Monday, 16 March 2020

Rabbit Books - Autumn Poetry Readings

Rabbit Books - Autumn Poetry Readings

Postponed until further notice

John Mukky Burke
This April two local poets will feature in the Autumn Poetry Readings at Rabbit Books. Local Wiradjuri writer John Mukky Burke will launch his new collection Late Murrumbidgee Poems; and Derek Motion will present new and recent poems, Friday 3rd April, Rabbit Books, Wagga.

Late Murrumbidgee Poems is published by Australian poetry imprint Cordite Books and is Burke’s return to the form, his first volume of published poetry in twenty years. And this time has brought change. While his earlier poetic works engaged with childhood, adolescence, marriage, and life living overseas, Mukky now observes that his foci were ‘deliberately occluded’, and aspects of his life such as sexuality and Aboriginality were not foregrounded. As he says in the introduction to this collection, ‘I skirted around Aboriginal politics and identity. No more.’

Late Murrumbidgee Poems presents a return to poetry as well as a proximal return to the river. John Mukky Burke reflects that ‘‘The Murrumbidgee is a river I was born next to...and now, seventy and more years later, am returned to.’ Poetry lovers and anyone with affinity for the river will find points of connection in his reading.

Derek Motion

Also reading on the night is Derek Motion, who will present some new and some older poems engaging with the local region: ‘John has been an influential and supportive friend within the Wagga writing community for many years, he says, ‘and I can’t wait to hear the work from his new book.’

Late Murrumbidgee Poems will be launched 6.30pm, Friday 3rd April at the Rabbit Books in Wagga. The book will be officially launched by Wagga poet and academic David Gilbey, accompanied by the reading from Derek Motion as well as an open-mic section for interested poets.

Copies of Late Murrumbidgee Poems will be available to purchase on the day of the launch, or, can be purchased online:

Derek Motion’s recent collection The Only White Landscape can also be purchased via Cordite:

For further media enquiries or interviews contact event organiser David Gilbey on 0409894973.

* Attached author image of John Mukky Burke photographed by Derek Motion
* Attached author image of Derek Motion photographed by Sarah Dissegna

Thursday, 20 February 2020

2020 Monthly Writers' Workshops

Monthly workshops

We invite writers of all abilities, genres and interests to join us with a piece of writing you are working on, to workshop, develop and share with fellow writers. Please bring multiple copies (6 - 8) of the work to share around the table for editing purposes. These will be returned to you at the end of the workshop.

Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided.

Booranga is a friendly environment to nurture your creative writing while enjoying the company of like-minded people of all ages and stages of their craft.

$5 for 2020 financial members
$10 for non-members

*When our visiting writers-in-residence conduct the workshop this will run in a different format with writing tasks being set by them for all participants.

Third Saturday of each month

21 March: Booranga, 2 - 4pm with Mark Rogers writer-in-residence

18 April:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm *cancelled

16 May:  'Water' Lockhart, * postponed

20 June:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm (held via Zoom)

18 July:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm with Adele Dumont writer-in-residence

22 August:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm

19 September:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm

17 October:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm

21 November:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm

19 December:  Booranga, 2 - 4pm

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Water-Themed Writing Workshops

Facilitated by Riverina Water

Unleash your inner writer 
and plunge into the world of “water”

As part of the 2020 Community and Art Grant from Riverina Water, this series of four writing workshops aims to imaginatively explore water, in all its forms.

Departing from Booranga Writers’ Centre’s usual writing workshop focus, these workshops will be providing some exercises and suggestions to use to stimulate new prose, real-life commentaries, or poems.

Some ideas might be: water as tears being shed for many reasons, cleansing, both physically and spiritually; used to put out bushfires; the ocean; icebergs.

In addition, participants will be encouraged to develop writing concerned with the effects of the drought in this region, whether it be low water levels in dams, rivers or lakes, insufficient water to sustain crops and livestock, and the mental anguish that can arise from living in a rural area with limited water.

Dates for these water-themed writing workshops are:

Saturday February 15th at Booranga Writers’ Centre from 2 to 4 pm.

Tuesday March 10th at Word Play @ Mock Orange from 2 to 3 pm.

Tuesday May 12th at Word Play @ Mock Orange from 2 to 3 pm.

Saturday November 14th at Supper Room, Lockhart Memorial Hall, Lockhart, from 2 to 4 pm.
RSVP 11 November to Claire 0439 452297 or Kathryn at

Submissions for consideration to be included in this year’s fourW thirty-one: Water of any new work will be encouraged.

