The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - ROSE­MARY SORENSEN

‘‘ IT is with plea­sure,’’ came the qui­etly el­e­gant an­nounce­ment, ‘‘ that I ad­vise you of the 2008 Po­etry and the Trace Con­fer­ence.’’ And pleased we are to have the news, too, about the ‘‘ first in­ter­na­tional, broad- based po­etry con­fer­ence to be held in Aus­tralia in over a decade’’. To be held at the State Li­brary of Vic­to­ria in July, this aca­demic con­fer­ence will also be aiming at a lively pub­lic pro­gram. More in­for­ma­tion from the Monash Univer­sity web­site. Rather grander is the Ubud Writ­ers and Read­ers Fes­ti­val. Its fifth event, sched­uled for Oc­to­ber, has been named Tri Hita Karana, which is a ‘‘ Ba­li­nese Hindu con­cept that trans­lates as our re­la­tion­ship be­tween God, Hu­man­ity and Na­ture’’. Ubud, Bali’s arts cen­tre, is work­ing hard to de­velop this fes­ti­val as part of what or­gan­is­ers call the ‘‘ fer­tile cross­roads of two rivers, two oceans and two con­ti­nents, Asia and Aus­tralia’’. THERE’S been a flurry of book prize an­nounce­ments dur­ing the past cou­ple of weeks, the most im­pres­sive be­ing Sonya Hart­nett’s snaf­fling of the Astrid Lind­gren Me­mo­rial Award, from Swe­den, worth about $ 880,000. Hart­nett will be in Stock­holm next week to pick up her prize. Let’s hope she doesn’t bang on about her books be­ing more than chil­dren’s books. Old and tired de­bate, that one. Well done to Steven Car­roll ( The Time We Have Taken ) and Karen Foxlee ( The Anatomy of Wings ), who are the best book and best first book win­ners in the South­east Asia and South Pa­cific re­gion of the Com­mon­wealth Writ­ers Prize. But isn’t it a bit of a puzzle that only Aus­tralian books were short- listed in both cat­e­gories? BRID­GET Jones, Ital­ian- style, is a wo­man named Va­le­ria Di Napoli, known as Pul­satilla ( can that be true? Pul­satilla is, ap­par­ently, a herbal rem­edy used for hor­monal im­bal­ance in women that is said to be good for girls at pu­berty), whose book is sell­ing aw­fully well and is de­scribed as be­ing both more in­tel­li­gent and more trans­gres­sive than her English coun­ter­part. The ti­tle trans­lates more or less as: Cel­lulite is like the Mafia, it doesn’t ex­ist. WHEN Arts Min­is­ter Peter Gar­rett was asked about the cuts of about $ 1 mil­lion a year to the Na­tional Li­brary of Aus­tralia, Na­tional Mu­seum of Aus­tralia and Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia, he had no idea what it would mean for the in­sti­tu­tions, but now we learn that NMA’s ed­u­ca­tional- pub­lish­ing bud­get, for starters, has been slashed. Caught up in the fall­out is Felicity Pul­man, one of the writ­ers who has con­trib­uted to the Mak­ing Tracks se­ries for pri­mary school stu­dents. The idea is that arte­facts from the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion are in­cor­po­rated into sto­ries pub­lished as books and on­line, a ‘‘ far sim­pler, cheaper ef­fec­tive and valu­able re­source than, say, try­ing to pro­vide com­put­ers to ev­ery Aus­tralian child’’, Pul­man says. Pul­man is re­signed to the loss of Mak­ing Tracks, as she sus­pects the de­ci­sion is set in stone, but she would like to see the work of ‘‘ the very com­mit­ted and pas­sion­ate pub­lisher’’ hon­oured. THE latest is­sue of Southerly , the lit­er­ary mag­a­zine pub­lished through the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, con­tained an in­trigu­ing lit­tle slip of pa­per, point­ing the reader to its web­site where could be found a new fea­ture called . . .‘‘ The Over­flow’’. Of course, this Clancy avatar logged on to find out just what was on of­fer at the Other­flow, but, alas, it hadn’t yet man­i­fested its pres­ence. She awaits move­ment at that sta­tion.

over­flow@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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