If only Elwood Writers could go along to this. Not just because we adore a good old ice-cream social, but because three of our writers have work included in this terrific anthology. More about that later. Congratulations to Margaret, Helen, and Barry, and to all of the other contributors in this latest edition of AWR.
Friday 14 June, Wilkes University, Henry Student Center Ballroom (2nd floor), 7:30pm for readings, mingling, and ice-cream.
My local café recently changed its seating arrangement. Oh no. Not because of me, I hoped. Me, sitting at the big table by the front window, trying not to spread my papers and books about too much, but wanting to get my work done.
Under the new configuration I was forced to sit at a table for two, allowing barely enough room for my ‘stuff’. But it’s a lovely café and I determined to make do. It has been a godsend to me as I go through the latest phase of ‘where-I-work’.
When I first took up writing, I rented a small room in the CBD. Having just finished working, I couldn’t imagine not going into the city every day. But soon, it dawned on me that I couldn’t catch the tram in my dressing gown, which is what I wanted to do. Plus the office rent kept going up.
Next, I settled for working at home. Some days I barely moved from my bed. I began the day by journaling and went straight from there into writing. Tessa, our dog, patiently sighed at the end of the bed looking up every now and again in wait for her walk.
Natalie Goldberg is an author who says she loves Paris because there you can write in the cafés. I’m not sure this is still the case. But the message is, if you like a café and feel welcome there – anywhere in the world – then make the most of it.
People will tell you where to write, what your office set-up should be, how things should look and so forth. But I say: create a space that’s right for you.
Update: I visited my local favourite café last week. The long table had been returned to the front. Order had been restored. I know my secret, quiet, little coffee shop will not remain so forever. But while it lasts, I plan to write and luxuriate as much as I can.
Margaret’s notes on the Elwood Writers soiree held in August at St Kilda Library:
The Elwood Writers 2018 soiree was our third in a series of evening readings. The group’s first two events were held in a private home where we tested the performance waters with family and friends. This year we branched out a little, presenting at a local public venue and inviting a slightly wider audience.
The concept of a soiree is loosely based on the old-fashioned, European notion of a ‘salon’. People are invited to gather and enjoy themselves while being entertained with stories and musical interludes.
As my own work is mainly memoir and of a personal nature, I can find public readings to be challenging. But I have to be willing to open my soul, while protecting myself with the suited armour of a story and carefully crafted narrative.
Despite the challenges, however, in the long run I value the opportunity to leave my comfort zone (the support of my group and the patient listening of my partner), to spring into the exhilarating and expectant atmosphere of a live audience, whether this be with friends or strangers.
The audience’s response to us can be subtle. It might come in the form of a sigh of satisfaction or as a wave of relief (or even agitation) that ripples through the crowd. One might detect a murmur at the end of a story or poem, or a facial expression of pleasure or questioning. But despite any nervous apprehension on my part, I would not be willing to miss the experience for anything.
The graduation from working solo to public performance is all in the path of the writer, I believe, where she must firm her step and ready herself to stride forth into the realm of the more global sphere.
In August, Elwood Writers held its Winter 2018 Soiree at St Kilda Library in Melbourne. In this post, Helen McDonald describes the work she presented at the event.
It takes time and a good deal of thought for Elwood Writers to arrange our program so that the literary readings are varied, complement each other and hopefully engage our audience. One of the things I enjoy most about our soirees is the range of genres covered, and not only hearing but delivering an interpretation of the pieces we have polished and workshopped in our group meetings. Each member of Elwood Writers brings their own unique voice to the occasion across fiction, memoir, short story and creative non-fiction.
My own leanings are towards poetry and memoir, and in this, our first public performance, I read a selection of poems as well as haiku, a poetic form I‘m very much enjoying exploring. Our appreciative audience were even subjected, from me, to a short analysis of what haiku is – and isn’t.
This time it was just as much a treat for us, as for the audience, to have Jenny’s chamber group providing musical interludes. Duo Con Brio (two thirds of Trio Con Brio) chose Bach as the perfect accompaniment for the literary works, and the combined sounds of oboe and cello clearly delighted everyone.
This Friday at 8:00 PM (AEST), Vision Australia Radio is broadcasting a special edition of Cover To Cover to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. The entire program features work from the Elwood Writers.
Join us as Jennifer reads an extract from her novel set just after World War I, and a short story set in England at the time of the war. Helen reads ‘Reflections on My Grandpa’, a factual account of her grandfather’s experiences during the First World War and after. ‘Down to the Sea’ features Margaret’s memories of her grandfather, who had been a surgeon at Gallipoli. In Barry’s short story ‘Chloe’, a newly enlisted soldier is captivated by a portrait on the day he leaves home to serve overseas.
You can listen on the radio in Australia, or online from anywhere in the world. The program will be repeated on Sunday 11 November at 1:30 PM (AEST), and available shortly afterwards as a podcast. For listening and other information and streaming links, visit the Vision Australia Radio website, here.
We hope you can make it, and look forward to your company.
Cover To Cover is produced and presented by Tim McQueen in the studios of Vision Australia Radio in Melbourne.
At the end of August, Elwood Writers held a literary soiree in the community room at St Kilda Library in Melbourne. The event provided an opportunity for us to present a curated program of short readings from our own work, and included fiction, memoir, and poetry.
Duo con Brio, with Monica Edwards on cello and Elwood Writers’ Jennifer Bryce on oboe, punctuated the proceedings with musical pieces by Bach.
Duo con Brio, St Kilda Library.
The thank you for the music.
The page turning.
The pages gathering.
We’ll provide more information on some of the work presented at the event in forthcoming blog posts. For now, wherever you are, happy reading and writing.
Margaret McCaffrey’s “January in Harlem” was longlisted for the 2018 Fish Short Memoir Prize, an annual international writing contest run by Fish Publishing in Ireland. The event attracted 780 entries and was judged by Marti Leimbach.
Vision Australia Radio‘s weekly literary program, Cover To Cover, will be presenting the work of the Elwood Writers in its Friday 26th January edition. The theme is ‘Back To School’ and the program will feature poetry, memoir and fiction written by the group, in some cases read on-air by the writers themselves.
We’ve enjoyed collaborating with Tim McQueen, producer and presenter of Cover To Cover, to compile this program, and we’re thrilled to continue to share our work and engage with the VA radio audience and beyond.
And don’t worry if you can’t join us on the day: ‘Back To School’ will be repeated and also made available as a podcast. Details to follow.
For a handy frequency finder, or for more information about the work of Vision Australia Radio, visit them online at: radio.visionaustralia.org
On Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd September, Vision Australia Radio presented a special Fathers Day edition of its Cover To Cover literary program, featuring the work of Elwood Writers. If you missed the program, there’s now an opportunity to hear the podcast at your leisure here.
We hope you enjoy the stories. We welcome feedback, so if you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please voice them in the comments field below.