Dorothy Porter Notes

Newspaper and mainstream media reports regarding the death of Dorothy Porter are
starting to appear with the following of interest:
ABC Online
"The Advertiser"
"The Australian"
"The Canberra Times"
"The Herald-Sun"
Readings bookshop
"The Sydney Morning Herald"

And while these reports deal with the facts, it's the weblogs where the personal and literary interactions between the author and reader can be best understood. Here are a few - there will be others.

Tom Cho only met the poet once or twice. "Whether I met Dorothy in person or not barely matters anyway; the flesh and blood author is usually incapable of living up to our image of them."

Richard Watts felt himself privileged to have worked alongside Porter once or twice.

Andrew Wilkins writes of reading The Monkey's Mask for the first time in manuscript and deciding on the spot to persuade his publishing partners to take on the book. I'm glad he did. Karen Chisholm was the first to alert me about the news yesterday morning, promting me to contact a friend for confirmation.

Karen had just finished answering a series of questions for an upcoming issue of "Deadly Pleasures" magazine in which she related her feelings of surprise on reading El Dorado.

I never met Dorothy Porter but did have contact with her at one time. Back in 2000 I was updating a webpage I was maintaining on the Miles Franklin Award. In adding the shortlisted works for that year I inadvertently listed her verse novel What a Piece of Work as having been written by "Dorothy Parker" - as I'd never heard of Dorothy Porter before I just had a major brain slip. Anyway, the correct Dorothy emailed me to point out the typo and was very gracious about it, stating that she was rather flattered by the comparison. She could have really let rip over the error; she didn't. I don't know how long it took me to change the listing but I think you could have measured it in nanoseconds.

The one thing this interaction did do was to send me out looking for her work. I came across The Monkey's Mask first off, and experienced a reaction similar to Karen's above; I'd never read anything like it before. I wasn't so enamoured by her other verse novels as I felt the books needed a strong plot to drive the work through the verse. But I persisted, as did she, and was rewarded by the publication of El Dorado last year. This seemed to be where Porter did her best work in the verse novel form: a strong story-line backed by brilliant poetry.

She had made this little backwater of literature her own. There aren't many authors you can say that about.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 11, 2008 11:15 AM.

Best Books of the Year 2008 #8 - Readings was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian LitBlog Snapshot #8 - Blue Tyson is the next entry in this blog.

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