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Hermes 2012: a literary odyssey


11 October 2012

Co-editor of Hermes Chenoa Fawn: "We succeeded in securing a diverse range of material from emerging through to established talent; the result speaks for itself."
Co-editor of Hermes Chenoa Fawn: "We succeeded in securing a diverse range of material from emerging through to established talent; the result speaks for itself."

Budding University of Sydney writers and poets will see their work showcased alongside some of Australia's best-known literary talent with the launch of the Hermes 2012 journal on Thursday 11 October.

In an informal tribute marking 50 years since literary greats Les Murray and Geoffrey Lehmann teamed up to co-edit the publication in 1962, the newest edition of Hermes will be unveiled at a special launch event featuring Lehmann as guest speaker. The journal also includes a previously unpublished poem by Les Murray entitled Eating from the Dictionary.

Under this years' theme, 'Odyssey', contributions to Hermes 2012 touch on the premise of the voyage, both in a Classical sense and in more modern ideas of writing as personal journey.

Included in the 2012 journal are such notable writers as filmmaker and current doctoral student Ian David, one of Australia's best young talents and alumnus, Dr Stephen McInerney, as well as Department of English lecturers Judith Beveridge, Dr Mark Byron, Professor Barry Spurr, and Associate Professor David Brooks.

Hermes 2012 co-editor Chenoa Fawn personally commissioned essays and creative writing from staff members.

"We succeeded in securing a diverse range of material from emerging through to established talent; the result speaks for itself," she says.

Chenoa, who is currently working on her doctoral thesis in English Literature at the University of Sydney, personally commissioned essays and creative writing from staff members, as the most senior member of the journal's editorial team.

"As a postgraduate at this university I feel part of the wider academic community and that emboldened me to directly approach staff whose work I was familiar with and to extend the invitation to write for Hermes beyond my existing relationships," she says.

Though Les Murray had previously contributed to Hermes over the years, the task of soliciting original work from Geoffrey Lehmann proved more difficult.

"I made it my mission to honour both of them in the journal," Chenoa says.

"With Geoff, we didn't have a clue how to get in touch with him. But I realised he would be at the Sydney Writers' Festival, so I plucked up the courage to introduce myself and say 'it would be so wonderful if you could be involved'."

Chenoa succeeded in not only obtaining a new poem from Lehmann, but also a reflective piece entitled Should Poems be revised? A Tale of Two Versions, in which Lehmann revisits past work written as a young man and deconstructs the way his poem has changed across the decades.

Widely regarded as one of the oldest university literary publications in Australiasia, Hermes was first printed in 1886 as the student edited journal of the University of Sydney.

Throughout its long history, Hermes has provided fecund ground for scores of Australian journalists, authors, and poets to hone their craft. The journal was one of the first publishing sites for academics Professor Margaret Clunies Ross and Mungo MacCallum, with former editors including Thomas Bacin and Emeritus Professor Father Edmund Campion.

Along with co-editors Jackson Busse, Gabriella Edelstein and Kate Farrell, Chenoa was charged with the inimitable task of culling 90,000 words to 35,000 for the final journal. Through a competitive blind-review process, Chenoa says the team "really tried to set a very high standard for this year".

"It's genuinely been an honour and pleasantly surprising how willing people have been to give up their time and give us beautiful, original pieces of work," Chenoa says.

The launch event provides the chance for students to mingle with alumni and staff contributors over canapes and drinks, with copies of the 2012 journal available at no charge.

Hermes is published annually by the University of Sydney Union in both a printed edition and online version.


Event details

What: Hermes 2012 launch event

When: 4.30 to 6pm, Thursday 11 October

Where: Verge Gallery, Jane Foss Russell Plaza, off City Rd, Darlington Campus

Cost: Free

Contact: hermes@usu.usyd.edu.au


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Jacqueline Chowns, 02 9036 5404, 0434 605 018, jacqueline.chowns@sydney.edu.au