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#Ockham NZ Awards poetry Therese Lloyd


Poem:  “no title”

  1. Just 64 words, no title, no punctuation, no capital letters.
  2. But this poem  had the
  3. …emotional impact of fear and hope.
  4. Fear moves one away from something a feeling
  5. “common and strangely comfortable.”
  6. Hope moves one towards something a feeling
  7. that starts with “a voiceless wish”.
  8. The heightened image of a ‘pinned down moth”
  9. who wants to fly home is beautiful.
  10. A moth where the ‘hot glass ceiling” (of specimen drawer)
  11. “reflected only her calm, resolute gaze.”
  12. How often do we feel ‘pinned down’?
  13. Conclusion: excellent poem to kick-off this collection
  14. it will linger in your mind.


Prose poem:   On Looking at Photographs in High School Yearbooks

Appears as prose (anecdotes about school chums and her mother)
Reads like poetry (…not really, no pattern, rhythm, rhyme)
No line breaks (…just paragraphs)

What can I find ‘poetic about it?
No much, no elaborate metaphors
but I did find one symbol: eclipse and
repetition of the word ‘lack’ to help me pinpoint
the core message of the prose poem.

Narrator: “…hated myself” for the “..lack of shimmer, the confusion
The yearbooks “brought a swift eclipse of 28 years.” (Re: symbol)
“There is always more lack waiting” and
it fell like a shadow (Re: phase of eclipse) over her life.
Now the yearbooks have shone light on her memories (Re: phase of eclipse)
and she discovers the faces of those girls (Re: in yearbooks)
“All naked and plain. We all had it.”


Poem: Y2k

  1. Y2K  (2 long stanzas) felt like to distinct poems.
  2. stanza 1:  What is humanness….what does it feel like?
  3. stanza 2:  NZ feels high-esteem “… That lovely conceit of time”
  4. …because in 2000 Gisbourne NZ felt the first rays of sunshine
  5. …in the new millennium.
  6. Conclusion: average poem with no emotional impact for me.


Poem:  On Metaphysical Insight  (metaphysical = ‘after the physical’)

  • It took me an hour to read 10 lines!
  • That attests to the Therese Lloyd’s talent.
  • She walks creatively into a painting by Ed Hopper
  • ….but the reader must discover
  • …which painting it is from the clues in the poem.
  • Lloyd opens the poem:
  • “Night-time alone suffocates colour.”
  • Now the reader must see the
  • …thick black oils, smeared yellow lights
  • and a frowning bowl of fruit
  • …to help  one to unlock this poem.
  • Conclusion: Chef d’oeuvre, master work!
  • I saw things in  Ed Hopper’s painting after reading
  • …this poem that I never saw before.


Most difficult section to comprehend:

Pg 34-43

  1. Lloyd wants to illustrate that poems echo
  2. and reecho against each other.
  3. ‘They cannot live alone anymore than we can”.
  4. Five poems and than five second drafts of these poems
  5. …were difficult  appreciate.
  6. I just do not have the poetic savvy
  7. to see connections or disjunction between the poems.
  8. Sigh.


Update:   I found the connections!      Now you try!


Best selection…..absolutely amazing.

  1. The Facts (pg 44-52)
  2. Listen to a broken heart….
  3. …it is sounds more like a confession.



  1. I reviewed a few of the poems in this book.
  2. There are 32 poems divided into groups:
  3. Time — Desire — Absence.
  4. Lloyd writes 3 poems with reference to
  5. 3 paintings by Ed Hopper: Office at Night
  6. Western Hotel and Eleven a.m.
  7. If you place the image of the painting from Google images
  8. in front of you and then read these poems
  9. …it is an unique poetic experience!
  10. The Facts is MY CHOICE  to win
  11. Ockham NZ Book Award 2019 for poetry.
  12. It is the ONLY collection I could get my hands on
  13. before 14 May 2019.
  14. Will one of the other nominees win?
  15. …only the jury can tell us
  16. …and I will see if I agree after 15th of July
  17. when my books arrive!


Last thoughts:

  1. I think of reading  poetry in terms of Zen:
  2. Trying new things reminds us
  3. …that it’s ok to take small steps,
  4. to make a little progress each day.
  5. It’s ok to feel inept  at something at first.
  6. The goal is learning, not perfecting.

