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y separately published work icon Letter to Pessoa selected work   short story  
Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 Letter to Pessoa
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Letter to Pessoa is the first collection of short stories by award-winning Goan-Australian poet Michelle Cahill. It is an imaginative tour de force, portraying the experiences of a whole range of characters, including a scientist, a cat and a young Indian female version of Joseph Conrad, in settings across the world, from Barcelona to Capetown, Boston to Chiang Mai, Kathmandu to Kraków. Like the poet Fernando Pessoa, who gives the collection its title, and who created as many as seventy versions of himself, Cahill displays a remarkable inventiveness, making distant landscapes and situations come alive, in compelling detail, as they express the fear and longing, obsession and outrage, of the people caught up in them.

'Displaying its awareness of the power of writing to create realities, the collection also includes a number of fictions in letter form, to Jacques Derrida, Virginia Woolf, Jean Genet and Margaret Atwood – and to JM Coetzee, from his character Melanie Isaacs. ' (Publication summary)

Notes

  • Epigraph: 'I feel as if I'm always on the verge of waking up,' -Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Artarmon, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Giramondo Publishing , 2016 .
      image of person or book cover 2251142614846715586.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 247p.
      Note/s:
      • Published September 2016
      ISBN: 9781925336146

Works about this Work

That Certain Cut : Towards a Characterology of APWT Nicholas Jose , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , October no. 47 2017;

'The essay charts the history and goals of Asia Pacific Writers & Translators since its beginnings in 2005, noting how the association has evolved to incorporate creative writing pedagogy and, importantly, literary translation. It draws on linguist MAK Halliday’s discussion of the ‘characterology’ of Mandarin Chinese to ask whether a literary community such as APWT might also have a ‘certain cut’ identifiable in the features and effects of the new writing that emerges from the interactions of participating practitioners as they cross boundaries and challenge limits. The essay argues that the mission of APWT is transformative and ongoing and needs greater advocacy. Examples cited include the work of Michelle Cahill and Eliza Vitri Handayani and the Dalit/Indigenous Australia special issue of Cordite.

Michelle Cahill, Letter to Pessoa Heather Taylor Johnson , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 77 no. 2 2017; (p. 248-251)

'The letter, in its conventional form, is essentially non-fiction, though fiction’s been known to mine the epistolary field with great success (think of the classics Frankenstein and The Colour Purple). The draw in using the form as fiction might lie in the immediacy and in the intimacy predicated by the use of second person “you.” as fiction, letters assume an addressee from the story’s opening, thus proving to be (for the most part, anyway) between two people: “I” and “you.” Though aside from the obligatory questions and niceties—how are you?; I hope this letter finds you well—the focus of the letter is always its writer, so given the nature of letters’ musings and related happenings, we should really think of it as being between “I” and “I.” in her debut short story collection, Letters to Pessoa, award winning poet Michelle Cahill takes this theory to new, layered heights as she pens seven letters to philosophers and writers as well as incorporating heteronyms (characters created by a writer specifically allowing for different styles of writing, something the poet Fernando Pessoa mastered) into stories as a complementary way of getting at identity.' (Introduction)

Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Michelle Cahill’s Letter to Pessoa Jennifer Mackenzie , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: Plumwood Mountain : An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics , June vol. 4 no. 1.1 2017;

— Review of Letter to Pessoa Michelle Cahill , 2016 selected work short story
Dreams of Waking Ruby Todd , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Courses , April vol. 21 no. 1 2017;
'In his riddling, labyrinthine story, ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ (1962), Jorge Luis Borges imagines a fantasy world of ideas created by a secret order of scholars in which, he writes, it is believed ‘that while we sleep here [on Earth], we are awake elsewhere and that in this way every man is two men’ (Borges 1962: 8). In this image of alternate dream-lives and divided selves, Borges speaks to some of the most pervasive themes in Letter to Pessoa, the first collection of lyrical and inventive short stories by Indian-Australian poet Michelle Cahill. The significance of dreaming in this collection – as a practical and metaphorical means of escaping, extending or interrogating reality – is also premised by the book’s elusive epigraph, an excerpt from Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet: ‘I feel as if I’m always on the verge of waking up’. (Introduction)
Michelle Cahill, Letter to Pessoa and Other Short Fictions (Giramondo, 2016). Brian Macaskill , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Transnational Literature , May vol. 9 no. 2 2017;
'Having signed at least three well-received books of poetry into the world, Michelle Cahill, established poet, sometime essayist, medical practitioner, and founding editor of Mascara (whose journal mandate is to publish migrant, Indigenous, and Asian-Australian work), has released her first compilation of short fiction. Cahill’s multiple and widely-ranging experience and talent infuse the oneiric volume with a dense heterogeneity: captivatingly cultivated, albeit sometimes to the point of sounding, looking, or seeming overly-contrived in its efforts to display a cutting-edge ‘post-something’ contemporaneity.' (Introduction(
Letters to Who? On Michelle Cahill Paul Sharrad , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , September 2016;

