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This report is taken from PN Review 146, Volume 28 Number 6, July - August 2002.

Letter from Melbourne Kris Hemensley

I'm tantalised by the thought that most of what might constitute my literary report is tangential to the actual place in which I live. Publishing events occur either on the World Wide Web or because of it; there are booklaunchings of inter-state writers and poets from overseas are always passing through - all of which enlivens the city but maybe defines Melbourne rather more than the same phenomena do elsewhere? And so a contradiction grows in my mind between the life and literature moulded out of Melbourne's mud and that borne on the air which blows all around the world. I wonder now how I managed so happily to be an internationalist in Melbourne up until the mid 1980s; how I dealt so blithely with the contradiction which these days has me pronged by what I call the problems of idiom and identity?

The relaunching of Sydney editor Ivor Indyk's magazine Heat, at Readings Bookshop in Melbourne last August, caused a collective sigh of relief amongst writers who had feared the loss of the best distributed international vehicle for their work when its first series closed the previous year. But though people departed with copies of the new issue (which resembles the Paris Review, in its commitment to poetry, and Granta, for its fiction and essays), and although the readings of local contributors weren't uninteresting (indeed, Michael Farrell and Gig Ryan's performances illustrated or demonstrated their elliptical texts far better than the bare printing), it was the ...


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