Australia lost one of its finest writers and intellectuals on Saturday September 6, when Martin Harrison died of a heart attack at age 65. A widely revered poet, critic and teacher, Harrison’s death came as a tremendous shock to many.

Born and educated in England, Martin arrived in Australia in the late 70s after three years in New Zealand. He worked for the ABC for a number of years as a producer and broadcaster of drama, poetry and criticism, and innovative forms of sound-work. Until his death he was a senior lecturer in poetry and poetics at the University of Technology in Sydney, where his cerebral, impassioned and inspirational teaching became something of folklore.

Martin was an astonishing poet, one of the most original and sophisticated in contemporary Australian poetry. Often preoccupied with the interaction of perception with landscape, his work was sustained by an unparalleled openness to varieties of form, language and literary traditions. While his early to middle poetry was distinctively contemplative and conversational, an ecstatic love affair that ended in tragedy frames an important turn in his later work, much of which is to be published in a collection forthcoming with UWA Press, Happiness. There are many, including me, who think this later work to be the best he ever produced.

As he was a major innovator of essayistic and philosophical verse, his essays on poetry and poetics are amongst the finest ever written in Australia. Who Wants to Create Australia (2004) is indicative of his profound intellectual sensitivity, and also of his modesty. Something of a ‘speculative critic’, Martin preferred to encourage thought, or to gesture towards new conceptual formations, rather than make bold pronunciations or summations of his own.

Martin had been suffering from serious illness for a number of years, but rarely did his physical malaise seem to impact upon his cognitive brilliance. As late as the Thursday before his death, Martin spoke at a monthly poetics symposium at UTS, where he was typically compelling and entertaining. Such remarkable dedication to the importance of poetry has marked his close friends and readers.

Those who were lucky enough to have spent time with Martin will cherish the memories for ever. I knew Martin for nearly 15 years. In that time I was his student, colleague, drinking partner and travelling companion, as well as a confidant and friend. As he did for so many others, Martin introduced me to a world where poetry is the key to experience, and where attention to poetics is the celebration of our entanglements with the world. I am blessed to have known him.

Stuart Cooke
September, 2014

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for two PhD scholarships in studies on Australian literature at UNSW Canberra. The PhD scholarships are generously funded by UNSW Canberra in support of Associate Professor Nicole Moore’s ARC Future Fellowship and the established research strengths in Australian literature in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Candidates will be supervised by A/Prof. Moore and based at UNSW Canberra. The scholarships cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend equivalent to an Australian Postgraduate Award, with a bonus UNSW Canberra loading.

Projects will build on the research strengths in Australian literature at UNSW Canberra and in the ERA5-ranked English program in the School of Arts and Media at UNSW, working with the ARC-supported AustLit database and the research interests of A/Prof Moore. The substantial holdings in Australian literature in the UNSW Canberra Academy Library and proximity to national cultural institutions in Canberra also support research in the field. These strengths articulate to the current underpinning UNSW research strength in Contemporary Arts and the Humanities.

Successful recipients’ research will address topics related to any aspect of A/Prof Moore’s research, but each scholarship is targeted in differing broad areas as below:


PhD Scholarship in contemporary Australian literary practice and poetics

Aim:  To examine contemporary Australian literary practice and/or poetics with reference to the expansive manuscript holdings on Australian writers in the UNSW Canberra Academy Library Special Collections.

Resources: The UNSW Canberra Academy Library holds a substantial collection of papers and manuscripts from contemporary Australian writers of significance. Projects for this scholarship will draw on these papers to explore any aspect of the relationship between writing practice and literary accomplishment, however conceived, for writers publishing in the last decades of the twentieth century. Finding aids to the collections are available in the Guide to Australian Literary Manuscripts ( and details of the holdings can be accessed through the UNSW Canberra Library catalogue.

For further assistance please contact the UNSW Canberra Library:


PhD Scholarship in the history of Australian print culture

Aim: To further research in the literary history of Australian print culture, with possible specific interests in book history and the history of publishing, the history of censorship, gender and sexuality in Australian writing, and/or literary biography.

Resources: Research in this field and areas builds on expertise in book history, bibliography, Australian literary history and book censorship in the English Program at UNSW Canberra and its 25 years of support for the AustLit e-resource. Projects for this scholarship can articulate directly with A/Prof Moore’s work in those areas.

