NCWQ Arts and Letters Report June 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser


Short stories! I was asked the other day what had happened to ‘the short story’? Whilst some of our Queensland and Australian writing competitions promote the short story, many seem to disappear after brief exposure.

Once upon a time short stories were published in magazines, particularly Women’s magazines, as well as in bound collections. Stories varied, and provided the reader with a wide range of themes, styles, ideas and plots. The basic Australian Oxford Dictionary defines ‘story’ n. “account of imaginary or past events, narrative, tale, anecdote; course of life of person, institution etc.”

I realised, whilst searching shelves, shops and sites, that there is a distinct kinship between short stories and poems! Often, the short story writer and the poet may have work published in a magazine, local newspaper, or regional, national or international publication; but it takes time and a huge effort to find a publisher for an entire anthology or collection.


The following history of Cate KENNEDY’S collection of wonderful, authentically ‘Australian’ short stories may serve to partially explain this publishing process.  The stories are varied, yet wholesome and ‘earthed’ in a way one may not have read for a long time.

LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE – Scribe Publications

Cate Kennedy is the author of the highly acclaimed novel ‘The World Beneath’, which won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2010. She is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has been published widely. Her first collection, ‘Dark Roots’ was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. She is also the author of a travel memoir, ‘Sing and Don’t Cry’, and the poetry collections ‘Joyflight’, ‘Signs of Other Fires’ and ‘The Taste of River Water’. The latter won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2011. Cate lives on a secluded bend of the Broken River in north-east Victoria.  Contact:


Still in the World of Letters! – STELLA – The 2018 Stella Prize Shortlist

Celebrating great books by Australian women

Mirandi RIWOE is one of the shortlisted authors. “THE FISH GIRL” is inspired by the ‘Malay Trollope’ in W. Somerset Maugham’s story, “The Four Dutchmen”. This novella, slender, supple, is tender and delightful. ‘The Fish Girl’ tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.   

Miranda Riwoe is a Brisbane-based writer who has been shortlisted for the ‘Overland’ Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize, the Josephine Ulrick Short Story Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary. She has also been longlisted for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize and the CWA (UK) dagger awards. Her work has appeared in ‘Review of Australian Fiction’, ‘Rex’, and ‘Peril and Shibboleth and Other Stories’. Her first novel, ‘She be Damned’, was released by Legend Press UK and Pantera Aust. In 2017. Miranda has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from QUT, Brisbane, Queensland.

Riwoe’s novella is language rich, which reassures the reader of its informed authenticity, and the sheer beauty of a culture about which we know little, despite our geographical and historic proximity.

‘The girl parts her hair with the backs of her hands, so that the shiny tresses are like the wings of a black bird.’

‘A sob…lodges in her throat like a frog in a tree hollow…’ p.5

‘The fish girl has brought the smell of the sea with her.’ p.17

‘…the ocean’s whisper…the ocean’s presence…Mina remembers who she is. But the memory has weight, sinks in her chest like a pebble in the sea.’ p.19

‘She felt like she was bursting through her skin, like the lush, buttery flesh that peeks through the spiky crevices of an overripe durian.’ p.54

“Cantik!” = beautiful in Indonesian – Kamus Moderen 3 Milyar.


Other shortlisted publications are:-

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree – Shokoofeh Azar

Terra Nullius – Claire G. Coleman

The Life to Come – Michelle de Kretser

An Uncertain Grace – Krissy Kneen

Tracker – Alexis Wright



Another Aussie! With a cast of unforgettable characters, ‘THE SHELLEY BEACH WRITERS’ GROUP’ is an irresistible story of loss, change and reinvention.

The heroine has been dumped by her husband, for his PA; their company has gone broke and her nearly-published novel is cancelled! This wonderful character leaves behind the air kisses, pretences, power dressing and is constantly surprised, if not astounded, at new discoveries in a new, very, very simple life. The novel is peppered with an abundance of ‘Bloody hell’s’ – but even that over-seasoning becomes somewhat palatable when the reader understands the enormity of the changes our character manages. Bartering in a small, stormy, sleepy seaside sanctuary, our heroine realises how little she has seen of the sky, throughout her years of being a city working woman, wife and mother.

“I’m sure I saw the Dog whisper to Bossy Child to ignore me and invite her friends whenever she wants. The Dog likes the Bossy Child’s friends because they make such a fuss of him. He’s not keen on children under the age of three though, unless they’ve been dog trained!” p.77 Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Australia.

Australian, June LOVES, is the author of over one hundred non-fiction books for both children and adults. She has also been a newspaper journalist, freelance writer and teacher librarian. She now lives near the beach in Victoria with her husband, but no Dog!



Alliance Francaise de Cairns presented the French Film Festival to Far North Queensland. Eight films were presented over a three day period, all of which had English sub-titles. The small theatre at Event Cinemas Cairns City was packed, with ‘The School of Life’ a favourite!


