful program, which you can peruse here.

Guests include David Malouf, Maria Takolander, Roanna Gonsalves, Anthony Macris, Laura Elvery, Jennifer Down and an impressive list of local emerging and established writers. I’ve booked for several sessions and am looking forward to a stimulating weekend of discussion on fiction in its short form.

I’ll be presenting a workshop on historical fiction, It’s not just breeches and bloomers, on Friday 19 October, 1.30–4.30pm. If that’s of interest to you, here’s the link for booking.

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An exhibition opens, a book enters the world…

The exhibition Being There—Kathleen O’Connor in Paris opened last night, at the Fremantle Arts Centre, on the eve of Kate’s 142nd birthday. This stunning exhibition of 56 works is drawn from her long career of six decades, and includes one of her student works from 1903 and her last (unfinished) work, dated 1965. It also features ephemera and some of her personal possessions—exhibition posters and invitations, her famous tortoiseshell bangles, a fragile 1913 Salon d’Automne catalogue, items that feature in her 1920s still lifes. The exhibition runs until 4 November, 10am – 5pm daily, and if you’re in the area, or visiting from elsewhere, I encourage you to drop in.

Alongside last night’s exhibition opening was the pre-release launch of Kathleen O’Connor of Paris. Mike Lefroy—author, historian and one of Kate’s great-nephews—gave a fabulous launch speech. I wish I’d recorded it! But here are a couple of photos.

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I’ll be giving an author talk at the gallery on Saturday 22 September, and am really looking forward to having this wonderful opportunity to talk about the works in the exhibition and put them into the context of Kate’s life. Pre-release copies of the book will be available for purchase (ahead of the release in late October), and I’ll be signing after the talk.

If you’d like to come along to this free event, here are the details.

Author talk/book signing: Kathleen O’Connor of Paris,
in conjunction with the exhibition
Being There—Kathleen O’Connor in Paris
Fremantle Arts Centre
1 Finnerty Street (corner of Finnerty and Ord streets), Fremantle
22 September 2018, 1–3pm
Free event
RSVP here

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Tea and conversation in Mandurah

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If you’re in the Mandurah area, or are close enough for a lovely drive, the Mandurah Readers & Writers Festival is on next week, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 August. Guests include Michelle Johnston, Carrie Cox, Louise Allan, Dervla McTiernan and Laurie Steed.

I’m delighted to be sharing the opening session with the wonderful Liz Byrski (whose new novel, A Month of Sundays, has just been released). We’ll be talking about our books, our approach to writing, our inspirations—and anything else that chair Kathy Heys would like to ask us. There will be morning tea, too—always a bonus!

The session is free, but bookings are essential.

Meet Liz Byrski and Amanda Curtin
10–11.30am, Wednesday 22 August
Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre,
Ormsby Terrace, Mandurah
Bookings here

We’d love to see you!

 

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Perth Writers Week

 

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Perth Writers Week (19–25 February) is coming up soon, and I am looking forward to some fabulous sessions.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Chris Womersley about his fascinating novel of 17th-century France, City of Crows, on Sunday 25 February, 11am. 

If you’re keen to see recent 2, 2 and 2 guests Louise Allan and Michelle Johnston, they will be in conversation in a free session, ‘Doctors’ Writing Club’, on Saturday, 12.30pm. Michelle will also be talking about Dustfall on Sunday, 4.30pm; and Louise’s session on The Sisters’ Song is on Saturday, 9.30am.

I have booked a ticket for the ‘How to Read a Dress’ High Tea and Fashion Show on Saturday afternoon. Some years ago, I attended a talk on what vintage fashion can tell us about history, and I’m hoping to learn more from Lydia Edwards, author of How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century, in conversation with Natasha Lester.

I’ve also booked the following sessions:

And I’m hoping to catch some of the free sessions:

Other festival authors include Josephine Wilson, Heather Rose, Sofie Laguna, Rose Michael, Cory Doctorow, Tim Winton, Robert Drewe, Richard Fidler, Alan Carter, Deb Fitzpatrick…It’s very hard to make choices from such a wonderful program of offerings! Congratulations to Guest Curator Will Yeoman.

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