Booranga Writers’ Centre gratefully acknowledges Riverina Water.

Facilitated by Riverina Water

Sunday, 19 January 2020

2020 Competitions & Opportunities

Submissions to fourW  Anthology of New Writing  
Closes 30 June each year
All submissions to fourW are considered for the Booranga Literary Prizes
Read More

Booranga Literary Prizes
The Booranga Prizes, of $500 each, are chosen from all submissions to fourW and are awarded to the best poem and the best short story submitted each year and are published in our annual anthology, fourW.
Read More

Writing NSW
Regional Writers support
Read More

Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction
First weekend of every month
Writers have 55 hours to write a 500 words-or-fewer story to be in the running for $500. On the first Friday of every month, a new set of short story prompts will be revealed to guide writers.
Read More

Fellowship of Australian Writers NSW Inc
Various competitions open throughout the year
Read More

Writing NSW Grants - Various
Read More

Live Canon Submissions
Closes various dates
Read More

Griffin Poetry Prize
Closes 31 December 2020

Stringybark Open Short Story Award 2021
Closes 31 January 2021

South Coast Writers Centre Poetry Award
Theme 'Every Body'
Closes 1 February 2021

Elyne Mitchell Photo Story Competition
Closes 1 March 2021

Nature and Place Poetry Competition
Closes 1 March 2021

KSP 2021 Residency Program 
Various dates
Read More

Eureka St Submissions

Science Write Now Submissions

Spread the Stories not the Virus
Read More

Baby Teeth Journal Submissions
Read More

Big Issue
Contributor guidelines

Read More

Fairlight Moderns - novella submissions
Currently seeking submissions of novella-length works in English from authors based anywhere in the world. We are particularly keen to publish work by new and emerging writers,
Read More

Light Horse Australia: Harry Chauvel Foundation
Help us build on online Light Horse Anthology
Read More

Useful Links

Monday, 16 December 2019

Hugh Crago's Launch Speech fourW thirty: Pearl

Four W 30 (‘Pearl’)

·         Thanks to David:

o   For asking me to speak
o   For tolerating what I might say (since he and I differ on some things, and possibly most of all on poetry)
o   For generously arriving at my house year after year with a copy of the latest Four W
o   And most of all, for being a tireless advocate for literature throughout his long academic career, and an enthusiastic performer of literature to listeners who don’t necessarily breathe the rarified air of academia and ‘literary fiction’.

·         I’m here under false pretences:

o   I’m not a ‘Writer’ in the sense that many of you are. I don’t write out of a sense that literature is my vocation, I just write because I have to
o   Most of what I have published in my life has been non-fiction, and it has never sold well.
o   I began writing poems in 2009—ten years ago now, when I was 63 years old. I’m only a published poet by courtesy of Stephen Matthews at Ginninderra Press, who accepted a collection that included some of the same poems that the Poetry Editors of a number of reputable literary magazines had turned down!
o   Even less am I a short story writer. I’ve completed three, but none has been published so far.

·         Nevertheless, I have been a reader all my life, and believe I have some understanding of what makes a good poem, and of what makes a good story. And in this speech, I intend to elaborate on my convictions, and mention some of the contributions to Four W 30 which fulfil my criteria for good writing in their genre. I’m not an academic, and I don’t speak Post-Modern, so relax, you’ll be able to understand what I say. But you may be alarmed at its bluntness, and possibly conclude that I am a ‘grumpy old man’. Which I probably am.

Writing verse does not make you a poet.
A poem is not a piece of snappy prose, cut up into lines and printed with no punctuation
Refusing to capitalise the word ‘I’, and using an ampersand instead of the word ‘and’ do not make you a poet (only an imitator of EE Cummings).
Producing verse heavily freighted with clever similes and metaphors does not make you a poet.  You are mistaking the appearance for the substance.

In our embracing of ‘freedom of expression’ and our fatuous belief that ‘every child (adult) can be creative’, I think we have lost sight of what a poem involves:
·         A poem should have some sort of music, or an equivalent of music. After all, poetry evolved out of music, aeons before written language existed.  

‘Oh no!’ you’re thinking, ‘he means poems must have metre and rhyme!’ I don’t mean that.

I attend a monthly ‘Poetry In the Pub’ event at Katoomba. Its tiny audience, mainly made up of the poets themselves, seem most to appreciate bush poetry. That could be because bush poetry competes best with the sounds of rattling ice and smashing glass (and the roar of the televised footie from the screens in the next room) but that’s not the real reason. I don’t personally warm to sing-song rhythms and wearily predictable rhyming couplets, but I know what that audience is responding to in the bush poetry they applaud: a recognisable music, the nostalgia of remembering Lawson and Patterson’s verse from school, the comfort of predictability (rhyme, when done well, can be very comforting, especially at the end of a poem that hasn’t had any rhyme at all). It’s easy to follow, it tells a story, and it has shape.

