A literary scene is happening in Newcastle. It’s poetry in motion, literally.
With the writer’s festival, regular poetry events and writers galore, the city is becoming alive with verse and the written word [which is pretty much the typed word, but that doesn’t sound as good].
The next chapter of this ever-evolving story is happening on Friday.
Newcastle-based literary press Puncher & Wattmann will launch a new series of poetry chapbooks under the name Slow Loris.
But what exactly is a chapbook? And what does Slow Loris mean? A chapbook we’re told is a small collection of poetry. And a slow loris is a small primate.
Turns out David Musgrave, the founder of Puncher & Wattmann, is fond of these cute little creatures.
Animals aside, David believes there’s “a real opportunity in Newcastle to build a literary ecosystem”.
“There are stacks of great people and great work that doesn’t always get through the self-absorption of the capital city literary scenes,” he said.
He said Puncher & Wattmann was “trying to help people be creatively sustainable”.
The poetry series will feature the work of four Newcastle writers – Trisha Pender, Claire Albrecht, Kait Fenwick and Kerri Shying.
Trisha’s book is titled Bibliophilic, which basically means “book-loving”.
The University of Newcastle researcher was diagnosed with breast cancer in September last year.
“While I was on medical leave and going through chemo, my brain wasn’t in any kind of shape for doing academic work,” she said.
“But to my surprise, I could read and write poetry in a way that I hadn’t done for 20 years.”
Claire’s poetry book is titled Pinky Swear.
It contains wry and sincere poems written for her PhD thesis, alongside “sharp satirical takes on contemporary politicians such as Vladimir Putin and Peter Dutton”.
She reckons politicians like Putin and Dutton “make great literary villains”.
“I don't write deep political poems – they're for fun, mostly,” she said.
The title, Pinky Swear, was “a nod to that childlike trust of pinky swearing to keep a secret”.
“My poems are often pretty personal and confessional. I like to share things with the reader and build a bond with them. My full-length book, which I'm writing as part of my PhD, will be called Hand Shake – Pinky Swear's cooler, grown-up sibling,” she said.
Kait’s book, Burning Between, explores “familiar Newcastle landmarks and non-binary sexuality”.
Kerri’s book, Elevensies, recounts the challenges – and moments of joy – in a life “coloured by chronic illness”.
The launch will be held at Studio One at Maryville at 6.30pm on Friday.
Breaking the Bank
Don’t know about you, but we’ve always been aware of the problem with banker jokes. Bankers don't think they're funny, but ordinary people don't think they're jokes.
Which brings us to the banking royal commission. The commission hasn’t held hearings in regional areas like Newcastle. Federal Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon thinks this, in itself, is a bit of a joke. Given this, she’ll hold a “banking roundtable” in Newcastle on Friday.
Those with personal experience of banking misconduct can register interest in attending the roundtable by calling 4926-1555 or emailing Sharon.Claydon.MP@aph.gov.au.