Directed by Nicolas Vanier. Starring Francois Cluzet, Eric Elmosnino, Francois Berleand, Jean Scandel. Filmmaker Nicolas Vanier (directors Belle and Sebastian) borrows from his own childhood experiences growing up in Sologne to inform The School of Life – a gratifying, feel-good story about a boy whose miserable existence in a Parisian orphanage is changed forever when he is taken to live in rural France. In addition to the sheer enjoyment of the film itself, audience members loved the very beautiful scenery and cinematography.

SOCIAL HISTORY – A sometimes forgotten element of our culture.

WARTIME WALK promoted by Cairns Libraries and the RSL Sub-Branch, takes those interested, back in time to explore the buildings of Cairns City and their use during the wars. Bookings are essential on (07) 4044 3720. Walking time approx. 2 hours, morning tea provided for $5, payable to the RSL Sub Branch.

25 May, 22 June, 27 July, 24 August and 28 September 2018. 9am – 12 noon

Historic walks are often organised in cities, but not so often in regional areas*


VISUAL ART – Four exciting new works were purchased by Cairns’ Art Gallery for the Gallery Collection.  One of these was “A WEAVE THROUGH TIME”, which comprises three large-scale body sculptures that explore traditional and contemporary body adornment, with the style and media of each representing the past, present and future. Grace Lillian LEE is a Cairns based artist whose fashion and body sculptures have been represented at major fashion shows and cultural events around Australia.

UQ Museum of Art, in partnership with Monash University Museum of Art presents a series for the public ‘TIME CRYSTALS’, which includes film, visual art and lectures. The presentations are early in June, but are widely publicised and promoted and full details are available:-

Dick ROUGHSEY Retrospective Exhibition – Can you help?

Cairns Art Gallery, in partnership with the Queensland Art Gallery/Galley of Modern Art, is curating a major survey exhibition of the work of Dick Roughsey (Goobalathaldin), which will be exhibited in Cairns in late 2018, before touring to Brisbane in 2019. The Gallery has asked for anyone with works by Dick or Lindsay Roughsey, or information about them, to make contact during the research phase of the exhibition.

Dick Roughsey (C.1920-1985) had strong friendships with artists Ron Edwards and Ray Crooke, and as well as explaining many cultural features to those of us in the world of Arts/Letters in Cairns, transitioned traditional Aboriginal art from Mornington Island into a contemporary art practice.

Any information which may assist the Gallery in locating works by Dick or his brother, Lindsay, would be gratefully appreciated. Contact:- Gallery Curator: Teho ROPEYARN (07) 4046 4800 or


PERFORMING ARTS/BALLET Performances are on the move along the Queensland coast this winter! Details in future reports.

“Special” times are when a Wonderful Day

becomes a whole week’s holiday…

and a Wonderful Magickal Night

becomes almost a summer’s length!

Jennifer Ann Davies

The TANKS Art Centre – lots of kids are looking forward to the travelling performance which delights audiences – young and old! – THE 78-STOREY TREEHOUSE begins in early June, at The TANKS Art Centre, Cairns.


INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD is a cultural event open to the wider community showcasing African cuisine, music, art and dance, with performances from local children, in many centres along the coastline. This event is in its 13th year in Cairns, in Far North Queensland. The event is traditionally scheduled for 16th June and commemorates the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1991. The 2018 theme? “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development. ACERWC


There is an informative PDF online, displaying the spread of funding across cultures, towns and cities, in Queensland. SUCCESSFUL GRANT APPLICANTS FOR 2018 EVENTS.

For those who have been concerned about the withdrawal of funding for Arts and Letters, at State, National and even global levels, the events and cultures to which funding has been granted in the state of Queensland may prove   interesting. One simple element of change is the inclusion of ‘arts’ in cultural events; whilst, in truth, there is no funding, support, or place for the development of new art, artists, performers, students or our young, in the everyday community.

It is heartening to note funding for some events and for some cultures and centres – chilling to note the absences. It is grand that we are able to support cultural events and enhance ‘cultural collaboration’, yet we should not be complacent about the diverting of public funds which may, in turn, be depleting some of our former educational objectives.

Mackay this year is celebrating the Multicultural Queensland Grants Program for which the city is one of many successful recipients. Their grants will fund the International Day of the African Child and the Mackay-Australia South Sea Islander Recognition Week 2018. This poem is dedicated to MR. FATNOWNA.


He was huge, the Kanaka, to us kids,

And black and proud and beautiful.

He had no parallel in the blandness

And whiteness of the pages of our

Social Studies’ books – none at all.

How could we possibly know the

Truths of men stealing men? Of

Pitcairn and blackbirding? How?

Everyone called him MISTER Fatnowna

With respect and reverence – genteel…

And he had no parallel in the pomposity

And whiteness and absences of our

Written social histories – none at all!!

Somehow, all of us kids KNEW that,

Way back, when we all called out

“Hello, Mr. Fatnowna!” – With respect.

Jennifer Ann DAVIES Book Five: Always Becoming

This gentleman was one of the well-known members of this large family with whom we grew up, in Mackay!

Many more community and cultural events are occurring along our coastline and in the regions and rural areas – check your area online to discover a host of these events which mesh people together and support all of our Arts!

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