Sunday, April 16, 2017

Poetry Monday: Newcastle Poetry Prize

I’ve been reading a couple of posts online lately about whether poetry prizes are worth the entry fees. While I do understand that the often steep fees tends to privilege those who can afford it, and that there may be a bias towards certain styles of writing, or certain subject matters, I do think in the main that poetry prizes are good for writers.  For a relatively unknown poet, prizes are a great way of getting your name known, and your work taken seriously.  Even a longlist can make the difference between being able to get your work published or not.  The best poetry competitions are blind judged by well respected poets at the top of their game, which means that entrants aren’t advantaged by number of publications or how well-known they are.

As a ‘professional’ reader of poetry who is often overwhelmed by the number of books that come my way, I do often rely on competition wins to help direct my attention.  It’s a noisy world out there, and prizes help filter that noise a little.  I often use the excuse of a competition entry to direct my writing and as encouragement to polish something.

For me, the Newcastle Poetry Prize is one of the best and something I enter annually.  It’s a regional prize and administered by the Hunter Writers Centre - a writers association that I’ve been a member of for over 20 years (they’ve sent a lot of opportunities my way, including a fully funded mentorship which got me going with my first novel).  With a $15,000 prize for first place, the prize substantial enough to warrant time and effort, and this year they’ve got the fabulous Eileen Chong and Kevin Brophy as judges.  Because they accept up to 200 lines, the competition is particularly suitable for longer poems and poem cycles or poems with multiple parts.  For me this is a kind of constraint since I usually write short poems and has given me a reason to explore the longer form, and do something I might not otherwise tackle.  The prize is blind judged, and many poets have become known through their wins.  Competition is steep to be sure and the winning poems have been exceptionally good, so the chances of winning aren’t huge, but at the end of it, even if you don’t place, you have a poem that you’ve polished to be its best, which is already a win.  Enter here by the 30th of June: http://www.hunterwriterscentre.org/newcastle-poetry-prize.html

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New Compulsive Reader newsletter out for April

A new Compulsive Reader newsletter has just gone out.  If you haven’t received your copy, you can get one directly from our online archive.

The April issue is double the usual size with twice the usual number of reviews, two giveaways, two interviews, and more news than usual as well.  I normally try to keep the reviews to 10, but we had so many this month (including one rather novel one - see if you can work out which), and so much interesting literary news from around the world, including the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Story prize, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and the Man Booker Longlist, that I couldn’t resist.  I’ll try to control myself better in future.

If you’d like to subscribe, visit: http://www.compulsvereader.com and sign up free on the upper right hand side of the site.

photo credit: Ania Mendrek Library via photopin (license)

Monday, March 13, 2017

NWF17 promo

This year is the fifth anniversary of the Newcastle Writer’s Festival (NWF) and once again I’m heavily involved.  I go to a number of writers festivals throughout the year and I love them all, but the NWF is my favourite and not only because it engages heavily with the local writing and reading community of which I’m a part, though they do and every year the number of people I recognise in my extended writing ‘fam’ seems to grow, but also because the festival is both grand, full of fantastic and well-known writers (140 to be exact), and intimate.  It’s the perfect combination of warm/cozy and big/thrilling.

My first session is on the Friday the 7th of April when I will be dropping by to read my second prize poem from the Home is the Hunter anthology.

On the Saturday the 8th of April, I’m hosting Coming of Age: The Power of a Young Narrator with Peggy Frew, Alice Pung, and Holly Throsby in the Concert Hall at City Hall.  Peggy, Alice and Holly all have fantastic novels with teenage protagonists, and we’ll be exploring the teen voice and its appeal to writers and readers, notions of displacement, introspection, otherness and transition, along with their 3 very Australian (and quite different) settings.


This will be followed by a discussion with poets Ivy Ireland and Michael Atkin on The World Around Us - Ecopoetics in The Press Book House at 145, followed by the official launch by Jan Dean of my new poetry book Unmaking Atoms at 230.

On Sunday the 9th of April, I’ll be back in City Hall for 115 for my session Home as a setting and Yearning with Maggie Walsh and Kim Mahood, where we’ll be talking about such things as how place shapes perceptions, about the relationship between nostalgia and notions of home, and what home means in a poetic, literary context.

