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The 2021 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

In partnership with Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the 2021 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize.

Major prize: AUD$1000

All entries must be received by 11.59 pm EST, Monday July 26 2021. The winner will be announced at the Words in Winter festival in Daylesford on Sunday August 22 2021. The judges for the 2021 competition are Carissa Lee and John Charles Ryan.

Entry terms and conditions

1. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or have permanent resident status in Australia.
2. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
3. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
4. Poems must have an environmental theme.
5. All poems must be written in English. No images, videos or audio files.
6. The winning poems will be published on www.holmgren.com.au and in Rabbit.
7. An entry fee of $10 will be charged and is payable via bank transfer, credit card, cash or cheque. An email will be sent as confirmation once the money has been received.
8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header, footer or file name) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines of text.
10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a $10 fee applies to each poem.
11. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are resubmitted will incur a second fee.
12. The competition closes 11.59 pm EST, Monday July 26, 2021.
13. Selection will be made by the judges. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


About the judges

Carissa Lee is a Noongar woman born on Wemba-Wemba country. She works as an actor and writer based in Melbourne. Carissa is currently undertaking her PhD in Indigenous theatre through the University of Melbourne. She has just begun her new role as Indigenous and Public Policy Commissioning Editor for The Conversation. Carissa’s writing has featured in The Guardian, IndigenousX, Book Riot, Melbourne Writers Festival, Witness Performance, Junkee, and Red Room Poetry.  

John Charles Ryan is an environmental writer and plant enthusiast. His interests include poetry, conservation and the environmental humanities. He recently edited an issue of the online journal Plumwood Mountain on plant poetics, co-authored the book Introduction to the Environmental Humanities with Routledge, and co-edited the anthology The Mind of Plants with Synergetic Press. His collaborative botanical poetry collection Seeing Trees: A Poetic Arboretum was released in 2020. He is affiliated with Southern Cross University as Adjunct Associate Professor and Nulungu Research Institute, Notre Dame University, Australia as Adjunct Senior Research Fellow.    


About Venie

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie ‘caught the bus’ at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life here: www.theguardian.com/books/australia-books-blog/2015/mar/25/in-praise-of-venie-holmgren-at-92-still-an-activist-adventurer-and-a-poet


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For the Wild podcast

DAVID HOLMGREN ON A QUIET BOYCOTT

At the end of 2020, David recorded this interview with Ayana, which has just gone live.

As so-called powerful “industrial civilizations” continue to decline into dysfunction, unable to care for the vast majority, the call to localize, reinvest in household economies, and strengthen our capacity for self-reliance is becoming emphatic. Amongst failing institutions and the remnants of exploitative wealth, this week’s guest, David Holmgren, encourages us to lean into crisis as a temporary portal that allows us to focus on the potential of all that lies around us. In conversation David explores creative reuse, salvage economies, ethical relationships, permaculture, and the intricacies of mass movements that are trying to override a system that is deeply committed to a machination of consumerism and debt.

Lauded as one of the co-originators of permaculture, we begin our conversation looking at how permaculture differentiates itself from organic gardening and agroforestry, while discussing the more salient critiques of permaculture in terms of appropriation, class, and privilege. David offers honest reflections on the origins of permaculture and its accessibility, while also defining the importance of a quiet boycott and how class privilege factors into our efforts to reduce degrees of dependency.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety here:

https://forthewild.world/listen/david-holmgren-on-a-quiet-boycott-221

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Mark Johnson turns 50

Recently we were made aware of Mark Johnson’s creation of a permaculture allotment as a natural haven for people in London struggling with homelessness, addiction and mental health issues. Mark’s best selling autobiography Wasted charts the transformation he has made in his own life and provides an inspiration for times of challenge and change.

David and Su dedicating an oak tree planted on public land for Mark Johnson’s 50th birthday

We are dedicating a grove of oak trees recently planted on public land to commemorate Mark’s 50th birthday this December. That these trees were planted in our antipodean winter is perhaps appropriate. Planting trees on the public land (Spring Ck Community Forest) is part of our 30 year action informed by permaculture ethics and design principles. We find oaks (including English oak) to be remarkably drought hardy in a drying climate with increased bushfire risk. Working on the public land (our green gym) is also part of keeping us fit and healthy as we age.

We wish Mark health and vigour for his work to create a better world, and thank him enormously for dedicating his energies to such worthwhile endeavours. 

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Our Street Launch

Calling all kids and adults!

