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Compulsive Reader talks

Compulsive Reader talks

By Magdalena Ball

Compulsive Reader's author interviews, book chat, literary discussions, readings and more. It's an audio haven for book lovers! Recent and upcoming guests include Terry Denton, Marion Halligan, Sir Ken Robinson, Emily Ballou, Sofie Laguna, Matthew Riley, John Banville, Felicity Plunkett, Mark Coker, Peter Bowerman, Eric Maisel, Ramona Koval, Tim Flannery, Carl Zimmer, Gail Jones, Jane Smiley, Frank Delaney, Ben Okri, and many more.
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Currently playing episode

Interview with Richard James Allen

Compulsive Reader talksJun 24, 2019

Beatriz Copello on No Salami Fairy Bread
Nov 21, 202329:17
Samuel Lucas Allen on CUT

Samuel Lucas Allen on CUT

Award winning filmmaker Samuel Lucas Allen talks about their new short film CUT. We talk about how the film came together as a project, the extraordinary cinematography, on working with their father, Richard James Allen (who has been on the show several times to talk about his own work), and the father-son relationship in general, Judaism, guilt, toxic masculinity, the acting team (including a well-behaved chicken), the film score by composer Sam Weiss, what's exciting them right now and lots more.

Samuel's website:

Sydney premiere of CUT at JIFF:

Stills (including the one we talked about at the Sydney Jewish Museum) and other worldwide showings of CUT:

Compulsive Reader review:

Oct 25, 202329:21
Eugen Bacon on Serengotti
Oct 05, 202333:34
Esther Ottaway on She Doesn't Seem Autistic
Sep 20, 202336:02
Richard James Allen on Text Messages from the Universe

Richard James Allen on Text Messages from the Universe

Richard James Allen joins me to read from and talk about his latest book Text Messages from the Universe. We talk about many things including the book's deeply spiritual themes, its links with The Tibetan book of the Dead, the unique format of the book and how it relates to its matching film, what's exciting him at the moment, and lots more. Video version can be seen here:

You can get hold of Text Messages from the Universe (at its ridiculously low price of $10) from:

For more about the film Text Messages from the Universe (available for screenings and readings, email visit:

For more about Breaking Plates (film in post production by Karen Pearlman: tax deductible donations gratefully received via Documentary Australia):

For more about CUT (film by Samuel Lucas Allen: coming soon) visit:

For the full suite of Richard's many projects, visit his website The Physical TV Company:

Jul 01, 202332:14
Alisa Bryce on Grounded
Jun 21, 202331:06
Alan Fyfe on T
May 31, 202336:59
Ashley Kalagian Blunt on Dark Mode
Apr 04, 202331:02
Oisín Breen on Lilies on the Deathbed of Étaín & Other Poems
Mar 04, 202345:05
A conversation with Meera Atkinson
Feb 16, 202330:42
Kateryna Kazimirova on Voices of Freedom: Contemporary Writing From Ukraine
Dec 21, 202234:33
Hazel Smith on Ecliptical
Nov 11, 202233:33
Sara Kidd on The Vegan Cake Bible
Aug 11, 202230:32
Bastian Fox Phelan on How to Be Between
Aug 02, 202235:09
Beth Spencer on The Age of Fibs
Jun 16, 202239:20
Michelle Cahill on Daisy & Woolf

Michelle Cahill on Daisy & Woolf

Michelle Cahill, author of Daisy & Woolf, joins me at Woollahra Gallery to read from and talk about her new book, writing through Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, the burden of the canon, giving a voice to marginalised characters, literary decolonisation, the complex relationship between real life and fiction, intertextuality, the conjunction of place against time, and lots more. 

Visit Michelle's website:

2016 Interview with Michelle on Letter to Pessoa:

Jun 03, 202233:06
Talking poetry with Yilinhi/Lorna Munro
Apr 13, 202244:59
Nick Courtright on The Proofs, the Figures: Walt Whitman and the Meaning of Poems.

Nick Courtright on The Proofs, the Figures: Walt Whitman and the Meaning of Poems.

Kristina Darling interviews Nick Courtright about his new book The Proofs, the Figures: Walt Whitman and the Meaning of Poems.

