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Category Archives: Australian

Poetry Viva — Wollongong 11 October 2008

Yet another email, this one from the South Coast Writers’ Centre.

Poetry Viva

SCWC PROGRAM
11 October 2008

Join our most exciting contemporary poets for an afternoon of challenge and contemplation. Featuring Dorothy Porter, John Tranter, joanne burns, Judith Beveridge, Peter Skrzynecki, Barbara Nicholson, Chris Mansell, Elizabeth Hodgson, Merlinda Bobis and more reading from their work. Call in to Wollongong City Gallery for half an hour or the whole afternoon, and experience these extraordinary Australian writers. A co-production of South Coast Writers Centre and Viva La Gong. Supported by the Australian Poetry Centre.

12noon – 4.30pm, Saturday 11 October, 2008
The Fine Gallery, Level 2, Wollongong City Gallery, corner of Kembla and Burelli Streets Wollongong, NSW 2500

Free Event

More information: Ali Smith tel 02 4228 0151 or email scwc@1earth.net

Bit nostalgic this one for me… Ten years I was down there, some thirty years ago.

HSC students will find it interesting. In her email Ali Smith says: students, teachers, and school librarians are more than welcome to come along and hear these poets read their work. I have highlighted poets Year 12 students/teachers may be especially interested in seeing. Deb Westbury will be there too, apparently.

Guess it’s nice that people are using my blog to publicise things too. 🙂

 

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Radio Australia’s special English sites

Related to the last post here, I have been exploring:

Radio Australia: Learn English

learnenglish

Worth a look.

 

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Fascinating stats

On Jim Belshaw’s Personal Reflections the following appeared this morning, though dated yesterday.

Australia’s Global Ethnic Rankings

We all know that Australia is a country of migrants. A short search of Wikipedia shows that, measured by ancestry, Australia is in global terms:

  • The second largest Irish, Maori and Maltese country.
  • The third largest English country.
  • The fourth largest Scottish country.
  • The fifth largest Greek, Vietnamese and Dutch country.
  • The seventh largest German country.
  • The ninth largest Italian country.
  • The eleventh largest Serbian country.
  • The fifteenth largest Han Chinese country.
  • The sixteenth Turkish country.
  • The seventeenth largest Indian country.

What do we make of all this? Well, it’s just a measure of diversity.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2008 in Australian, blogs, diversity, multiculturalism

 

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Update to one of the most popular posts

Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems has been checked and updated today. There are some new resources there, but sadly one that seems to have gone, and one that may have.

There are also some new HSC videos in the VodPod.

 

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13 February 2008

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of

this land, the oldest continuing

cultures in human history.

 

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australian.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have changed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2008 in Australian

 

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Great resource for Journeys and multicultural education

Last night I watched Who Do You Think You Are? on SBS.

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Go there not just for that one, but for the others in this currently ongoing series.

Naturally, too, I commend Inspiring Teachers which begins on Wednesday 6 February, 2008 at 8pm. 🙂

 

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Multicultural Australia: you’re standing in it!

A small swag of human interest stories in today’s Sun-Herald in the wake of Australia Day say more about the comparative success of Australian multiculturalism — diversity AND cohesion — than a whole peck of moanings and mutterings on talk-back radio or similar venues. Aussie pride? Stories like this give it to me in heaps. May there be more and more of them. Let’s celebrate what we have with open hearts.

The first story is such a great contrast to the brief agony that was Cronulla 05.

haisamfarache

WHEN he’s in the line-up off Sydney’s popular beaches, Haisam Farache is just another surfer waiting for a wave.

But once he’s out of the water he swaps his wetsuit and surfboard for a robe and turban and assumes the role of an imam at Australia’s largest mosque.

“For me it relates to how I am as an Australian and a Muslim,” he said. “When I go to the beach I feel rejuvenated. I feel like a new person and whatever stresses I have in my life are being washed away with the waves.”

The 34-year-old, who began surfing at 11, said his pastime intrigued his students at the Lakemba Mosque. Most laughed, he said, when they discovered he was a surfer, and found it difficult to believe a religious leader had an interest outside teaching Islam.

The Auburn-based lawyer said surfing was also an ice-breaker when he visited schools across the country as part of his work with the Together for Humanity Foundation.

He recalls visiting a school on the northern beaches where many students began calling him a terrorist. Once the children discovered he was a surfer, their opinion changed and they saw him as one of “them”, he said.

The second story told about nine of the 3300+ from 56 countries who pledged their allegiance to the flag in ceremonies across NSW yesterday.

Figures from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship show 95 per cent of the population are Australian citizens. However, there are more than 900,000 permanent residents who are eligible to become Australian citizens.