Melliodora Publishing and Grow Do It Permaculture invite you to attend the online launch of Our Street and Permaculture Action Cards.

Our Street (based on the Aussie Street story from RetroSuburbia) is a fully illustrated storybook for upper primary school-age children. It explores how suburban life changes between the 1950s and 2020s, and provides a positive vision of the future. It is a useful tool for parents and educators to help inspire children with positive solutions for sustainable and resilient living, whilst reflecting on Australian history. Written by David Holmgren + Beck Lowe and illustrated by Brenna Quinlan.

The Permaculture Action Cards are made up of 65 full-colour cards. The deck features the 3 permaculture ethics, 12 principles and 50 Brenna Quinlan illustrated action cards depicting colourful characters putting them into practice in the garden, community and beyond as well as relevant lyrics & rhymes from Formidable Vegetable on the back of each card. Also included is a booklet with games and explanations of the principles as well as an A3 colour poster that can be used as a teaching aid.

The launch will feature David Holmgren, Su Dennett, Beck Lowe, Brenna Quinlan, Charlie Mgee and special musical guests Formidable Vegetable. What a line-up!

The event will be a free livestream. Register here for your free tickets and we’ll email you the viewing links on the day.

The first 100 books purchased at the launch will be signed by David, Beck and Brenna. In the meantime you can purchase the book from here and the cards from here.

NOTE: The event will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube. These links will be emailed to you closer to the date.

Woo hoo! We can’t wait! See you then.

Get your tickets>>

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Facing Fire

This coming Sunday November 22 at 9am (AEDT) , David Holmgren is giving a presentation followed by a Q & A on ‘Fire Resilient Design and Land and Climate Care’.

Here is the Zoom link to attend.

Please join 5 minutes early to ensure it starts on time.

Please RSVP by 5pm Saturday 21 November.

For further reading, here is David’s recent paper: Bushfire Resilient Land and Climate care.

EDIT: Here is David’s presentation from the day.

Facing Fire connects fire-ecology regions in the USA and Australia, across the Pacific, and around the world.

In 2019 David was interviewed for the 21 minute film Facing Fire, which you can watch in its entirety here:

For further research/preparation, you might be interested in Joan Webster OAM’s bestselling book, Essential Bushfire Safety Tips – 3rd Edition

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PermaQueer TEDx Countdown event

David Holmgren is proud to be speaking at PermaQueer’s 3-day online event this Thursday 15th October at 11am as part of global TedX Countdown. He’ll be speaking about the role of permaculture in designing a sustainable future, alongside many other great speakers such as Morag Gamble, Brenna Quinlan, Charlie Mgee, Rosemary Morrow, Artist as Family and many more.

Get your free or donation based tickets here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1006883859830500

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Melliodora Live Online Tour

For the first time ever, David Holmgren and Su Dennett are opening the doors of Melliodora to an online audience. Situated in the Central Victorian highlands, Melliodora is one of the best examples of working cool-temperate climate permaculture in the country.

The tour will run on Sunday October 2020, from 10am – 4.30pm.

The day begins at 10am (AEST) with a tour of the main homestead house, and in the afternoon the tour will take you around the extensive garden farm.

There will be a Q&A for the house tour at 12pm and a Q&A for the property tour at 4pm. Your questions will be asked directly to David, time permitting.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience how permaculture design can help restore and improve land, and provide for you and your household’s needs within the context of an ethical and regenerative framework.

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The 2020 Venie Prize Winner

Thank you to all the poets who took the time to compose and send in poems to the 2020 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize – we received 262 entries. The content of the poems was beautifully varied: some were engaging, some funny, some sad, delicate, considerate, angry, political, provocative…

A huge thank you to Jeanine Leane and Michael Farrell for judging the Prize, and for attending Sunday’s online Prize presentation.

Without further ado, we are thrilled to announce this year’s winning poem Anthropocene Poetics Part 2 by Noemie Huttner-Koros from Perth:

We are also thrilled to announce the two commended poems:

Tracks by Ryan Dickinson from Monbulk, Victoria and Toolangi by Simone King from Coburg North, Victoria.

In previous years, we have announced the winner of the Venie Prize at the Daylesford Words in Winter festival. As the festival was cancelled this year we held an online presentation, which you can watch here:

A huge thank you to the Venie Prize co-sponsor, Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry, who will print the winning and commended poems in their next issue and to Jessica Wilkinson, Rabbit editor. Thank you again to judges Jeanine Leane and Michael Farrell, and of course all the poets who saw and felt deeply and sent us their words to read and reflect upon.

