Showing all posts tagged: Evelyn Araluen

The rise of experimental, strange Australian literature and fiction

29 May 2023

There’s a lot to like about smaller, independent, book publishers. The first has to be the quality of the stories they’ve been bringing to bookshelves in recent years. This is borne out by the increasing presence of indie published titles in the long and short lists of Australian literary awards such as the Stella, and the Miles Franklin.

The second is the “risk” smaller publishers — many of whom are members of the Small Network Press — will take on a book with a storyline that might be regarded as fringe, something perhaps their mainstream counterparts are reluctant to do.

Nina Culley, writing for Kill Your Darlings, says the publication of titles including Grimmish by Michael Winkler, Every Version of You by Grace Chan, and Dropbear, a collection of poetry by Evelyn Araluen, is signalling a move away from “realist” stories, towards writing more on the experimental and strange side.

Small presses, literary magazines, anthologies and poetry collections have long since encouraged outlandish stories, experimentation and play, and we are now seeing more smaller publishing houses doing the same. Publishers like Spineless Wonders, SubbedIn, UQP, Transit Lounge and Giramondo are revolutionising Australia’s literary output by responding to an expanding readership that craves literary disobedience.

I’m intrigued by what is regarded as “literary disobedience” though (much as I like the term). For instance I finished reading Every Version of You last week, and despite the novel being described as a work of speculative literary fiction, the entire premise really seemed all too plausible. But maybe I need to stop consuming as much science fiction and fantasy as I do.


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The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt wins 2023 Stella Prize

27 April 2023

The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt, book cover

It’s been a good couple of years for poetry at the Stella Prize. And for the University of Queensland Press (UQP). This evening Queensland born Australian author Sarah Holland-Batt was named winner of the 2023 award, with her collection of poetry, The Jaguar, published by UQP, in May 2022. Holland-Batt follows Evelyn Araluen, winner of the 2022 Stella with her collection of poetry, Dropbear, also published by UQP.

The Jaguar is Holland-Batt’s third book, and was written in the wake of her father being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and his later death in 2020:

With electrifying boldness, Sarah Holland-Batt confronts what it means to be mortal in an astonishing and deeply humane portrait of a father’s Parkinson’s Disease, and a daughter forged by grief. Opening and closing with startling elegies set in the charged moments before and after a death, and fearlessly probing the body’s animal endurance, appetites and metamorphoses, The Jaguar is marked by Holland-Batt’s lyric intensity and linguistic mastery, along with a stark new clarity of voice.

Alice Pung, chair of this year’s judging panel, describes Holland-Batt’s prose as “unexpected and unforgettable“:

In The Jaguar, Sarah Holland-Batt writes about death as tenderly as we’ve ever read about birth. She focuses on the pedestrian details of hospitals and aged care facilities, enabling us to see these institutions as distinct universes teeming with life and love. Her imagery is unexpected and unforgettable, and often blended with humour. This is a book that cuts through to the core of what it means to descend into frailty, old age, and death. It unflinchingly observes the complex emotions of caring for loved ones, contending with our own mortality and above all – continuing to live.

The Stella Prize is not the only accolade The Jaguar has garnered. It was named The Australian’s, 2022 Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the 2023 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, which is part of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Update: see Holland-Batt’s Stella Prize acceptance speech here.


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Poor financial incentives deter emerging Australian writers

18 May 2022

“Artists in this country are used to living one paycheque away from poverty.” With those words, Evelyn Araluen, winner of this year’s Stella Prize, had everyone’s attention. The proceeds from the literary prize mean Araluen will be able to pay down some debt, and work two jobs instead of three.

But that’s not the reality for many other writers — even those who are published — in Australia, if working two jobs, while still focussing on their art, is meant to constitute reality.

Most writers are forced to take other work, because the rewards for writing all those books we like to read are virtually non-existent. It’s a state of affairs, warns Melbourne based literary agent and author Danielle Binks, that will force young and emerging authors to consider other lines of work all together:

“Kids are already hung up on how much money you can make and whether you can do this for a living … I tell them the reason I write – the reason we all engage in books, art, theatre, anything – is that art changes people and people change the world. But I’m convinced there’s a whole generation of artists, and writers in particular, who will not choose this path.”


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Julia Gillard talks to Stella winners Evelyn Araluen and Evie Wyld

13 May 2022

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks to the 2022 Stella Prize winner Evelyn Araluen, in her podcast A Podcast of One’s Own. Also joining the discussion is Evie Wyld, winner of the 2021 Stella, and Jaclyn Booton, executive director of the Stella Prize.

To celebrate the 2022 prize, Julia sits down with Evelyn Araluen, this year’s prize winner, to discuss her award-winning debut book, Drop Bear, which weaves together past and present, her personal history and the story of indigenous Australia through powerful lyrical verse. Evelyn shares her writing experience, her journey into poetry and what it’s been like being recognised by the prize.

Julia also speaks with Jaclyn Booton, the Executive Director of the Stella Prize, about how it was established and why it is so important to spotlight Australian women’s writing. Evie Wyld also joins this bumper episode to share her experience as the 2021 prize winner and talk about her critically acclaimed novel, The Bass Rock.


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Evelyn Araluen in conversation with Jeanine Leane

10 May 2022

Some late news to hand… Australian poet Evelyn Araluen, winner of the 2022 Stella Prize, will speak with Wiradjuri writer Jeanine Leane, at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, this Thursday evening, 12 May 2022.


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Evelyn Araluen’s Stella Prize acceptance speech

3 May 2022

In a passionate and moving acceptance speech after winning the Stella Prize last week, Evelyn Araluen implores Australian governments to do more to fund the arts in Australia.

Artists, in this country anyway, are used to instability, we’re used to two or three jobs, we’re used to paltry super, and the constant fear of illness and accident faced by all precarious workers. We’re used to living one pay check away from poverty. Despite this slap in the face, this blunt dismissal of the clear social and cultural good the arts provides to all Australians, artists were still advocating and organising throughout the pandemic, and the fires and the floods. They were still working through the isolation of endless lockdowns in the hope that their creative efforts, their work, would help someone else survive.


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Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen wins the 2022 Stella Prize

28 April 2022

Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen, bookcover

Dropbear, the debut collection of poetry by Melbourne based Australian writer Evelyn Araluen, has been named winner of the 2022 Stella Prize.

Melissa Lucashenko, chair of the 2022 Stella Prize judges, says Dropbearannounces the arrival of a stunning new talent to Australian literature.

“When you read Evelyn Araluen’s Dropbear you’ll be taken on a wild ride. Like the namesake of its title, this collection is simultaneously comical and dangerous. If you live here and don’t acquire the necessary local knowledge, the drop bear might definitely getcha! But for those initiated in its mysteries, the drop bear is a playful beast, a prank, a riddle, a challenge and a game. Dropbear is remarkably assured for a debut poetry collection, and I think we can safely say it announces the arrival of a stunning new talent to Australian literature. Congratulations, Evelyn.”

At twenty-nine, Araluen is the youngest recipient of the literary prize that celebrates the writing of Australian women, and says she may never have become a poet had she not studied her great-grandfather’s language:

Araluen, a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation born in Dharug Country and now based in Naarm/Melbourne, began writing poetry while she was studying her great-grandfather’s language at TAFE, becoming attuned to poetic techniques like fragmentation and different sentence structures. “I honestly don’t think I would have become a poet if I hadn’t started learning that language,” she told ABC Arts in 2021.


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