All the love

What makes two people in a long-term loving relationship decide to let others in? For every couple, the reasons will be entirely different. For my ex-partner and myself, who explored the option of non-monogamy towards the end of our relationship, the reasons were varied. What I’m fascinated by is the amount of people I know and have encountered since then who are in, or have been in, open relationships. For some, it is definitely about sex – one-time encounters with strangers, fulfilling various hungers; for others it is about exploring a capacity for intimate relationships with more than one person. Here, I will examine non-monogamy as a concept, intertwining the personal, observational, and philosophical, with a consideration of social context. The umbrella term I use is ethical non-monogamy – ethical because there is agreement and communication; there is no deception. I will also mention the more specific concept of polyamory, where intimate connections and commitments are formed with more than one person at a time.

One line I related to in Lee Kofman’s memoir and exploration of non-monogamy The Dangerous Bride, which I read just after my ex and I had made our decision to be ‘open’, is this: ‘All I hoped for was bursts of excitement threaded throughout my life.’ But then, each burst has a morning after.

Read the rest of my essay on non-monogamy in the new journal, Antic.

Burning and pressing

I have not blogged for the longest time since I started LiteraryMinded, in 2007. But I use other forms the way I used to use this, and I write pieces both longer and shorter, both well thought-out (essays) and blasted (mini reviews or moments on Instagram or Twitter).

Like this essay about literary bisexuality for Killings.

Like pieces I have coming up in Antic and Overland.

And then sketches in my notebook. Bad poems in my phone notes.

And I’ve just started oil painting.

I read slower, now, outside of work. I read a lot for work. Reading carries different pressures than it used to, when I was reviewing a lot. I don’t have to finish everything. But there is the weight of knowing the time and effort that goes into writing a manuscript. Outside of work, I read for pleasure and for projects – for research, to be immersed, to be read myself, to be cracked open. My boyfriend reads to me sometimes. Currently William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow. He has a beautiful, masculine, Australian voice. Maxwell was fiction editor at The New Yorker for a nuts amount of years. He published John Cheever, with whom I’ve been having a literary love affair over the past year. Partly because of the topic I explore in the linked essay above. I’m writing more on it. Reading Frank Moorhouse, too. The Edith trilogy. Finally. Though I think I’ll be reading them over a year or three. I used to feel stressed about things like this. You do get calmer over time. Or perhaps you just shift the stress, the sense of urgency, elsewhere.

An unforgettable festival moment


Two days ago I did something that terrified me. I joined the open mic at a reading where everyone in the room was starkers. Krissy Kneen, a friend and an author I’ve long admired, was the feature reader. I was one of the last to get up on the open mic—everyone was being so brave, reading about pain, love, loss, sex, self-harm, sickness, and blue juices (Krissy, there), so I thought: do it. Fuck, why not? As David Stavanger said, standing there in the buff, ‘Look at us, we’re just meat.’ It was intimate and warm and uncomfortable and sweaty and beautiful. I read about Anthony Perkins, who was always hiding something. I had slicks of sweat under my arms. I was shaking. People were all shapes, with scars, fat, tattoos, and different lengths and colours of pubes. Krissy encouraged us to drink it all in, to think about each other later. I’m so glad I went. I highly recommend (safely) doing something that scares the shit out of you. Thank you Queensland Poetry Fest, for having me along as an artist, but also for providing this unique opportunity to get raw with some beautiful hunks of flesh.

Update: here are blog posts by feature nude reader Krissy Kneen, and fellow open mic-er Trent Jamieson.

‘What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?’


Killings columnist

I’m delighted to join the Kill Your Darlings team as a Literary Columnist for Killings for the remainder of 2015. My column will be:

Investigations into and explorations of literature and writing: literary places, literary lives and works, literary terms and methods, authors’ obsessions and concerns. Sometimes creative, often personal.

Read more here.

I’ll post links to each piece as they go up.

There’s so much else going on – I can’t even – so have a squiz at the events page and my Facebook page to keep up: workshops, Instagram collectives, Qld Poetry Fest, a Hares & Hyenas reading, and having some poems published…

Also the first book I acquired for Echo is now out in the world. I’m like a glowing (and anxious) mum. I really love working with authors, but also editors, designers, proofreaders, and schedules! Seriously, I love schedules. This job is the perfect fit for me.

And today I got to meet a great Aussie actor because Echo is publishing his autobiography. There’ll be a pic up on Monday on the Echo Facebook page… He gives really good hugs! And I actually quite needed one today, despite all this radness. So that was great.

Hope you are all prosperous and loving and being loved x

What the wow

UPDATE: Published this then realised my blog turned EIGHT yesterday!

I spent half the day in my pyjamas and wrote 1181 words which just tipped my WEIRD Scottish manuscript over 50,000 (rough) words. Last night I saw Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders and it rocked; I danced with a whisky in my hands and Jen Squire, who wrote this overwhelmingly lovely and amazing profile of me, would be interested to know that I actually put ice in it, because it was cheap stuff and I wanted to hydrate since I didn’t plan on moving from the front of the stage where I could see Kirin J Callinan’s dance moves.

So, working in publishing has been a ride so far. Stimulating, satisfying and definitely challenging at times. Mainly, I’m grateful that I’ve finally found my place, in terms of a day job, in the world of books. My colleagues are intelligent, lovely and great fun as well. You can’t ask for more than that. Oh! So, if you are working on a manuscript, please do keep Echo in mind. I’ve already signed three debut Australian novels and two nonfiction books, as well as managing a bunch of other titles. Please also check out the forthcoming books on that page, and follow us on social media, as there may be something up your alley as far as reading goes.

What else is happening? I’ve been writing my contributions for the Dear Everybody collective. They’ll appear here, and if you’re in Melbourne do come along to the tie-in event at the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Next weekend I’ll be the official reporter, for the second year in a row, at the Australian Booksellers Association Conference. I’m looking forward to hearing about what’s happening in the industry, and to partying with the booksellers. The weekend after that is Sydney Writers Festival. I’m participating in Forest for the Trees: Writers and Publishing in 2015. I’ll stick around for a night so I can see some events as well. And soon I have some workshops coming up in the ACT, Queensland, and possibly at the new Coffs Harbour Writers Centre. There will be more info on my Events page soon.

As mentioned in Jen’s profile, I’ve also been planning a dream trip back to Scotland. I’ll be staying on Islay and Jura, and then I’ll finish the trip in London to see Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican. I can’t wait.

Since I’m not reviewing books professionally any more (and limiting the chairing I do), I’ve really been enjoying reading whatever the fuck I want this year. Finally getting to Elena Ferrante. Catching up on some Aus reads I missed. Finally just now picking up Knausgaard. Reading John Bayley’s bio of Iris Murdoch (the mess, the swims, the lovers – it’s amazing). Dipping into books of poetry and short stories. I still add the odd short review on Goodreads and sometimes even on Instagram or my Facebook page. But mainly, now, I read for pleasure, for research, and I read manuscripts for work. I got so much out of reviewing, but I’m enjoying the shift.

I didn’t mean to write a blog post, but here it is. Unstable world, at times a chaotic storm in my head and my chest (‘hung velvet overtaken me’) but there is comfort in words, and art. My muse at the moment, Caravaggio’s John the Baptist c. 1600: John the Baptist