“New Voices Festival” at Eltham

June 21st, 2014 | C. J. Dennis, Festivals, Photos, Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival

I had a great time yesterday as one of the guest presenters at the “New Voices Festival” at St. Margaret’s Church in Pitt Street, Eltham.

The audience appreciated my poems, and what I had to say about them. I also had a good opportunity to talk about C. J. Dennis and the Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival. I signed a number of books afterwards, which is always very gratifying.

I had a good chance to talk to Meera from the Eltham Bookshop afterwards. As well as giving me some much appreciated positive feedback, she was also able to enlighten me considerably on the ways of independent bookshop owners in these challenging times.

I was a little surprised that Meera had asked me to sign a number of unsold copies of “Billy”, as I knew she would now not be able to return them to the publisher. Meera replied that she was very confident she would be able to ‘hand sell’ them. This was a phrase I had heard before, but did not fully understand.

Meera explained that one way independent bookshop owners can enhance their own credibility is to offer certain books that are not well known to their customers, yet which they have great faith in. This specific promotion of particular books is known as ‘hand selling’. “Billy” was about to become one such book.

Meera probably does not appreciate just how much it means to a newly published author like myself to learn that a professional bookseller has so much faith in their work.

Here are a few photos from yesterday. As you can see, the event was held in a beautiful hall.




At the end of the day’s proceedings we were treated to a wonderful exhibition of harmonica and drum playing by two local musicians. (Note the promotional poster for “Billy” on the wooden door in the background.)


Sunnyside and Montsalvat

July 30th, 2013 | Photos, Sunnyside

I recently discovered a direct link between two artists’ communities, the little known “Sunnyside”, and the much better known Montsalvat.

I have already mentioned that frequent visitors to Sunnyside were C. J. Dennis and the sculptor Web Gilbert. Another regular member of the Sunnyside circle was the artist Percy Leason. He is perhaps best remembered these days as the artist who painted the Carlton & United Brewery advertising poster of the bearded prospector standing beside the bar with a glass of beer, with the caption: “I allus has wan at eleven”.

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This photo was taken about twenty years ago in Walhalla, another old gold mining town in Victoria. The picture on the right is the Leason poster.

Percy Leason was at Sunnyside before the First World War, but after the War he and his wife built a house in Eltham. As you can imagine, there were not many people living in Eltham in those days.

It was the Leasons’ house that inspired Justus Jorgensen to also build at Eltham.

Here are some photos of Montsalvat that I took during a recent visit.

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