Poetry: it’s a ‘thing’ now

Poetry is alive and well at South Perth Libraries. PerthPoetryFest

In recent years the art, beauty and power of poetry has been rediscovered.  Despite the perhaps, dusty older folk sometimes envisioned reading, writing or reciting poetry, hoards of groovy younger people are being drawn to this art form. Poetry events at festivals are sold out and their poetry programs are growing. Australian Poetry Twitter account has over 7000 followers; eventfinda.com.au lists 20+ poetry events in the next month; the Australian Poetry Slam Heats are held in every Australian state and territory; and GoodReads the online magazine all about reading, books and authors, has an ongoing poetry competition; readers submit and vote to select monthly winners. Here in Perth, UWA Publishing is launching a new poetry imprint; UWAP Poetry, in response to the increasing interest in poetry reading and writing. And the 2016 Perth Poetry Festival, which runs from 5-14 August, lists nine Festival Guests; four of whom are under 25years of age.


“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words” Edgar Allan Poe. This definition has been embraced by the hugely popular form of performance poetry, especially with the 18-30yo demographic. The fascination with words and their power to deliver a hard-hitting message, to pack an emotional punch and to cause change is being rediscovered and re imagined. The Poetry Slam, a competitive poetry performance with strict time limits, is growing in popularity and is often found in pubs venues.

In support of this growing interest and enjoyment of all things poetry, South Perth Libraries have a range of poetry events lined up in the coming weeks:

Poetry Competition: Each year South Perth Libraries support Poetry d’Amour held at the Japanese Gardens at the Zoo in South Perth.  A love-themed haiku competition runs in the lead up to the Poetry d’Amour event and the winners are announced by the mayor, sue Doherty, on the night. The Poetry Competition is now open. Entries close on 9 September.

Poetry Slam: In partnership with the Australian Poetry Slam a WA Heat will be held at the South Perth Library on 4 August. Bookings are now open for poets and audience.

Poetry by Lamplight: for those who enjoy a more leisurely poetry experience on 7 September. Bookings are now open for poets and audience.

According to Andrea Ashworth, poetry helps us “feel part of something noble and beautiful and bigger than yourself”. If that sentiment appeals come along to a FREE poetry event at your library.


Numinous writing is writing that ‘has a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity’. Writing that evokes the mysterious, the unexplainable and the magical. Writing that is beautiful, lyrical and fills one with a sense of wonder and awe.

These descriptions are what genre fantasy writing, and especially high fantasy, is all about.

Those who already read and love this genre, feel free to skip ahead to the TOR.com link to Faerie-led: Thoughts on Writing Meaningful Fantasy by Katherine Langrish. For those to whom this genre is an anathema, read on and hopefully you will gain some understanding, if not appreciation, for this genre.

Another way to think of fantasy is fairy tales for grown-ups. This is because the common characteristic is the inclusion of magic and or supernatural phenomenon with frequent  inspiration from folk-lore and mythology. There are many subgenres including:


High fantasy which is set in an alternative world; think Middle-Earth or Narnia.

Dark fantasy which includes themes that would be found in horror; they elicit our deepest fears.

Romantic fantasy which focuses on relationships within a fantasy world.

Urban fantasy which is set in a city from Earth as we know it, usually in the western world.

Historic fantasy which is set in the past. The popular series Outlander is historic fantasy.

Although they are often bundled together, fantasy differs from science fiction in that it minimises or avoids science and technology themes and references. That said, there are often descriptions of mechanism and actions that could be defined as scientific or technological, as part of the creation of alternative worlds or explanations of magical systems.

The history of modern fantasy literature is usually said to begin with Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women written by George MacDonald and published in 1858. This novel is widely considered to be the first fantasy novel ever written for adults. That said, earlier examples of fantasy writing could include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


Some would argue that Fantasy has been around for as long as humans have told stories since many creation myths include, indeed they rely on, super natural phenomenon and magic.

Clearly fantasy has been an important part of children’s literature forever! Where would we be without witches, faeries and magical wishes in bedtime stories? Flying with Peter Pan across London, clapping to keep Tinkerbell alive, clicking our heels with Dorothy,  and could we imagine a childhood nowadays without Harry?