Of the 27,494 immigrants who arrived in NSW between January 1 and December 1 last year, one out of six was from China, making it one of the largest source of immigrants to the state.

Meanwhile, India has overtaken Britain as our second-biggest source of new citizens, followed by the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Lebanon and Indonesia.

Pakistanis and Iraqis are also among our fastest-growing migrant groups…

Abdulai Jallah knew he had to find a new home after fleeing war-torn Liberia several years ago…

—  Liliana Auwyang adored Australia when she visited as a tourist more than 10 years ago. It was the beautiful scenery and culture that had this 41-year-old from Panania, in south-western Sydney, hooked. So, not long after her return to Jakarta, she began researching how to come back permanently…

Richard Brunskill lived his whole life in central London before settling down-under…

Rania Islam. One of the newest little Australians was born at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, yesterday. Rania Islam arrived at 2.40am, much to the delight of her parents, Sharmin Khan and Rezaul Islam, and her big brother Rayyan Islam, 18 months. “It’s very exciting,” Mr Islam said. “We are very proud.” Ms Khan and Mr Islam moved to Australia six years ago and became citizens last year.

Douglas Snider. IT WAS true love that brought Douglas Snider to Sydney six years ago. His wife Tiate was born and bred in the inner-west suburb of Newtown. Now that he’s here, he wouldn’t swap it for the world. “I love absolutely everything here in Australia,” he says…

— THE first Australian park Ewi Sook Oh visited was dotted with coin-operated barbecues… “I love the Australian environment and way of life. I think it is God’s gift,” Ewi says. “In my home in South Korea there are tall buildings and crowds everywhere. There are not so many people in Sydney but they come from other countries everywhere and I feel it is a good opportunity for me to learn about their traditions and customs.”

Rene Strauss Arias. THE reopening of Sydney’s Hilton Hotel in mid-2005 could hardly have been better timed for 49-year-old Filipino Rene Strauss Arias

— WHEN Anwar Hamam landed in Australia, he was merely chasing an opportunity to further his education… But like many of his fellow new Australians, Anwar settled permanently after meeting his partner here… “What I like about Australia is that it is very safe,” Anwar says. “It also offers me so much in freedoms and opportunities. I can become whoever I want to be here. There seems to be a lot more to do here than just about anywhere else.”

A NATIVE of St Petersburg, Andrei Bobylev first heard about Australia from some friends who had already been, and he became curious.

Then he read the travel diary, Down Under, by best-selling American author Bill Bryson, and decided to follow suit. That was three years ago…

Source: The Sun-Herald

    RELATED

    On assimilation

     
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    Posted by on January 27, 2008 in Australian, equity/welfare, inspiration, multiculturalism

     

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    My English teachers 4: Sam Goldberg

    You will find I have mentioned S L Goldberg (1926-1991) before: on Lines from a Floating Life and in the Big Archive. Back in 1964 he was just coming into his own as Challis Professor of English at the University of Sydney, having taken up his duties during 1963 when I had a year out working at the MLC Insurance Company in Martin Place where they vainly tried to seduce me into a business or legal career. The next few years were to see the English Department split in two, and by decade’s end Goldberg had gone. When I returned to Sydney University for a temporary secondment as a lecturer in 1977 he was just a memory, albeit with a few acolytes still hanging on, and a cricket team named in his honour, or in honour of his mentor the Downing College Cambridge literary critic F R Leavis.

    In a 1999 article in The Australian Book Review Terry Collits recalls:

    …migrating Leavisism first touched these shores at Perth, with the professorial appointment of a veritable ‘Scrutineer’, Allan Edwards. The word was brought across to Melbourne by Jock Tomlinson in the early 1950s, and Leavis was more or less the sign under which the brilliant younger brigade of the department (Goldberg himself, Maggie Tomlinson, David Moody and Vincent Buckley) set about revamping its pedagogy. The purists, the ‘true believers’, of the group were Goldberg and the Tomlinsons, and it was they who carried most influence with the honours students. Buckley was a special case: he himself had written a book on Leavis, but would not call himself a Leavisite; his personal influence, in Irish and Catholic circles, extended well beyond the English department and has been well recorded.
        

