1. Back in the early 90s, when I first got into the writing scene in Perth, there was an incredible bubbling of energy, ideas and poetry collections from writers like Morgan Yasbincek, Tracy Ryan, Barbara Temperton, Marcella Polain, and Sarah French, to name but a few. There were readings, arguments and frisson, friendships and collaborations, striving and success. Even if, like me, you weren’t a poet, wouldn’t have known a cinquain if it jumped out at you in a dark alley and thought a pastoral was where cows graze, you were nevertheless swept up and along by the sheer creative whoosh of it.
A similar thing is happening in the kids’ lit scene here in Perth at present, I noticed as I sailed westwards to Rottnest for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators third annual retreat, which I attended with folk like Norman Jorgensen and James Foley, whose Last Viking book launch I attended on Friday night, Briony Stewart, whose next book Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers is about to be launched, and Meg McKinlay, whose book No Bears was launched at Rottnest by the talent-fostering Sarah Foster from Walker Books – to name but a few. I spent most of the time cycling around the very windy island, ruminating, and having long discussions about writing, the universe and everything with my fellow housies Meg, Patricia McMahon (into whose lap in the dark a quokka leapt) and the indefatigable Dianne Wolfer, but I did notice that same indefinable energy and enthusiasm that I remembered from way back when. I also believe there was karaoke.
|The lap-leaping quokka|
|AJ Betts getting funky|
|AJ Betts and Meg McKinlay vik-ing it up|
|Do you think I could add these to my parliamentary outfit?|
2. Steph Bowe was talking on her blog about the pros and cons of homeschooling, which got me thinking (I know, who knew?!) The best school year of my life was spent doing what was then called distance education for year 11, and I was only allowed to do it because of a series of factors (like getting booted out of face-time school) went in my favour. And I loved it: I loved being able to set my own timetable, work at my own pace, and be treated like an adult by my (invisible) teachers. It did set me apart from my peers a bit, but given most of the peers I had at my high school, that was no bad thing. It is a great way of studying, especially for the introverts among us. Why should you be forced to be social if you don’t want to, just to learn?
3. Here is my latest book haul (thanks, Lending Rights!)
They are: Jenny Downham’s You Against Me; Antonio Buti’s Brothers:Justice, Corruption and the Mickelbergs; Henry Hoey Hobson by Christine Bongers; The Paperbark Shoe by Goldie Goldbloom, which people have been recommending for years; my own copy of Boy on a Wire by sock-man Jon Doust; Michael Gerard Bauer’s Just a Dog, which made me weep; Melvin Burgess’ Junk; Happy As Larry by Scot Gardner; The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky (about whom I agree with Lili Wilkinson); Margo Lanagan’s Yellowcake (ditto); Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood; Isobelle Carmody’s The Red Wind; Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens; and the books I mentioned earlier, No Bears by Meg McKinlay and The Last Viking by Norman Jorgensen and James Foley.