Ivor Indyk is the publisher of the Giramondo book imprint and Whitlam Chair in the Writing & Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney.
All essays by Ivor Indyk
Publishing from the Provinces
It is easy to think of writers pursuing their aims with a noble persistence, despite the fact that they will only have a few readers, and little support along the way – but it would be truer to see the experience of isolation as constitutive of their writing, as a formative influence, rather than as an impediment to it.
Fitzroy: The Biography
Collective Effort Press
Published September, 2015
The Mastery of π.o. Fitzroy: The Biography
What is this obsession with facts, so insistent in Fitzroy: The Biography, that their enumeration appears to be fundamental to the composition of the book? One obvious explanation would be that the foregrounding of fact dramatises the encounter with history, which after all presents itself primarily in the form of documents and testimonies. But this can’t be a full answer, first because while the outlines of the featured characters are drawn from historical sources, the facts that embellish them generally are not; and second because π.ο.’s interest in the poetic use of facts and statistics goes back decades, well before the writing of Fitzroy: The Biography.
26 June 2015 | Wallpaper Ecstasy
It’s always interesting, when you have a big investment in the performance of literary titles in the marketplace, to see how completely, and constantly, the marketplace disappoints your expectations. The current craze for adult colouring books is a good example. Books for adults to colour in! Books without words! What a relief!
i.m. Jann Harry
If one were to make a single claim for Harry’s significance in Australian poetry, I think it should be that she was our first and foremost ecological poet. She wasn’t a ‘nature poet’, in the way that this term is used to describe poets of an earlier generation like David Campbell or Judith Wright. Though she shared the visual acuity of the one, and the passion of the other, her poetic idiom is distinctively contemporary.
The Australia Council’s six-year funding program, on which the Sydney Review of Books and other literary journals had been depending, has been suspended. If there is no corresponding program forthcoming from the Ministry for the Arts, our existence will be threatened. The cancellation of the June round of funding will have an immediate effect on the publishers of Australian literary titles, requiring the cancellation or postponement of some of those titles.
It must be disconcerting for those who find poetry difficult, to discover that the simplest poems are often the most enigmatic. This is because they depend largely on implication. What they don’t say is as important as what they do. If you’re not alert, nothing happens.
Gig Ryan and difficulty
The idea that poetry is more difficult than fiction has a lot to do with the failure to recognise that a different method of reading is required by each. A collection of poems is typically 96 pages in length. A novel could be anywhere between, say, 250 and 500 pages. If you allow the same time for the reading of each – on the basis that the same degree of effort has gone into the writing of each – then, simply on that basis, you would have to accept that a page of poetry requires three to five times the attention given to a page of fiction.
Kenneth Slessor and Time
It is interesting, the way some lines of poetry stay with you, because of their rhythm, the images they evoke, something magical about their language, the feelings they play on, or all of these things together. I often recall the following lines from Kenneth Slessor’s poem ‘Out of Time’, though I can never remember them clearly enough to recite or write them down – what stays in my mind are just a few scattered elements, the image of yachts, the phrase ‘foxed with air’, and the compound adjective ‘quince-bright’.
On novelists and poets
The prejudice against poetry goes deep, and it isn’t simply a matter of it being ‘difficult to read’. I have often heard this criticism levelled at literary novels too – ‘it’s difficult to read’. What actually rises before me at this moment is the phrase, ‘the market says no’, delivered in the same self-righteous whine that David Walliams uses in Little Britain to defer to the authority of his computer. But deeper than the sense that the poets are trying to put one over their readers is the assumption that they are bludgers as well as con artists, and therefore have no right to be in the marketplace at all.
On The Stella Prize
If I were a novelist longlisted, or shortlisted, for the Stella Prize, and I lost out to a historian, I would wonder at the criteria that had been at work in deciding the award. If I were a historian and I lost to a novelist, I think my hackles would be raised at the possible implication that the imaginative penetration of the writer of fiction was once again being placed above the interpretive powers of the historian.
Fiction as Alchemy: An extract from an interview with Gerald Murnane
I understand that there is a time in the history of the visual arts when what we call scholars or critics wrote much about the composition of a painting. Not just the subject matter alone, but the way that the painting, the details or items in the painting, were arranged or composed… what I’ve just been talking about in relation to A Million Windows could be called the composition, and I get tremendous satisfaction from discovering what the composition will be, and then satisfaction afterwards in just standing back and admiring the composition.
David Malouf: A Life in Letters
Malouf’s commitment to possibility and multiplicity is well known. It is part of a larger belief in transformation, in metamorphosis, as the founding power of the imagination, its ability to create or divine worlds within or beyond the one we live in, and through language, to populate those worlds and make them familiar. The ability to move between forms of writing is, in a sense, an expression of this commitment to a multiple view of things, though that is not the only explanation.
by Murray Bail
Published September, 2012
The Provincial and the Princess: The Voyage by Murray Bail
Murray Bail’s two most recent novels, The Pages and The Voyage, have a repentant air about them, an acknowledgement of limitation and failure, which is all the more striking when set against the encyclopedic ambition characteristic of his earlier novels.