    Goldberg was the rising star in academic English in Australia at this time. This was his hey-day as a teacher, attested by Germaine Greer and others who gravitated to English Honours at Melbourne in the ’50s. From the start his teaching took in wider agendas: he set up a ‘Lit. Club’ for staff and students to discuss books and issues and it was from papers presented in that forum that a serious critical journal, The Melbourne Critical Review, was established. Despite the worrying repetition of the name of Leavis, early numbers of the journal reflected the liberal pluralism of the department of Ian Maxwell, and included critics as diverse as A.D. Hope, Leonie Kramer, Andrew Taylor and Chris Wallace-Crabbe. Undergraduates, many like Wilbur Sanders and Ian Donaldson to go on to distinguished academic careers abroad, found space for their first publications in the Review, an astonishing fact in an otherwise strictly hierarchised Australian academy. Further, as the recalling of these names might indicate, English at Melbourne was by no means cut off from the literary community of the 1950s: the department housed, as it has right up to the present time, many a ‘creative writer’.
        

    All this might suggest that one of the collective errors of judgment in those halcyon days was the abortive attempt to translate Australian Leavisism to Sydney, where for the Sydney natives it had all the appearance of a violent act of colonial appropriation. In Melbourne, Goldberg and the other Leavisites could live in a state of civilised friction within the greater department while achieving a high degree of hegemonic authority; in Sydney, they were greeted with a mistrust that quickly degenerated into collective paranoia. Besides, the overlooking of Wilkes for the Challis Professorship (the real Chair) while simultaneously appointing him to the newly-established Chair of Australian Literature laid the foundations for the struggle to the death that ensued.
        

    When Gerry Wilkes, with the support of the Administration at Sydney, set up a rival course to the one Goldberg thought he had sole authority over, the move to split the department was defended in the name of pluralism, a corrective to the proselytising rigidities of Goldbergism. Once Goldberg had returned to Melbourne, less than four years after his arrival at Sydney, this pluralism was abandoned and a new/old monolithic course set in place. All traces of Goldberg’s values were expunged. Thus Andrew Riemer could finally settle down to enjoy his rightful inheritance, complete with a room in the old sandstone building that is the impressive quadrangle of Sydney University. Academic English at Sydney, to adopt Terry Eagleton’s favourite description of Oxford, would revert to a state of ‘pre-Leavisian’ innocence. But only as long as the world allowed, and the inhabitants of Sydney English could go on forgetting…

    We, the class of 1964, were the meat in the sandwich. None of us attained First Class Honours, but a year or two later the first ranks of the Goldberg-educated were showered with them.

    That could be interpreted as my being resentful, but the fact is Goldberg was a brilliant, if at times ruthless, tutor. My love of seventeenth century English poetry owes much to him. Then too there are memories of tutorial groups so stimulating that they would go hours over time! All this apart from my being the one male in a class of fourteen, with happy memories of my “harem” and I lying under trees in Centennial Park reading seventeenth century poetry to one another. (I have heard about Joy Phillips since, so if you read this, Joy, know that I remember, and also that you later taught my cousin, now a teacher.)

    Michael Wilding, a prominent writer of short stories and former Reader in English at Sydney, tells a fascinating tale in Southerly (March 1999):

    “So what do you want to teach?” Sam asked me.
    I had no idea. I had just taken finals. It was all literature, all accessible, at least up to 1870 when the Oxford syllabus had ended.
    “I don’t mind,” I said. I tried to be more specific. “Anything except Milton,” I said.
    Milton had been a compulsory author in my first year, and compulsion rarely endears.
    “That’s it then,” he said. “Milton it is. I don’t want some Miltonist teaching Milton.”
    Perhaps I had expected to gain merit from my proposed exclusion. Milton was a particular bugbear of the Leavisites. Perhaps I had expected a complicit smirk at my correct taste, my gesture of avoidance. I had certainly not expected this new compulsion. Compulsion it was. I demurred. But I got nowhere…

    Apart from Milton I chose, or agreed to the suggestion of, the novel course. That was why I had come to Sydney, after all, the path of the novelist. It would be sensible to learn something of the novelist’s art. And whereas the Oxford syllabus had ended in 1870, this course included the moderns: Conrad, James, Lawrence, Faulkner: what passed for the modern at that time, books too modern for Oxford, even if written some fifty years earlier. I was to teach it together with a lecturer Sam had inherited when he had taken over the department. Most of the lecturers he had inherited. He was trying to stock the place with new talent, Leavisites he had taught or taught with in Melbourne, or recent graduates with a seal of approval from Cambridge or, at a pinch, Oxford. But Bill Maidment, with whom I was to teach, was one of the old guard, the unreconstructed.
    “I want you to keep an eye on Bill,” Sam said. “I’m not sure about him.”
    I was twenty-one. I had never taught before. I felt uneasy about this instruction…

    Bill Maidment will be #5 in my English teachers.

