Category Archives: Writing

When the Cat Speaks

CoverDetaiBron Nicholls’ latest work is an intricately crafted novella that tells a gentle and moving tale of growing old alone in regional Australia.

Nell, in her seventy-ninth year, narrates the story of her past and her present as a thoughtful watching of the world, and participating in it on her own terms; continuing to learn from her day to day challenges. There is a plot, but it subtle, uncontrived. There is drama, but it is organic, marvellously mundane and, above all,  entirely real.  Bron Nicholls excels in a style of writing that makes us look again at the familiar. This work has the eloquent simplicity of Kent Haruf’s Our Souls At Night, coupled with the womanly psychological observations of an early Doris Lessing.BronMoll

Bron writes in terms that make this book suitable for any age group, and, because she captures the minutiae of ageing that society and media often prefer to ignore, this is a book that would make a marvellous study piece in schools.  For older readers, living alone, it is a must.

It is now available from Pomonal Publishing, or, for locals in the Grampians, from the Stawell Library’s new ‘local author’ shelf.

 

 

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A splendid kind of darkness

Bright autumn sun interspersed with showers, inclement cloud the darkly spectacular backdrop to a radiance of red/gold foliage – Clunes is at its magical best in moody weather. The lighting seemed purposely tuned to shades of Annie Drum’s collection of stories, ‘Like Trees’, launched at the festival on Sunday. See previous posts.

A cold wind did not deter Clunes Booktown festival goers. The upper room of ‘the Warehouse’ where Neil Boyack‘s segment of the program unfolded was packed with readers of, and true believers in BOOKS. Yes, that good old fashioned printed word.

Introduced and lauded by Boyack, Annie assured us that the sometimes darkness of her stories was no cause for the concern that had been (kindly) expressed; she was in fact quite okay in herself. Then she read the story: Hero And The Machine, from the collection, and from which I’ve quoted in an earlier post.

Two days previously Annie had spoken about Boyack’s support of her writing in an interview on VOICE FM Ballarat. Neil is a Central Victorian author and convenor of the Newstead Short Story Tattoo, a small literary festival that features both known and emerging writers, with a substantial sidedish of music and fireside storytelling. His particular support for new and emerging voices was substansiated on Sunday by the inclusion of a very young writer indeed: Zach Haywood, a student of Maryborough Education Centre, reading for the first time with remarkable poise.

Other readers were Nathan Curnow, and Bronwyn Blaiklock both published poets and consummate poet-performers.  Kirsten Boerema charmed us with her powerful voice and magical ukulele accompaniment.

Those wishing to purchase a copy of LIKE TREES may do so by contacting us through Pomonal Publishing’s main website.

 

 

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one week to ‘take off’

Like Trees inner

 

Annie Drum ‘s first collection of short stories will be launched by Neil Boyack on May 1st at the tenth anniversary festival, Clunes Book Town

These are razor-edged stories investigating the bounds of identity, provoking questions: How do we travel? And more importantly: What do we travel as?  Read the full Press Release on the Pomonal Publishing website.

…when she gave birth there was a sense of something sacred and almost like order. Throughout the labour Hero kept asking – how big is the egg? The large nurse said – a baby, you’re having a baby. The other nurse laughed, a sort of a crazy sound, and Hero thought she must be a bit off centre. When the large nurse presented her with a darling little bird in a tight white blanket Hero thought her heart might burst…

The launch will take place in the ‘Newstead Literary Tattoo Presents’ segment, in the Warehouse at 3.00 pm. To attend you will need to purchase a festival ticket. This will enable entry to all of the many exciting literary events of the weekend.  See the festival website for further details.

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Projects 2016

Let me tell you about some exciting new books we are working on for the first 6 months of this year:

Annie Shearing has been writing a series for younger readers, each focusing on a thorny or critical event challenging a group of friends in the outer suburbs of Melbourne; each book features a different member of the group. The first – ‘Anna & the Last House in Melbourne’ – will be ready later this month.

Pomonal Publishing’s Anthea Nicholls is the designer and all round hands-on person for this series.

