Writing & Society Research Centre, Room To Listen online seminar series

Event Name
Writing & Society Research Centre, Room To Listen online seminar series
31 July 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Address (Room): rsvp to S.Gapps@westernsydney.edu.au for Zoom details


Join leading Australian poet Michael Farrell as he reads from his new Giramondo poetry collection, Family Trees (published April 2020), and discusses a bundle of potential readings and mis-readings that might constellate around the work. Readings from Family Trees will be followed by a critical discussion with publisher Ivor Indyk and poet Kate Fagan.

The poems in Family Trees operate according to a queer and inclusive logic, which binds humans, animals, objects, plants and concepts in familial relationships. Farrell’s poems construct ancestries and genealogies, modelling contact through affection, sharing, and attention – sometimes violent attention. They tell strange stories – tall tales from the country, rambling reminiscences, shaggy-dog stories – which speak of shifting realities and weird and wonderful things, like a coffin with legs that walked, an infertile rabbit that fosters a lamb, robots hunting in Kenya for the little white lion of Tokyo, an argumentative sock-puppet, and marsupial geese. The characters in these scenarios are quite at home. They think, gossip, sleep and work. Any phrase, detail or object can act like a hinge, sending these poems and their protagonists in a hundred directions. Anything can be a twig (or bud or leaf or fruit) on Farrell’s family trees.

"In the great tradition of queer Australian landscape poetics […] Farrell recombines Australian ecology, history, and mythology into glorious, and very funky, new forms.” – Judith Wright Calanthe Award citation

“Endless, rascally contortions. Read them boldly as an archaeologist […] but stay quietly aware that the texts are already affecting your cognitive frame, turning you into their accomplice in the renewing of language.” – Gwee Li Sui, Sydney Review of Books

Originally from Bombala, in NSW, MICHAEL FARRELL has lived in Melbourne since 1990. His fifth poetry book with Giramondo is Family Trees: the follow-up to I Love Poetry, which won the Queensland Literary Awards Judith Wright Calanthe Prize in 2018. Other book projects include the anthologies Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets, and Ashbery Mode, an Australian tribute to American poet John Ashbery. Michael has a PhD from the University of Melbourne, which has been revised and published as Writing Australian Unsettlement: Modes of Poetic Invention 1796-1945 (Palgrave Macmillan). He has also worked with musicians, and has written lyrics for two songs available on streaming platforms: “Waste the Alphabet” by Dick Diver, and “On the Border” by Jimmy Hawk. https://giramondopublishing.com/product/family-trees/

IVOR INDYK is founding editor and publisher of HEAT magazine and the award-winning Giramondo book imprint, and Whitlam Professor in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. Important Australian authors published by him at Giramondo include Alexis Wright (winner of the Miles Franklin Award), Brian Castro, Gerald Murnane, Nicholas Jose, Judith Beveridge, Jennifer Maiden, Robert Gray, Gig Ryan, Beverley Farmer and Antigone Kefala; and amongst younger writers Lisa Gorton, Alice Melike √úlgezer, Tom Cho, Vanessa Berry, Luke Beesley and Kate Middleton. He has a particular interest in the development and publication of writers from the Western Sydney region, most recently Fiona Wright, Felicity Castagna, and Luke Carman. A critic, essayist and reviewer, he has written a monograph on David Malouf for Oxford University Press, and essays on many aspects of Australian literature, art, architecture and publishing.

KATE FAGAN is Director of the Writing and Society Research Centre where she founded the Poetry and Poetics Project. She is a Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies at Western Sydney University and an award-winning poet and songwriter, whose most recent book First Light (Giramondo) was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Age Book of the Year Award. She is a former editor of How2, the eminent U.S.-based journal of contemporary poetry and poetics. Her album Diamond Wheel won the National Film and Sound Archive Award for Folk Recording and she supported Joan Baez on her 2013 tour of Australia/NZ.

Web page: https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/writing_and_society/events/writing_and_society_seminars

Name: Suzanne Gapps


Phone: +61 403 699 455

School / Department: Writing & Society Research Centre