In “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman wryly remarks about one’s being “proud to get at the meaning of poems,” a comment highlighting the long-fraught problem of poetic interpretation and the pride-worthy intellectual labor required to elucidate the meaning of a text. Using Whitman’s own “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” an eight-line poem published in 1865, as its case study, The Proofs, the Figures: Walt Whitman and the Meaning of Poems  investigates the chief methods available to readers when they embark on literary meaning-making, while also highlighting the challenges innate to such a task. With examples ranging from the critical and scholarly to the popular-cultural and survey-based, investigating interpretive prospects for “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” confirms that “to get at the meaning of poems” is a project of infinite opportunity both rewarded by and afflicted with the impossibility of absolute comprehension. By employing an array of formal, historical, mediational, and psychological techniques, Dr. Courtright confronts the lasting question of “what counts” or is relevant as evidence for an interpretation, while casting a wide net for the resources and methodologies that can be brought to bear not just on this single text or author, but on all texts and for all authors. Dr. Courtright’s book has already earned strong praise for its engaging prose and thought-provoking analysis.  Dr. Matt Cohen, Co-Director of the Walt Whitman Archive and author of The New Walt Whitman Studies (Cambridge UP), says, "The Proofs, the Figures has all of Nick Courtright's usual hallmarks: humor, trenchant readings, sustained skepticism, and a tactical leveraging of critical voices both old and new."   Similarly, Dr. Chad Bennett, author of Word of Mouth: Gossip and American Poetry  (Johns Hopkins UP) and Your New Feeling is the Artifact of a Bygone Era  (Sarabande), praises Courtright as a critic and thinker: "I appreciate, as always, Nick Courtright's lively and accessible writing, engagement with audience, and the ambition of this project. I'm impressed by how much ground he covers."

A scholar-practitioner, Dr Courtright is also the author of The Forgotten World, Let There Be Light, and Punchline, a National Poetry Series finalist.  He is the Executive Editor of Atmosphere Press. His poetry has appeared in The Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, The Iowa Review, AGNI, Gulf Coast, and The Southern Review, among dozens of others, and essays and other prose have been published by such places as The Huffington Post, The Best American Poetry, Gothamist, and SPIN Magazine. With a Doctorate in Literature from the University of Texas, he lives in Austin with the poet Lisa Mottolo and their children, William and Samuel.  Find out more about Nick Courtright at:

Kristina Marie Darling is a poet, essayist, and critic. She holds a doctorate from the Poetics Program at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo, as well as an M.F.A. from New York University.  Find out more about Kristina Marie Darling at:

Mar 19, 202227:04
Jessica Au on Cold Enough For Snow
Feb 23, 202236:43
Charles Freyberg on The Crumbling Mansion
Dec 15, 202133:39
KA Rees on Come the Bones
Oct 13, 202137:43
James Bradley | Author of Clade - on climate fiction
Sep 30, 202101:03:57
Beth Spencer in conversation with Kit Kelen
Aug 05, 202156:28
Lillian Avedian on Journey to Tatev
Jun 30, 202133:40
Adam Aitken on One Hundred Letters Home
Jun 16, 202136:19
Michael J Leach on Chronicity
May 23, 202134:11
Emily Maguire on Love Objects

Emily Maguire on Love Objects

Australian writer Emily Maguire's new novel is a clear-eyed and compassionate novel about love and family, betrayal and forgiveness, and the things we do to fill our empty spaces. In this interview, created for The Newcastle Writers' Festival's Stories to You series, Emily reads from and talks about Love Objects

Find out more about Emily here:

Apr 14, 202134:42
Alison Treat interviews Leslie K Barry about Newark Minutemen

Alison Treat interviews Leslie K Barry about Newark Minutemen

In this guest episode, author and podcaster Alison Treat interviews Leslie K Barry about her book Newark Minutemen. Note that this is a re-pod from Alison's excellent podcast Historical Fiction: Unpacked. In this interview, author Leslie K. Barry talks Newark Minutemen, and its historical 1938 setting, including the little known history behind the book around a shadow Nazi party called the German-American Bund led by an American Fuhrer and inspired by Leslie's own uncle's role in fighting this party.  More on Newark Minutemen can be found at the book's website and Facebook page.