Fantasy for adults brings adult themes and grown up issues to the storyline and then applies the question: What if? What if magic is real? What if fantastical creatures could come to our aide? What if justice could be served by magical means? What if other realms exist? What if people and gods inhabited the same world? That *anything* is possible is alluring to fantasy readers.

Frequently fantasy is set in an historical medieval or medievalesque world. The romance of the quest, chivalry and noble deeds sit well in this time and setting. As does royalty, a common symbol used in fantasy writing, for much of the deeper meaning to be found in fantasy comes from its use of symbolism including archetypes such as the Queen and Knight.

The arc of the fantasy plot has the potential to be epic, in the truest sense of the word; visualise the tome that is the Lord of the Rings or the 344 chapters of A Song of Fire and Ice (so far) or the 14 books of The Wheel of Time series. It would seem that one of the things that fantasy fans enjoy is the ability to prolong their immersion in these other worlds. That said there are plenty of collections of fantasy short stories, each of which can be comfortably read in one sitting.

Because fantasy writing deals with all things mysterious and magical, it is common for there to be hints of the spiritual. Indeed in some cases fantasy presents a virtually complete spiritual doctrine. The ideals of truth, justice, true love, and honour are all commonly found woven into fantasy. Gods and magical beings wield their powers in the affairs of people. Good triumphs over evil. Thus the use of the word numinous in answer to the question: what are the qualities of first class fantasy writing?

Surprising as it may seem, fantasy is now the third biggest selling adult fiction genre, after crime/mystery and romance.  There are dedicated fantasy publishers such as Baen Books, Daw and Tor. And a new subgenre is emerging; Literary Fantasy. All of which demonstrates that more and more adult readers are coming to appreciate and enjoy the numinous writing of the fantasy genre.

The link below is to TOR.com; the online presence of TOR publishing and includes a youtube recording of the prestigious annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford. This year it is presented by Terri Windling and titled Reflections on Fantasy Literature in the Post-Tolkien Era.

TOR.com link

Note: This blog was inspired by a conversation with a library patron who asked ‘what is the attraction with the fantasy genre?’ And because well-respected Australian fantasy author, Angela Slatter will feature at the upcoming Words with Wine on 7 July 2016. Bookings here.







April 1st – Reading is Funny Day

Gotta wonder who thought that up! Pinch and a punch and “Reading is funny”?!!??

Type ‘funny authors’ into Google and a series of lists will pop up. Some lists favour US authors, some British authors and some are…varied. It would seem that what people find funny is particularly cultural. Australians notice the difference most clearly on imported sitcoms – the US versions always had canned laughter and left little to the imagination. Humorous British TV was more about what was left unsaid or the exact opposite; clever use of language including puns or double entendre.

H2G2_UK_front_coverAccording to Good Reads Listopia, (one of the biggest list generators around) the funniest book of all time is The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Along with Adams, Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore are found on every list on the first page of results generated by the ‘funny authors’ search. The other thing they have in common is that they are fantasy authors. What is it about fantasy that makes it so easy to be funny? Could it be that fantasy transcends cultural humour limitations?

Woody Allen, P.G. Wodehouse and Helen Fielding are popular for their witty observance of the awkward humanness we all secretly relate to.  Speaking of the humour of the ordinary; the works of Austin and Dickens are timeless classics, rediscovered with glee by each generation.

And then there is the humour that makes the ugly and frightening, bearable if not enjoyable – think MASH, Catch 22 and Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall.  Catch22

The most useful ‘funny authors’ list comes from the Staff Picks section of a US library where the comedy reading options are broken down into genres. Thank you to the inspired librarians of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County  for making our search for something that will appeal to the individual sense of humour that much easier.

Look for the yellow HUMOUR spine label in the Adult Fiction section of your South Perth Library branch and take home something to tickle your fancy, poke your funny bone and release a belly laugh this April Fools Day 🙂

Hip-hip Hooray & Yipee Yay-yay it’s Dr Seuss Day

Did you start your day with green eggs and ham? Perhaps you could have it for tonight’s tea? transbggeah

How about a recipe?  Here’s one from Nigella or Jamie or perhaps Martha?    Or maybe this one that’s Delicious.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The setting of his first book was just around the corner from his home on Fairfield Street. Later in 1937 Geisel was on his way to burn the manuscript of And to Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street after being rejected by publishers for the 27th time. He literally bumped into an old friend who had just started a job as an editor at a children’s book publishers. And so began the writing & illustrating career that produced 60 books selling over 600 million copies & being translated into more than 20 languages by 1991 when Dr Seuss died.

