Blog posts

Hello to 2022

Happy New Year!

We thought we’d kick off the 2022 blogs with some recent activity from Elwood Writers members’ individual websites.

Click here for the latest post from Jennifer. You’ll find Margaret’s latest by clicking here. And for Barry’s, click here. And while she might not have an individual site (yet), click here for a recent EW post on Helen’s poetry.

If you do find time to visit any or all of those websites, why not linger and explore. You won’t be disappointed.

Coming soon, news about a forthcoming Elwood Writers radio project. Stay tuned. In the meantime, happy reading and writing.


A Farewell to 2021

As we reflect on this particularly challenging year, when it seemed we were stymied in many aspects of our lives, we’re surprised by how much we have in fact achieved, both individually and as Elwood Writers, without actually meeting face-to-face.

We’ve attended online seminars, and taken part in literary festivals, panel discussions and readings; we’ve worked on first drafts of manuscripts, achieved publication in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas, contributed guest blog posts, judged short-story competitions, and formed relationships with other writers’ groups here and in the US. And throughout the year, our anthology Every Second Tuesday has been selling in a number of independent bookstores and online platforms.

In spite of all that life and the pandemic might have thrown at us, we’ve kept on writing. Putting one word in front of another. We think it’s important to celebrate this.

We look forward to continuing to share our news and progress throughout 2022. In the meantime, we’d like to wish everyone a safe and peaceful holiday season. Here’s to another new year filled with the joy of reading and writing.

Take good care,

Elwood Writers

San Fedele Press: The Second Ice Cream Social | reviewed by Jennifer Bryce

Most of us here in Australia were sipping coffee rather than eating ice cream when we logged into the Ice Cream Social at 7.30 am Eastern Australian Daylight Time on Sunday 31st October – it was 4.30 pm Saturday in New Jersey. Patricia A. Florio, the founding publisher of American Writers Review, was a most welcoming convenor.

This was a celebration of the huge achievement of putting together the 2021 edition of American Writers Review, an anthology titled Turmoil and Recovery in recognition of the exceptionally difficult year everyone has faced. The first reader was Andrea Rabaduex, winner of the 2021 AWR contest judged by Jean Colonomos, Richard Key, Lenore Hart, Patrick O’Neil, Holly Tappen and our very own Elwood Writers member, Margaret McCaffrey. Andrea’s poem, ‘Requiem for Believers’, was written when her husband was serving in Afghanistan. Phrases I found particularly poignant were, ‘the sun still shone somewhere that day’ and ‘This is how to exhale God – quietly / into the humid space before dawn’s clouds / meet pale mourning.’

Then our own members read their pieces that had been selected for publication in the anthology. First was Barry Lee Thompson, who read his short story ‘Glassy’. Barry was complimented on his beautiful reading. There was opportunity for questions, but, as with the poem, people were quite stunned by the beauty of the writing. A woman walking by a river sees an empty green wine bottle and there is communication between her and the bottle: ‘… a vibration. High pitched and faint, like a tuning fork … A confidential whispering of its glass body.’

Helen McDonald firstly read her poem ‘Restoration’:  ‘I wish I had a broom and could climb / mini-sized into your beautiful brain / to scrub and clean punctured vessels …’ This prompted discussion with an audience member on the themes and inspiration for the poem. Helen then read ‘COVID Lockout’, explaining that a haibun is a short piece of prose followed by a haiku that resonates with the prose. She was congratulated for her beautiful writing.

The next reader, Shelly Gill Murray read her Covid-inspired short story ‘Meeting Grandma at the Window’, a moving account of visiting her 98-year-old grandma who was in isolation in a facility. Their meeting was inevitably diminished by having to meet looking through the barrier of a window and having to talk through a phone. In the end each put their hands up to the pane of glass, but they couldn’t actually touch. Members of the audience said that Shelly’s story touched their hearts and reminded them of attempts to meet their mothers and other vulnerable people during these hard times.

Anita S. Pulier joked about her transfer from legal writing to being a poet. She started by reading a love poem she’d written during lockdown, ‘Memo’. It was about the love of older people who have loved each other for a long time: ‘what once was morphing to what is’. She then read an extraordinary poem on a similar theme: ‘IF (Barbie discovers that Ken is a Proud Boy)’.

The next piece to be read was by Ana M. Fores Tamayo: ‘New Day Dawn/El Amanecer’. Donna Ferrara (editor of AWR) read what was described as an interpretation rather than a translation from the Spanish – you cannot literally translate poetry. It was a poem of stunning imagery: ‘The wolf dog sniffed the stillborn air’ … ‘yet soon the sun would break its silent inkwell’.

Co-winner of the 2021 contest was Anne Casey, a Sydney-based Irish poet. Her poem, ‘Our Prime Minister Says the Vaccine is Not a Silver Bullet’, was read by Patricia Florio. It expresses the anguish during lockdown of hoping to have a reunion with her father in Dublin; the poem moves between Australian scenes of a kookaburra in ‘the flagging liquidambar’ and ‘icy sleet / piercing the winter’, where her father is in Ireland.

The anthology is beautifully illustrated, particularly with artwork by Holly Tappen and Carol MacAlister. After the reading of Anne’s poem, Carol passed on thanks and congratulations to Donna and Patricia for the fine publication and all of the work that had gone into judging the pieces and producing the anthology.

American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery (San Fedele Press)

We in Australia cherished this ‘hands across the ocean experience’ – how wonderful to be able to participate in this event as it happened in New Jersey! Very few good things have come from the last two years dominated by pandemic, but although international borders have been closed, we have become more adept at using technologies which enable us to be with groups such as the Jersey Shore Writers and have the privilege of experiencing their welcoming hospitality.

