Sense-ational writing with Robyne

I’m excited to let you know that this year I will be concentrating on my writing life and among other activities will be running creative writing workshops in the Border Region for people of all ages.

My first workshops for children and teenagers, “Sense-ational writing with Robyne”,  will be held at the Sustainable Activity Centre, (SAC) Gateway Island, Lincoln Causeway next Tuesday 17 (7-11 years) and Wednesday 18 (12 – 16 years) January from 9am to 12pm. If you don’t know the centre it’s a fantastic set up that has become a hive of activity to nurture the community to practise sustainability in very accessible ways.

The workshops – ‘Sense-ational Writing with Robyne’ will take the young writers on a half hour walk around Gateway Island, and then we’ll return to the cool of the centre to write stories from that walk, and concentrate on being aware of how knowing about the five senses – touch, smell, hearing, sight and taste – can influence writing.

We’ll also explore story structure and thinking about the words that will bring the story to life.

On our return we will talk a little about story structure, finding the right words for the story they are writing, but mostly it will be a time to let imagination come to the fore and be immersed in the joy of writing.

Details
7-11 years
9am – 12 noon Tuesday 17 January
Sustainable Activity Centre
Lincoln Causeway Wodonga Vic 3690

12 – 16 years
9am – 12 noon Tuesday 17 January
Sustainable Activity Centre
Lincoln Causeway Wodonga Vic 3690

Cost $25
Materials supplied
BYO Morning tea and drinks

For more information and enrolment form email rlyoung@hotkey.net.au or phone
0417207749

 

image-for-sense-ational-writing-with-robyne-both-groups

 

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A slight discombobulation …

Is there a gene for flexibility? Not the kind of flexibility that might earn you a place in the Flying Fruit Fly Circus or if you’re a grown up, Cirque du Soleil, but the type of gene that helps you to be adaptable to largely unforseen changes or circumstances, in particular changes in employment and residence?

I don’t mean resilience, because to me that’s a quality closer to its dictionary definition of ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty; toughness’, and my change in circumstances doesn’t equal difficulty, or necessitate a recovery. It’s not that dramatic, but there’s still an element of discombobulation.

The change to my employment situation was flagged at the beginning of December when I found out that the position of Communications Officer with Regional Arts NSW I had held since June 2014, wouldn’t be required after 31 December. A funding shortfall had left the kitty short, but in one of those quirks of fate, serendipity or whatever you like to call it, within an hour of learning the news an opportunity with an arts organisation in Albury-Wodonga appeared. After a pre-Christmas meeting with the GM of that organisation, I decided to apply for the job.

Fast forward to the interview on 13 January, a subsequent offer and acceptance of a three day a week three month contract and I started work on 19 January with the fabulous HotHouse Theatre (Inspiring our Community to Embrace Creativity) as Marketing and Communications Manager. HotHouse is one of two professional theatre companies operating in regional Australia recognised as a key organisation, and like many regional companies in other arts disciplines, has had to work hard for its existence. I am very proud to be working with them.

Taking up the opportunity means I am based in Albury for the duration, with occasional trips back to Sydney and also to Melbourne, but mostly, outside of my working hours plan to devote as much time as possible to my WIP. (It will not write itself!)

Time here also means the opportunity to enjoy the newly renovated and expanded MAMA – Murray Art Museum Albury and its offerings. A couple of weekends ago I popped in to view Impressions of Paris: Lutrec, Degas, Daumier that included some beautiful Degas bronzes. I revelled in the chance to see these artworks in my hometown. (Prior to moving to Sydney I lived here for 24 years so I think it classifies as my hometown.) I also viewed the stunning and somewhat disturbing work of eX de Medici in her exhibition, Sour Crude. It’s the Riverina born, Canberra-based eX de Medici’s first solo exhibition in three years and explores big industry through reference to products and corporate logos. I ventured into another space to view some of Richard Bell’s Imagining Victory, a solo exhibition centred on a trilogy of video projects drawing heavily on activism.

The expanded Albury gallery now has room to showcase some of its permanent collection including works by Tracey Moffatt,  Max Dupain, Richard Woldendorp, Phillip Quirk, and Richard (Dick) Watkins. His 1976 painting, The Secret was the inspiration for my story of the same name published in fourW twenty six in November 2015. You can read The Secret here.