#Ockham NZ Awards shortlist Lloyd Jones


Why did I read this book?

  1. The Cage is shortlisted for Ockham Book Awards (New Zealand)
  2. I wanted to see why the jury selected this book.


Why after reading 20% of the book I was ready to call it quits?

  1. Usually a book starts out slowly and gets better and better.
  2. This book did exact the opposite.
  3. I slogged through chapters 1-8. (20%)
  4. The reader is presented a bizarre hotel that
  5. decides two strangers are too ‘other’ and should
  6. be caged in the backyard of the hotel.


What did I do differently after ch 8?

  1. I realized if I stop short I’ll risk missing something incredible.
  2. Resisting the impulse to stop midway also teaches the reader strength.
  3. I read the book as a fable
  4. Forget the bazaar framework of a hotel
  5. …and it’s eccentric owners who have caged two guests.
  6. Look for the observations that Lloyd Jones is making
  7. …to teach us a moral lesson.
  8. He wants us to see
  9. …strangers (refugees) from another perspective
  10. ….not just staring or gazing at them  on a TV screen.
  11. He uses animals that mimic human traits
  12. …and humans that treat others as animals


Strong point:

  1. Lloyd Jones uses the
  2. ….fable, a literary device.
  3. The author made lets animals teach a moral lesson.
  4. There are some  powerful images in the book:
  5. Narrator compares strangers to sheep:
  6. Sheep: spectacular single-mindedness
  7. …they eat in response to coming famine
  8. during the day they hardly know what to do with themselves
  9. Strangers: (refugees …like sheep)
  10. look forward to each new day
  11. it may bring release.
  12. It passes.
  13. There is another endless night to get through.


Strong point:

  1. Observations…and there were many excellent
  2. descriptions of the plight of refugees...
  3. that will pierce your soul.
  4. Once your soul has been pierced then you are able to help others.
  5. Example observation:
  6. Pressed around their eyes is a bruising confusion.
  7. They stand mesmerized by their circumstances
  8. …where just a moment ago, in their minds at least,
  9. they were in their kitchen at home.
  10. Example observation:
  11. Strangers (refugees) pace…
  12. they do it to alleviate a feeling of
  13. ..helplessness when rain is falling.
  14. They do not wish to be cooperative like grass
  15. …or submissive like mud.
  16. Example observation:
  17. Trustee (authority) Mr Bennett:
  18. “They are not incarcerated, they are temporally caged.”
  19. Viktor (cook in the hotel): “And the difference?”


Strong point:

  1. Best chapter  for moral lessonCh 11 Setting:  Zoo
  2. Lesson: The animals (strangers, refugees) don’t hate us
  3. …they alternate between bewilderment and boredom.”
  4. Core message book Ch 21 Setting: Hotel backyard
  5. Trustees authorities)  no longer go down to the yard
  6. …the narrator must transcribe what he sees.
  7. The Trustees are only interested in the facts
  8. they don’t get the fuller story of life inside the cage”


Weak point:

  1. The book is too long!!  (43 chapter and just 263 pages)
  2. After reading 50 % of the book
  3. …my interest seriously wavered.
  4. Note: I noticed around chapter 22
  5. ….the narrative repeats itself 
  6. over and over
  7. with observations, food for the strangers at the feeding hole,
  8. narrator playing the clarinet,
  9. visits to a zoo, strangers pace in the cage,
  10. sit on log or huddle in the back against a stone memorial wall…
  11. relieving  themselves in a newly dug hole.
  12. The strangers, visitors or Trustees (owners of hotel)
  13. keep  asking “ Is there any news?


Weak point:

  1. Flashbacks that
  2. made no sense  to me in the narrative!
  3. Narrator…
  4. flies in a plane with his father
  5. travels on a particular road with his father
  6. visits a lighthouse with his mother
  7. recalls a snorkeling holiday!


Weak point:

  1. Strange threads in the narrative…
  2. Note: I don’t really understand the symbol of the narrator playing his clarinet all the time. Is it just to make music “to sooth the savage beast?” (strangers, refugees)
  3. Note: constant thread in the book: narrator is serving breakfast ( eggs, toast, jam, coffee etc) to strangers through a feeding hole.
  4. Note: woman in the hat…demented neighbor who visits the cage or a asylum representative or just a vision?


