We talk to three writers who teach, and ask them about the ways we learn and teach writing – in community organisations, schools, colleges and universities – and the skills and knowledge writers need.
Penni Russon writes literary fiction for children and teenagers, and her books include the award-winning Only Ever Always. She teaches creative writing at the University of Melbourne, having studied Children’s Literature at Monash University and then Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT. She has been blogging since 2006 and has recently been involved in a creative partnership with Storybird and a research project with Orygen Youth Mental Health and Headspace.
Alexis Drevikovsky is a writer and the General Manager of Writers Victoria – a major statewide writers’ centre which offers an extensive learning program. She has taught English to Mexican children, and her own writing has been published in The Age, Killings and Australian Love Stories. Alexis is currently working on a memoir.
Dr Alison Ravenscroft was part of the legendary Australian feminist publishing cooperative, Sybylla Press. She now teaches in English at La Trobe University, and supervises a number of postgraduate students working on creative and critical projects. Her own fiction and academic writing has been widely published in journals and in edited collections, and her short story ‘Object Lessons’ won the Josephine Ulrich Literature Award. Her 2016 book The Postcolonial Eye considers the ways we read, see and understand race and desire.
This episode was recorded in a meeting room in a beautiful local library, where we were surrounded by young learners in homework club and older learners and readers in informal groups and classes. Perfect. If a little noisy.
Disclosure: Co-host Kelly Gardiner also teaches at La Trobe University and is a tutor at Writers Victoria.
Professor Helen C. White demonstrates how to dress for a creative writing class (University of Wisconsin, 1954)
University of Wisconsin Archives via Wikimedia Commons, pennirusson.com, Writers Victoria, La Trobe University
In our first live recording, at the Castlemaine State Festival, we asked two authors of nonfiction how they research complex subjects, manage their materials, and create compelling stories.
Robyn Annear is a history writer and Castlemaine local legend. Her books include Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne, Nothing But Gold: The diggers of 1852, The Man Who Lost Himself: The Unbelievable Story of the Tichborne Claimant, and Fly a Rebel Flag: The Eureka Stockade. Her book A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne grew out of a State Library Victoria Creative Fellowship. Robyn was also guest curator of the State Library’s exhibition Naked democracy: governing Victoria 1856-2006.
Lynne Kelly is a science writer with a background in engineering, physics, mathematics, information technology and gifted education. Her most recent book, The Memory Code and its academic counterpart, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: orality, memory and the transmission of culture, explore oral traditions and the concept of memory spaces. Lynne has written fourteen science books, particularly for school-age readers, and a novel, Avenging Janie. Her most popular science titles include The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal, Crocodile and Spiders.
Robyn Annear’s beloved Bearbrass and A City Lost and Found have recently been republished by Black Inc. Lynne Kelly’s The Memory Code is published by Allen & Unwin.
Our thanks to Castlemaine State Festival for inviting us to be part of the festival, and to our fabulous audience.
Disclosure in the spirit of historical accuracy: Kelly was possibly over-excited to be told she was appearing on the same stage as Lola Montez, having recently written Madame Montez’s dramatic performance on the Goldfields into a short story, but got the year wrong in the heat of the moment. It was 1856, not 1857. The original timber Theatre Royal in Castlemaine burned down in 1887, so it’s not exactly the same stage. But we’re just going with it.
Robyn Annear’s shoebox
On stage at the Theatre Royal (from left): Adele, Lynne, Robyn and Kelly. And Robyn’s famous shoe box. The ghost of Lola Montez lurks unseen behind us. Photo by Lisa D’Onofrio.
Unladylike heads to Castlemaine State Festival soon for our first live recording.
We’ll be talking with two writers of remarkable nonfiction: Robyn Annear and Lynne Kelly.
It’s on 22 March at 11am in the Theatre Royal Courtyard. Join us if you like, or stay tuned for the episode coming soon: On knowledge.
We talk to two powerful poets and performers who work across and beyond a range of narrative and performative forms and traditions.
Unladylike caught up with Natalia Molebatsi and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers on a recent visit to South Africa.
is a writer and poet who has appeared throughout Africa, Europe and
the USA. Her performances and recordings, often with her band The Soul Making, combine poetry with with jazz, funk and hip hop.
Her first collection was Sardo Dance
(Ge’ko Publishing, 2012), and her work appears in anthologies such as Letter to South Africa: Poets Calling the State to Order
, Happiness the Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry
, New Coin
, and the Anthology of World Poetry,
and in academic journals. Nathalia edited We Are: A Poetry Anthology
published by Penguin, and has run creative writing workshops all over the world.
Her performances available on CD include Come as you are: Poems for Four Strings
(also on Spotify
) and Natalia Molebatsi & The Soul Making.
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers is a writer and performance artist. She has written for television and the stage, and in 2014 was the Commonwealth Poet, performing at Westminster Abbey in the presence of 2000 representatives of the Commonwealth and the Royal Family.
Her collections of poetry are Taller than Buildings
(Centre for the Book, 2006) and The Everyday Wife
(Modjadji Books, 2010). She edited No Serenity Here
, an anthology of African poetry, and her writing has been widely published in journals and anthologies. Her plays include Where the Children Live
, and the autobiographical one-woman show, Original Skin,
which toured in South Africa and abroad.
Like much of her work, Original Skin centres on Phillippa’s negotiation of her identity. The daughter of an Australian mother and a Ghanaian father, she was given up for adoption at nine months of age, and brought up by her adoptive parents, a white family in apartheid South Africa. She didn’t discover she was adopted until she was 20 years old. Since then she has lived and studied in France and England, returning to South Africa to teach creative writing.
Be warned: Bad music alert
The fusion of sound and words in these interviews is unintentional – we recorded one interview in a pub, so please forgive the background noise (including the worst song ever written). It does improve as it goes on. We promise to never record near cutlery again.
What does it take to recreate past worlds? How does a writer uncover the reality she needs to blend with imagination? Where do research and writing intersect?
We talk to two writers who’ve spent years researching and writing novels about the lives of real women from the past: Hannah Kent and Kate Mildenhall.
About our guests
Hannah Kent’s first novel, Burial Rites, was an international bestseller and has been translated into 28 languages. It won the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier’s People’s Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Bailey’s Prize.
Her second novel, The Good People, is just out in Australia and New Zealand will be published in 2017 in the UK, Ireland and North America.
Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal, Kill Your Darlings.
Kate Mildenhall is a teacher and writer – she has taught in schools and universities, and worked at the State Library of Victoria, creating web content for students and teachers.
Kate is studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University.
Her first novel, Skylarking, has just been published.
Burial Rites and The Good People are published by Picador (Macmillan) in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, and Little, Brown in the US. Skylarking is published by Black Inc in Australia and New Zealand, and will be published by Legend Press in the UK in 2017.
In case you missed it, here’s our guest post on Aerogramme Writers’ Studio on how to interview writers – or how to be interviewed, if you are a writer. It explains what we do, or try to do, when we interview writers for Unladylike, or at literary events.
First: prepare. Read as many of the other writers’ books, stories, scripts, poems as you can. Read them like a writer – look for themes not evident at first glance, technique, structure, characterisation, world-building, language. Read or watch interviews with them, and check their blog posts and social media to see what interests them, how they respond, which questions they’ve answered a million times.
Read the full post here.
How did you rebel? We talk to two writers of fiction and creative nonfiction about the role of rebellion in creativity, and the writers’ life.
About our guests
Born in Russia, Lee Kofman is the author of five books. She has published three novels in Hebrew, and her first book in English was The Dangerous Bride, a memoir about non-monogamy and migration.
Lee has also published numerous short stories, short creative non-fiction and poetry, and her writing has won various awards. She teaches writing and mentors writers.
Lee is the co-editor (with Maria Katsonis) of a new anthology of memoir called Rebellious Daughters. One of the contributors to Rebellious Daughters is Silvia Kwon.
Silvia was born in Seoul, South Korea. She migrated to Australia at the age of nine and grew up in Perth. After studying art history at the University of Western Australia, she worked in community arts before deciding to move to Melbourne to pursue a career in publishing. She has worked at Oxford University Press and Black Inc.
Her first novel, The Return, was published in 2014.
Rebellious Daughters is published by Ventura Press.