Emma Batchelor: What I’m reading, writing and listening to in March

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Welcome to a monthly update for readers, writers and literary lovers.

Expect a celebration of local Canberra talent, plenty of reading recommendations, and a roundup of events and opportunities.

Read

After many years of owning but never actually reading her work, this month I finally picked up Virginia Woolf. I have begun my relationship with the writer through The Waves, upon the recommendation of my partner who lent me her own dog-eared copy.

Regarded as Woolf’s most experimental work, she weaves together the voices of six characters who we follow from childhood to adulthood as they navigate growing up, shaping identity and grief.

While distinct, each character’s voice is woven together to form a chorus teasing at the tension between individual consciousness and community. The Waves is beautiful, challenging and a must-read.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf | First published October 1931 by Hogarth Press, now a Penguin Vintage Classic

Reading

The Gifts That Bind Us is the second installment in a YA series from Irish author Caroline O’Donoghue. I loved the series debut, All Our Hidden Giftsan engrossing supernatural novel about teens discovering their powers and exploring relationships, and its sequel is just as enjoyable.

I first discovered Caroline through her podcast Sentimental Garbage, which started life elevating women’s commercial fiction and now discusses the pop culture society can make us feel ashamed of.

She has two novels for adults, Promising Young Women and Scenes of a Graphic Naturewhich I also recommend.

The Gifts That Bind Us by Caroline O’Donoghue | Published February 2022 Walker Books

About to read

burn outa novel about standing up for what you believe in and finding the strength to start again, was inspired by the recent Black Summer bushfires.

After losing everything to fire, central character Calida Lyons inadvertently becomes the face of the climate movement after offering a televised unfiltered rebuke to Australia’s rich to do something about the crisis.

This interview with the author about her inspiration for the novel gives an interesting insight into how letting go of an old idea can make space for a new one.

Burnt Out by Victoria Brookman | Published January 2022 HarperCollins

local love

This month’s Local Love comes courtesy of the Book Cow in Kingston where I recently attended a literary panel event. ‘Adulting and Other Catastrophes: finding your identity—or losing it…’ featured three local writers discussing their recent works through the lens of coming of age.

Irma Gold and Lucy Neave discussed growing up in place and time as well as what it means to be an adult with participating chair Nigel Featherstone.

Bodies of Men by Nigel Featherstone | Published April 2019 Hachette

The Breaking by Irma Gold | Published March 2021 Midnight Sun

Believe in Me by Lucy Neave | Published August 2021 UQP

Events, workshops and opportunities

  • Gorman Arts Center is hosting a free two-part workshop for young writers and poets to develop their spoken word practice. Award-winning poet, playwright, author and former slam champion Joelle Taylor will give an online masterclass that will be followed by an in-person session with local poet Jacqui Malins.

Both workshops take place 26 March 2022 | Register here

  • Muse hosts a month Ozlit book club where members read and discuss Australian literature. This month is permafrost, a collection of haunting short stories by SJ Norman. Next month he will be the winner of the inaugural Novel Award Cloud Enough for Snow by Jessica Au.

New members are welcome but spaces are limited | Join here

  • Submissions are open for the ACT Notable Book Awards. This is a special initiative to celebrate Canberra Region Writers in 2020 and 2021. Submission categories include: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children’s.

Entries close 1 April 2022 | Find out more

Bonus Reading

As a bonus, I have a couple of essays to recommend this month:

  • Memento Millennial by Ayesha A. Siddiqi—This essay shares thoughts on the end of an era, its “main characters”, web 2.0 & the real difference between Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Silent Partner by Lauren Collee—Collee explores how dating apps rationalize the process of finding love while relationship apps aim to do the same for keeping it.

If you have a recommendation, event or new work to share please get in touch!

Email me: emma.batchelor.writer@gmail.com or DM me on Instagram @emma__batchelor

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