Monday, 3 September 2018

The Power of Hope, Indeed

By Dan Hutchins

Kon Karapanagiotidis’ The Power of Hope gives no false impressions with its title. The book is full of passion, inspiration, and, of course, hope.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Perhaps, We Write

By Daniel Hutchins

How do we fix what is broken?
How do we fix the world?
Perhaps, we write.
How do we unite countries at war? How do we stop dictatorships?
Perhaps, we write.
How do we stop people dying by their own hands? How do we stop people dying at the hands of those they love? How do we stop people dying at sea?
Perhaps, we write.
How do we fight racism? Sexism? Homophobia? How do we fight transphobia and ableism and bigotry and exclusivity?
How do we fix what seems to be broken beyond repair?
How do we fix drought and climate change and politicians who don’t seem to know what to do about any of it?
How do we achieve reconciliation with the people who came before us when there is already so much damage done? How do we find history that seems to be long lost?
How do we look beyond our own backyard when our own backyard seems to have enough problems, thank you very much?
It’s overwhelming. There’s too much. Too many people are suffering, and what can we do about it?
Perhaps, we write.
Perhaps we write and speak and tell stories. Perhaps we gather at forums and discuss and listen with open ears. Perhaps we research and discover and ask questions and get curious. Perhaps we find the truth. Perhaps we hold writers festivals. Perhaps we write poetry and memoir and truth to power. Perhaps we write cookbooks and crime and fantasy. Perhaps, we write.
Perhaps this is na├»ve. Perhaps writing won’t fix everything. But perhaps it might fix something. Perhaps it's a start. Perhaps it’s a call to action. And perhaps what is broken might, one day, be fixed.

Perhaps, we write.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Byrnes' Beacon to Brilliant Books

After watching the Text Marks the Spot session, “Green’s Guide to Good Books”, I decided to create my own list of must read books for all ages. This will be called “Byrnes’ Beacon to Brilliant Books” ~ Annie Byrnes

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Rupert Murdoch's last hoorah

By Katelin Kemp

Sue with interviewer Katelin Kemp
For someone who only took this class to gain the 15 credit points that were on offer, I never expected to be so inspired and in fact enjoy the festival as much as I did. But who swayed me to go into it open-minded and actually enjoy the festival?

None other than the famous ‘Rupert Murdoch!’ Also known as Sue Gillett- the lecturer for the La Trobe subject Writers in Action. Sue coordinated and helped to inspire us all.

At the end of the Mildura Writers Festival, I was lucky enough to interview Sue, in which she shared some of her own experiences and opinions on the 2018 Mildura Writers Festival.

It is worth noting that Sue has been involved in many Writers Festivals extending over four different locations. These locations include; Bendigo, Mildura, Albury and Shepparton. Amazingly, this is her fourth year being involved with the Mildura Writers Festival.

When asked "What elements make the Mildura Festival different from the other locations?" Sue had one answer; "The principle difference is the concentrated program, they deliberately only have one session running at a time, this means that every member of the audience, and the other authors, get to go to the same sessions. It gives people the chance to go to all the sessions that interest them, there is no limit”.

Sue believes that this very deliberate program makes the Mildura Writers Festival special in comparison to other Writers Festivals. “Mildura has a slower pace than others and creates ongoing conversations as the authors tend to appear more than once”. As the writers usually appear more that once in the program, the conversation tends to continue on and develop further. "The conversation keeps growing and deepening, it’s a different kind of conversation that can happen and continue to resonate after the festival is over”.

When asked if she agreed with the some of the authors on 'Food' being a prominent influence on the uniqueness of the Mildura Writers Festival?, she of course laughed. “Eating is a big part of the festival, writers love it because they are very well fed”. Sue further explained that "Unlike at other Writers Festivals, there was always food available close to the location of the sessions if not at the sessions themselves. The people attending the sessions didn’t have to leave the location to get themselves food and then have to come back." Sue explained that even having the oranges and other citrus fruits, along with coffee available during the break times for people to have was exceptional. “It created opportunities for people to eat and drink together within the actual environment of the festival, it helps it become more personal and intimate”.

Sue further touched on the humanness of this festival, another way she believes that Mildura is exceptional. “The writers aren’t just there on the pedestal on the stage - well they are there doing that, being interviewed and so on - but we are also having coffee with them and eating our sandwiches with them. This doesn’t often happen at other festivals”.

When asked "What the highlight was for her with the 2018 Mildura Writers Festival?" Sue struggled to give just one. “I was particularly moved by some of the speakers and some of the readings. There were a lot of deep themes and very personal themes in this festival and so I did feel as if I was being addressed in quite a personal way”. Sue also explained that a stand out session for her was one of Cate Kennedy’s sessions and in particular the one where she did a reading of the poem she was working on that hadn’t been published yet. “What stood out for me and really touched me was Cate Kennedy’s reading of her new poem… The central image of 'Noah on the Ark' sending out first a raven and then a 'dove' for signs of life. That really brought a tear to my eye and really touched me deeply”. Of course, like many others at the festival, getting to see and listen to David Malouf again was unquestionably a highlight. Sue explained that “Seeing David Malouf again is a highlight, he amuses me and I love to hear him read”.

It was clear from the first instance when meeting Sue that she is very passionate about these events and loves being involved with the students and the Writers Festivals. Sue used her passion to inspire students like myself to enjoy and learn from this subject. And after informing this years Writers in Action class that this would be her last time teaching the subject, it seemed only fitting for our last question to be about how she felt about this. Unsurprisingly her first reaction was to almost cry, but after thinking about it for a few more seconds, it was determined that yes there would be some sadness, but there would also be some relief. “It will be my last time teaching the subject Writers in Action, but it will not be my last time coming to the Mildura Writers Festival. I plan to come back just as an ordinary person. That makes me feel a little sad because I enjoy my time with my students and I have an extra intensity to my experience because of that and because I am sharing that experience”.

And with those parting words we would like to thank you Sue for helping us through this elective and of course for inspiring us to succeed and enjoy.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Days like this

A rediscovered poem, for the Mildura Writers mob.

Thoughts, like things, have moods and weight, colour, shape, 
texture, movement, size.

On a clear day, thoughts can drift like clouds,
unattached, unfazed, and lazy, 
beyond reach of craving

Or they can be dark as Northern winter,
thorny anchors, onyx black, 
settling in the skull.

On days like this
my thoughts are a black hole of overthinking;
a centrifugal, shrunken mouth that sucks and swallows
every space where light and hope and grace might try to hide;

Most days, thinking is a leather-booted army,
stamping its military will across every moment;
it is a crushing machine, a threshing mill,
a self-engorging cannibal,
masticating negativity, 
spawning doom.

On days like this
I try to feel for smaller thoughts,
the ones that flicker, fleeting, fragile,
magical as fairies, elusive as mist;

These are the ones to watch out for,
even if we only glimpse them flying in the periphery.

- Sue Gillett, 2018