Weak point:  useless chapters…just useless ( filler?)

Ch 25  Stangers receive a plate warmer…Trustees celebrate with a sparkling glass of wine and the narrator plays a song on his clarinet. What is the point?

Ch 26 Descriptions of nightmares ( Mr. Bennett and the Mole), strangers attempt to stand on the plate warmer and  piling stones against the cage as a wall. Narrator brings the strangers some toilet paper…then he plays a song on his clarinet. What is the point?

Ch 27 Katie (little girl in hotel) wants to feed them (strangers).  Strangers asleep in the dirt. Strangers are encouraged to grow own vegetables – Katie and narrator visit zoo again. What is the point?



  1. Criticism should be like a rain
  2. … gentle  enough to nourish growth
  3. …without destroying the roots.
  4. I have found many strong points in this book
  5. …but I think the author could have trimmed
  6. his manuscript in ch 22 – 35.
  7. With a little less clarinet…wallowing in the dirty cage
  8. coffee, toast and eggs in the feeding hole
  9. …it would  give this book extra polish.
  10. #JustSaying
  11. Yes this book is confronting.
  12. No….unfortunately…not my choice
  13. for the Ockham NZ Book Award 2019.



#Ockham New Zealand Awards shortlist

  • My next shortlist:  Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2019
  • Kate Duignan
  • Lloyd Jones
  • Fiona Kidman
  • Vincent O’Sullivan
  • have all made the shortlist for the coveted $53,000 Fiction prize.
  • I won’t have much time to read them all because
  • the prize will be announced on 14 May 2019.
  • How many can I read before the deadline?
  • Today starts my Ockham Awards  read-a-thon!
  • My  POETRY predictions….will be late (pre-order books)



  1. The New Ships –  Kate Duignan – pre-order arrives 15 July!
  2. The Cage –  Lloyd Jones – READ (review)
  3. This Mortal Boy –  Fiona Kidman – READ (…review soon)
  4. All This by Chance –  V. O’Sullivan – NOT reading…novel over 3 generations…not for me!



  1. Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love –  Joanne Drayton…wait until E-book available
  2. Memory Pieces –  Maurice Gee – pre-order  arrives 08 Aug
  3. We Can Make a Life –  Chessie Henry
  4. With Them Through Hell  – Anna Rogers – NOT READING
  5. (only in hardcover and costs 68 euros! (...too expensive for me!)



  1. Are Friends Electric? – Helen Heath – pre-order arrives 15 July
  2. There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime – E.Kennedy – pre-order arrives 15 July
  3. The Facts – Therese Lloyd  – READING 
  4. Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble – pre-order arrives 15 July

#NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist Chris Hammer


  • Author: Chris Hammer
  • Title: Scrublands
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Genre: Aussie Noir
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist
  • Trivia: 2019 ABIA Awards shortlist General Fiction Book of the Year
  • Trivia: 2019 Indie Book Awards shortlist
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @NSW_PLA
  • @AllenandUnwin



  1. In Riversend, an isolated rural community
  2. ….afflicted by an endless drought,
  3. a young priest does the unthinkable, killing five parishioners
  4. before being taken down himself.
  5. Journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in  in town.
  6. He is assigned to write a feature story
  7. a-year-after-the-crime” how people are coping with this tragedy.
  8. Some townsfolk don’t believe the priest was a child abuser.
  9. Some people were in love with him.
  10. Martin is here to get “the story behind the story”!
  11. Was Byron Swift a mass murder…who cared?


Strong point: The heat….is a character in this book!

  1. Great descriptions of the furnace wind
  2. …the blowtorch streetscape!
  3. Martin, journo visiting town, drapes a once-damp
  4. …towel around the steering wheel.
  5. …difficult it is to drive with burning fingers!


Strong point:  narrator audio book  Rupert Degas

  1. Rupert Degas is spot on!
  2. The voices of the characters that  he creates
  3. drive this complex story.
  4. The voices he creates are distinct.
  5.  — the local derro (Aus slang for vagrant)
  6. grizzled beard, streaked with grey, rheumy eyes
  7. receptionist at local Black Dog Motel
  8. His female voices are the best I have heard a male produce!
  9. …be prepared for the Aussie accent…wonderful!
  10. I have never heard anything like him.