This will be followed by a mega-poetry reading at the Port of Newcastle marquee at 230 (I’ll be running over with Maggie Walsh) with some of Australia’s best poets including joanne burns, Michael Aiken, Eileen Chong, John Foulcher, Andrew Galan, Judy Johnson, Sara Mansour, Ravi Nagaveeran, Philip Salom, Berndt Sellheim, Melinda Smith and Maggie Walsh.

It’s going to be a massive weekend, and if you come to any of my sessions, all of which are free (more than half the sessions on the program are free this year), please come up and say hello!  You can grab a full copy of the program here: http://www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au/2017-program/.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New CR Newsletter for March is out

Hello everyone.  Just a quick note to let you know that our new newsletter is now out and on its way.

We’ve got ten fresh new reviews of books by Elvis Alves, Joshua Hammer, Teju Cole, Alice Pung, Howard Waldman, Jennifer Maiden, Ben Berman, Geoff Nelder and more, along with a big roundup of literary news, a great new book giveaway, and our interview with Jennifer Maiden.  If you haven’t received your copy, you can grab it from the archive here: http://www.compulsivereader.com/sendpress/email/?sid=MA&eid=NjgyMw

To subscribe (free, of course), just drop by the site here: http://www.compulsivereader.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Compulsive Reader newsletter is out

Hello everyone, the Compulsive Reader newsletter for Feb has now gone out and should arrive in your inbox soon if it’s not there already.  This month we have a set of 10 new reviews including So Much Smoke by Felix Calvino, To the Dogs by Roberta Gould, Ain’t U Got No Manners by Kristin Johnson, The Wrong Dog by David Elliot Cohen and a whole lot more, as well as a sweep of January’s literary news including the Australian Indies, Pen America literary and Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal (Yay Susan Howe) to name a few. There’s also another great giveaway for subscribers.  If you’ve missed it or can’t wait for the mail, just grab a copy here:
Compulsive Reader Newsletter Archive

If you aren’t a subscriber and want to subscribe for free, just drop by Compulsive Reader and sign up.  Oh, and don’t forget to enter my Goodreads Giveaway for an autographed copy of Unmaking Atoms. You can enter right here on the blog - just below “About Me” on the right hand side.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Poetry Monday: Unmaking Atoms!

Hi Everyone, I’m excited to report that my new poetry book Unmaking Atoms is now out and available at good bookstores everywhere including Amazon.

I’ve recorded one of the poems in the book titled "Mapping Pluto” which you can listen to here: https://soundcloud.com/maggieball/mapping-pluto-by-magdalena-ball

Of the book, the fabulous Kristin J Johnson said: "However, matter cannot be created or destroyed, and this collection unmakes, and then reassembles, the words and images as well as emotions including the sense of joy that permeates Ball’s lyricism. That joy manifests in a “laugh that shakes the floor,” the line and curve that brings wholeness, a light “softer than the cut of love.”

Bob Rich said: "These are pearls in words; beautiful images in beautiful expressions. They force you to think. There is a kaleidoscope of different ways, all pointing to the same theme. You can immerse yourself in each of 96 offerings like this -- except that no two are alike. Each is a cryptic crossword in 17 dimensions, chasing each other out of sight, a carefully designed Rorschach blot.”

The book will be formally launched at this year’s Newcastle Writers Festival at the Press Book House by the magnificent poet Jan Dean.  Stay tuned for more upcoming events, videos, and giveaways.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

CR Newsletter for Jan now out

Happy New Year fellow book lovers.  Just a quick New Year’s posting to let you know that Compulsive Reader’s January newsletter has just gone out, chock full of new reviews and interviews including Cynthia Manick’s latest poetry book, Jen Karetnick, Wolfgang Carstens, Stefan Zweig, and many other , literary news, and two fantastic giveaways (including one containing Sue Duff’s entire Weir Chronicles series).

If you can’t wait for it to arrive or somehow missed your copy, you can pick it up in the archive here: http://www.compulsivereader.com/sendpress/email/?sid=MA&eid=NjcyOA&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sendpress&utm_campaign

If you’re not a subscriber already, just drop by compulsivereader.com and sign up gratis.