Leslie K Barry's Goodreads page:

Find out more about Alison Treat at her website:

Watch another interview with Leslie about the book conducted by her sister here:

Apr 10, 202145:35
Chris Mansell on Foxline

Chris Mansell on Foxline

Chris Mansell is one of Australia’s notable powerhouses in the poetry world.  Chris was one of the founders of Five Islands Press and now runs PressPress, an independent publishing house she founded in 2002.  Chris has had over a dozen of her own books of poetry published as well as artist books, CDs, a collection of short fiction and even a children’s book. Her extensive body of work has been translated into many languages, and won many prizes including the Queensland Premier's Literary Award (poetry) the Meanjin Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize. Chris joins us to read from and talk about her poetry book Foxline, published in 2020 by Flying Island Books. 

Find out more about Chris at her website:

Mar 24, 202135:21
Zacchary Bird on Vegan Junk Food
Mar 10, 202130:37
Paul Rabinowitz on The Clay Urn
Feb 16, 202119:11
Angus Gaunt on Black Rabbit
Oct 06, 202032:28
Denise O'Hagan on The Beating Heart
Sep 21, 202034:20
Lee Kofman on Imperfect
Aug 27, 202038:00
Nicola Redhouse on Unlike the Heart
May 21, 202029:45
Maria Tumarkin on Axiomatic
May 08, 202042:33
Sophie Hardcastle on Below Deck
Apr 17, 202033:57
Gillian Swain book launch My skin its own sky

Gillian Swain book launch My skin its own sky

Following the cancelled Newcastle Writers Festival, Gillian Swain and I decided to launch her new poetry book, My skin its own sky,  online.  The launch was featured in this year's online Newcastle Writers Festival #NWFSTORIESTOYOU (see video link below). My skin its own sky was published in Dec 2019 by Flying Island Books, and is Gillian's second published work following Sang Up (Picaro Press, 2001). Gillian lives in East Maitland with her husband and their four children, where they run their successful coffee roasting business, River Roast

Video version of launch:


River Roast Coffee:

Apr 10, 202026:29
Virtual launch of Morgan Bell's Idiomatic, for the people

Virtual launch of Morgan Bell's Idiomatic, for the people

As the Newcastle Writers Festival had to be cancelled this year due to Coronavirus, we did a virtual launch for Morgan Bell's  poetry chapbook Idiomatic, for the people.  The session, which we conducted with Zoom, was a lot of fun and after my launch Morgan read and spoke about several of the poems in the collection, as well as how the book came together. The full video version can be found here:  You can buy copies of Idiomatic, for the people from the Girls on Key Poetry Portal ( or Amazon (

Mar 21, 202039:08
Jim Reese on Bone Chalk

Jim Reese on Bone Chalk

In this guest episode, Daniel Flahie of the Die Healther podcast shares a recent interview with Dr Jim Reese on his new book Bone Chalk.   Jim talks about how he became a writer, his transition from narrative poetry to prose (and the inspiration for that), the relationship between his personal experience with crime, working in prisons (especially San Quentin) and some of the surprising facts he learned doing so, and on writing crime, on the value of education, the relationship between writing, exercise and mental health, some of the key themes in his book, what gets him up in the morning, his inspirations, his upcoming project, and lots more. 

Jim Reese is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Great Plains Writing Tour at Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota. He has also worked for over a decade in the United States prison systems as an educator. Dr. Reese has published three books of poetry, and his most recent work Bone Chalk is his first work of published prose. He has many awards including first place in the 2018 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards.

Find out more about Jim Reese at his website:

Find out more about Daniel Flahie at:

Feb 13, 202029:44
Roslyn McFarland on All the Lives We've Lived
Feb 04, 202033:51
Jessica Mehta talks with novelist and poet Nina Murray
Jan 03, 202038:41
Jenny Blackford on The Girl in the Mirror
Dec 20, 201929:20
Interview with Sarah Myles
Oct 28, 201929:22
Peter Valentine on World heritage Sites of Australia
Sep 18, 201932:42
Eliana Gray on Eager to Break
Jul 02, 201935:24
Interview with Richard James Allen
Jun 24, 201930:32
Bram Presser on The Book of Dirt
May 06, 201936:44
Anne Casey on Where the Lost Things Go
Feb 11, 201933:23
Ali Whitelock on And My Heart Crumples Like a Coke Can
Jan 10, 201928:27