  1. What can I say?
  2. No spoilers…not a single one
  3. because you have to experience
  4. the twists and turns as I did.
  5. Strong point: Like us, characters grow, change,
  6. ..make mistakes and learn (or don’t).
  7. Strong point: there was NO obvious foreshadowing
  8. ….I was stunned by every revelation because the
  9. characters can be very unreliable!
  10. Nothing felt predictable.
  11. Strong point: the setting is an active part in the plot twists!
  12. Hammer uses the setting to build suspense
  13. …2 huge fires and the fight to survive
  14. ….what is hidden in a locked room at the hotel?
  15. …what happened in the church on the day of the shooting?
  16. There is just so much to like in this book.
  17. It is a ripping read
  18. ….and the audio book brings (13 hr 17 min)
  19. the story alive!
  20. …voices of  Harley Slouch, Codger Harris.
  21. I’ve read 4/6 nominees for New Writing Prize.
  22. Reading Flames this week but
  23. …this book is MY CHOICE
  24. to win UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Writing
  25. in the NSW Premier’s  Literary Awards 2019.
  26. The winner will be announced 29 April 2019.
  27. #BestCrimeFiction
  28. This is in the top 10 of all the mystery books I have read!



#NSW Premier’s Award shortlist Gerald Murnane

  • Author: Gerald Murnane
  • Title: Border Districts
  • Published: 2017 (GiramondoBooks)
  • Published 2019: (And Other Stories)
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist
  • Trivia: 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winner
  • Trivia: 2018 ALS Gold Medal shortlist
  • Trivia: 2018 Miles Franklin Award shortlist
  • Trivia: 2018 Voss Literary Prize longlist
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @NSW_PLA
  • @GiramondoBooks
  • @andothertweets



  1. This is one of the most difficult books to review.
  2. Initially I was tempted to close the book
  3. …after the first 20-30 pages.
  4. Murnane’s thoughts rambled on and on and
  5. …I just did not see the point.
  6. Then something happened.
  7. Words, phrases kept being repeated.
  8. I thought if I found the words that are most prominent in the
  9. narrative…this could guide me into finding a theme.
  10. coloured 80x – glass 109x – window(s) 78x – house 134x.
  11. I tried to find the meaning of:
  12. Window spaces (empty) = sightless people blind to the truth
  13. Window spaces (stained glass, leadlight glass) =
  14. people who have gathered in their life pieces of glass with
  15. …distortions and colors (like Murnane).
  16. They see reality  that has been modified.
  17. Murnane calls it  looking at things with
  18. …”a subtly different tint”  this “wavering richness”.
  19. Murnane reveals:
  20. “I consider myself a student of colours, and shades and hues and tints.”
  21. It seems Murnane is telling us how
  22. his coloured panes of glass (stained glass)
  23. shaded the veranda in his  mind.


Last thoughts:

  1. This is not an easy read.
  2. But great books are not meant to be easy!
  3. You must be prepared to go with the
  4. narrative flow even if you think
  5. …it is just going around in circles
  6. It is….but Murnane does have a purpose.
  7. Murnane wants us to be aware of the colors
  8. and distortions we are looking through!
  9. How we look at things makes all the difference
  10. Look at the glass from the sides of your eyes
  11. “…this has taught me more than gazing or staring.”
  12. Introspective books with self-examing characteristics
  13.  do not always win a prestigious prize in the literary world.
  14. But this book does deserve awards for its
  15. ..innovative contemporary writing.

