on the street

andharris.com

on the street

literary melbourneSleepers Publishing was launchedby 29-year-old Zoe Dattner and 31-year-oldLouise Swinn in 2005 and has quickly becomeMelbourne’s trendiest independent publishinghouse. The duo have already put out threeAlmanac, their annual collections of some ofthe finest contemporary writing from Australiaand overseas, as well as a book of cartoons,Conceived on a Tram, and a gift book, Toast.“We’ve consistently published something,”Dattner says. “A lot of small publishing companiesdon’t last that long.”The pair decided from the start not to go intodebt, and have not dipped into their own pocketssince publishing the first Almanac. Each project hasfunded the next, with the need to work on the sideand gradually decreasing as the business improved.“We’re really keen on books that lookbeautiful and books that come with advocacy,with people behind them saying ‘we really lovethis writing’”, Swinn says. Each Almanac is animpressively designed collection that attractsmany favourable reviews.Sleepers’ nerve centre is a single-room buildingout the back of a furniture showroom in the suburbof Collingwood. This belies the true scale andinfluence of their operation, and comes as a shockto some visitors.With national distribution (ground-breaking foran independent publisher) for their 2008 Almanac(for which they received about 1,000 submissions,all of which the duo read), Sleepers is enjoying ahigh public profile, with appearances at writers’festivals and in print media around the country.The house deals mainly in short stories, andin a sprinkling of poetry. “But we want to publishnovels too,” says Dattner.“Very soon indeed,” Swinn adds.“Sleepers Salons” have a lot to do with thepublisher’s success, and tap into the city’s thrivinglive literary scene.“In Melbourne, there are so many bookevents,” says Dattner. “There’s always somethingyou should go to; some book launch or somethingfabulous in conversation.”The Salons are designed for people who wantto talk about and involve wit, wine and words.Check the Sleepers’ website to see what’s onwhile you are in town.Sleepers Publishing, tel: +61 (0)3 94170686, www.sleeperspublishing.com;the 2008 Almanac will be out in February,check website for updatesNot so sleepy,Sleepers Publishing’sZoe Dattner andLouise SwinnTake Melbourne’sliterary pulse, online.• The Melbourne Poets Union is a central point for allMelbourne’s poetry news, book launches and readings:www.poetsunion.com• The Overload Poetry Festival is an annual celebration of spokenword in all its forms and flavours: www.overloadpoetry.com• The Victorian Writers’ Centre is a valuable resource for writersboth established and aspiring: www.writers-centre.org• The Melbourne Writers Festival (22-31 August) is one of theworld’s premier literary extravaganzas: www.mwf.com.au75


literary melbourneThe Write TableAlicia Sometimes and Arnold Zable reveal their favouriteMelbourne cafes and why you should visit By Andrew HarrisAlicia Sometimes(bottom) and herfavourite hangout,Galleon Cafe (left)Alicia SometimesAlicia isn’t sometimes, she’s always. On radio,in print, on stage, she is a one-woman dynamowhose remarkable energy has seen her becomea veteran of Melbourne’s literary scene at 35 yearsold. After 10 years around the traps, throughpoetry, prose and scriptwriting, Alicia is emblematicof the young, funky literary crew, and Melbourne isthe place for her.“It’s great for peer feedback,” she says. “Toomany people write in their bedrooms and don’tshow their work.”St Kilda’s Galleon Cafe is Alicia’s favouritespot to sit and scribble. It is a nautically themedestablishment that has weathered the rapidopenings and closings of its cafe patch for around15 years. Breakfast is the most popular time of dayhere; try a soy chai latte, bircher muesli and fruityoghurt. The coffee is great too, but Alicia’s notjust here for the menu choice; snatchesof overheard conversation and cafecomings-and-goings make it into oneof her many notebooks, and then into astory. Galleon sits at the ‘beach end’ ofCarlisle Street, but not too close to hipAcland Street, making it a great placeto sit, have a drink and take a breakfrom the crowds.“It’s just a different sort ofclientele,” she says. “It’s laid-back, andI really like that.”Galleon Cafe, 9 Carlisle Street,St Kilda, Melbourne,tel: +61 (0)3 9534 8934Arnold ZableOne of Australia’s most acclaimed storytellers,Zable’s musical prose and complex empathetictales of migrants and lost worlds stem from hisown experience as the child of Jewish refugeesfrom pre-war Poland.Apart from Zable’s busy writing life, the60-year-old is also heavily involved in workingfor refugee rights, and as the president ofInternational Pen Melbourne, he campaignsfor writers’ freedom of speech.Zable also has a special affinity for workingat cafes, and part of the manuscript for his nextbook, Sea of Many Returns was lying on thetable as we spoke.Perhaps surprisingly, he didn’t spendmuch time writing Cafe Scheherazade at thecafe itself. Instead, Zable sits at the cafe at theend of St Kilda Pier, a popular Sunday hauntfrequented for its excellent ice-cream, friendlyservice and killer views. Zable recommends thecafes in the Fitzroy Gardens and MelbourneBotanical Gardens. He visits regularly for thecoffee and relaxed feel to the place. “My office,”he says, “is in the boot of my car.”While writing Scraps of Heaven, a novelabout the Jewish community in the inner cityMelbourne suburb of Carlton in the 1950s, hespends a lot of time at the window seat of theParagon Cafe, which looks out over Curtin Square,the cartographic centre of the book. Come early tosnag a pavement seat at the Paragon and indulgein some people watching and an excellent pastadish (try the Seafood Pasta).Zable’s latest retreat is the Fairfield ParkBoathouse and Tea Gardens by the YarraRiver. The cafe is worth a visit for the peacefulsurroundings. This end of the Yarra is a worldaway from the Crown Casino end, and one thatis not often visited by tourists. The seating thereis a particular table around the corner of its longdeck that Zable says is his ideal balance of bustleand quiet.“It’s a nice feeling to be out and about andwriting amongst people,” he says. “It’s as ifyou’re in touch with the hum of life.”Fairfield Park Boathouse and TeaGardens, Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield,Melbourne, tel: +61 (0)3 9486 1501, www.fairfieldboathouse.comParagon Cafe, 651 Rathdowne Street, CarltonNorth, Melbourne, tel: +61 (0)3 9347 7715For more travel ideas, go to visitmelbourne.comArnold Zable(right); and theFairfield ParkBoathouse andTea Gardens (left)77

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines