by Michelle

Recently two erudite reviews of Letter to Pessoa have appeared in journals. Angela Serrano reviewed it for Verity La and Dr Ruby Todd reviewed the collection in the wonderful TEXT, edited by Linda Weste. TEXT is where my ‘Letter to Derrida’ first appeared. It became the seed of my beautiful Pessoa book. Pessoa never published a book of prose in his lifetime, and now he is a modernist superstar so I figure I’m doing okay.

The reviews were welcome as there have been several reductive pieces written mostly by a few white, male critics who seem to feel territorially threatened when a woman of colour wants to write in a literary voice, in an experimental genre-bending style and not directly, or didactically about race. They conflate what they think is my life, with my fiction, thereby fictionalising my life and manipulating the review into pastiche.

Criticism has a force which can determine the reading of a text. I have been writing about these kinds of problems, without referencing my own work, in an essay on ethical criticism to appear in Sydney Review of Books .  It is inspired partly by my reading about Foucauldian discourse analysis and narrative mediation. To ameliorate these nerdy excesses and various musculoskeletal tensions, I’ve enrolled in a hip-hop class, and it seems to be working.

Simon West reviewed my collection of poems, The Herring Lass for The Weekend Australian and another appreciative review by Nadia Niaz appears in Mascara.

This weekend I’m appearing at the Northern Territory Writers’ Festival in events for poetry and fiction at some ambient venues, including the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. I speaking with Michael Giacometti, whose debut collection, My Life, is forthcoming from Spineless Wonders, on short stories. I’m also looking forward to hopefully meeting the brilliant author Kim Mahood. Her memoir Craft for a Dry Lake is one of my favourite books.

And … I’m thrilled to mention that Letter to Pessoa has been shortlisted in the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Antigone Kefala’s book Fragments is shortlisted in this year’s Kenneth Slessor Prize. It’s a stunning collection; attesting to the life that gives poetry voice. Kefala is highly-regarded and surely a favourite, though not the most celebrated or prolific Australian poet. She has kept herself at a sensible distance from the scene of  poetry-making, so I have my fingers crossed for her.

The awards night at the State Library is a glam affair that opens the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I’m looking forward to reading and speaking at an event down at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay with acclaimed novelists Margo Lanagan, Graeme Simsion and Anuk Arudpragasam, a Sri-Lankan philosophy doctoral candidate from Columbia University who was recently short-listed in the Dylan Thomas Prize.

 

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