#NSW Premier’s Award shortlist Trent Dalton

  • Author: Trent Dalton
  • Title: Boy Swallows Universe
  • Published: 2018
  • Trivia: Winner of Book of the Year 2019 Indie Book Awards
  • Trivia:  Shortlist  NSW Premier’s Awards (2 prizes)
  • Trivia:  Shortlist ABIA Awards (2 prizes)
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @NSW_PLA
  • @HarperCollinsAU


Finished: 20.04.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: A+++


  1. In this book that is 60% fact and 40% fantasy
  2. we get to know the story of Eli Bell.
  3. And whether you realize it or not, you also
  4. get to know the story of Trent Dalton..the author.
  5. The novel gradually narrows its focus from
  6. bizarre childhood, teen years with stepfather and
  7. ex-con babysitter….
  8. to Eli’s life long ambition journalism.
  9. The ending becomes a bottleneck from which
  10. character and reader feel they can’t escape
  11. …..being dragged
  12. into a macabre universe!
  13. The book was a delight to read
  14. ..a real roller coaster ride!
  15. I have read 3/6 of the nominees that appealed to me.
  16. I’m NOT reading The Shepherd’s Hut
  17. …Aussie vernacular is too foulmouthed for my taste.
  18. Boy Swallows Universe is MY CHOICE 
  19. as winner of Christina Stead Prize for Fiction
  20. (NSW Literary Awards 2019)




#NSW Premier’s Award shortlist Billy Griffiths (NF)







  1. Deep Time Dreaming is  a history of Australia
  2. …told in stones and bones.
  3. Griffiths highlights in several anecdotal chapters
  4. ….about many illustrative archeologists (male and female)
  5. the basic conflict in this discipline:
  6. How to view the past?
  7. critical deep time perspective vs  the past as a living heritage.
  8. This is a complex question of ownership and belonging.
  9. Strong point: The book reveals in a conversational tone
  10. …easy to read for a novice like me…
  11. the slow slow shift  to deep time dreaming.



  1. What is Deep Time Dreaming?
  2. The term was coined by B. Spencer and F. Gillen (Introduction)
  3. It is NOT to dig in search of treasure.
  4. It is to seek, understand a place from fragments
  5. …that have survived for thousands of years.
  6. It is an act of wonder.



  1. I decided to read this book and listen to the audio. (11 hr 27 min)
  2. Listen to a sample of the book!
  3. Strong point: narrator Tom Griffiths is a delight to listen to!
  4. At times I was swept away by deep and profound
  5. sacredness of the Aboriginal people’s cultural life.
  6. Archeologist R.A. Gould published information/images that he promised
  7. ….would not be shared in his book Yiwara (1969)
  8. The author was on a  Aboriginal ‘hit-list’ for his betrayal.


  1. At another time I  read about the Franklin River dispute in Tasmania
  2. The Franklin  was ‘not just a river
  3. …it has the epitome of a lost forest.
  4. The photo by Peter Dombrovskis
  5. …  was the poster image during the
  6. explosive ecological and political debacle. (read chapter 9)
  7. The photo is impressive.
  8. …and takes me halfway across the world in
  9. my thoughts.

Morning Mist Rock Island Bend


Last thoughts:

  1. This book taught me more about Australia
  2. …and the rise of Aboriginal awareness by the nation,
  3. …it’s dedicated team of archeologists starting in 1950s
  4. with John Mulvaney than any other non-fiction I’ve read.
  5. I would highly recommend reading and listening to this book.
  6. With the help of Wikipedia (biographical info about archeologists)
  7. …and Google images this book is a magic carpet to
  8. …ancient Australia!
  9. I’ve read ALL the non-fictions shortlisted books
  10. …with the exception of The Erratics (not available in Netherlands).
  11. Deep Time Dreaming is MY CHOICE 
  12. as winner of  the non-fiction
  13. Douglas Stewart Prize ( NSW Literary Awards 2019)





#NSW Premier’s Award shortlist Robert Lukins


Finished: 17.04.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: A+



  1. During the freezing English winter of 1962,
  2. seventeen-year-old Radford is sent to Goodwin Manor.
  3. It is a home for boys who have been ‘found by trouble’.
  4. Drawn immediately to the charismatic boy…West.
  5. …Radford soon discovers that each one of them
  6. …has something to hide.


Cover:  symbol =  great oak

  1. “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”
  2. Or as Chaucer wrote in 1374,
  3. “as an oak cometh of a litel spyr (sapling)”.



