Television writers acknowledged

I don’t normally watch awards programs shown on television. They tend to be long-winded, drawn out and frankly boring affairs. Of course, if I was in the running for an award of some sort, they’d be as exciting as.

I didn’t watch all of Australian television’s  Logies Awards presentation last night but did catch the last half hour or so.  I should have gone to bed as I was very tired, but kept putting off the effort of doing so.

What I did see pleased me. Not one but several of the award winning actors paid tribute to the excellent writers of various television series. Writers are far too often overlooked in such events, but where would they be without the writers first having the ideas for the story lines, and then doing the hard work of putting the plot, characters and setting and all the other elements of a good story together? Without writers – good writers – we’d have no television drama, no comedy series, no films and little entertainment.

I know it’s not an Australian series, but I’ve recently become a fan of the American crime series called Castle. In an interesting twist, the main character is a crime writer called Castle who helps a detective and the police solve everyday crimes. I also enjoy the gentle humour incorporated in the scripts.

Enough from me: I’d like to acknowledge the fine skills of the many wonderful television and film writers out there. Well done.

Adelaide Writers’ Week March 2010

Tom Keneally opening Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Tom Keneally opening Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Last week I attended three days of the six day Adelaide Writers’ Week. This is an important and integral part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts held every two years. This festival attracts readers and writers from all over Australia, as well as a glittering gathering of international writers who come as guest speakers. Each day starts at 9:30am and runs until 6pm so it is quite a marathon effort for organisers and attendees as well. The sessions are all free (except for several evening sessions in the Town Hall). The sessions vary from panel discussions on writing, reading and literature through to book launches and meet-the-author opportunities.

Three large marquees are set up in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens a five minute walk from the CBD. The East Tent and the West Tent host sessions concurrently while the Book Tent is housed in another tent in between. This shop features books written only by authors present on the programme. All authors are available for book signings too.

2010 Writers' Week, Pioneer Women's Memorial Gardens, Adelaide

2010 Writers' Week, Pioneer Women's Memorial Gardens, Adelaide

On the first day of the festival there was a special session to announce the winners of the Festival Awards for Literature. This was done by the Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann. In all there are ten awards ranging from plays, children’s books, non-fiction to unpublished manuscripts. The cash awards are very generous and I applaud the state government for supporting our writers in this way. May it continue.

Premier Mike Rann at Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Premier Mike Rann at Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Further reading:

Australia Day 2010 honours our writers

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

January 26th is Australia Day, a special day celebrating the first landing of European settlers in Sydney Cove, 1788.

The day is celebrated in many ways: family gatherings, picnics, barbecues, going to the beach,  attending sporting events or just having a lazy day in the middle of the Australian summer.

Every year for the last few years Australia Post has celebrated the event by issuing a special set of postage stamps called Australian Legends. This series of stamps features people who have made a major contribution to Australian life and culture.

This year the stamps are called Australian Legends of the written word. They highlight the works of six of our most prominent writers. The writers honoured in this way are Peter Carey, David Malouf, Colleen McCullough, Bryce Courtenay, Thomas Keneally and Tim Winton.

I think it is wonderful that our leading novelists have been honoured in this way. Writers in Australia are often overlooked for the massive contribution they have made to our culture. Each of the writers featured are truly deserving of the honour.

Where are they?

Of course, by featuring these six writers, many other well deserved writers have been overlooked. In the field of novelists another 15 to 20 worthy recipients could have been listed, including Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee. Admittedly, he was born in South Africa but now resides here in my home state of South Australia. Bryce Courtenay was also born in South Africa, so here is an inconsistency in the choice of recipients.  And what of Patrick White, Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, Peter Goldsworthy, Robert Dessaix and Elizabeth Jolley? The list could go on and on. Then you have the great writers who are no longer contemporary, such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson.

My major gripe however is that no poets or children’s authors are represented. Judith Wright, Les Murray, Bruce Dawe and Gwen Harwood have all had significant influences in the field of poetry. That’s just four I could name from dozens of worthy recipents.

Australian children’s authors lead the world in their field. Writers like Colin Thiele, Mem Fox, Sonya Harnett, Ivan Southall and dozens more have had or continue to have a significant impact on young readers around the world.

I guess that Australia Post had a difficult job narrowing the choice down to just six writers, but a little balance in the final six would have been nice.


  • Australian Legends of the written word
  • Peter Carey
  • David Malouf
  • Colleen McCullough
  • Bryce Courtenay
  • Thomas Keneally
  • Tim Winton

Prize Winning Poetry

Yahoo – I’m doing the writer’s jig again and again and again.

I just received notification this morning that I have won first prize in a Literary Competition. It was for a suite of poems in sonnet form and was entered in the Traditional Rhyming Poetry section. The competition was conducted by Freexpression magazine here in Australia, though entries were received from a number of countries.

It was hard work – a labour of love I guess. But getting recognition like this is very encouraging, especially seeing some of the place getters are frequent competition winners.

And the cash prize is very nice.

Check out some of my poetry here.

Good writing.

Australian Children’s author Ivan Southall

One of the most influential and respected authors in Australia is Ivan Southall. He was a prolific writer whose main works, mostly for children and teenagers, were published in the 1960s and 70s. He had a profound influence upon me as a teacher and writer. I think I’ve read most of his books; it’s about time I revisit the best of them as I haven’t read any of them in many years, despite taking up space on my bookshelves.

I was saddened to hear late last year that Ivan Southall had died, aged 87 after a short battle with cancer. He is best known for his novels Hills End, Ash Road, Josh and To the Wild Sky. He wrote 30 novels and many other books, some for adults. He was a four time winner of the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award, just four of many awards in his lifetime. His works have been translated into at least 20 languages.

Southall’s writing was exciting and he often put his characters in difficult and dangerous situations, often without adult help. I found his writing to be very lyrical, pushing the boundaries of what many regarded as good literature for children.

Before his writing career began he was a pilot in the RAAF during WW2, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross in the process. His early books draw heavily on his war time experiences.

Vale Ivan Southall, 1921 – 2008.