So, I’m looking forward to the chance to catch up with my local pals, and once again making a contribution to the arts and cultural life of this fabulous region. I will miss the writing community I’ve become a member of in Sydney, especially all at New Writers’ Group at Parramatta who welcomed me so warmly three years ago, and the fabulous people at the Writing and Society Research Centre  at Western Sydney University where I completed my MA in Cultural and Creative Practice in 2013. Also, Writers Bloc and the great book club. Totes to the wonderful Geoff Orton and all the work he puts in for the Write Ins, book club and other events to make them happen.

And who knows what’s to come after this three months … I’ll keep you posted! (Posting is something I’m definitely planning to do more of.)

Robyne

PS And with all this change it would be remiss of me not to mention that the good folk at BookPOD still have some copies of my short story collection, The Only Constant, available for sale.

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No Room

three-ships-ANo Room

I saw three ships come sailing in
on my TV.
But had I seen?
There were
No Boats –
they’d all been stopped
by signs pinned to the coastline
keeping safe the sovereignty of borders
over which we have
No Claim.

And in one of those ships three,
The Virgin Mary and her babe,
his manger swamped, sought shelter
but were turned away – there was
No Room
for them in this hotel
Australia – their Bethlehem –
to be among the counted.

Three magi crossed on that silent night
to greet the mother and her child.
There was
No Star
to guide,
all lights turned off to signal
No One
was home.
They returned –
their gifts unopened.

In thesauri, politicians searched for words
to name the virgin and her child and finding
No Match
for homeless, uncitizened or displaced
numbered them.

No Bells
on earth rang.
No Angels
in heaven sang.
All the souls on earth needed
No Voice
For there would be
No Rejoicing.

I saw three ships.

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We want to see your work in ZineWest 2014

IMG_1010I am delighted to be invited to be a guest editor on ZineWest 2014 – a publication by that will feature the work of Western Sydney writers.

ZineWest 2014 is multi-genre print zine open to new and emerging writers, aged 16 and older who live, work, study or attend a cultural group in Western Sydney. Works can be prose, poetry, lyrics, cartoon, drama – any word-based works that can be printed.

Co-sponsored by the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney,  ZineWest is a not-for-profit project of New Writers’ Group Inc. This year the competition with its $400 first prize will be judged by director of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement, Michael Mohammed Ahmad.

Last year I was awarded third prize for my poem Parramatta Morning.

Parramatta Morning

Parrot screeches vie for space
with morning traffic sounds.

The day’s news drifts in and
pushes deep the scraps of dreams
that join the growing mound
of remnant thoughts
from which no sense is made.

A click unlids the tin of coffee beans.
They clatter, are ground
then softly tamped.
The stream of black flows into a favourite cup.
Inhale deep –
then sip and let the medicine hit
and dilute
the babble of the morning.

Entries close midnight, Sunday 25 May. Full details of the competition including eligibility are available here.

If you’re interested in coming along to NWG meetings, they’re held on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, 3pm-5pm, Mars Hill Cafe (upstairs), 331 Church Street, Parramatta.

 

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Reluctantly, I need to find a home for my cat, Portia

Portia

Portia

Dear friends, blog followers and readers,

My sojourn in Albury is almost over. I’ve found tenants for the house, but am still to relocate my little cat, Portia, who was able to stay with my former tenant. Unfortunately my Sydney accommodation isn’t suitable for her, so I can’t take her with me.

Portia is 12 years old, in good health and very affectionate. I’m confident that given enough cuddles, and cat food, she would, despite her age, easily adapt to a new home alone or with other cats. I am happy to supply her food and take care of any other expenses and deliver her to her new home which could be Sydney, Melbourne or places in between.

If you think you can help and are a friend of mine on Facebook please send a Private Message. If we follow each other on Twitter send me a DM. If you don’t fall into either of these categories you can email me at rlyoung@hotkey.net.au

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Posts on writing, reading, life the universe and everything will resume soon.

Robyne

PS I have made enquiries about finding a new owner through Cat Rescue, but the people there aren’t confident of finding her a home.

 

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Sydney surprises at the launch of fourW tweny-four

I love a surprise: surprise gifts that are given when it’s not your birthday or Christmas; surprise random acts of kindness and surprise meetings with people from your past who you may have forgotten about, but when you meet them again you remember how they influenced your life. Yesterday, I had one of those lovely surprise meetings.

David Gilbey, resplendent with sequinned tie, starts proceedings at the launch of fourW twenty four.

David Gilbey, resplendent with sequinned tie, starts proceedings at the launch of fourW twenty four.

