‘‘ 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