    NOTE

    S L Goldberg’s last book (PDF)

    Goldberg on King Lear (PDF)

     
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    Posted by on October 31, 2007 in Australian, English studies, literary theory, my English teachers, reminiscences, Teachers Who Change Lives

     

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    Accent on otherness

    Yes, this is an excellent supplementary text for NSW HSC “Journeys” [or “Belonging”] but it is more than that: Pauline Webber in The Weekend Australian (September 29, 2007).

    THE point at which cultures and ethnicities intersect is fertile ground for the creative arts. Such hybridity has been a riff running through the history of international cinema from the moment Hollywood opened its arms to European Jews fleeing the Nazi onslaught. Globalisation and the convoluted patterns of migration shaping the post-war world have provided film industries everywhere with periodic injections of freshness and originality. Films are made by North Africans in France, Asians in the US, Armenians and Iranians in Canada, Indians and Pakistanis in Britain.

    A surprisingly large number of Australian filmmakers are from migrant backgrounds. Just taking a selection from those who have a significant body of work makes a long list: Rolf de Heer, Ana Kokkinos, Tony Ayres, Paul Cox, Alex Proyas, Ray Lawrence, Khoa Do, Clara Law, Nadia Tass, Kriv Stenders, Tom Zubrycki, George Miller and many more…

    Excellent overview leading to this conclusion: “Each speaks as one of us but with an accent that puts the emphasis in surprising places. Our cinema can only be the richer for the inclusion of such voices.”

     

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    From my personal site: The Secret River by Kate Grenville

    Substantial additions have been made to this post, thanks to Adrian Phoon. Go to the original post for his comment. See also Just something to think about…, a follow-up post.

     The Secret River by Kate Grenville (2005).  Grenville has also written one of the best books on writing that I know. (Australian historical fiction)

    As I said last week:

    I mentioned in my comment on Jim Belshaw’s post that I am at last reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville, and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I think this reading is partly responsible for my looking into Macquarie connections to Cleveland House here in Surry Hills, a building I see every day! The site linked to the novel there is Kate Grenville’s own site, thoroughly worth exploring, especially the section on fiction and history. The Secret River (that is, the Hawkesbury) attracted some little controversy on that score, much of it misplaced. But I will take that up when I review the novel. You will see I have already given The Secret River a best read of 2007 tag though.

    That still stands, now that I have finished.

    The “Secret River” is today a major tourist attraction, and more, just north of Sydney, parts of it indeed inside Greater Sydney.

    The climax of the novel is a massacre, and that has been the issue, it seems, that has led to its being caught up in controversy. Given, as the author has clearly stated, that this is a work of fiction, I don’t think it matters whether or not the events described actually took place in the real-world Hawkesbury Valley in the time of Lachlan Macquarie. Such events, however, did happen, and the novel makes a clear case for the way in which even close to such events their reporting could have been spun and muffled, to be forgotten before many years passed. I think the novel quite properly should caution us against the naive belief that written records tell the whole story.

    a020561.jpgThe novel began, Kate Grenville tells us, as a work of non-fiction; she is fortunate enough to have a very interesting convict ancestor, Solomon Wiseman, about whom rather more is known and told than is the case with my ancestor Jacob. Some stirring tales appear in The Hawkesbury Historical Society’s pages. Grenville does her subject novelistic justice in that flesh-and-blood characters really emerge in her writing. It is true, nonetheless, that, while true to what we know of Aboriginal life and culture in that time and place, she does fail to render her Indigenous characters quite so fully. Perhaps given the perspective of her narrative this is not possible, but her convicts and emancipists are rendered brilliantly and individually.

    The portrait of Wiseman on the right is alluded to in the last chapter of the novel.

    I can really believe that (as Aluminium said in a comment here) readers will be drawn by the novel into an enthusiasm for Australian history, and that can’t be a bad thing after all.

    Don’t think I am damning with faint praise; I’m not. This is one very fine novel.

    See also Kate Grenville: Secret river, secret pastSunday Channel 9 August 7, 2005 and The Convict Trail.

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    North of the Hawkesbury region is the Hunter River and Newcastle. The University of Newcastle has a very fine Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region, well worth examining. To the east of most of the territory covered by Kate Grenville’s novel and reaching down to northern Sydney lay the lands of the Guringai, whose history my nephew, himself a descendant of the Guringai, has explored: see A Guringai Family’s Story: guest entry by Warren Whitfield.

    Later

    I deliberately minimised controversy in this post. Adrian in his comment noted that and I responded with some reasons. In writing that comment I found Warts and all: on writing “The Secret River” in the University of Sydney News. It is a good article. My reservations about the Aboriginal characters compared to the Europeans are explained there, I think. I could see Grenville had a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

     
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    Posted by on August 14, 2007 in Australian, works/authors, writing

     

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