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'Um', John Paton (detail)

Notes on recent posts …
22 May 2017

Double in Ourselves‘ was short-listed for the notJack Prize for “writing from place” nearly five months ago. This morning the short-listees discovered that after all this time the organisers of the prize have decided not to award it because they can’t make up their minds! Someone is having truffles and champagne for dinner, but it’s not the writers.

In a remarkable coincidence the Swedish Academy has today announced new protocols for the selection of laureates in the field of literature. I hope you read Swedish but, if not, you could always try Google Translate.

18 April 2017

I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We were now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen. And President Xi was enjoying it. And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. What do you do?  President von Clownstick

It is only a couple of months into Von Clownstick’s presidency but suddenly it feels like 1980 again. Except that, as Marx predicted, it feels this time more like farce than tragedy. I’ve written something new about this, an aside about how the state of modern international politics made me feel like a teenager again.

Celebration Park, Kansas USA—Gardner Police Station photograph of mountain lion.
Celebration Park, Kansas USA—Gardner Police Station photograph of mountain lion.

The strangeness of politics seems to be on everyone’s minds. Late night show hosts and comedians don’t seem to be able to talk about anything else. I feel the same way. When the police of Gardner, a town near Kansas, USA, late last year investigated sightings of a mountain lion and set up cameras to get a picture of the animal, they found that locals had been pranking them. The resulting photographs are a delight.  ‘Are these the people  who voted for Trump?’ I asked myself.  I could like them. My kind of people. The cognitive dissonance set off by the photos ended up in a poem, which is what normally happens when I can’t explain what I’m thinking, even to myself.


About Steve

Stephen J. Williams has published writing and images in many literary magazines and newspapers. He has been the recipient of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Anne Elder Prize and John Shaw Neilson Poetry Award, the Association for Australian Literature’s Mary Gilmore Award, and the University of Melbourne’s John Masefield Prize. He lives in St Kilda (Victoria, Australia).

Portrait of Stephen J. Williams (detail) by Margaret Gold.
Portrait of Stephen J. Williams (detail) by Margaret Gold.

In the 1980s, at Meanjin, a literary magazine founded by Clem Christesen in the 1940s in Brisbane, Stephen was assistant editor for Jim Davidson—typing letters, sorting envelopes into postcode order, making tea, and playing Scrabble with A. A. Phillips.

Much of Stephen’s writing in the 1980s and 1990s was published by the editor Barrett Reid. Stephen and Barrie met in 1990 after having corresponded for a decade. Stephen worked with Barrie at Heide during the final years of Barrie’s life.

Stephen has worked as a book designer, radio producer, and copywriter; and as a consultant, writer, publicist, and editor for

Contact S J Williams  »»



Installation of hand in the landscape [20170724 drawing, 210x297mm]
Installation of hand in the landscape [20170724 drawing, 210x297mm]