I don’t think poems need to rhyme, or have any recognisable metre, but they should have ‘music’ in some form—they should sound good when read aloud. And they should offer us the gratification of listening as a design works itself out, in just a minute or two (or three). 

·         A good poem involves the distillation of language into a few words that pull their weight, and say much. That is a long way from writing verse studded with large, obvious ‘big words’ and clever images—the written equivalent of costume jewellery.

At primary school, kids are praised for their ability to use ‘big words’ but a real poet must learn to see that poetry is not a display of your extensive vocabulary, or a demonstration of how easily you can baffle the reader by using a word they can only guess at the meaning of! It means using the right word, the necessary word, and you only get to know that by reading heaps of what other writers have written. Having good models. You need to recite great poems as you walk, poems that you’ve memorised. I walk a lot—maybe you don’t, but probably even in a car, you can declaim your favourite poems aloud to yourself. It’s probably less dangerous than texting, anyway!

·         Good poems are about economy of means. Doing more with less. A poem should be no longer than it needs to be.
·         Poems also should ‘go somewhere’ in the sense that they need to end meaningfully, not just tail off. They don’t need to tell a story, exactly, although they may do that, but they do need structure and a sense of movement.

·         And it helps a lot if you are writing about something meaningful, not just any old thing. Here I can appreciatively quote Greg Pritchard’s contribution to Four W 30:
I spent thirty dollars on a book of contemporary Australian poetry
It worked out as one dollar per poet
I wasted thirty dollars on a book of contemporary Australian poetry
There are no meaty bones here, or if there are, they are small …

I’m compelled to think of that crude anti-Nazi rhyme that was sung in Britain in the earlier days of World War Two:

Hitler—has only got one ball (it was true!)
Goering—has two but they are small
Himmler—is somewhat sim’lar
But Goebels—has no balls—at all.

 In his poem, Greg takes a single metaphor (the ‘ossuary’ or collection of bones) and works it out all the way through, not overdoing it, not ‘going on and on’ (which is sometimes a problem with bush poetry, and not just bush poetry either!). The only ‘big words’ in the poem are the anatomical terms for the bones. And I agree with Greg that poetry should address meaningful subjects.
I liked Wes Lee’s ‘Bar Bright’ and Jenny Blackford’s ‘Snow’. They’ve both caught the pathos of the human condition, bodies brought low, reduced to faltering and shame, by degenerative disease, or by drink.
            Ten years into the long, slow forgetting
             He still recited lines from Latin poets,
Listed actors in obscure Russian films, determined to defeat his misbehaving brain.
Bodies and easy prey for Parkinson’s,
Minds a delicate dessert.

Have you tried reading your own poems aloud? Do you realise that reading them aloud will give you a better handle on what works than any amount of on-screen revision? Why are so many poets so unable to speak their own poems with conviction and without embarrassment? Maybe because the act of voicing them aloud actually shows what’s wrong with them? Get those things fixed before you perform your poem in public, not after!

Do you realise that if you eliminate all punctuation, then the person reading your poem aloud (even if it’s yourself!) has absolutely no guide to how to read your lines meaningfully. Or does nobody dare to read it aloud in case they ‘get it wrong’ and therefore violate your creativity?  

Marie Clear’s ‘Stolen Life’ is simple, direct and effective. I like the fact that she’s not scared to use ordinary words. She doesn’t need to stud her poem with clever verbal tricks that actually detract from the power of what she’s saying.

Denise O’Hagan’s ‘Vermeer in Boston’ was my pick of the poems in Four W 30. Of course, I know the famous Vermer painting that is her point of reference—so it doesn’t require me to make a massive effort to imagine what on earth the poet is talking about. And, if you do know that painting, you’ll know how her rendering of the young woman in the painting is so very accurate:
I met her painted gaze, unflinching,
Wondering, even then, what she’d been writing,
(And to whom, and why).
She’d raised her eyes, unblinking,
Poised and faintly mocking
Too intelligent, I couldn’t help thinking
For twentieth century positivity.

