Spinifex Press and Finola Moorhead’s Modern Classic

A Handwritten Modern Classic by Finola Moorhead. Spinifex Press 2013. (First Published by Post Neo Books 1982).

From the original 1982 Post Neo edition

I must have read Finola Moorhead’s A Handwritten Modern Classic just after it was published in 1982. It was one of those books that you never forget. It was handwritten not typed.


I had to relearn how to read this book. I started as if this was just another book but by the second paragraph I had tripped over words and landed flat on my face.

Finola’s handwriting is not that hard to read (compared to mine for example) but I had to approach the text in a different manner, I had to read more closely, and I had to reread just to make sure… those last two letters are they ‘th’ or a strange ‘r’? Is the word “death” or “dear”? Reread the sentence…ah must be death!

But once you crack the code you are in!! And it’s a wonderful place to be (whether it is 1982 or 2013!) and the Post Neo edition has held a special place on my bookshelf for decades.

A Handwritten Modern Classic is a manifesto, it is (at times) handwritten poetry disguised as prose. Interestingly it still seems contemporary – Malcolm Fraser may not be PM but the issues remain the same. Above all it asks questions about writing and literature that we still need to ask today.

It is exciting that Spinifex has republished this small press classic – and brought it to the attention of a new generation, a new group of readers and writers. It will be interesting to see how it is received 30 years after Pete Spence and Post Neo Books decided to publish a handwritten manifesto – a classic even then!

Rochford Street Review is proud to be able to publish berni m janssen’s extraordinary launch speech for this ‘classic’ of Australian literature and is over the moon at being able to publish Finola Moorhead’s own thoughts on her classic becoming a classic!

– Mark Roberts


A Handwritten Modern Classic is available from Spinifex Press http://www.spinifexpress.com.au/Bookstore/book/id=219/

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