Geisel adopted “Dr Seuss” during his university days because his father always wanted him to practice medicine. He was only made an official Dr after receiving an honorary doctorate in 1956.  Geisel’s other honours include two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the Pulitzer Prize. And some of other pen names include: Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone and Theophrastus Seuss.

From Fox in Sox, to the Cat in the Hat, the Lorax, to Horton, Sam to the Grinch or Thing 1 and Thing 2 Dr Seuss characters have brought ridiculous rhyming joy to millions children and adults. Have you ever wondered which character you are? Find out with Playbuzz Go on! You know you want to!

Speaking of ridiculous rhyming joy; Dr Seuss wrote in poetic meters called anapaestic tetrameter, amphibrachic tetrameter and trochaic tetrameter and he frequently used iambs. (google them!).


If you come in to the library today – you will find we have Dr Seuss colouring in!

And to finish, here are 5 curious things you didn’t know about Dr Seuss:



Before the Event: ‘Evermore’ Isobelle Carmody book launch

South Perth Library is very excited to be hosting the Perth launch of Isobelle Carmody’s new graphic novel ‘Evermore’.

‘Evermore’ began as a novella intended for a collection, but grew into something larger and stranger and darker than expected. It took a conversation with illustrator and graphic novelist Dan Reid, to make Isobelle realise it was a graphic novel. While Dan completed his incredible illustrations for Evermore, Isobelle finished the second in her Land of the Lost series, which she also illustrated.

And she has now completed the last of her Obernewtyn Chronicles, ‘The Red Queen’ while undertaking a PhD at the University of Queensland. As you can see, Isobelle is a prolific writer! She will be speaking about her experience of writing as well as launching ‘Evermore’.

To give you a sense of Isobelle and her writing watch this short clip from Penguin Publishing:

and this one gives you an introduction to the vibe of the Obernewtyn Chronicles:

The end of a 40 year writing journey


Isobelle Carmody began the first of her highly acclaimed Obernewtyn Chronicles while she was just 14! The Chronicles began when Isobelle was still at high school, continued while she completed a Bachelor of Arts and then a journalism cadetship and now, as an acclaimed and award winning professional writer, the series has come to an end. A journey of 40years.

the-red-queen-obernewtyn-release-dateBook 1 of the 7 book series, Obernewtyn, was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to, which if you know anything about having a book published, this is nothing short of miraculous. The last book; The Red Queen, will be released on the 12th on November 2015.

This epic post-apocalyptic story has captured the hearts and minds of an enthusiastic fantasy readership of all ages. Many of the readers have been with Isobelle since the story began back in 1987. They have grown up with it in much the same way that families grew alongside Harry Potter.

Here is a link to the comic Isobelle created to express her feelings about coming to the end of the Obernewtyn journey.

Historic Maps of South Perth

Have you ever wondered what South Perth looked like 20years ago? 50 years ago?


Earlier this month, the City of South Perth made available online a wide range of historic aerial photographs acquired from Landgate and its own Local History Collection.

These maps date all the way back to 1930 and are now accessible through the City’s online mapping system – IntraMaps.

They are a treasure trove of information and show countless changes that have taken place across the City of South Perth through time.

If you are curious to see what your home, business, local park or reserve looked like over the years…. then it’s worth having a fiddle with!

To access IntraMaps:

See our IntraMaps Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to use IntraMaps.

Or if you prefer to see it in person…. attend the “Intra MAPS Demo Session” on June 4th. (click the link to book)


A Small Madness…

I sat down at my desk today with a list of tasks. These included writing a blog post to advertise the next author in our Words with Wine series; Dianne Touchell. At the same time my brother sent me a link to a very excellent blog. Of course I clicked on the link and allowed myself to be distracted. I laughed, out loud, truly I did! The LOL happened because I related. And in that moment I decided to follow her blog. Then I remembered Dianne has a blog too. Click, click, click, and I am reading Di’s latest blog. I cried, my heart ached. I sat for a moment, staring at the screen and thought of my own experiences of grief…

T H I S.

