It had been a blustery day, but inside the grassy courtyard of the wonderful Gorman Arts Centre, the early evening weather mellowed into a tolerable breeze as members and friends of the ACT Writers Centre gathered for the Centre’s annual Writing and Publishing awards. These included the Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award, the Michael Thwaites Poetry Award, the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards and the inaugural Anne Edgeworth Fellowship for Young Writers—details of which can be found on the Writers Centre website.
As well as catching up with prize-winning author Tanya McCartney (who won the Children’s Book Category prize with her fabulous book An Aussie Year), I had two thought-provoking conversations. The first was about poetry: was it still dead or was it experiencing a resurrection? I firmly argued the latter, citing evidence not only of the growing number of poetry books being published (and being submitted in competitions) but also of the growing popularity of poetry slams in cafes and pubs, and at writing festivals, around the country. My two colleagues agreed, one enthusiastically as he was a poet about to publish his third book of poetry. So poetry is dead! Long live poetry!
The second topic, proposed by the second man of our cogitating trio, was why men seemed to have given up on reading. I wasn’t so sure that this was true (were was the evidence?), though it is certainly true that far more women are taking up creative writing than men at the moment. Lack of evidence aside, we did agree that men were more likely these days to be watching television, roving the internet, playing computer games, fishing, playing football, or being creative in their sheds, than to be reading. Maybe, like poetry, this will eventually come full circle too and men will go back to reading fiction?
IMAGE: Prize-winning author, Tanya McCartney, with her daughter Ella (16Dec14) © Yelsel International Pty Ltd