Writers share readings with scholars

Dr David Musgrave, Co-Editor of All These Presences and Publisher at Puncher & Wattmann. (Photo: Sara Bolst)

An anthology featuring student and professional work has been dedicated to the poet whose collaboration with an Avondale academic led to a national award for innovative teaching.

All These Presences is the fourth anthology in a project initiated by Judith Beveridge and Dr Carolyn Rickett in 2010. Ms Beveridge, who the book is dedicated to, is a lecturer in the Department of English at The University of Sydney and the former poetry editor of Australia’s second oldest literary journal, Meanjin.

“The anthology recognises not only the gift of your own poetry, but also the generous fostering of our own poetic community,” reads the dedication from editors Jean Kent, Dr David Musgrave and Dr Rickett at the beginning of the book.

Ms Beveridge co-edited the predecessors to All These PresencesA Way of Happening, Here Not There, and Wording the World—with Dr Rickett. “[It is] a wonderful opportunity to share the experience of poetry with young people,” she said.

Ms Kent agrees, describing the project as a burst of energy. “It brings new and fresh ideas together and shows how poetry exists beyond the individual,” she said.

In her welcome at the launch, Avondale College of Higher Education’s Vice-President (Quality and Strategy) Professor Jane Fernandez thanked Ms Beveridge for “[bringing] to our circle of creative practice a degree of professionalism and scholarship that is notable for its influence on young scholars.”

One of those scholars, Marcel Neuhoff, says having his poetry published alongside that of the professionals did wonders for his confidence, and helped him feel as though his writing was worth more than just a letter on a rubric. The Bachelor of Arts student majored in English and history and plans to seek more opportunities to write after graduating this year.

This experience illustrates Dr Rickett’s outstanding contribution to student learning, for which she received an Australian Learning and Teaching Council citation in 2011. An Assistant Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Arts, Nursing and Theology, her aim is to bring authentic learning to the classroom.

“One of the most heartening experiences for any writer is to have their work published, shared and valued by a wider reading community,” she said. “This is always our pedagogical goal in teaching practice-based units at Avondale: to provide students with an opportunity to collaborate with industry professionals and develop confidence to participate in real-world activities.” 

"Poetry is not the expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think. Making the private world public. That’s what the poet does."

Published by independent Australian publisher Puncher & Wattmann, All These Presences features poetry from students in the Creative Writing class, as well as from academics such as Professor William Christie from Australian National University and Dr Sue Joseph from the University of Technology Sydney, and from leading Australian authors such as Stephen Edgar, Christopher Kelen and Martin Langford.

A student from the Design Studio Practice and Theory class, visual arts major Chloe Lwin, designed the cover—a large ampersand offset left on a plain background. Using the font Ryman Eco, a so-called “eco font” that reduces ink consumption, the ampersand consists of several lines representing the presences that came together to create the anthology.

Avondale President Professor Ray Roennfeldt closed the launch. “I wish more theologians were poets, because some of them see things just in black and white terms,” he said. “And that is a very, very great pity.”

Professor Roennfeldt concluded with a quote from American poet Alan Ginsburg, one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and of the counterculture that soon would follow. “‘Poetry is not the expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think. Making the private world public. That’s what the poet does.’”