 

 

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Introducing 470

Science fiction influenced my thinking as a youth, especially stories that featured ecological limits (eg Dune and The Dispossessed). In the early 1970s, the modelling of the Club of Rome “Limits to Growth” report provided a context for the conception of permaculture – an ecological, creative and humane response to the Limits to Growth facing the whole of humanity.

In turn, permaculture and “back-to-the-land” self-reliant simplicity of those years inspired new generations of writers including Jackie French in Australia and Starhawk in the USA to write stories about futures of ecological consequence. More recently, a proliferation of books focused on climate change has created a new genre “Cli-Fi” that use climate science as context for stories about the future.

Linda Woodrow’s 470 is certainly Cli-Fi: great storytelling in the context of the near-term consequences of climate change driven natural disasters. But it is much more. Beyond the meticulous background research that all good writers of fiction do to make their stories real, Linda Woodrow also draws on decades of living close to the land where her story is set. That life applying and writing about permaculture has provided a broad and deep reservoir of experience to draw on in crafting this gripping story of persistence, empowerment and joy in the face of fear, loss and despair.

From the portrayal of geography transformed by natural forces to heroic and dogged persistence of volunteer natural disaster workers, the drama of personal relationships, fleeting and long enduring, and the details of providing the essentials of food, shelter and health care constrained by non-negotiable realities, Woodrow both entertains and informs the reader. Far from didactic, let alone judgemental, the portrayal of characters connected by blood and circumstance in 470 is sensitive to human frailties, contradictions and vulnerabilities. She gives hope that adversity can nurture profound and enduring personal growth and the slow emergence of self-governing communities at the household, neighbourhood and bioregional scale. While permaculture is barely mentioned in the book, its influence is everywhere in the story from homestead-scale organic food production, to ecological building, appropriate technology, botanical medicine, tree crops for a changing climate, design against natural disaster and intentional community decision making.

Beyond these recognisable permaculture related themes, 470 provides a glimpse of how environmental and countercultural thinking over the last 50 years has found expression, suppression, migration and re-emergence in Australian society by showing the flowering of those influences over three generations of a family lineage.

These were reasons enough for me, and our team at Melliodora Publishing, to jump at the opportunity to publish 470 as contributing to our mission to publish books “that fill a gap in the permaculture-related literature and support individuals in their personal permaculture journey”.

My own dabbling in fiction began more than a decade ago with my “Aussie Street” presentations portraying the transformation of suburbia from the “Golden Age of Growth” to retrosuburbia in the Second Great Depression of the 2020s. This became written word for the first time as a chapter in our bestselling RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, and the basis for our next publication, Our Street, a picture book by Beck Lowe and permaculture illustrator Brenna Quinlan.

Consequently, this jump into publishing a novel is more evolutionary than revolutionary but also involves new challenges in the very competitive market for fiction. The work by Richard Telford in conceiving and Maria Penna in crafting a beautiful and striking cover true to the author’s work is an important contribution to gaining wider attention in the crowded bookshelves, whether in store or online. We trust our regular readers from permaculture and kindred networks will grasp opportunities to gift and promote 470 to their families, friends and workmates as a way to start empowering discussions, instead of having ineffective and debilitating arguments about the minutiae of climate science or the motivations behind its detractors. While it is clearly too late to avoid “dangerous climate change” by progressive policies, it’s never too late for all of us to retrofit our behaviour to be more resilient in the face of the coming changes, and begin to build new household and community economies in the shadow of the old one that is doomed no matter how much money governments print.

For teenagers and young adults searching for meaningful and brave action in the face of societal dysfunction, 470 provides a broad pallet of possibilities. For families raising young children, 470 shows how raising the next generation requires us to be bold and brave in finding a pathway through the vortex of change we face. For older people with resources to reorganise for the non-negotiable changes of aging, 470 shows it is possible to do so in ways that help the next generations to face the future.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has shown everyone that our affluent technological society can be brought to a standstill by forces of nature so small they hardly qualify as living, while the bushfire summer showed us that despite our technology, humanity remains at the mercy of the weather that Mother Nature delivers each day and each season.

Imagination is essential to avoiding existential threats and creating the best of possible worlds. Linda Woodrow’s deep well of imagination helps us in this essential task.

 

David Holmgren, Melliodora Publishing
Hepburn, Victoria

 

Watch the launch now!

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