Landscape Memoir

Published : Thursday, May 29, 2008

Over the weekend of 10–11 May 2008, I spoke at a conference hosted by the National Library of Australia in Canberra. The NLA runs the conference each year under a different theme; this year it was concerned memoir and all manner of first person prose. They called it In the First Person.

I spoke on a panel with Peter Timms and John Hughes; our theme was landscape, home and belonging.

Taking “Landscape Memoir: A Portrait of the Writer as Five or Six Places” as my title, I spoke about what a landscape memoir might look and sound like; I reflected on a few favourites of mine (Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Jim Galvin’s The Meadow, John Haines’s The Stars, the Snow, the Fire, and Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa); I recalled some places I have belonged to; and I wondered about the idea of a certain landscape (or landscapes) somewhere as one’s original country. I also read a pieces of The Blue Plateau, whose subtitle is A Landscape Memoir (and which comes out in late 2009).

The literary journal Meanjin, under the new editorship of Sophie Cunningham, will publish my “Landscape Memoir” in September or December this year.