There is minimal punctuation, but the lines are arranged so that I don’t ever need to worry away at what happened to the sentence I thought had begun a while back! The words that she needs are there, but no more, no showing off, no obvious cleverness. Just good writing.
Anyone can learn to describe a thin slice of their own life with an amusing combination of embarrassment and insight. But how does that ‘slice’ become a ‘short story’? Is a ‘story’ a bit of life with a bit of shaping added and some clever turns of phrase? What you turn out at as an exercise at a writers’ workshop? I think it needs to be something more than that.

Was it a bit of your life that was intensely joyful, or painful for you? Emotion, especially recollected emotion, propels us to write, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we have a story when we write something based on it.

All writing is to some degree an ego trip, but your job as a proper writer is to minimise the ego, and maximise empathy for your possible readers. Your readers shouldn’t be admiring your cleverness, they should be pulled into your story, and starting to care about what is happening to the people in it. Otherwise, it isn’t a story, just a ‘piece of writing’. Just as with poetry, too many adjectives, too many metaphors, too many funny bracketed interjections, too many words that aren’t needed—when we write like this, we revert to nerdy adolescents at high school, showing the teacher how many ‘big words’ we know!

·         A proper story should go somewhere. That is the nature of story. We are drawn through art into a quest—to uncover the mystery, to know more about the characters, to find out what happens to them. Michel Dignand’s ‘Awake’, Louise D’Arcy’s ‘The Lovemeister’ and Melissa Chip’s ‘Two Imposters’ all go somewhere. I continued reading because I wanted to find out what was going to happen to the characters, not because I was admiring the authors’ fine writing!

Alan Fettling’s ‘The Balsa Canoe’ goes somewhere. It manages to convert personal experience into something of wider significance. Alan memorably shows us how different a person’s memory can be from that of his own siblings—something I’ve recently and painfully experienced myself, when my own brother and sister angrily rejected my account of previous generations of our family as ‘disgusting’ and ‘unethical’.
‘The Balsa Canoe’ encapsulates the sadness of the narrator’s relationship with his father—a child being forced into something he didn’t ever want to do, that he can’t do, and that someone else ‘owns’. A father desperately wanting to ‘complete himself’ through his son. All beautifully understated. The writing is never self indulgent. The one ‘dramatic action’—the smashing of the canoe—stands for a whole world of pain.   

·         A good story can remind us, vividly, of things we already know, and enable us to recognise things in that experience that we didn’t know we knew.
Helen Lyne’s ‘Last Day of Term’ immediately lights up memories of my own, of a very similar teacher, in a very similar classroom, now sixty years age. And I like Helen’s understated recognition of the fact that significant things repeat themselves—we ourselves become the people we once observed caustically from the outside … Each of these recreations give us recognition: we are (as T. S. Eliot put it) taken back to where we started, but know the place for the first time.

Ellen Rodger’s ‘Laundromat CafĂ©’ could have been just a succession of observations of life in one of the Western Suburbs, but it ends up something more. Sad and almost haunting in its bleak fragments of conversation and image. Again, I know this place, these people. I’ve been there, I’ve heard them talk. The story leaves us thinking, ‘Is this all human life is?’ Is it better if you have money and choices? Perhaps, but I ended up wondering!

The final story in the issue, by Robyne Young, shows (to me, anyway) the selfishness, superficiality and brittle cleverness of two people who’ve just substituted ‘hooking up’ for the real connection they really desperately long for. I haven’t lived this sort of behaviour, but I catch glimpses of it every day, in cafes, from couples sitting at the next table. It doesn’t make easy reading. It confronts us with how incredibly petty, superficial and dishonest most of us human beings really are!

·         Stories confront us with life’s dilemmas, rather than offering superficial ‘solutions’ to them.
Familiar family tensions in Sean Mackel’s ‘Borderlands’—his story reminds me that the stuff of writers is so often the stuff of therapy—writing about it doesn’t heal it; but talking about it with a therapist doesn’t necessarily heal it either. Family bonds are the strongest we know, and family antagonisms the most resistant to healing. Some storytellers could have been therapists; some therapists could perhaps have been storytellers—but have settled for being ‘editors’ of the stories their clients tell them.   

Arna Radovich’s ‘The Limits of Forgetting’ is about the Holocaust survivor’s story, his daughter’s wish for him to tell it, and his wish to leave it well alone. She says, ‘Otherwise, what was the point of it all?’ For her and the future generations there is a point, but not for him. So who should ‘win’? Stories pose the unanswerable questions of human life. Therapists try (often in a facile, arrogant way) to actually answer the questions, resolve the dilemmas. And fail as often as they succeed.

