Maria Tumarkin: Axiomatic
‘Time is what makes everything OK. How it flows forward and circles round itself, both; how life, suspended, zero gravity, in time consists of so many things repeating.’
Maria Tumarkin is one of Australia’s foremost writers of creative non-fiction. With Axiomatic, her fourth book – seven years in the making – she explores the limits of stories and of institutions, and thoughtfully scrutinises disparate yet interlocking encounters with teen suicide, drug abuse and child Holocaust survivors.
With host Melinda Harvey at the Wheeler Centre, Maria Tumarkin speaks with some of the people whose stories – lives – feature in the book, including Lisa West McNeice, Vanda Hamilton and Sophie Bibrowska.
Maria Tumarkin writes books, essays, reviews, and pieces for performance and radio; she collaborates with sound and visual artists and has had her work carved into dockside tiles. She is the author of four books of ideas. Her fourth (and latest) book Axiomatic won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award (US), the Stella Prize, and the Prime Minister’s, NSW and Victorian Premiers’ Awards. Axiomatic was named a New Yorker Top 10 Book of 2019.
Maria is a recipient of the 2020 Windham Campbell Prize in the category of nonfiction. She holds a PhD in cultural history and is a senior lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Melbourne.
Melinda Harvey has published widely as a book critic for over a decade and is a judge of the Miles Franklin Literary Award. She is Lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University and is currently at work on a book about women critics.
During her twenty or so years as a teacher in secondary classrooms, Lisa West McNeice has taught English, English Language, Literature and Art. At Monash University she worked with beginning teachers, and as a consultant she has worked with teams of teachers across the state to engage students and enrich their experience of English. She is a published poet and songwriter and has had experience in student theatre as a writer, director and set designer. Lisa now teaches privately and pursues as creative a life as possible. In 2018 she completed her first major show, an art exhibition incorporating music and poetry performance.
Vanda Hamilton worked as a journalist, in marketing and public relations and in theatre before undertaking a law degree as a mature age student. She spent nearly nine years as a community lawyer in St Kilda. Vanda currently works for the Mental Health Legal Centre, and runs legal clinics in a male prison as well as appearing at Mental Health Tribunal hearings for mental health service consumers.
Sophie Bibrowska lectured in French literature at Monash, Melbourne and La Trobe Universities before returning to study to be a psychologist at the age of fifty. She worked with long-term unemployed people in the community sector, then with people suffering from trauma following the war in ex-Yugoslavia. She has become especially interested in hypnosis and issues of creativity. She is now in private practice in St Kilda as well as working on her second PhD.