In the UK, the Publishers Association (PA) has announced a 10-point inclusivity plan, with the aim of increasing the percentage of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees in the publishing industry to at least 15% in five years, and the percentage of women in executive-level and senior leadership positions to at least 50% in five years.
Publishers will be encouraged by the PA to sign on for the plan, and will report annual data to the PA. As part of the 10 points, publishers will be asked to develop a ‘policy on inclusivity’, nominate a ‘champion for diversity on their board’ and to develop a ‘mentoring scheme’ to support existing staff from marginalised backgrounds. Publishers will also be asked to review their hiring practices for unconscious bias, with the PA offering free training sessions on unconscious bias to encourage smaller publishers to participate.
The targets were decided on after the PA conducted ‘a research exercise’ with a mix of publishers and 15,000 respondents that found BAME employees make up 13% of the UK industry and women at 49% of senior leadership roles. Target figures are based on the overall UK population .
PA president Lis Tribe said the organisation wants ‘something everyone can commit to’. ‘If we feel we are getting to those benchmarks quicker, we will set new benchmarks,’ she said.
The longlisted titles are:
All These Perfect Strangers (Aoife Clifford, S&S)
Dodge Rose (Jack Cox, Text)
Our Magic Hour (Jennifer Down, Text)
Our Tiny, Useless Hearts (Toni Jordan, Text)
The Healing Party (Micheline Lee, Black Inc.)
Skylarking (Kate Mildenhall, Black Inc.)
Music and Freedom (Zoe Morrison, Vintage)
The Last Days of Ava Langdon (Mark O’Flynn, UQP)
A Loving, Faithful Animal (Josephine Rowe, UQP)
Hold (Kirsten Tranter, Fourth Estate)
The Voss Literary Prize is awarded to the best novel published in Australia in the previous year, and is dedicated to the memory of historian Vivian Robert Le Vaux Voss.
This year’s writers in residence are Rawah Arjah, Chad Modernel, Omar Sakr and Stephan Pham.
The writers receive a six-day residency at Varuna running from 2-8 October, and a one-on-one mentorship/consultation with Text Publishing editor Elena Gomez.
The WestWords Varuna Western Sydney Residential Program aims to offer Western Sydney emerging fiction, poetry and narrative non-fiction writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds the opportunity to develop a current project.
The shortlisted works and their authors are:
Tasmania Book Prize for the best book with Tasmanian content in any genre ($25,000)
- Losing Streak: How Tasmania was Gamed by the Gambling Industry (James Boyce, Black Inc.)
- Archipelago of Souls (Gregory Day, Pan Macmillan)
- Physick (Pete Hay, Shoestring Press)
- Into the Heart of Tasmania (Rebe Taylor, MUP)
Margaret Scott Prize for the best book by a Tasmanian writer ($5000)
- The White Room Poems (Anne Kellas, Walleah Press)
- South Pole: Nature and Culture (Elizabeth Leane, Reaktion Books)
- The Museum of Modern Love (Heather Rose, A&U)
University of Tasmania Prize for an unpublished manuscript by an emerging writer ($5000)
- ‘A Son of the Moon’, by Kerri Guardia
- ‘Two Sets of Books’, by Ruairi Murphy
- ‘Brodsky Dies’, by Adam Ouston
- ‘A Guide to Bushwalking in Tasmania’, by Ben Walter
The Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship ($5000)
- Erin Hortle
- Sarah Jaeger
- Emily Spratt
The shortlists were announced as part of the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival.
In a contemporary world that exposes us to the increasingly emotional stresses of everyday living and reports of crime and catastrophe on a daily basis, it is sometimes hard to remember this simple promise to yourself. Writing and storytelling are powerful ways to make sense of your life, and can provide the comfort, solace and the fuel to enable you to live a healthier, happier and more fulfilled life.
The healing power of writing is not a new concept. In a mid-1980s experiment, American social psychologist James Pennebaker asked a group of students to write about upsetting events in their lives. The students did this for four consecutive days and a control group wrote about trivial matters. Down the track, the first group actually showed boosted immune systems and reduced doctor visits compared to the control group.
In more scientific terms, neuroscientists have proven that recalling memories changes the brain’s organic structure. Beyond the initial cathartic effect of writing, the organising, editing and structuring of the writing process can result in an ability to see experiences in a new light. Writing, in this sense, can provide you with another form of problem solving in your life.
The creative process in itself can be naturally cathartic in alleviating emotional stress through the concept of flow. Introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheeks-sent-me-high!) in 1990, flow is a state of consciousness where the creator becomes so absorbed in the process that concerns fade from direct awareness. I am sure that as a writer you may have experienced this – when the act of writing itself is so enjoyable that hours just disappear and you might have even disregarded hunger and fatigue. There are certain conditions under which flow occurs, and that is when you are working at a level that is challenging – there is some level of ‘stretch’ in employing the creativity required that makes it so enjoyable.
So how do you use writing and storytelling to become braver, stronger and smarter than you think you are? Carl Jung said, ‘I am not what happened to me. I am what I chose to become.’ You may not be able to change the things that have happened in your life, but you can change the way you look at them, and the story you tell yourself and others about them. Let’s explore some of the writing and storytelling approaches available to you to help you to gain a stronger sense of perspective and control over your past, a deeper connection with your present, and a clearer vision of your future.
Writing a memoir can be a rewarding and potentially cathartic experience. In telling or writing the story of your life, you are both creating and re-creating yourself and creating a connection between the past and the future. The process can help you to frame adversity as a challenge and you can then learn from your experience, grow and move on. Delving into other significant life experiences, such as rites of passage and travel stories, can also provide an exploration of self and growth.
