Don Watson

A Single Tree: Voices from the Bush

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'Don Watson’s new book, A Single Tree, is fascinating ... it brings alive the bush during a long span of Australian history. The writers chosen by Watson range from explorers and ecologists to poets, novelists, anthropologists and historians. All briefly ‘‘say something about what it means to live in this land and some say what it will mean when we learn how to live with it’’. In discovering and selecting them Watson was often moved, ‘‘even mysteriously so’’.' Geoffrey Blainey, The Australian, 26 November, 2016.

'To understand the destruction of a forest, says Don Watson, we need to know what it takes to fell a single tree. The big picture requires details. And  the casual details  can sometimes be the most shocking: Emily Caroline Creaghe noting in  1883  that a visitor has arrived with "a new gin … a rope around the gin's neck". Shepherd George Everard provides a glimpse of colonial theatre, blowing his wages in the city: "The house laughing … during the most tragic scenes". Poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal​ creates a moving portrait of dispossession. Shirley Walker evokes the life of Burdekin women: "Of sex they say nothing, of childbirth plenty".  Politician Oscar de Satge recounts the surreal tale of a cottage floating along flood waters "lamps alight" – the bush emerging as a complex, moving organism, these tales its constituent parts.' Steven Carroll, The Age, 3 February, 2017.

'Watson’s panoptic approach allows him to draw in a fascinating spread of material – everything from bits of measured observation and eloquent insight, to items of innocent misapprehension or wilful ignorance. While A Single Tree makes available all kinds of texts against which readers might test or expand their own vision of the ‘bush’, its compiler also quite properly states that ‘Across place and time, no book could do justice’ to the principle of variety that has guided his selection. Still and all, on a subject as big as this, Don Watson’s ‘fragmentary history’ stands as an excellent and thoughtfully arranged non-compendium, non-anthology that gets satisfyingly close.' Angelo Loukakis, Australian Book Review.

'Flicking through the pages of A Single Tree provides an absorbing read, giving an insight into the thoughts and humanity — or otherwise — of many ... The authors spring to life with a passion for the land or a remarkable insight into what drives us, or what we know so little about still.' Courier Mail, 8 January, 2016.

Article - Fragments of the Bush. Don Watson introduces A Single Tree: Voices from the Bush. 

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Don Watson Speaks

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'Don Watson ... got my full attention and respect in minutes...'

'Engaging and interesting, and very valid...'

'Funny and to the point.'

'I could have listened to him all day.'

To engage Don for talks (or even workshops) send an email to Helen Smith including details of where, when and why.

Don.jpgDon Watson's Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, won the Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association's Book of the Year.

His Quarterly Essay, Rabbit Syndrome: Australia and America won the Alfred Deakin Essay Prize. 

Death Sentence, his best-selling book about the decay of public language won the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year. Watson's Dictionary Of Weasel Words was also a bestseller. 

American Journeys won the Age Non-Fiction and Book of the Year Awards. It also won the inaugural Indie Award for Non-Fiction and the Walkley Award for Non-Fiction.

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His book, The Bush: Travels to the Heart of Australia, was the 2015 Indie Book of the Year and Book of the Year in the 2015 NSW Premier's Literary Awards. It also won the Non-Fiction Award in the Queensland Literary Awards and the FAW Non-Fiction Prize.