  1. Strong point: foreshadowing
  2. Lukins interjects the ‘thoughts’ of winter
  3. …that builds the tension.
  4. You know something dreadful is going to happen:
  5. …Winter drew air into its cheeks and readied its spears
  6. …perhaps a lesson could go untaught
  7. Winter’s hands could remain clean of blood.
  8. Strong point: foils  Teddy (rector)  vs  Dr. Cass
  9. Cass – remains sullen and soundless, without humor
  10. Cass – remnant of  past..pre-WWII  (spare the rod, spoil the child)
  11. Teddy – his eyes sparkled with clarity
  12. Teddy – sweet eccentricity, charming father figure for the boys
  13. Best Quote: Teddy
  14. “I will stoke you, because fire lies unnourished in all your centers.”
  15. Strong point: character Teddy …extraordinary, words of wisdom for the boys
  16. Teddy is accused of being weak, to soft on the boys by Dr. Cass
  17. Teddy wants the boys to feel like brothers not rivals: “you must help each other.”
  18. Lukins illustrates one of the wisest truths we all need to learn
  19. through the character of Teddy:
  20. Criticism (discipline) should be like a rain
  21. … gentle  enough to nourish growth
  22. …without destroying the roots.
  23. #GreatDebutNovel
  24. ...hope to read more by R. Lukins!


Last thoughts:

  1. This book surprised me as a debut novel
  2. That is why I gave it a 5 score instead of a solid 3.
  3. Usually the theory is write what you know.
  4. My first thought was how could a man in Australia
  5. …write about a correctional school in England for boys
  6. ..with the “wrong attitude”?
  7. Lukins placed more emphasis on character development
  8. instead of a sense of place.
  9. So it does not matter  where the struggles take place
  10. …as long as the reader discovers how the character(s) change.

#NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist – read-a-thon!

  • My next shortlist: NSW Premier’s Award 2019
  • I won’t have much time to read them all because
  • the prize will be announced on 29 April 2019.
  • How many can I read before the deadline?
  • Today starts my  NSW Premier’s  Award  read-a-thon!
  • @NSW_PLA


UPDATE: 20.04.2019

Read: 14 books   (48% of the shortlisted books)



Christina Stead Prize for Fiction

Man Out of Time  –  Stephanie Bishop –>  NOT reading …no e-book
Boy Swallows Universe  –  Trent Dalton – READ 
The Life to Come  –  Michelle de Kretser  NOT does not appeal to me
The Everlasting Sunday  –  Robert Lukins – READ (review)
Border Districts  –  Gerald Murnane – READ  (review)
The Shepherd’s Hut  –  Tim Winton – NOT READING…vernacular  too foulmouthed


Douglas Stewart prize for Non-Fiction

5/6  (1 book not available)
Saga Land  –  Richard Fidler & Kári Gíslason –  READ (review)
Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia   B. Griffiths – READ (review)
The Trauma Cleaner  –  Sarah KrasnosteinREAD (review)
The Erratics  –  Vicki Laveau-Harvie NOT AVAILABLE in Netherlands
Axiomatic  – Maria Tumarkin – READ (review)
Tracker  –  Alexis Wright – READ (review)


UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Writing

Flames  –  Robbie Arnott
Boy Swallows Universe  –  Trent Dalton – READ  (review)
Scrublands  –  Chris Hammer – READ  (review)
The Everlasting Sunday  –  Robert Lukins – READ (review)
Pink Mountain on Locust Island  –  Jamie Marina Lau –  READ (review)
The Lucky Galah  –  Tracy Sorensen – NOT reading.….no e-book


Multicultural NSW Award

The Lebs  –  Michael Mohammed Ahmad – NOT reading…does not appeal to me
Rainforest  –  Eileen Chong – NOT reading… e-book
Home is Nearby  –  Magdalena McGuire  – NOT reading… e-book
Always Another Country: A Memoir-   S. Msimang  NOT reading… e-book
Too Much Lip  –  Melissa Lucashenko  – READ (review)
Miss Ex-Yugoslavia  –  Sofija Stefanovic NOT reading… e-book


Indigenous Writing Prize

Taboo  –  Kim Scott – NOT reading… e-book
Finding Eliza: –  Larissa Behrendt – NOT reading… e-book
Common People  –  Tony Birch
Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms –  Anita Heiss – NOT reading… e-book
The Drover’s Wife  –  Leah Purcell READ (review)


#AWW 2019 Ashleigh Young






  1. This would not have been my choice to start an essay collection.
  2. Topic was not a good hook...not funny or emotional
  3. …just a bit strange.