THIS  rush of emotion.

THIS  connection to others.

This  personal observation of life.

This is why I read blogs.

I wondered why others read blogs; Google provided me with this great list of reasons.

And advertising is not on it! In fact advertising did not appear high on any list of reasons why people read blogs. But it did appear on several lists of why blogs fail! So why am I sitting here about to write what amounts to an ad? Why am I not posting deeper, more thought provoking, more entertaining observations? Good question I hear you ask.

Blogs are a niche thing. Our niche is libraries and everything they stand for. From today on you can expect to read more along these lines. Observations and stuff that will appeal to library lovers written by a library lover… and occasionally I will include info about upcoming author talks and such because they are a fabulous free library service.

Hope this appeals to you. 🙂

Oh and here’s the ad:

Dianne Touchell is an excellent speaker and writer. She is a Perth local. She is opinionated and down to earth. She writes for the Young Adult market about topics that are real and emotional and challenging. If I had teenagers in my life I would come and hear her speak. Click here to book your seat.

nb: in accordance with the City of South Perth Responsible Service of Alcohol policy, we will be serving non alcoholic wine as we anticipate some young adults attending.

A Small Madness | FRONT COVER (10 September 2014)

‘The novel deals with themes of teen sex, pregnancy, teen-parent relationships, isolation, friendship and mental illness. What makes it different from other young adult novels is its message that, in Touchell’s words, “being damaged is very, very different to being evil”. It’s one of those concepts we all struggle with when we hear about things like infanticide – our instinct is to judge, to stand firmly on the victim’s side. Sometimes that’s right. But sometimes, the perpetrator may also be a victim in another way, and that’s where misunderstanding becomes a monster. I applaud Touchell for her perspective, insight and compassionate approach to something full of grey areas.’

– Monique Mulligan Write Note Reveiws

Click here to go to Dianne Touchell’s Website


Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, a long time ago (well, actually, back in 1991 in Sweden), a Storytelling Day was held on March 20 called “Alla berättares dag” (All storytellers day).  In 1997, storytellers in Perth, Western Australia coordinated a five-week-long Celebration of Story, commemorating March 20 as the International Day of Oral Narrators. The ethos behind this event caught on around the globe, and now we celebrate World Storytelling Day on the March Equinox.

world story tellers logo

The aim of World Storytelling Day is to celebrate the art of oral storytelling, with as many people as possible around the world, telling and listening to stories, in their own languages on the same day. People taking part can link up with others around the globe who are also contributing – making it a truly international festival that creates new friends and promotes positive understanding of cultures around the world!

So, go on, sit down with your friends and loved ones and join the United Nations of storytellers on this day of celebrating cultural folklore and the art of oral storytelling! Why not spin a yarn, and pass down your stories to the next generation?

story telling


Attention Movie Lovers!

Did you know membership at the South Perth Libraries gives you FREE access to INDIEFLIX? indieflix logo

Yes that’s right! You can have unlimited access to online streaming of award-winning independent films and film-festival hits, including the best of Sundance, Cannes & Tribeca.

click here for a clip about INDIEFLIX

This streaming movie service provides unlimited access to shorts, feature films, and documentaries. With thousands of films to choose from across more than 50 countries, IndieFlix offers a viewing experience you can’t get anywhere else.

  • Film-festival hits — View films from major festivals all over the world, including Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, and more! indieflix film festival
  • Find the right film for you — Sort by language, genre, or film length with easy-to-use filters
  • Support filmmakers — Viewing films on IndieFlix directly supports the filmmakers who made them
  • Available everywhere — Watch movies on any Internet-enabled computer, smartphone, or tablet with a Web browser! Also available on Roku, xBox, and Apple TV via Apple devices

Go to the South Perth Libraries website eFILM page , click on the INDIEFLIX logo and then log in with your membership number (under the bar code) and you can start watching right now!

OR if you prefer you can come in a select movies from 100’s of DVDs the libraries have available for loan.

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