Text Marks the Spot Today

Cecile, Archie and SarahSarah Mayor Cox with a young reader and his mum on the La Trobe University tram.

By Lauren Mitchell

Angela Throgmorton is not an easy woman to forget. The prim and proper sidekick to author/illustrator Leigh Hobbs’ slothful cat Old Tom is not your usual childhood hero, but for La Trobe University’s Sarah Mayor Cox, she reminds her of one.

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On postal votes and social prejudice

By Christy O’Brien

With the country poised to take part in a postal vote on marriage equality, one session at this weekend’s Bendigo Writers Festival couldn’t be more timely.

It Changed the World with La Trobe University writer and academic Dennis Altman and ABC’s Robyn Williams will discuss Dennis’ seminal work Homosexual: Oppression & Liberation (1972). Continue reading

On caring

I wish I didn’t care, but I do.

I was talking this week to someone who organises many big literary events, and she (it’s usually a woman) was very down about an international author cancelling an appearance later this year.

I could hear in her voice the kind of melancholy I feel when something goes wrong, gets in the way, has to change, along the way as we draw near Bendigo Writers FestivalContinue reading

Agree or disagree: maybe that’s not the question?

Books are one very big reason we can feel hopeful that so much of the everyday nastiness we have instant access to can be counter-acted by decency, thoughtfulness, fairness and wit.

It’s why Writers Festivals are so popular – not mega-popular stadium extravaganzas fueled by celebrity, but crowded, energetic and increasingly in-demand nevertheless.

We do want to hear our own thoughts – whether inklings, half-formed ideas or fully-fledged passions expressed with clarity and style. So we flock to hear writers talk. The nodding head is seen more often at a writers festival than on car dashboards.

People do say, why isn’t there more debate at festivals? Why aren’t there more ding-dong battles over ideas and ideologies?  Continue reading

Discussion is not cage-fighting

Who knows why Ayaan Hirsi Ali cancelled at the last minute her tour of Australia. What we do know is that it must be devastating for the event organisers, who will have been preparing for this very visible, very contentious, very much anticipated visit for a very long time. If security is an issue, as has been reported, from whom does the threat come? Surely not the group of women who criticise Hirsi Ali as “not speaking” for them.

We are in a real pickle… sorry to use such a lame expression, but somehow, more emotive language seems wrong here. It’s a pickle all right, when we stamp and grunt and shout and push and even threaten to shove, hurt and silence, those we don’t agree with.

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