Next up: ‘Like Trees’ short stories by Annie Drum – an emerging writer of literary fiction, whose close observation of life, coupled with quirky, moving depiction of people in fragile mind-states makes for poignant reading.

It is a personal pleasure to see this first collection of Drum’s stories carrying the Pomonal Publishing logo, as her writing has enchanted me for many years.  It will be launched 1st May at the Clunes Booktown 10th anniversary.

The ‘Like Trees’ book design is being done by the talented Lin Tobias. We are delighted to have her expertise on this and, hopefully, future projects.

Chamber Poets (known to us for hosting the 2015 launch of Christopher Race’s ‘Still Life With Grandmother’) are producing a members’ poetry anthology. The theme is ‘Place’ and submissions are now closed. The editing team are Ben Oost, Christopher Race, and convenor Myron Lysenko. Hands-on layout will be done by Ben Oost with my input. It will be launched at the Woodend Winter Arts Festival in June.

While I’ve been taking a back seat on all these projects, I’ve been focusing on reading submissions, and on the editing and book design for:

‘Macka’ a story about the adventures of a tame cockatoo Cocatoos.small that gets caught up with a wild flock and swept away in a colossal storm. This is a story for adults to read to children, written and beautifully illustrated by Peter Voice.

Peter Voice is an artist known for his work with Chalk Circle. He is currently involved with the founding of the WAMA, the Wildlife Art Museum (to be located near Pomonal).

Watch this space for more about each of these projects.

 

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Talent in the Wings

As mentioned in a previous post, I edit a community newsletter as a sideline to my publishing ‘hobby’.  It was in this context that I discovered the talents of a remarkable 11 year old, living down our dusty road a little way – a young person intending to become a writer when she finishes school, and already turning out work of staggering maturity. Below is a review piece she wrote recently for the newsletter about Pomonal Publishing.  Her byline: Evie 

Pomonal News.B&Wmaster

This local organization consists of a group of talented writers, editors and artists who publish their own books and sell them (mostly) online. They are also responsible for the monthly Pomonal Newsletter, which helps to inform the community of what’s been happening and events coming up. With a population around 350, our small town has lots going on!

Pomonal Publishing has a website where you can view new book releases and also read their blog. Fellow writers review the books and offer constructive feedback to the writer. One aspect I loved was reading about the world of writing and publishing.

I was asked to read and review their latest publication: ‘Currawong Creek’ by Bron Nicholls (who has written two other books for young readers). I loved this book and would describe it as heart warming and sophisticated. I particularly liked the main character Alice, with her different thoughts and the way she saw the world. I loved the bit where she finally made a new friend, and the type of relationship they had (not being in each others faces). I also liked the caring and warm relationship she had with her grand parents.

Pomonal Publishing is a fantastic establishment and I hope it continues. Make sure you check it out on: http://www.pomonalpublishing.com and look out for their books, now available at our local shop too!

newlettergrab

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Emerging Australian Poet

Our forthcoming publication, the second in our poetry series, ‘Still Life With Grand-mother’ by Christopher Race,  is  an  event  of  some  significance  for   Pomonal Publishing: it will be the first time we have held a public launch for one of our books, complete with posters, press releases, invited guests, drinks and nibbles.

I have known Race since we were both in our late teens, poised without dignity on the cusp of our adulthood and holding that spurious conviction (you may well recall it)  that one actually sees the world clearly.  We have watched each other grow up, both as writers and as a members of our species; arriving at the tail end of the booming-babies with our own particular tales to tell.  Christopher has worked with books and writing for all these years – both on personal projects and professional jobs (including in-house and freelance editing). He is now a qualified librarian.

It was with considerable elation that I discovered, just a few years ago, that my literary friend had  also found his voice as a poet. Now it is with pride and great pleasure – and the help of a mutual friend, Michael Foster, who has selected and edited this collection – that Pomonal Publishing announces the forthcoming release of this book: STILL LIFE WITH GRANDMOTHER.  It will be launched on Saturday 14th March at the (locally legendary) monthly Chamber Poets reading, at The Chamber Art & Coffee House in Woodend, Central Victoria.  Race will be the featured poet reading poems from this collection.

