Launching Dark Sky Dreamings

“this celestial compendium connects us to something numinous, inviting us to see the universe anew”
Tamryn Bennett, Artistic Director, Red Room Poetry

Dark Sky Dreamings: an Inland Skywriters Anthology , the Skywriters Project‘s first book, was published in October 2019 by Interactive Press in Brisbane, Australia. It is now available in hardcopy and several e-formats from selected bookshops and online. You can preview it on Google books here, and buy it directly from the publisher here, or from your favourite bookseller.

TAMWORTH LAUNCH – 31 October 2019

We launched the anthology on the night of 31 October at a small outdoor event in Tamworth co-hosted with the Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club! Why? Because we wanted to view some of the celestial bodies our authors had written about. But alas! No stars were visible in the sky that night — because of smoke from a nearby bushfire, one of the first in what would become Australia’s Summer From Hell.

On the ground, however, eight stars of a different kind read from their skystories: our poet/publisher, David Reiter (Brisbane), Steve Turner (Coonabarabran), Marion Wighton-Packham (Condobolin), Brydie O’Shea (Ashford), Robyn Warwick (Narrabri), Sophie Masson AM (Armidale), Gary Dean (Foster), and Merrill Findlay (Forbes). Most of these authors had travelled hundreds of kilometres to attend this event. Our thanks to all of them and to TRAC’s Vice-President, Garry Copper, and his fellow astronomers who provided the marquee, PA system and (unused!) telescope. (

This event and other Dark Sky Dreamings celebrations are also documented on our Skywriters Project FB page.

Our Tamworth launch coincided with Regional Arts NSW’s ArtState 2019 festival, which included a panel discussion about the Skywriters Project and our other Big Skies Collaboration initiatives. Panel members — Tracey Callinan, Executive Director of Arts OutWest, skywriter Marion Wighton-Packham,  the Wiradjuri Wellbeing teacher from Condobolin, and me (Merrill Findlay) — talked about our Collaboration’s efforts to catalyze new opportunities in inland communities and what this means for locals. We received an overwhelmingly supportive response.

The Tamworth launch in Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park with ArtState 2019 happening around it. Photo by co-host Garry Copper, Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club.

LOCAL LAUNCHES

Since the Tamworth launch we have celebrated Dark Sky Dreamings with local authors in Forbes (21 November 2019), Grenfell (3 December 2019), Condobolin (18 December 2019), Coonabarabran (19 December 2019), and Bathurst (27 February 2020). A launch in Dubbo is scheduled for Saturday March 28. We’re also discussing an event in Parkes, possibly at the Parkes Observatory, to bring together all the Dark Sky Dreaming authors who referred to The Dish, the Apollo Missions, SETI and other space-related themes in their stories. This proposed would be co-hosted with Central West Astronomical Society and other partners. More on this soon.

FORBES LAUNCH

Our pop-up book stall outside News on Rankin, Forbes, with proprietor Gabe Miller McMillan (centre), local identity, 93-year-old Elaine Imrie (right), and her neighbour, Dark Sky Dreamings’ editor and author, Merrill Findlay, on 21 November, 2019.

GRENFELL LAUNCH

Grenfell’s two skywriters, Gai Lander and Alison Rumps, read to a very attentive audience of friends and supporters at an event hosted by librarian Erica Kearney at the Grenfell Library on 3 December 2019. Weddin Shire Council’s, Clr Mark Liebich, formally launched Dark Sky Dreamings and congratulated Gai and Alison on behalf of his entire community, and Clr Carly Brown, who is also on the board of Arts OutWest, spoke about the contributions our Big Skies Collaboration is making to the cultural life of small inland towns. 

CONDOBOLIN LAUNCH

COONABARABRAN LAUNCH

BATHURST LAUNCH

The regional city of Bathurst, New South Wales, revealed itself to be a hub of literary creativity at the launch of Dark Sky Dreamings: an Inland Skywriters Anthology.

The book was launched by Councillor Monica Morse OAM who recounted some of her own experiences of celestial phenomena and praised the power of creative writers to transform such experiences into glittering works of art.

A diverse audience of more than 40 locals listened spell-bound to astro-photographer Niall MacNeil speaking about his image of the Milky Way on the book’s cover, and to eight of our 50 authors reading from their anthologised works – Tracy Sorensen, Martha Gelin, Tatiana Bonch, Phil Sanders, Juanita Kwok, David Clarkson, Miranda Gott, and Merrill Findlay.

Our thanks to Bathurst Library staff (especially Victoria Murray, Tracey Platt and Patou Clerc) for hosting this very special event, and to all the participants. Unfortunately we sold out of books that night, but those who missed out can order copies online from the publisher, IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd), or from your favourite bookshop.

MOREE BOOK CLUB DOES ‘DARK SKY DREAMINGS‘!

In Moree, Wise Words Bookshop hosted a book group gathering on 29 January 2020 with two of our northern NSW Dark Sky Dreamings authors, Michael Andersen (Moree) and Max Pringle (Narrabri).

Moree Book Club with Dark Sky Dreamings authors at Wise Words Book Shop.
Photo courtesy of Wise Words.

SELECTED PRESS COVERAGE

‘Dark Sky Dreamings’ special offer, Arts OutWest website, 22 October 2019 >>

‘Central West artists strongly represented at Artstate Tamworth 2019,’ Forbes Advocate, 23 October 2019 >>

‘Anthology set to light up the night sky,’ Brendon McCool, Forbes Advocate, 19 November, 2019 >>

‘Dark Sky Dreaming,’ Rebecca Hewson, Grenfell Record, 19 November 2019 >>

‘Bathurst Arts Council: Writers’ responses to Australia’s night sky,’ Steven Cavanagh, Western Advocate (Bathurst), 12 November, 2019 >>

‘A Dark Sky Filled With Glittering Stories,’ Maggie Barnard, Parkes Phoenix, 15 November 2019 >>

‘Skywriters book launch at Bathurst Library,’ Rich Evans, Bathurst City Life, issue 305, 4 March 2020, p. 13 >>

Page created 22 January 2020 by Merrill Findlay. Last updated 11 March 2020.

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