The Varuna Alumni Monthly Feature is prepared each month by Varuna's Alumni News Editor Diana Jenkins.
There are interviews and articles and we encourage you to express your views using the Comments form at the end of each Feature.
Please drop the News Desk a line if youâ€™re so inclined â€“ your feedback is ALWAYS welcome and very much appreciated.
For details on what format to send download this pdf.
The alarm went off at 5:30 am, but I only fell out of bed and into the shower a full 15 minutes later. Iâ€™ve never been a morning person, and since my son (whoâ€™s two on Sunday â€“ two!) has taken to hallway sprints anytime between 3 and 5am daily, Iâ€™m even more resistant. When my alarm sounded, my first thought was, â€˜What fresh hell is this?â€™ â€“ but then I remembered: I needed to be in the Blue Mountains in precisely 4 hours for Varunaâ€™s Strategy Day.
Varuna poets and their poetry have long been neglected here at the Alumni News Desk and your editor only has herself to blame. Sorry, chaps. Happily,
An excited hum spread through the upstairs theatre at the Tabernacle, a mixed-use venue at the more bohemian end of Londonâ€™s Notting Hill, just a picked pocket away from Portobello Road. Gathering in the hundreds was a wine drinking, literature loving crowd, politely vying for seats while pausing to exchange greetings and snippets of trade gossip. For such a large crowd, it felt unmistakably close-knit.
Writing for a living has always been a pretty perilous business for all but a lucky few; it's notorious for its inability to earn most of us a living wage, and it's a situation that seems only to get worse with each passing day. Sorry to strike such a bum note as the opening contention, but it's true. Teaching, a long-time refuge of the struggling scribe, becomes a far trickier proposition when humanities departments are shrinking and even closing the world over, and freelance journalism is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as panicked media outlets flail in the face of free online content. Part of the media's response to the new world order has been to tighten the belt, stop commissioning and begin laying off in-house staff. Publishers and bookstores, both traditional safe houses for aspiring novelists needing to earn a quid, are also feeling unprecedented heat on the fast-burning bottom line.
In search of lost time.cover Varuna Alumna and author of the YA hit Six Impossible Things, Fiona Wood blogged recently about reading two versions of the first volume of Proustâ€™s classic In Search of Lost Time, concluding that subtle differences of meaning ultimately deliver distinct reading experiences. Fionaâ€™s experience suggests that the field of literary translation is anything but straightforward, which, being the curious cats we are, seems a damn fine reason to linger by its hallowed gates awhile.
[Also in this feature: Helen Barnes-Bulley reviews Emma Cameron's Cinnamon Rain.]
When your News Editor finally snaffled enough toddler-free time to sit down and read last Decemberâ€™s Australian Author, the ASAâ€™s member publication, the effort was well rewarded, eventually leading to this monthâ€™s feature on authorsâ€™ letters. I was reading Caroline Baumâ€™s Burnt Offerings, a fascinating article ostensibly about attempting to sell what she describes as years â€˜of erratic correspondence with some of Australiaâ€™s best writers,â€™ when I came across a line that stopped me in my tracks:
It is worth remembering here that once you receive a letter, no matter in what form, you own it in every sense, including copyright.
Australian rural and environmental author â€“ not to mention passionate Varuna Alumna â€“ Jennifer Scoullar takes time out from editing her forthcoming novel Brumbyâ€™s Run to chat to Alumni News Editor Diana Jenkins.