Applicants should hold a high honours degree in literary studies, cultural history or creative writing, or in an arts discipline in a related area. For more information please contact Associate Professor Nicole Moore directly:
Applications for the 2015 round of admissions are open now and close on 31 October 2014 (applications must be received and receipted by this date).

For enquiries regarding the application process and eligibility, please contact the UNSW Canberra Research Studies Unit:


Monday 29 September 2014,
Research Hub, First Floor, Building 19, University of Woolongong

2014 marks a half-century since Thomas Keneally published his first novel, The Place at Whitton. Since then, he has acted, scripted plays and films, written a host of novels, written historical books, won a fistful of prizes, led several campaigns (for improved conditions for writers’, for an Australian Republic, for better treatment of asylum seekers), taught in the US, been translated into over a dozen languages, and had more media appearances than many politicians.

This one-day conference will celebrate and analyse the career of a Living National Treasure.

Tom Keneally will deliver a plenary talk, followed by papers surveying his compendious representations of Australia and its place in the world.

The conference is hosted by the Colloquium for Research In Texts Identities & Cultures, Faculty of Law, Arts & Humanities, University of Wollongong under the auspices of ASAL and as part of Paul Sharrad’s ARC project.

A PDF poster is available here and a PDF of the programme is available here.

To RSVP please contact Ingeborg Van Teeseling:

or Paul Sharrad:



Tuesday 23 September 2014, 6pm – 7pm, Gryphon Gallery, 1888 Building,
The University of Melbourne

Suburbia has functioned for cultural critics as a provincial, materially aspirational, middle-class other against which an emerging cosmopolitan selfhood is defined. Critics of suburbia have in turn been accused of an elitist, now discredited kind of cosmopolitanism, one that’s been superseded by critical models of cosmopolitanism. If the global is internal to the local in a process defined by Ulrich Beck as ‘cosmopolitanization’ (2002) then suburbs are its prime sites, zones in which local and global interpenetrate. Suburbs are engines of ‘cosmopolitanization’. What does this mean for Australian literary suburbia? I will suggest that novels of the suburbs produce dialogic imaginings of here and there, past and present, local and global against the grain of their anti-suburbanism. Drawing from Vilashini Cooppan, we can ‘skin the map’ of literary suburbia by attending to narrative instability, to movement and memory, and to the forms in which the novel encodes and reimagines suburban place and time.

Brigid Rooney is a senior lecturer in Australian Literature at the University of Sydney. She is author of Literary Activists: Writer-Intellectuals and Australian Public Life (UQP, 2009) and co-editor with Robert Dixon of Scenes of Reading: Is Australian Literature a World Literature? (ASP 2013). She is currently working on a book project entitled ‘The Novel and the Suburb in Australia: 1901 to the present’.

This free public lecture by Brigid Rooney will be held in conjunction with The View From Above postgraduate and early career researcher conference at the University of Melbourne.

For further information please see:



The $5,000 award is for an essay between 3,000 and 5,000 words in the genre of ‘Writing of Place’ and the winning essay will be published in the Australian Book Review.  The prize will go to an Australian writer whose entry is judged to be of the highest literary merit and which best explores his or her relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape.  The competition’s judges are Jesse Blackadder, award-winning author of Chasing the Light and Paruku The Desert Brumby, and Robert Gray, renowned poet, critic, and freelance writer.

The prize has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from The McLean Foundation, which is keen to promote and celebrate the literature of nature in Australia.

Richard Gilmore, Country Director of The Nature Conservancy Australia, looks forward to building on the success of the first two nature writing prizes, which attracted over 200 exceptional writers collectively.

The inaugural prize was won by Annamaria Weldon for her piece ‘Threshold Country,’ which the judges described as “a marvelously orchestrated, complex meditation on belonging. It is at once assured and yet gently voiced.” The second biennial prize was awarded to Stephen Wright for his essay ‘Bunyip’ which explored the culture and fate of Indigenous communities and early European settlers as they navigated the landscape of South East Queensland.

The deadline for submissions between 3,000 and 5,000 words is December 24, 2014 and the winner will be announced in May 2015. The prize is open to Australian citizens and permanent residents.  Participants will need to pay an entry fee of $40.

For further information please see the website:


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