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Emerging Critics Fellowship

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Image credit: Roger McLassus

The Sydney Review of Books invites applications for the inaugural CA-SRB Emerging Critics Fellowships.  Applications close on 31 May 2016.

At the SRB we publish the best critics in the country; our writers move freely between genres and across national boundaries and as they do so, they map the changing terrain of Australian and international literature. But we are always looking to extend the range of the essayists who contribute to the critical landscape. That’s why, with the support of the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, we’ve established this fellowship program: to foster adventurous, intelligent and original new critical voices.

We are offering three fellowships to emerging Australian critics: each fellow will have the opportunity to write three long essays for publication on the Sydney Review of Books website in 2016. Fellows will receive close editorial support and mentorship as they write these essays, as well as each being paid $3000.

How do I apply?

Please send us a one-page cover letter and 300-500w pitches for three prospective critical essays suitable for publication in the Sydney Review of Books. At least one of these essays must deal with works of Australian literature. If you’d like to include a brief CV with links to previously published work, please do so. You can apply here  through Submittable. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2016.

What can I write about?

We expect at least one of your pitches to deal with Australian literature. We’d prefer not to publish essays on books that have already been the subject of substantial critical discussion on the Sydney Review of Books – so make sure you have a look at what’s already appeared on the site before you submit your application. Otherwise, we’re open to broad-ranging discussions of Australian and international literature and literary culture: poetry, non-fiction, fiction, works in translation, scholarly works, works for the stage, new media, experimental literature, avant-gardes, reception, single authors, groups of authors, literary history, the archive, libraries, the publishing industry, prize culture. We will consider review essays devoted to single books or to groups of books, feature-style essays, as well as polemics, excurses on literary culture, and essays on historical themes. Your pitches should establish the significance of your subject and give us an indication of how you will approach it. All fellowship essays will be published on the Sydney Review of Books website and as such, the variety of topics covered on the site are a guide to our interests.

What sort of essay do you expect me to write?

At the Sydney Review of Books we encourage the kind of critical writing that is disappearing from the mainstream media. Inspired by an international upsurge of interest in the essay, we are as just as excited by the uncharted possibilities and boundaries of the essay as a literary form as we are by the distinguished history of the critical essay. Applicants will be free to cleave to traditional models for their essays or to work to extend the range and flexibility of the essay form.

How will the process work?

The three SRB Fellows will workshop their initial pitches with the SRB editor and mentors to finalise three essay topics. Fellows won’t be bound to adhere to the letter of their pitches, and it is to be expected that essay topics will develop and change. We may propose new publications for you to review. Based on the outcome of these discussions, fellows will research and draft three critical essays of increasing length (roughly 1500, 2500 and 4000w). A hands-on editorial process will allow fellows to develop and extend their critical reach throughout the project. Successful applicants will be expected to work on their fellowship essays in consultation with the SRB editor and mentors in the second half of 2016, with a view to publication of essays in September-December.

Who can apply?

We strongly encourage critics from diverse backgrounds to apply for this fellowship. Applications are open to Australian residents and Australians abroad. Each of the three fellowships will be awarded to an applicant from a different state.

Am I an emerging critic?

You tell us. There’s no age limit or previous experience required here. If you identify as an emerging critic, that’s enough for us. (If you’ve won the Pascall Prize or enjoyed a regular gig as a newspaper reviewer for a couple of decades, probably not.)

Who will select the fellows?

A selection panel headed by SRB editor Catriona Menzies-Pike will review all applications and select fellows based on the originality and intellectual verve of their applications.

How do I apply again?

Please send us a one-page cover letter and 300-500w pitches for three prospective critical essays suitable for publication in the Sydney Review of Books. At least one of these essays must deal with works of Australian literature. If you’d like to include a brief CV with links to previously published work, please do so. You can apply here through Submittable. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2016.

I have questions!

Email them to us at editor [at] sydneyreviewofbooks.com.

We are grateful for the support of the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund in establishing the Emerging Critics Fellowship.

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Our first essay this week, ‘The View from Nowhere’ by Joshua Mostafa, deals with two new books on what was once known as world literature, Born Translated, by Rebecca L. Walkowitz and Forget English! By Aamir Mufti. Mostafa tracks the efforts of Walkowitz and Mufti to delineate world literature as a field of study:

The idea of world literature, taken as a whole rather than divided into many national or linguistically based literatures, is a paradoxical one. How can we speak of a ‘literature’ that encompasses far too many languages to master in a single lifetime? Does the term refer to the totality of all the literature in the world, or does it imply a project of canonisation—and if so, who gets to decide which works are included? For the purposes of the study of literature, what constitutes the ‘world’?

The life of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky was entangled with that of his lover, Lili Brik, and her husband, Osip Brik. These relationships are at the centre of Bengt Jangfeldt’s biography of Mayakovsky, now available in English translation, reviewed this week by Peter Salmon. In ‘An Insatiable Thief in his Soul’, he writes:

In this, the first post-Soviet biography of Mayakovsky, Jangfeldt brilliantly captures not just the character of the poet himself, but the character of his milieu and of the times which were, for Mayakovsky the source and subject matter of his poetry. Read in concert with the groundbreaking new collection, Voldya: Selected Works (Enitharmon Press), which brings together eighty years of Mayakovsky in translation (including poetry, lectures, artworks, and his little known children’s stories – popular in Russia but almost unheard of outside his homeland), Jangfeldt’s biography performs the necessary service of bringing Mayakovsky back to the frontlines of art and poetry.

Finally, in From the Archive we return to Maxine Beneba Clark’s essay on Three Jerks, a 2014 performance work by Michael Mohamed Ahmed, Peter Polites, and Luke Carman:

Everything I have read about Three Jerks has implied the spoken word show is a testosterone fuelled Trainspotting meets Skins meets A Clockwork Orangemeets This is England – an exploration of racial unrest, set against the backstreets of Sydney’s outer-west. The show has travelled on from its critically acclaimed debut at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and roughly a hundred people are now packed into a room in Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre for Books and Ideas for a one-off showing as part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, waiting to see if it lives up to the hype.