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koalas, encouragements

Just returned from Melbourne to 42 degrees and broken air conditioning. I was visiting for the opening of Arlene Textaqueen’s new show, Naked Landscapes of Victoria, which is open til the 12th December and includes this portrait of me:

"The Giant Koala" (JenJen), Dadswells Bridge (2009)
Originally uploaded by arlene textaqueen

it’s already sold – you have to be quick to pick up a Textanude these days.

Last week I was shortlisted for the David Harold Tribe prize. One of the judges was Sue Woolfe, who said some lovely things in her report:

I hoped, as one of the three judges, to find an unpublished Australian short story that works like a metaphor does in the best poetry, so criss-crossed with shadows and currents of meanings that it ripples out into the rest of our lives. Or as Peter Orner describes the perfect short story in a blog, it’s “remorseless, complete” and a “pang in the heart”.

I’d like to tell you what it’s like to be a judge of a competition with such high standards. As I read, the stories became close friends that talked to me everywhere for two weeks. They talked plaintively, ironically, tragically, bemusedly, angrily, every minute of the day when I wasn’t sleeping, teaching or eating, and sometimes when I was. They talked in buses, in bed, at bus stops- I missed an evening bus home at least three times, once deliberately because I couldn’t bear to put down the pages to fossick for my ticket. When I’d finished, I missed them. Now how often does a judge say that?

How often do you get to make Sue Woolfe miss a bus?

The winner was Patrick Mountford for Theobald, Tailor; Highly Commended were Mark MacLean for Untenthenherenye? Where do you come from? and Jennifer Mills for The jungle will swallow anything.

The DHT is a new philanthropic prize run out of Sydney University. Along with the Manchester Fiction Prize and the Blake Poetry Prize, it’s the third time in three months that I almost won ten grand. I suppose I must be in need of moral rather than financial support.

Prospect and other stories
Originally uploaded by jen_twice

The jungle will swallow anything is in my new zine, ‘prospect and other stories,’ which you can pick up at Sticky in Melbourne, Format in Adelaide (from next week), or by sending a fiver or trade to PO Box 3085, Alice Springs NT 0871.