I had managed to forget, somehow, that the fun of blogging is all in the personal.

1. Guy Rundle, that wonderful man, on Clive James’s poetry, for Crikey:

Why do people keep publishing this stuff? It’s not as if James doesn’t give us a clue — in his unentertaining novel The Remake, he has a stocky character named ‘CJ’ jogging around a track. Who’s that guy someone asks? Writer, someone replies, “his poetry sounds like reproduction furniture looks.”

The fact that this line is exact and telling suggests James’s tragedy: he’s a gag writer and whatever lightning-strike gave him that skill simultaneously foreclosed the capacity to do something else. The more he strains to take the world seriously (witness his 900 page Cultural Amnesia, a self-serving book of drive-by essays, dedicated to Aung Sung Suu Kyi, among others) the more awful the result.

Staggering 86 comments of follow-up on the ALR blog, including from Guy Rundle himself and our Alison. I could not necessarily tell every avant-garde poem from a skinned cat, but I do think James is inept at anything more exacting than witty one-liners.

Interlude:Leoš Janáček – Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905 “From the Street”

3. Back in the creatively moderate territory, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlist for 2009 has come out yesterday. I should probably not be surprised that David Marr’s The Henson Case, fundamentally a long piece of trench reportage, should be listed for Best Essay Advancing Public Debate, or that the Louis Esson for Drama shortlist includes all the worst writing I’ve seen on stage in the past year. On the upside, my friend & excellent writer Amy Espeseth’s novel Sufficient Grace has been shortlisted for best unpublished manuscript. Congratulations!, I cheer in sheer nepotism.

The full list of short is:

The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction

The Pages
Murray Bail
(Text Publishing)

Dog Boy
Eva Hornung
(Text Publishing)

The Boat
Nam Le

The Slap
Christos Tsiolkas
(Allen & Unwin)

Tim Winton

The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction

The City’s Outback
Gillian Cowlishaw
(UNSW Press)

Robert Dessaix

The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island
Chloe Hooper
(Hamish Hamilton)

House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroger-Mann
Evelyn Juers
(Giramondo Publishing)

Darwin’s Armada
Iain McCalman

The CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry

The Golden Bird
Robert Adamson
(Black Inc)

Fishing in the Devonian
Carol Jenkins
(Puncher and Wattman)

The Other Way Out
Bronwyn Lea
(Giramondo Publishing)

The Louis Esson Prize for Drama

Paul Galloway
(Melbourne Theatre Company/Currency Press)

Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd
Lally Katz
(Malthouse Theatre)

The Modern International Dead
Damien Millar
(Griffin Theatre Company/Currency Press)

The Prize for Young Adult Fiction

The Two Pearls of Wisdom
Alison Goodman

The Beginner’s Guide to Living
Lia Hills
(Text Publishing)

Something in the World Called Love
Sue Saliba

The Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate

We Have Still Not Lived Long Enough
Tom Griffiths
(Inside Story)

The Henson Case
David Marr
(Text Publishing)

Ratbags at the Gates
Helen O’Neil
(Griffith Review)

The Grollo Ruzzene Foundation Prize for Writing about Italians in Australia

Death in the Mountains
Lisa Clifford

Neither Here nor There: Italians and Swiss-Italians on the Walhalla Goldfield 1865-1915
Annamaria Davine
(Italian Australian Institute)

And Be Home Before Dark
Roland Rocchiccioli
(Hardie Grant Books)

The John Curtin Prize for Journalism

The Guards’ Story
Peter Cronau and Quentin McDermott
(Four Corners, ABC Television)

The Penalty is Death: Inside Bali’s Kerobokan Prison
Luke Davies
(The Monthly)

A Week in Kinglake
Michael Vincent
(ABC Radio)

The Prize for Best Music Theatre Script

Poor Boy
Matt Cameron and Tim Finn
(Melbourne Theatre Company/Currency Press)

Shane Warne The Musical
Eddie Perfect
(Token Events)

Metro Street
Matthew Robinson
(Arts Asia Pacific, Power Arts and the State Theatre Company of South Australia)

The Prize for Science Writing

Pasteur’s Gambit
Stephen Dando-Collins

Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action
David Spratt and Philip Sutton

The Rise of Animals: Evolution and Diversification of the Kingdom Animalia
Patricia Vickers-Rich
(The Johns Hopkins University Press)

The Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer

Sufficient Grace
Amy Espeseth

Like Being a Wife
Catherine Harris

The Sunlit Zone
Lisa Jacobson

2 thoughts on “I had managed to forget, somehow, that the fun of blogging is all in the personal.

  1. CNP says:

    CJ popped up in The New Yorker the other week. I almost cancelled my subscription! No, I actually thought, “If he can get in, maybe I should become a poet…”

  2. Jana says:

    He wasn’t in The Ny-er in poet capacity, was he?

    Oh he was. Goodness dear.

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