— Review of Letter to Pessoa Michelle Cahill , 2016 selected work short story
Letter to Pessoa Review : Michelle Cahill's Stories with the Literary Big Hitters Cameron Woodhead , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 28 October 2016;

— Review of Letter to Pessoa Michelle Cahill , 2016 selected work short story
Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Michelle Cahill’s Letter to Pessoa Jennifer Mackenzie , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: Plumwood Mountain : An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics , June vol. 4 no. 1.1 2017;

— Review of Letter to Pessoa Michelle Cahill , 2016 selected work short story
A Feast of Bite-Sized Gems Elaine Fry , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The West Australian , 19 October 2016; (p. 18)
Tightrope Fiona Hile , 2016 single work review essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , December no. 387 2016; (p. 31)
'You can tell a lot about a piece of writing from how it begins. For American poet Billy Collins, ‘the first line is the DNA of the poem’. With novels, as J.M. Coetzee writes, in Elizabeth Costello, ‘the problem of the opening ... is a simple bridging problem ... People solve such problems every day ... and having solved them push on.’ Coetzee’s high-wire opening barely hints at the philosophico-literary grapplings that will ensue, but in an after-the-fact reading it is all there – the structural reliance on Kafka’s ‘Before the Law’ (1915), the inference that a passage through the recurring impasses of language is somehow guaranteed by death, the acknowledgment that building/writing is also always a matter of destruction.' (Introduction)
Michelle Cahill, Letter to Pessoa and Other Short Fictions (Giramondo, 2016). Brian Macaskill , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Transnational Literature , May vol. 9 no. 2 2017;
'Having signed at least three well-received books of poetry into the world, Michelle Cahill, established poet, sometime essayist, medical practitioner, and founding editor of Mascara (whose journal mandate is to publish migrant, Indigenous, and Asian-Australian work), has released her first compilation of short fiction. Cahill’s multiple and widely-ranging experience and talent infuse the oneiric volume with a dense heterogeneity: captivatingly cultivated, albeit sometimes to the point of sounding, looking, or seeming overly-contrived in its efforts to display a cutting-edge ‘post-something’ contemporaneity.' (Introduction(
Dreams of Waking Ruby Todd , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Courses , April vol. 21 no. 1 2017;
'In his riddling, labyrinthine story, ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ (1962), Jorge Luis Borges imagines a fantasy world of ideas created by a secret order of scholars in which, he writes, it is believed ‘that while we sleep here [on Earth], we are awake elsewhere and that in this way every man is two men’ (Borges 1962: 8). In this image of alternate dream-lives and divided selves, Borges speaks to some of the most pervasive themes in Letter to Pessoa, the first collection of lyrical and inventive short stories by Indian-Australian poet Michelle Cahill. The significance of dreaming in this collection – as a practical and metaphorical means of escaping, extending or interrogating reality – is also premised by the book’s elusive epigraph, an excerpt from Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet: ‘I feel as if I’m always on the verge of waking up’. (Introduction)
Michelle Cahill, Letter to Pessoa Heather Taylor Johnson , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 77 no. 2 2017; (p. 248-251)

'The letter, in its conventional form, is essentially non-fiction, though fiction’s been known to mine the epistolary field with great success (think of the classics Frankenstein and The Colour Purple). The draw in using the form as fiction might lie in the immediacy and in the intimacy predicated by the use of second person “you.” as fiction, letters assume an addressee from the story’s opening, thus proving to be (for the most part, anyway) between two people: “I” and “you.” Though aside from the obligatory questions and niceties—how are you?; I hope this letter finds you well—the focus of the letter is always its writer, so given the nature of letters’ musings and related happenings, we should really think of it as being between “I” and “I.” in her debut short story collection, Letters to Pessoa, award winning poet Michelle Cahill takes this theory to new, layered heights as she pens seven letters to philosophers and writers as well as incorporating heteronyms (characters created by a writer specifically allowing for different styles of writing, something the poet Fernando Pessoa mastered) into stories as a complementary way of getting at identity.' (Introduction)

Last amended 6 Sep 2017 09:20:31
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