Creative Life Writing
Creative writing provides another place to stand to revisit a difficult history. It is a space where experimenting, fantasising and trying out being someone else is acceptable. Interaction with literary characters in reading offers benefits, including identification leading to personal change, emotional constancy, and strength by example. Writers may find opportunities to redevelop their life stories by writing about them through the perspective of fictional characters to explore possibilities for change.
Reflective journaling can be used on its own or as an accompanying tool to life writing. It provides a way to externalise memories and work through issues of self-perception, without having them publicly exposed. This can provide a space in which to ‘story’ the events from the past and purge emotional responses.
Poetry, Metaphor and Song
Experiences can sometimes be too painful or deeply buried to be accessed and might necessitate using more metaphoric and poetic writing strategies. Metaphor is an expression where one thing is likened to something else with similar properties. Using metaphor can help to convey complex memories, feelings and hidden meanings in a more sensitive manner and give voice to experiences that sometimes elude verbal expression. Singing and poetry are great ways to share your feelings and experiences, and also have proven health benefits.
Writing for Wellbeing
The famous philosopher Aristotle wrote, ‘The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival’. Writing and storytelling can provide ways of developing awareness and contemplation, but more than mere survival, the process of flow can make it fun!
Find out more about Writing for Wellbeing workshops.
Lea Scott has published three successful indie crime novels, The Ned Kelly Game (2009), Eclipsed (2010) and One for All (2013) and co-authored three short story anthologies with Brisbane writers’ groups. She is currently studying a PhD in Creative Writing and is working on two new crime novels. Lea serves in an Executive Management Committee position with Queensland Writers Centre and is an appointed mentor for emerging crime writers. She has appeared on seminar panels and facilitated writing workshops throughout Queensland.
Forget watching television or browsing the internet — Australians rate reading as the leisure activity they enjoy the most.
Whether it’s escaping into a thriller or engaging with challenging literature, reading a dog-eared paperback or an e-book, Australians report spending an average five hours a week reading.
As Australian Reading Hour — a national initiative to raise the profile of the written word — kicks off, the ABC asked 11 Australians what they’re reading right now and what role reading plays in their lives.
Mount St Thomas primary school in Wollongong was a sea of Roald Dahl characters this week.
School librarian Priscilla Skarpona organised the day to tie in with the school’s curriculum. “The boys and girls throughout the school are doing author studies and they’re reading Roald Dahl books, so every class in the school is studying Roald Dahl,” she said.
The six shortlisted titles are:
- 4 3 2 1 (Paul Auster, Faber)
- History of Wolves (Emily Fridlund, Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
- Exit West (Mohsin Hamid, Hamish Hamilton)
- Elmet (Fiona Mozley, J M Originals)
- Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders, Bloomsbury)
- Autumn (Ali Smith, Hamish Hamilton).
The judges remarked that the novels, each in its own way, challenge and subtly shift our preconceptions — about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death.
Chair of judges, Lola, Baroness Young, commented: ‘With six unique and intrepid books that collectively push against the borders of convention, this year’s shortlist both acknowledges established authors and introduces new voices to the literary stage. Playful, sincere, unsettling, fierce: here is a group of novels grown from tradition but also radical and contemporary. The emotional, cultural, political and intellectual range of these books is remarkable, and the ways in which they challenge our thinking is a testament to the power of literature.’
The shortlist covers a wide range of subjects, from the struggle of a family trying to retain its self-sufficiency in rural England to a love story between two refugees seeking to flee an unnamed city in the throes of civil war. In the fourth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, the shortlist is made up of two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers.
Ali Smith makes the Man Booker shortlist for the fourth time (she was previously shortlisted for Hotel World in 2001, The Accidental in 2005 and How to Be Both in 2014). This year also sees a repeat shortlisting for Mohsin Hamid, who made the list in 2007 with The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
The 2017 winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 October. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000.
Playwright Leah Purcell has received the top two writing honours at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s annual AWGIE Awards, for The Drover’s Wife (Currency Press), a retelling of Henry Lawson’s short story.
Purcell received the 2017 Award and the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre.
The Drover’s Wife was awarded the playwriting prize and the Book of the Year prize at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, and the Victorian Prize for Literature and drama award at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.
A feature adaptation of The Drover’s Wife (Currency Press) also received Screen Australia development funding earlier this year.
Savage’s appointment follows the departure of Kate Larsen, who served as director since March 2013. The current acting director of the organisation is Alexis Drevikovsky, who will continue in the role until Savage commences the position.
Savage is a Melbourne-based crime writer who won the 2004 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript for Behind the Night Bazaar (Text), and whose books have been shortlisted for a Davitt award and multiple Ned Kelly Awards.
She has also managed an Australian Red Cross HIV/AIDS program in Southeast Asia and served as director of the Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia International Program.
In a statement, Writers Victoria said Savage is a ‘a highly respected figure within the Victorian writing community, being a published author of note’. ‘Most importantly, she has had extensive experience running similar-sized organisations and implementing complex programs within the not-for-profit sector.’
Australian writers have raised $13,143.84 for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) by auctioning off various items as part of the ‘Authors for Asylum’ Twitter campaign.
The campaign ran from 31 August to 7 September, with more than 45 writers, editors and librarians auctioning off items such as signed books, workshops, school talks, manuscript assessments and tours using the hashtag #authorsforasylum on Twitter. A list of all the auctioned items was compiled by Readings.
‘Authors for Asylum’ was started by YA author Zana Fraillon in response to reports the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will cut income and accommodation support for refugees who have been transferred to Australia from offshore detention, mostly for medical reasons.