 

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Ethnographic Early Years

UnknownI Dream of You Still: Early Years in Bath
by Kimberly Labor.

 

This is a charming memoir based on diaries kept by a very  (it says so in the blurb)  young American woman. This fact, along with the narrative’s time frame, and its location, (significantly not America) is key to fully appreciating Labor’s book. It reads like ethnography, with the staggering revelations of another time and culture.

The realities of those good old 70s gender roles, the struggle intelligent women put up against them, and the changing – and therefore confusing – sexual dynamics of that period in Western social history, all contribute to an engaging narrative.

Had this been a novel I would have quickly grown impatient with the young woman’s introspective brooding and egocentric concerns. As it is, the universality of the quest for love and a place in the world ensures that this narrator’s ever hopeful struggle, and repeated disappointment, is moving – at times deeply so.

Despite the legendary freedom of the 70s, the young Kimberly is not promiscuous, and she is no Bridget Jones – she has too much self-confidence to be any comparison. It is a remarkably chaste diary for the times, and when the author does embark on a physical relationship, she learns sophisticated lessons and ends the affair because it is ‘only desire’.

Her battle to let go of an unreciprocated attachment to the key player in her drama is a familiar theme (explored in numerous mediums) and it is drawn out painfully and compulsively on these pages. Compellingly too, it would seem, as I couldn’t put the book down until it had been finally resolved.

But it would be too simplistic to call this a story of unrequited love. The object of Kimberly’s desire constructs himself as such, by courting her then stepping back – then drawing her in again as soon as she has regained her equanimity. This lends a touch of psychodrama to the daily, weekly, monthly narrative. Kimberly is no fool, or this scenario would become excruciating. Her efforts to understand herself are both touching and intriguing, and finally (thankfully) liberating.

It is this ability in the young writer to draw us into her drama, and take us with her on the journey from naivety to maturity, that makes this a highly competent piece of writing, and much, much more than the chronicle of confessions we might have expected of a very young woman’s diary.

 

Jane Nicholls
Editor
Pomonal Publishing

[Note: This book is not one of our publications.]

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A review: The Blind by Christine Murray

1-front-200x300There are new voices on the wind, and their singing is to vastly variant tunes.

When I first opened Murray’s ‘The Blind’ I entered into the rhythm of this – for me – new voice eagerly and was immediately delighted by the imagery, the succinct phrasing, the unfolding drama of the first poems… and then I hit a wall.

Suddenly the mise en page confused me. I couldn’t locate a destination or follow her meaning (in the manner I expected) in the refined simplicity of her phrases; couldn’t read the implications of/the unfamiliar placement of the slashes, dashes, dots enclosed by brackets, and the cryptic lines that offered me so little clues to her narrative.

citadel

rings rim bears the swish of silks
it witnesses the ravel/un of thread

from its metal mouth/ its iron lung
a gap will open at a point north -west

slow the revolve to an avenue / a road
nearby a waystation/

there is the constant presence of the dead
in their soul-cocoons / needing caressing

I had to go back and read from the beginning again…

And with this re-reading my excitement mounted. Like a photographer suddenly gifted with eyes that perceived previously unseen spectrums of colour, I entered into a new country, and my ears began to hear its language.

Now isn’t that exactly what poetry should do? I cannot give a fellow writer higher praise than this – that she takes me by surprise and shows me things I never knew our common tongue was capable of.

Over a week I read ‘The Blind’ daily. Each time I began again at the beginning and travelled a little further into its unfolding mysteries. As each veil lifted, the sense of intimacy shared increased, but also the sense of wonder, the sense of being a privileged observer to a grander-than-personal drama. This I attribute to Murray’s unique sense of language as metaphor. Nothing essentially new to poets or poetry of course, but seldom have I found it in the work of my own generation to be as refined or as exquisite as in this collection.

from catapult

stitched in caul and head they will
use the steel tips to force him out

This is a work dense with layers of meaning that emerge gradually from crafted layers of text. Like a cubist painting, its parts make up a whole greater than their sum.  The images of women weaving or sewing, thread together all the elements: the living and the dead, the world weary and the unborn, in the stories and in the personalities that populate this collection. It is one poem and it is many, and it offers both detail and vista.

