My name is Kate Hennessy. I am a Walkley-award winning arts writer, editor and music critic. I contribute to the Guardian Australia, The Wire (UK), ABC Arts, The Saturday Paper, The Quietus (UK), The Australian Book Review, The Lifted Brow, Noisey/Vice, Limelight, Neighbourhood and more.
I speak at festivals, on radio, television and on panels.
I developed a full-day course called ‘How To Be A Music Journalist’, currently presented for Guardian Australia. I am a peer assessor for the Australia Council, an Australian Music Prize judge and National Live Music Awards board member.
My travel writing is published in the Guardian UK, The Saturday Paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, Get Lost Magazine, AWOL, CEO Magazine, Wellbeing Magazine and more. Travel writing has taken me to Africa, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Solomon Islands, Germany, Russia and remote Indigenous communities in Australia. Published samples here.
So, why The Smallest Room?
“Ich sitze in dem kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe ihre Kritik vor mir. Im nachsten Augenblick wird sie hinter mir sein.”
This is German musician Max Reger, a notorious grump, addressing the author of an unflattering review of his music* in 1906. In English: “I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.”
I like this quote a lot. In 2012, I received my first hate mail. Two rounds, in fact, personal and lengthy. The experience in part inspired the name of this website as I wished the author had been so wryly dismissive in his address to me. For both our sakes.
In so few words, Reger acknowledged his hurt at the critic’s words but also his opinion those words were worthy only of being used as toilet paper. Or did he plan on eating the review and excreting it? Either way, a bluff, but a dignified and impressively succinct one. I’d like to think if my words wound someone in the future, they’ll feel as Reger did… then move on.
The Smallest Room is also a hat tip to Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own because music criticism is a male-dominated affair. It is also a reference to my mind: the smallest room indeed.
If you have some music you’d like me to hear, please contact me directly, preferably well before release. I like direct contact, especially if you can tell me why I – specifically – will think it’s worth hearing or if I’ve already written about something else you’ve released. I can’t promise I will reply but I can promise I’ll listen.
Find me at firstname.lastname@example.org