WARNING TO AUTHORS: the ‘notJack’ grift

There were several hundred entries to the notJack prize for ‘writing from place’ in 2016. Early in 2017, after all the entries had been read by sponsors from a publishing company and a bookshop, and by volunteers associated with the prize, a long-list of 18 entries (and names of authors) was announced, on the notJack website, by Raimond Gaita. On 3 April 2017 a short-list of entries (and names of authors) was announced by e-mail. “The facts are,” the e-mail said, “we are really sure that a winner will not be determined from the usual judging process.” On 20 May 2017 a further e-mail to entrants announced that “A decision on a particular entry could not be equitably reached.”

We do not accept this is a fair or appropriate response, and believe that the administration of the prize, in the University of Melbourne, has been incompetent and organisers obtuse. A 25 May 2017 e-mail from the organisers attempted to clarify many questions asked by entrants about the organisation of the prize but failed to answer the most important of them: why was a short-list publicised but no winner determined? One member of the notJack advisory panel has remarked publicly of the result: “I find it strange that if there’s a shortlist, there’s not a winner, or someone provided to break a deadlock and just make a decision. Once there is a shortlist, I would have thought the merit of entries established!” Writers submitting to the notJack Prize can expect, for a fee, to be treated to delay, disorganisation, and embarrassment. We urge you to avoid it.

— Short-listed entrants in the 2016 notJack Prize

«The ninth satire»


Cover of 'The ninth satire': Charles Blackman's 'The Mask' (1989). Reproduced with permission of the artist.

Oh Yeah — In France A Skinny Man Died Of A Big Disease With A Little Name — By Chance His Girlfriend Came Across A Needle And Soon She Did The Same — At Home There Are Seventeen-Year-Old Boys — And Their Idea Of Fun Is Being In A Gang Called The Disciples — High On Crack And Totin’ A Machine Gun. Time, Time — Hurricane Annie Ripped The Ceiling Off A Church — And Killed Everyone Inside — U Turn On The Telly And Every Other Story Is Tellin’ U Somebody Died — Sister Killed Her Baby Cuz She Couldn’t Afford 2 Feed It And — We’re Sending People 2 The Moon — In September My Cousin Tried Reefer 4 The Very First Time — Now He’s Doing Horse, It’s June. Times, Times — It’s Silly, No? When A Rocket Ship Explodes And Everybody Still Wants 2 Fly — Some Say That A Man Ain’t Happy Unless A Man Truly Dies — Oh Why. Time, Time  Prince, ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’

for Jeff Klooger

Last word
This is a book of poetry, biographical fiction, non-fiction, dreams, fiction, portraiture, nonsense and comedy. In a different way and for different reasons, this book, like the previous one, pays no attention to the interesting notion that writers should have identifiable, stable voices. The effect is, no doubt, confusing. Some writers can hide behind a ‘book’. I would not agree this is, in any sense, not a ‘book’.❦ Much of the prose is, in one way or another, and in varying degrees, not mine, though I either wrote it or am responsible for its re-presentation here. ‘First and Last Words’ and ‘Uncle Stranger’ were, obviously, diaries. The work of condensation has the tendency to remake texts in the image of a particular reading. As well, ‘Uncle Stranger’ has been re-written in order to protect the confidentiality of the persons to whom it refers. ❦ Sometimes it has been necessary to tell a lie in order to record a lie. The relationship between those people who prompted the stories and the stories themselves also varies. The people were not ‘raw material’, as writers usually understand that term. I’m sure what I had to work with was always more or less cooked. Perhaps all stories are, in some way, only stories about stories. ❦ The origins of the poetry are more personal and less clear, being not always entirely mine, yet never like any of the voices I listened to. Do poems have their writer’s voice hidden in them? —Yes. And, I hope not. The purpose of a poem is to say what is.


Cover of ‘The ninth satire’: Charles Blackman’s ‘The Mask’ (1989). Reproduced with permission of the artist.

«A crowd of voices»

Artist : Peter Booth (Australia, b.1940) Title : Date : -1981 Medium Description: oil on canvas Dimensions : Credit Line : Purchased with assistance from the Visual Arts Board Australia Council 1981 Image Credit Line : Accession Number : 203.1981

A crowd of voices was first published by Pariah Press (Melbourne, Australia) in 1985. It won the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Anne Elder Award and the Association for the Study of Australian Literature’s Mary Gilmore Award.

for Deanna H.


Cover image — Artist : Peter Booth (Australia, b.1940) Title : Date : -1981 Medium Description: oil on canvas Dimensions : Credit Line : Purchased with assistance from the Visual Arts Board Australia Council 1981Image Credit Line : Accession Number : 203.1981 Used with permission of the artist.
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