On attempting to find a publisher for her 2014 short fiction collection Foreign Soil, in rejection letters now immortalised in her semi-autobiographical story The Sukiyaki Book Club, Maxine Beneba Clarke was told, amongst other things, that "Australian readers are just not ready for characters like these."
"Characters like these" referred to an angry Black British teenager wielding a molotov cocktail in the midst of the 2011 Tottenham riots; a young black panther revolutionary in 1960's Brixton; and a young African diaspora girl surviving playground racism in 1980's Australia, amongst others.
It turned out Australia was ready.
Foreign Soil, when it was eventually published, went on to win a slew of literary awards, and is now on the syllabus for VCE Literature students in the state of Victoria, with television rights recently optioned. Maxine went on to collaborate on a multi award winning Black Lives Matter themed children's picture book The Patchwork Bike with activist street artist Van T. Rudd; pen a bestselling memoir, The Hate Race, narrated only in race-based encounters, and currently writes political poetry as the poet laureate for The Saturday Paper.
In this address, Maxine talks about writing, risk, breaking convention, tearing up the rule book, and the ground-breaking Australian writers and thinkers who've inspired her, and paved the way for her work.
Maxine will be joined on the night by visual artist Van T Rudd, who will speak about his work.
Net profits of the event will support Writers Victoria's Disadvantaged Writers Fund, which provides bursaries and subsidies to writers who experience financial and social barriers to developing their skills and connecting with the writing and publishing community.
About Maxine Beneba Clarke
Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of the ABIA and Indie award winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the poetry collection Carrying the World, which won the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry, and the critically acclaimed memoir The Hate Race. Her picture books include The Patchwork Bike, a 2017 CBCA Honour Book, Wide Big World, and Fashionista. She is the resident poet for The Saturday Paper.
About Van T Rudd
Van T Rudd is a visual artist based in Melbourne, specialising in political street murals, sculpture, children's books, and sci-fi painting. He is the illustrator of 'The Patchwork Bike' by Maxine Beneba Clarke.
Seminar Rm 1 (upstairs), Village Roadshow Theatrette
Entry 3, La Trobe Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000