For me, a really good short story is one that I’d want to read again. Not one that depends entirely on a ‘twist’ at the end, in which the reader realises he or she has been tricked. I probably wouldn’t want to read that sort of story again.

Any good piece of writing offers us something real, a ‘meaty bone’ we can chew on, an accurately-detailed picture we can return to, a challenge to our established, comfortable ways of seeing the world, an insight into people unlike us, a widened sympathy for the human predicament.
Similarly with poems. If it only works the first time you read it, it’s unlikely to be a really good poem. And it should sing!

Hugh Crago, December 7, 2019.


Riverina Water Community Grants: Arts and Culture

Facilitated by Riverina Water

Riverina Water Community Grants: Arts and Culture

2020 to be a Year of Water

Booranga Writers’ Centre is pleased to announce the success of our community grant application to Riverina Water for 2020. This application was made under the Culture and Art category and will fund the design and publication of fourW thirty-one, which will be water-themed.

It will also allow for a writing workshop to be held in Lockhart, which is part of the area serviced by Riverina Water, as well as three writing workshops to be held at Booranga Writers’ Centre sometime between February and June 2020.

Residents within the Riverina Water supply area will be encouraged to imaginatively explore the idea of water, in all its forms, through their writing of prose and poetry. The workshops will be led by either a writer-in-residence or one of the experienced members of Booranga Writers’ Centre. Participants will be encouraged to submit their writings to Booranga Writers’ Centre by 30th June 2020 for inclusion in fourW thirty-one New Writing anthology. This will be published and launched in late November or early December 2020.

By providing workshops we hope to encourage a growth in writing skills and confidence of a writer's own voice will be encouraged. It is hoped that this project will develop and nurture creative writing and provide an opportunity for participants to have their work accessed on a local, national and international platform.

We hope a greater awareness of the issues faced within this community and those further afield will occur through the publication of the 'Water' themed anthology. Submissions for fourW thirty-one will be drawn from a wider pool of national and international writers, and this allows for a dialogue to celebrate the delights, pleasures, and memories of experiencing water as well as develop empathy and understanding between individuals experiencing what can sometimes be the mental anguish of living in a rural area with limited access to one of life's necessities - water.

Facilitated by Riverina Water

Friday, 6 September 2019

Poetry Evening - Spring Series

Poetry Evening  Spring Series
at Rabbit Books

Booranga Writers' Centre together with Rabbit Books
invite you to attend our
Spring Poetry Evening on Friday 27 Septmeber 2019

6pm registrations/ 6:30pm readings
$5 cover charge at the door

Take a seat by the fire with a glass of wine and enjoy readings by guest poets
 Jane Downing, Joan Cahill, and Connor Weightman
Hosted by Lachlan Brown (Booranga Writers' Centre)

We dare you… express yourself, and register at 6pm for our open mic section – all themes welcome.  

Registration from 6:00pm – Readings to commence at 6:30pm - Open Mic 7:30pm
Enquires: Rabbit Books  6921 5391

Biography- Jane Downing
Jane Downing has lived in Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Ireland, Indonesia, the (then) USSR, China, the Marshall Islands and Guam, and now calls Albury home. She is the author of two novels, The Trickster (Pandanus Books, Australian National University, 2003) and The Lost Tribe (Pandanus Books, 2005) and editor of the Albury based illustrated progressive novel Murray Time (2004) as well as the collections ReCollecting Albury Writing (2000) and New Albury Writing (2002). Hundreds of her own short stories and poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas, and her poetry collection When Figs Fly is forthcoming with Close-Up Books. She can be found at

Biography – Joan Cahill
Joan Cahill’s poetry has been published over many years in anthologies including Charles Sturt University’s fourWShort and Twisted and Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland’s Brio 2016. In 2012, she won the Melbourne Poets Union’s Urban Realism Award, and 2013 First Prize for Fellowship of Australian Writers Regional’s Vibrant VerseIn 2008, Joan was awarded a LitLink Residency at Varuna, the National Writers’ House, following a mentorship with Peter Bishop. She has also had a long involvement with Booranga Writers. Joan’s 2016 poetry collection Buddha's Left Foot focuses on art, language, culture and everyday life. Originally from Melbourne, she has lived and loved in Wagga Wagga for over forty years.

Biography—Connor Weightman

Connor Weightman’s poetry has been published in publications including WesterlyCorditeWrit Review and RECOIL. He is currently based in Melbourne and is completing a PhD at Charles Sturt University in poetry and oil. Connor has been shortlisted for the Overland Poetry Prize, the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize, and commended in the Karen W Treanor Poetry Awards.