  1. Story took me back to the carefree summer days on a beach.
  2. I can’t remember the last time
  3. …I jumped into the ocean….how sad is that?


The Te Kūiti Underground

  1. Absolutely enchanting…author’s memories of her father.
  2. “…he became in my eyes more and more eccentric,
  3. …and I became  more narrow-minded.”



  1. Just a story that leaves the reader
  2. with a message from an eccentric French postman:
  3. “ …how wonderful it is if we just keep going
  4. …a simple stumbling block…can change
  5. the entire story of out lives and deaths.”
  6. #SmileOnMyFace


On Any Walk

  1. Once I start a walk…I never turn back.
  2. I just remember how far I’ve come
  3. .How much distance would be wasted
  4. …if I turn back?
  5. Once I’m home …the coffee tastes so special!
  6. Ashleigh Young will…
  7. #NeverGiveUp


Big Red

  1. I’m speechless….
  2. We are introduced tp author’s family
  3. …mom, dad and 2 brothers.
  4. Ashleigh Young is an amazing talent
  5. … of the BEST essays.


Window Seat

  1. We’ve all been there
  2. …on a plane with a talkative passenger next to us.
  3. Only this passenger….could she be and angel?
  4. #Spooky


Black Dog Book

  1. What you possess…you loose.
  2. Happy family dog story….but sometimes 
  3. Mom has to make the difficult decision
  4. …and call the vet.
  5. #HardToSayGoodbye


Katherine Would Approve

  1. Anecdotes about the period when
  2. Ashleigh Young was director of 
  3. Katherine Mansfield Birthplace House
  4. …in Wellington, New Zealand.
  5. #Job



  1. What to do when a harmless comment stings?
  2. #ThinkBeforeYouSpeak


Can You Tolerate This?

  1. After reading this essay I had to close my Kindle
  2. take off my glasses and close my eyes.
  3. #PowerfulWriting
  4. …one of the BEST essays


Seas of Trees

  1. Eye-opener about a disturbing
  2. …social trend in Japan: hikikomori.
  3. Creative young people becoming modern-day hermits.
  4. #PTSS


Bikram’s Knee

  1. If you are determined to find a way back to strength
  2. nothing is unfix-able.
  3. This is a very, very personal essay about Ashleigh’s
  4. Struggle to accept the awkwardness of her body.
  5. She keeps waiting on the  gym bench, elbows on her knees
  6. head in her hand
  7. .…waiting for transformation.
  8. #Yoga #Running
  9. .one of the BEST essays.



  1. The author visits a Maori ritual
  2. …unveiling a headstone of a family member.
  3. She will write a story to
  4. accompany the photographs her friend is taking.


On Breathing

  1. So funny about a simple decision
  2. ,,,author decides to breath noisily
  3. …when she feels puffed 
  4. during a taxing bike ride.
  5. #Quirky


On Going Away

  1. Insightful look at relationships…
  2. Going away and then coming back together
  3. …this surge of
  4. anger and relief is toxic.
  5. Solution:  compress it into one moment
  6. …like stepping into a manhole.
  7. A sharp, pure accident with a beginning and an end.
  8. #Insightful



  1. Heartwrenching…to try to reach into the past
  2. and hold on to some one…
  3. …to try and stop time.
  4. #Depression



  1. Heartwarming observations and anecdotes
  2. about a woman who decides
  3. …to write a book  about her life.
  4. The story is clearly referring to
  5. Ashleigh Young’s mother.
  6. #Hysterical
  7. of the BEST essays.



Last thoughts:

  1. Extremely well-written set of essays
  2. …in quiet, elegant joy-to-read prose.
  3. External circumstances
  4. …family, job, body shape or where you live..
  5. cannot determine your happiness.
  6. Ashleigh Young shows us
  7. happiness depends on what we are given.
  8. This a book  best read ‘slowly’…
  9. I was not ready to say goodbye…
  10. Ashleigh Young’s beautiful writing.
  11. I’m anxiously waiting for her next book!
  12. #MustRead