If you’d like to read and appreciate more of the writing and artwork in this anthology, American Writers Review 2021 can be purchased from the link here.

oxygen | Issue 2 October 2021

Elwood Writer Helen has poetry published in Issue 2 of oxygen, which came out last month.

oxygen Issue 2 October 2021 | ISSN 2653-0376

oxygen is a biannual magazine, issued in April and October. Subscriptions are $30 per year, for two issues including postage.

Cheryl Howard, PO Box 614, Woodend, Vic 3442.

And remember, one of the best ways to support writers is to read their work. That way, you’re supporting the industry they work in, and everyone benefits.

Happy reading, as always!

Fisher Girls on Island

Looking around for some reading for this very wet and cool day in old Melbourne town, we found just the thing: a brand new short story from Barry, available on Island Online. We’re going to make a nice hot cup of coffee, grab a few Bourbon biscuits, settle down into our favourite armchair, and get stuck in. Wherever you are in the world, and whatever your favourite cookie, you can read ‘Fisher Girls’ in full by clicking here. Enjoy.

In 2021, we take a bold new step: complementing our signature print magazine, our new website now regularly publishes new online content, and also buried treasures from our rich 40+ year archive.


Happy reading, as always!


The latest issue of Unusual Work (edited by Π.O.) features Helen’s poem ‘Breaking Up’, and is now available to read and enjoy.

If you haven’t already subscribed, get hold of a copy of the journal for $10 (cash/cheque/money order) from:

Collective Effort Press
P.O. Box 2430
GPO Melbourne
Vic 3001

$30 gets a subscription for 3 issues.

The current issue also features work by Retta Hemensley, Jeltje, D.G.Lloyd, Eddie Caruso, ACR, Albert Rotstein, Linda Judge, Henry Briffa, Ross Jackson, Alan Wearne, Allan Padgett, Michael Leach, Glen Murdoch, Peter Murphy, Gershon Maller, Jebediah Costin, Abe Dunovits, Sandy Caldow, Peter Jones, and Π.O., and includes a tribute to Retta Hemensley from her life long partner Kris, with FLASHBACK poems from ACR, and a tribute and salute to Kate Jennings.

Lots to savour. Happy reading!


Reminder: Australian Short Story Festival 2021

The Australian Short Story Festival is back. This year it’s in Adelaide, and it starts this Friday, running for three days. I’m taking part in a couple of sessions, on Saturday and Sunday. More details in the attached post, re-blogged from my site.

Barry Lee Thompson

Only a week to go till this year’s Australian Short Story Festival kicks off in Adelaide. It’s an in-person event, though it’s now been confirmed that some participants, myself included, will have to attend via Zoom because of current border restrictions. If you’re going to be in Adelaide from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 November, why not get hold of a ticket and pop along. It’s a really interesting line up of sessions and workshops. I’m taking part in ‘Masculinity’ on Saturday, and ‘Writing the Family’ on Sunday. Might see you there. Program info here, ticketing here. For a full list of this year’s writers, go here.

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A question of websites: Margaret answers

Writings and Musings of Margaret McCaffrey

Why I Write my Blog

I set up the Writings and Musings blog because I wanted to have an online presence without being tied to the imperatives of the more ‘instantaneous’ or immediate social media platforms.

The focus of my blog is primarily the craft of memoir. I am fascinated by how people write in general, whether it be fiction, poetry, screenwriting or song. My musings are personal reflections, such as ‘Putting the Me in Memoir’ or ‘The Interface between Memoir and Fiction’. I mix these thoughts with other items of interest. ‘Where do you Write?’, ‘Writing in Bed’, and ‘The Car Park’ all touch on where and how one writes (the latter being about working outdoors during an interminable Melbourne lockdown).  

When my group Elwood Writers (EW) has a shared activity, such as a book launch, a soiree, or a radio presentation, I like to notify people of that.

The blog is intended for anyone who likes to write, and for people drawn to such themes as veterans of war, the relationship between fathers and daughters, and how to write about the ‘self’ – not always an easy task. Occasionally I have military folk visit my site. I am never sure if my point of view coincides with theirs. But no matter their views, I’d like to think that the posts are occasionally helpful to them.

More than anything, the blog is helpful to me. We are all surviving something, and writers are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to build worlds and stories from their experiences and imagination. Cunningly, as Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) has it – this is especially true for the memoirist – ‘life never works except in retrospect’. For me, discussing ideas on writing allows discourse with the wider world – which in turn helps me collect my own thoughts as I go.

Besides, it’s fun.

Ice Cream Social

Who likes ice cream? We do! Who loves an ice-cream social? We certainly do! So imagine our delight when we heard that American Writers Review is throwing one on Saturday October 30. And to add to the joy, Helen and Barry will be among contributors reading a selection of their pieces from the latest issue of AWR, Turmoil and Recovery. There’ll also be readings from Art in the Time of COVID-19. Both books are published by San Fedele Press.

Our Ice Cream Social at Wilkes University was a delight. While we can’t hand out the ice cream this year, we can share some of the wonderful work of our latest two books with you virtually.

San Fedele Press

Now, because this event is being hosted from the Jersey Shore in the US, we have to adjust the time to our location here in Australia. And it turns out that we’ll be enjoying ice-cream over an early breakfast on the Sunday morning. Even die-hard ice-cream fans Jennifer and Barry would struggle to eat any at that hour. It’ll more likely be a strong-coffee-and-Danish-pastry social for us.

San Fedele Press say that this event is of particular interest to ‘those who are interested in writing for our publication, new writers, and seasoned writers’. If you’d like to learn more about the publications and the event, go here. You’ll find the Zoom link at the top of the page you land on.

We might see you there. With ice cream, Danish, or otherwise!