Join us on zoom at 11am on Friday 21 May for an online discussion between Eugen Bacon, Tamryn Bennett, David Carlin and Julienne van Loon on literary value, chaired by SRB’s editor, Catriona Menzies-Pike.
This seminar addresses the changing nature of literary value in 2021, against a movable backdrop of post-COVID Australia. It shares diverse findings from a collaborative project between the Sydney Review of Books and the non/fictionLab at RMIT University in Melbourne. The collaboration seeks to elicit experimental, essayistic approaches to questions of ‘value’ in the literary and cultural sectors.
Our early conversations about the project were conducted in mid-2020, as Australians were being encouraged to stay home, as university teaching transitioned online, and as writers wondered how they would secure work to pay their bills. Writers and literary scholars had, we reflected, become adept at talking about the value of their work in the terms required by funding agencies: outputs, impacts, reach. We’ve all had to learn how to apply the tools of cultural measurement to our own work and practice, even as the arts and social sciences are being devalued by governments. How do we, writers and scholars, value our own work? What is valuable about literature? We sought essay-length responses to these questions, asking for submissions that paired RMIT writers with external peers. Conversation, collaboration and exchange have been defining features of the project. The series, titled Powerful and Moving, is published on the Sydney Review of Books.
This seminar will take as its starting point three essays published by the panellists: Julienne van Loon on literary value in the wake of the current federal parliamentary inquiry into cultural and creative industries, an experimental conversation on speculative fiction by Eugen Bacon, and a foray into the social dimensions of poetry, as represented by the activities of Red Room Poetry, by Tamryn Bennett.
Friday 21 May
11am – 12pm, online
RSVP to: Suzanne Gapps, firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be sent the Zoom link.
Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She’s the author of Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press) and Writing Speculative Fiction (Red Globe Press, Macmillan). Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Her creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, and 2020 sees the release of: Her Bitch Dress (Ginninderra Press), It’s Folking Political (Ginninderra Press), The Road to Woop Woop & Other Stories (Meerkat Press), Hadithi (Luna Press Publishing), Black Moon (IFWG) and Ivory’s Story (Newcon Press).
Tamryn Bennett is a poet, artist and Artistic Director of Red Room Poetry. Her collection phosphene is published by the Rabbit Poet Series.
David Carlin is a writer, interdisciplinary creative artist, teacher and Professor of Creative Writing in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.
Julienne van Loon is the author of four books, most recently The Thinking Woman (2019). She is an Associate Professor in the Writing and Publishing program at RMIT University, where she co-directs the non/fictionLab research group. She is also an Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa.