19. On illustrations

This week, we talk to Judy Horacek and Gabrielle Wang, two living legends, about writing and illustrating books – and their many other forms of creative work.

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Book cover Random LifeOur guests

Judy Horacek is a cartoonist, writer, artist and illustrator, perhaps equally famous – depending how old you are – for her incisive cartoons or picture books such as The Story of Growl and the beloved Where is the Green Sheep? – a collaboration with Mem Fox which was the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year. Her cartoons have appeared on almost every feminist fridge door in Australia, and also in The Age, The Weekend Australian magazine, and The Australian Book Review – as well as the Treasures gallery in the National Library.

Her latest collection, Random Life, is out now.

Book cover Beast of Hushing WoodGabrielle Wang is an author and illustrator. Her many books for younger readers include The Wishbird, Little Paradise, The Pearl of Tiger Bay, and the Our Australian Girl: Poppy and Pearlie series. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac was presented on stage with animation, storytelling and an original score played on traditional Chinese instruments performed live by the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble. She has won Aurealis Awards, been shortlisted for Premiers’ and Prime Minister’s awards, and is a regular on the Children’s Book Council notable books lists. Her latest novel  is The Beast of Hushing Wood.

18. On voices

We talk to two spoken word performers, Lian Low and Eleanor Jackson, about writing for the page and for performance, and how they support other writers – especially through Asian-Australian arts and culture magazine, Peril.

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Our guestsEleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer and radio broadcaster. She is chair of the board of Peril Magazine and its former editor in chief, and is also a board member of the Stella Prize, Australia’s largest writing prize for women.

Her poetry is published in Overland Journal, Arc Poetry Magazine, Going Down Swinging, Peril Magazine, Scum Magazine and the Cordite Poetry Review, FBI’s “All the Best“, RRR’s “Aural Text”, 3CR’s “Spoken Word”, ABC Radio National’s “Night Air” and the online poetry channel, “IndieFeed: Performance Poetry”.

Her radio play, Agent Ion, was featured as a part of Radiotonic for ABC Radio National, and her short fiction, The Transfer, appeared in Review of Australian Fiction.

In 2014-2015, she was Artist in Residence at La Boite Theatre in Brisbane.

Here’s Eleanor performing  ‘Shave and a Haircut’, one of the pieces she mentions in our conversation.

Lian Low is a writer, editor and spoken word artist.Lian Low

She is a former chair of the board, and editor-in-chief, of Peril.

Lian worked on the performance text for the sold-out Do you speak Chinese? which was part of the Dance Massive program, held at the Malthouse Theatre in 2015.  

Her work has been published in When Our Children Come Out: How to Support Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Young People, Growing Up Asian in Australia, ArtsHub, Kill Your Darlings, Chart Collective and various queer street press.

In 2013 and 2014 she was a festival artist at the Melaka Art and Performance Festival in Malaysia, one of the world’s largest site-specific art and performance festivals held on a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Watch some of Lian’s community performance work as part of Melaka here.

In 2014, she was a selected playwright for Lotus: Asian Australian Playwriting Melbourne program and for the Kultour Artists Gathering in Melbourne.

PS: Accidental interview background music was provided by a nearby choir practice, loud enough to penetrate our soundproof studio. Think of it as community engagement.

17. On forms

Between them, this episode’s guests have written award-winning opera, plays, poetry, young adult and children’s novels, essays, columns, and goodness knows how many grant applications and submissions to government.

So we asked them about writing across so many different forms and genres.

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Our guestsJane Harrison

Jane Harrison is a descendant of the Muruwari people of NSW and an award-winning playwright. In 2002, her first play, Stolen, was the co-winner of the Kate Challis Award. It has since been performed across Australia as well as the UK, Hong Kong and Japan. Rainbow’s End toured to Japan and played in 33 venues throughout Australia, and won the Drover’s Award for Tour of the Year in 2011.

Jane’s essays include ‘My Journey Through Stolen’, the award-winning ‘Healing our communities, healing ourselves’, and ‘Indig-curious; who can play Aboriginal roles?’
Her young adult novel Becoming Kirrali Lewis was published by Magabala Books in 2015. Jane was director of last year’s Blak and Bright literary festival. 

Apart from the many projects and forms she discusses in this episode, Jane is also working on a stage adaptation of her story from the anthology Writing Black, and turning a play (The Visitors) into a film.

Alison CroggonAlison Croggon is a poet, critic, opera librettist, playwright and bestselling author. Her beloved Pellinor novels have sold half a million copies around the world. Her young adult novel Black Spring was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, while The River and the Book won the Wilderness Society’s environmental writing prize.

Her poetry collections include This is the Stone, Ash, The Blue Gate and Theatre. Her opera libretti include Mayakovsky, Flood, and The Riders, which won two Green Room awards. She is one of Australia’s leading theatre critics and a columnist for Overland journal. And she has just launched her new self-published collaborative project, Fleshers.

Her New and Selected Poems has just been published.

16. On teaching

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.

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Our guests

Penni Russon

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

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.

Alison Ravenscroft

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)

Image sources:

University of Wisconsin Archives via Wikimedia Commons, pennirusson.com, Writers Victoria, La Trobe University

15. On knowledge

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.

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Our guests

Robyn Annear is a history writer and Castlemaine local legend. Her books include Bearbrass: Imagining Early MelbourneNothing 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

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. 

14. On Austen

It’s two hundred years since Jane Austen died at the age of only 41. The bicentenary will be commemorated all year with events, conferences, festivals and of course books.

We spoke to two writers about Austen’s legacy and her influence on them – and on so many of us.

 

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Our guestseea666bc-6af7-460c-ba36-c2f7a282ab77-5359-000004e3e1e28c0d_tmp

Alison Goodman’s most recent novel is The Dark Days Pact, the second in the Lady Helen trilogy of supernatural Regency adventures. The first book, The Dark Days Club, was an NPR Best Book of 2016, and the third volume is on the way.

Alison is also the author of the award winning and New York Times bestselling duology EON and EONA, Singing the Dogstar Blues and an adult thriller, A New Kind of Death.

You can read about Alison’s Regency research on her website.

 

 

Book cover Digital Afterlives

Kylie Mirmohamadi is a researcher at La Trobe University who specialises in cultural and literary studies. She has written extensively on literary sensations from Lady Audley’s Secret to Dickens to Harry Potter.

Her book The Digital Afterlives of Jane Austen: Janeites at the Keyboard, looks at the world of online Jane Austen fan fiction.

 

 

 

 

Jane Austen was born in 1775 and her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811, followed in quick succession by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously.

Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie and David Bamber as Mr Collins in the 1995 series of Pride and Prejudice

Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy and David Bamber as Mr Collins in the 1995 series of Pride and Prejudice

Austen 200 events include:

13. On sounds

 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.

 

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Our guests

 natalia
Natalia Molebatsi 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 OrderHappiness the Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International PoetryNew 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.
You can read and hear some of Natalia’s poetry on Badilisha Poetry Exchange or watch her in performance on YouTube.

 

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.

 
Image of Phillippa

 

You can read and hear some of Phillippa’s work on Badilisha Poetry Exchange or the Poetry Archive. There’s an extract from her performance of Original Skin on YouTube.

 

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.

 

Our thanks to Professor Deirdre Byrne of the University of South Africa’s Institute for Gender Studies for arranging the interviews,  asking a question or two of Phillippa, and taking Kelly to see giraffes.