unleash the skein

red thread the open wound
and from it a thin red rivulet

will drain into a metal dish
and curl into water

and from  shadows

some say they sit behind mirrors watching lives
pass through a room:

that they spindle the threads / that they are blind /that
they have no emotion

they are simply bent to the work that they were given
and never a stitch is dropped /

that is not picked up and brought clean again / for they
simply do their job

by touch by hand by long and patient experience with
the vagaries of man

and woman

I have not enjoyed a new voice as much, or felt such excitement in discovery since I first read T.S. Eliot in high school.

[Note: This collection was published by Oneiros Books, not by us]

 

 

 

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Tales of innocence and experience:

DSCN0894

One of the reasons I got involved with indie publishing is because I miss the collaborative nature of film production; specifically that buzz which comes from a group of creative minds working together, reaching different (if not greater) dimensions than the solitary process.

As yet the collaboration here has been limited to an exchange between an author, their editor (if they have one) and myself.  You see, I am committed to the notion of allowing the author control over how their book will look.  But I’m beginning to realise that publishing isn’t like filmmaking, where a group of individuals skilled in different aspects of the process come together – each responsible for that one area of expertise but all working under the unifying vision of either a producer or a director. That process doesn’t yet unfold so neatly here.  My authors and I are still finding our way.

To begin with, I myself am embarrassingly inexperienced in publishing – my skills lie in photography and film production (and all that goes with those areas in terms of graphics and design sensibilities) and in writing. Putting out my own first novel – I was a screen writer in my previous incarnation – was how Pomonal Publishing came into being.  But I didn’t want to be just a self-publisher!

Now I’m realising that my authors are also inexperienced (in bookmaking, not in writing) and that together we are making lots of mistakes!

Here’s a doozy: Our next PP book will be a collection of poetry by Christopher Race. But I’ve been talking about it as an ‘anthology’ – I even used that term in my Foreword for the review editions already printed. And I used the term when I approached renowned Australian poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe, to ask if he would be willing to review the book.  He politely queried the word, which set me straight.

Of course the dictionary does define ‘Anthology’ as a collection of poems etc.  But it does not say (or at least mine doesn’t) ‘by different authors’!  However, this is the assumed knowledge that anyone in the industry, or any Humanities graduate would already have.  And this is exactly the type of pitfall I’m likely to make on entering an area in which I am untrained and still inexperienced.

Should I cease and desist my amateur attempts to publish beautiful (and professional) books?

Perhaps with kindness and patience (and a little informal mentoring) from such consummate professionals as CWC, we shall achieve excellence in time.  Until then, we’ll bumble on, and after we are gone Pomonal Publishing’s banner may be held aloft by more capable arms.

Christopher Race’s COLLECTION of poems, Still Life With Grandmother, will be out early in the new year. Please watch this space for more details.

 

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Writing & Publishing

As an older writer, adjusting to the constantly changing technology (not to mention: terms of reference) of the publishing world, I had been in the habit of saying, ‘times are changing’.  Willing to retrain myself, and then retrain myself again, to stay abreast of the new cultural scene.  But this morning it hit me that times were not simply changing, they had CHANGED!  The landscape and the terms of reference are so utterly different from the world I entered, when I left high school and home and headed for the big city to be a part of something.

I could be on another planet!

How this affects my writing, is something that is always on the fringe of my awareness.  And I’d like to hear how others of my generation are coping (tail-end of the Boomers, like the arrowhead, y’know?  What devils have on the ends of their tails, that’s us.)  And also, more importantly perhaps, I want to continue to read young writers, new and emerging writers telling me about this unfamiliar planet.

At the moment Pomonal Publishing is bent a little towards the writing of my generation (especially when publishing poets, because, as Frances Holloway asks on her blog: who reads poetry anymore?)  But good writing (good?) reaches across time and space, doesn’t it?  Any new young writers out there finding it difficult to get published, but serious about the art of writing?  I’d like to hear from you.

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