Monthly Archives: September 2008

Unconferencing South of the Border!

I'm currently attending an “unconference” at Yarra Plenty Library in Melbourne. O.K.- I can already hear you asking “what's an unconference?”.

At an unconference the participants develop the agenda and facilitators lead groups in discussing the topics the group has decided on as a collective. It may sound like chaos but it works really well and results in an engaged audience. Most of the today's topics revolve around technology and its place in libraries. There was also a really interesting presentation about skoolaborate ( which has some synergies with the Orange e2 project Central West Libraries is hoping to partner with.

Will Central West Libraries have an unconference? -you can count on it!



Austen and Bronte make most of the weather

The Classics Book Club have discovered Bronte and Austen have the weather in common. I seem to recall not too long ago reading about the weather as a vehicle for the plot in Austen's works. Now members of The Classics Book Club are discovering the Brontes also used the weather and astronomical occurrences to serve the plot and mood of their novels. The Classics Book Club groups meet in Orange at 12.30pm on Thursday 16 October to discuss Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and from 5.30pm to talk about Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. The next Cowra meeting will be held on Tuesday 30 September from 12.30pm to 1.30pm to discuss Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and the Blayney group meets on Tuesday 21 October from 11am to 12noon to also talk about Wuthering Heights. For more information about the Classics Book Club contact your branch or download a form from the Reading and Writing page on the CWL website.

Australian Poetry Slam Orange Heat Winners

Congratulations to all who took part. It was an incredible battle of words and poems, raps and raves last night as 12 entrants battled it out for a chance to compete in the NSW State Final for the Australian Poetry Slam 08. The theatre sport type entertainment included lots of audience participation as host Miles Merrill had everyone making noises and laughing at his observations on life and judges had fun scoring. Jacob Young stunned all with his autobiographical rap, Amy Johnson amazed everyone with her maturity shown in the poem “The Issue”. Jeanette Pennings performed a poem about “A Moment” in a busy day, while Zac Wells described “A Winter's Day”. Maggie Rosso almost had it won with a topical poem about “Retirement” while crowd favourite seven-year-old Phoebe Wells, took out third place with her thoughts on “Spring”. The audience was moved to tears with Tony Owen dedicating his “Holding onto Dreams” poem to his late wife Debbie Owen who was one of the winners in last year's heat. And Amy Harrison impressed with her views on life while Maddison Wells skillfully described a Volcano and Rachel Suringa was dynamic with her performance of “The Flame”. The winners were Shannon Elliott, of Canowindra, with is his energetic rap called “Self Acceptance”  about life and Josh Simpson, of Bathurst, with a moving poem about poetry. They both go on to perform on 21 November at the State Library of NSW with accommodation and flights sponsored by the Orange Regional Arts Foundation.

Here are the winners Shannon Elliott and Josh Simpson with host Miles Merrill:

And here are the entrants:

Prime Minister's Literary Awards Winners

The Prime Minister's Literary Awards recognise literary excellence in fiction and non-fiction Australian writing. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the books chosen by the judging panel are an impressive indication of the outstanding breadth and quality of modern Australian literature. Both winners receive a prize of $100,000 each. The winners are:

Non-fiction: Ochre and Rust by Philip Jones which takes Aboriginal artefacts from their museum shelves and traces their stories, revealing charged and nuanced moments of encounter in Australia's frontier history. Philip Jones positions them at the centre of these gripping, poignant tales, transporting the reader into the heart of Australia's frontier zone. Ochre and Rust builds incrementally, resulting in a convincing new insight into our frontier past and the motives of its characters (Wakefield Press).

Fiction: The Zookeepers' War by Steven Conte is a story of passion and sacrifice in a city battered by war. It is 1943 and each night in a bomb shelter beneath the Berlin Zoo an Australian woman, Vera, shelters with her German husband, Axel, the zoo's director. As tensions mount in the closing days of the war, nothing, and no one, it seems, can be trusted. The Zookeeper's War is a powerful novel of a marriage, and of a city collapsing. It confronts not only the brutality of war but the possibility of heroism (Fourth Estate). For more details on the awards go to:

Ned Kelly Award winners for crimewriting

The Crime Writers Association of Australia was set up in the mid 1990s to promote and encourage Australian crimewriting through the establishment of the Ned Kelly Awards. The 'annual Neddies' have subsequently become an eagerly anticipated fixture on the Australian literary scene. And the 2008 winners are:

Best First Fiction:
The Low Road, Chris Womersley (Scribe)
Best Fiction:
Shatter, Michael Robotham (Hachette Livre)
Best Non-Fiction:
Red Centre, Dark Heart, Evan McHugh (Penguin)
Lifetime Achievement Award
Marele Day.
Congrats to Michael Robotham who visited Orange recently as part of the Book Alive 2008 tour. Shatter is a great pageturner and keeps you guessing. For more details check out the website