At Gleebooks, Glebe, for the launch of the Wagga Wagga Writers Writers anthology, fourW twenty four, the always dapper four W, editor David Gilbey , introduced me to fellow contributor, Joan Phillip.  Although it turned out it had been more than 35 years since we had first met, we instantly recognised each other. Joan was my lecturer for the Women in Literature Unit of the English major I did for my BA Communications in the late 1970’s. It was so wonderful to see her and to be able to thank her for introducing me to the writing of the late Doris Lessing, Carson McCullers, Margaret Drabble, Margaret Atwood, Edna O’Brien and others. It turned out that she also taught my friend Helen who I met last year in another of those serendipitous moments.

Reading an excerpt from my story, Suffer the Little Children.

Reading an excerpt from ‘Suffer the Little Children.’

My story ‘Suffer the Little Children’ is my fourth successful submission to fourW.  I’m always delighted to have my work included in such fine company  that this year includes Fiona Wright, Josephine Rowe, Sulari Gentill, Keri Glastonbury, Les Wicks, Nathan Curnow and Albury Wodonga area writers Jane Downing, Louise D’Arcy and Beverly Lello as well as fellow Booranga members Jo Wilson-Ridley, Joan Cahill, Michel Digand and David Gilbey.

Mark O'Flynn launches fourW twenty four

Mark O’Flynn launches fourW twenty four

Launching the anthology, poet and novelist, Mark O’Flynn (who also has work in the publication) said selection of the pieces had demanded of the editors a ‘versatility and flexibility: an editorial bendiness.’

‘There’s the personal versus the political; the comic and the poignant and the international next to the local.’

Copies of fourW twenty four are available by emailing Booranga. Cost $25  booranga@csu.edu.au

David Crane’s collection of poetry, Postcards from the End of the World: a Michael Crane sampler of Poetry and Prose was launched by Southerly editor, David Brooks, and is available at Gleebooks.

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Growing My Writing Life

I came to Sydney earlier this year for personal reasons, but also to grow my writing life. In what was already quite fertile ground, more seeds have been planted via the MA in Cultural and Creative Practice offered through the Writing and Society Research Centre at the Bankstown Campus of UWS. I remember going along to the information session almost a year ago to find out more about this program and after hearing from Anthony Uhlmann and two of  the students about the course, (and also that award winning Australian author, Gail Jones and Giramondo’s Ivor Indyk were teaching in it), I was there.

Having the opportunity to respond to the unit assignments either with a critical essay or a creative piece and short exegesis has been an ideal combination for me. Confident in my creative writing when I came into the course, it has enabled me to also improve my critical writing, and more importantly my critical reading. When I came into the course I had a project in mind – a creative project inspired by my great-grandfather’s experience of coming to Australia in 1876 as an eight year old after a measles epidemic wiped out about a third of the Fijian population. With the limitations of the word count of about 9,000 words a decision was made to write a short story that would cover the main character’s early life in Fiji and his first experiences in Australia.

Being able to experiment with aspects of the story and voice has strengthened the work. I submitted one of the creative pieces I developed for the unit on Translation for the Wagga Wagga Writers Writers (Booranga Writers) anthology, fourW. I am delighted, Suffer the Little Children was selected for publication. The submission process is anonymous and this year 500 submissions were received from 127 contributors. The anthology will have its Sydney launch at Gleebooks, Glebe on Saturday 30 November at 3.30pm by Mark O’Flynn.

ZineWest13

My poem, my prize certificate but not my hands.

The MA also seems to have unlocked the poet in me, and my poem, Parramatta Morning was given third place by award winning poet and Writing and Society Research Centre alumnus, Fiona Wright. ZineWest13 is a publication of the New Writers’ Group that meets every second Saturday from 3pm-5pm at the very arty and funky Mars Hill Cafe. It’s a very welcoming group, and for those who live out in the west provides a place and space to test out new work and hang out with writerly folk. You’ll find my report of the launch over at the New Writers’ Group blog.

You can read my poem below or open the VOPP Parramatta Morning

Parramatta Morning

Parrot screeches vie for space
with morning traffic sounds.

The day’s news drifts in and
pushes deep the scraps of dreams
that join the growing mound
of remnant thoughts
from which no sense is made.

A click unlids the tin of coffee beans.
They clatter, are ground
then softly tamped.
The stream of black flows into a favourite cup.
Inhale deep –
then sip and let the medicine hit
and dilute
the babble of the morning.

You can also find my review of Chris Womerlsey’s new novel, Cairo, over at Newtown Review of Books.

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