Bill Manhire and Peter Whiteford (eds)

Still Shines When You Think of It: A Festschrift for Vincent O'Sullivan

ISBN: 9780864735713

In this book, twenty-eight of Vincent O’Sullivan’s friends, colleagues and fellow writers have gathered to honour him on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Their contributions include personal memoirs and poems; illuminating commentaries on O’Sullivan’s work as poet, playwright, fiction writer, editor and scholar; and scholarly essays on topics ranging from biblical translation to Cold War spies.

Don Akenson • K. O. Arvidson • Sebastian Black • Murray Bramwell • Bruce Bennett • David Carnegie • Robert Easting • Christine Franzen • Syd Harrex • Michael Hulse • Anna Jackson • MacDonald P. Jackson • Michael Jackson • Bill Manhire • Phillip Mann • Owen Marshall • Brian Matthews • Paul Millar • Geoffrey Miles • Michael Morley • Richard Mulgan • David Norton • Harry Ricketts • Heidi Thomson • Brian Turner • Chris Wallace-Crabbe • Kathryn Walls • Peter Whiteford

The book's cover is based on Ralph Hotere's original design for Vincent O'Sullivan's 1969 poetry collection Revenants.

Praise for Still Shines When You Think of It

A Festschrift is a traditional way for academics to honour a respected colleague through the publication of a book of original essays, presented to the honouree on a notable occasion. Each essay intends to reflect on the significance of the honouree’s contribution to their field of work. A Festschrift may sound in danger of being a little dry – unless of course it is for Vincent O’Sullivan.

On the occasion of O’Sullivan’s seventieth birthday, twenty-eight of his colleagues and friends contributed (according to editors Manhire and Whiteford, all without a moment’s hesitation), to the Festschrift, Still Shines When You Think of It. A poet, playwright, editor, writer and critic – the breadth of O’Sullivan’s contribution to literature explains why the deep blue volume weights in at over three hundred pages.

The book is like discovering a magpie’s hoard and with so many differently shaped, alluring objects, a reader may not know what to grab for first. The contributions range from poetry, memoir and original research to commentaries on O’Sullivan’s work. Each differ in topic and tone – some academic, some conversational – and many stray into the writer’s personal reflections on their relationship with O’Sullivan.

Seeing the line-up of contributors, a reader should not be surprised by the depth and completeness of each tribute. Harry Ricketts praises O’Sullivan for presenting the ‘banality’ and ‘tragicomedy’ of life without judgement; Anna Jackson gifts three hopeful yet faintly sinister poems; John Mulgan’s essay on aesthetic value is actually thinly disguised admiration that O’Sullivan, who apparently refuses to take art too seriously, still works on his craft with seriousness. The list goes blissfully on (although possible better digested in small bites).

A suggestion would be to read the festschrift like a book of poetry as each contribution is worth lingering on, yet together they combine to form a larger experience. Through reading
Still Shines When You Think of It, a portrait emerges of O’Sullivan as a writer who is honest and respectful with the characters and subjects that inhabit his writing, but also of a man who has contributed to literature through his generosity of friendship, humour and support he affords other writers.
Sarah Jane Barnett LUMIERE READER

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