Arts and Letters Report, July 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies,

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser


The past, it is said, is a wise song, and its music should always be playing!

Geraldine BROOKS, one of Australia’s grand researchers and writers, allows us to ‘hear’ the wise song!


Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers Australia Pty Ltd 2009

A meticulously researched piece of work, ‘People of the Book’ is a gripping and moving novel about families, war, art, love and survival. Brooks surpasses the Courier-Mail claim, “…a fearless and engaging writer”, in this unusual novel about a renowned Australian book conservator and the Sarajevo Haggadah – (A Jewish prayer book). The discovery of its secrets, stories, and people provides an amazing series of events and pieces of the story of the miraculous survival of this particular Haggadah.

Geraldine Brooks was Sydney born and raised.  As a foreign correspondent she covered crisis in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, before turning to fiction. Her novels, ‘Year of Wonders’, ‘People of the Book’ and ‘Caleb’s Crossing’ are international bestsellers and ‘March’ won the Pulitzer prize. Brooks lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband and two sons.

This novel is a celebration of the world of Letters, with a dedication “For the Librarians” and a reminder, in her introduction: “There, where one burns books, one, in the end, burns men.” Heinrich Heine.

‘People of the Book’ is an impressive read.

Immense interest exists today about the content of literature written for young adults. I try to cover a wide range of this literature for those concerned about the nature, direction, purpose and potential to engage young readers. Local libraries have been of great help to locate the widest possible range and variety and this is hugely appreciated! A great deal is being written about grief and Aussie writers are bravely, wonderfully and boldly allowing a new ‘warm-bloodedness’ in symbiosis with the gradual acceptance of deep loss in texts.


KCP Loft Toronto ON.2017

Maths genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva is a loner, not just because she’s a math nerd, but out of necessity. “The more I can see and understand, the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.”

KCP Loft is an imprint of ‘Kids Can Press’, and is grateful for the financial support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada, for this publishing activity.

This is an unusual, entertaining and informative novel, and it is interesting to note the bodies supporting such a publication, affirming concerns about younger readers and their reading abilities. It also bridges myriad elements of today’s generation gaps!  Kids Can Press is a Corus Entertainment Inc. Company.

“I hold Josh’s TI-84 in my left hand, press a few buttons just for show and wait for the vision to come.

The TI-84 is my favourite lower-end calculator. Not many teenagers have a favourite calculator. My dream calculator is the TI-Nspire CX CAS Handheld graphing calculator with full colour display. I yearn for it the way some girls my age obsess over a cute pair of boots!” p.9.   Fantastically fresh!



Picador by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd 2016

A wild, brave and moving debut! Stephanie Bishop


“…It smashed and then repaired my heart…somehow managing to be both intensely vividly sad and wildly, gorgeously hopeful!” Emily Maguire

Anna Spargo-Ryan has worked in digital marketing for fifteen years, including time on Ramsay Street, in the Formula 1 pits and on bus magazines. Her short fiction has been published in ‘Kill Your Darlings’ and she also writes for The Guardian, Overland, Daily Life and other publications. Anna lives in Melbourne with her people, animals and a cat called Norman. ‘The Paper House’ is her first novel.

Heartbreaking, fearless and ablaze with a coruscating beauty all its own, ‘The Paper House’ is a sharp-eyed, bittersweet depiction of the love between parents and children, and the havoc that it can wreak.



Walker Books Ltd., London UK


“How grief and love can run side by side is sensitively and intensely explored in this energetic, poetic and warm-blooded novel.” The Guardian

Dear Reader, Lennie’s story is a story close to my heart. Without warning, she burst into my world one day, wielding her clarinet and worn copy of ‘Wuthering Heights’.  Right on her heels – Gram in her enchanted garden of aphrodisiacal roses…and Big, Gram’s eccentric brother.

“I see a takeaway cup on the ground, so I sit down, write a few lines on it and then bury it under a mound of pine needles.  Then I lie down on my back on the spongy forest floor.  I love doing this – giving it all up to the enormity of the sky…” p.162

Main character, Lennie, needs “…a new alphabet, one made of falling, of tectonic plates shifting, of the deep devouring dark.” Later she will blast all the feelings, the unspoken, all that is stowed deep in her heart out of her clarinet, in a musical typhoon.

Jandy Nelson divides her time between her proper tree and running loose through the park.  Jandy is a published poet and has several degrees in Fine Arts. She’s a superstitious sort and devout romantic, madly in love with her home state and how it teeters on the edge of a continent!


This festival is free to the public and gives families and the community an opportunity to embrace the Greek and other cultures in our region. In addition to sampling traditional Greek foods, music and dance; Zorba lessons, honey puff eating and belly dancing, the festival provides the opportunity to showcase the diversity, strength and acceptance of varied cultures in our community.


ROCKHAMPTON   – events.

MESSY MONDAY BUBS – Little ones can explore and create art, mess about and play with others under the guidance of a qualified gallery educator!


CLASSIC DOCUMENTARIES, MUSICALS, FEATURE FILMS AND DRAMA from the National Film and Sound Archives, screen throughout the year at the Rockhampton Regional Library and Gracemere Library. Emails are welcome!


THE QUEENSLAND WRITERS’ CENTRE embraces not only the world of Letters, but that of Film, Performance and Cultural Studies.

Wonderful Women working this centre currently include Lori-Jay ELLIS (film) – Laura HENDERSON (degree in performance and cultural studies) – Jackie RYAN (published writer and hon. Research fellow at the University of Queensland – and all are excited about the new appointment of ASHLEY HAY, author, journalist and Associate Professor, as GRIFFITH REVIEW EDITOR.  The National Council of Women Queensland Incorporated offers Congratulations to Ashley on this exciting appointment!  Readers can be informed about cultural affairs in the journal, Griffith Review, which is a quarterly publication.


QUEENSLAND BALLET is currently touring SWAN LAKE along the Queensland coastline and in the regions.  More next report!


No lights, No lycra!

Immerse yourself in the ecstasy of dance! Spend 90 minutes dancing to the skilful selection of music from Chris Bennie.  The lights are low enough, so you can move as you please.  RSVP essential.



Renowned Brisbane Artist, Judith WRIGHT, presents her most recent installation in a project to construct the imagined life of a lost child.  ‘In the Garden of Good and Evil’, viewers can engage with the artist’s meditation on vulnerability, love and loss.  Judith’s journey began in 2003 and includes frolic and play – and stepping into the world of the imagination where lives exist in the minds and hearts of those who love them. Brisbane Art/What’s on?


Even in the ‘withoutness’ of loss, which has featured in this report, there is an aliveness and beauty.  Is it possible that both beauty and loss order the world? Is there not, at times, a strange warmth, a flitting presence or memory? Something vague, sometimes unsettling, sometimes welcome, utterly and exquisitely gentle, like a feather brushed across the back of your neck?

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