EWF Creative Producer: Maddy Cleeve Gerkens

Creative Producer Maddy Cleeve Gerkens let us know what excites her – surprise, surprise, it’s writers’ festivals! But topics in our Q&A also covered: editing and working with others’ creative minds; what she’s reading; and what she’s got in store for us this year at EWF. We’re very lucky to have this one on board for 2016.

Tell us about yourself! What are you studying? Reading? Writing? 
I’m a full-time Creative Writing, English and Theatre Studies student. I’m currently taking three literature subjects, so lately most of my reading has resided within the literary canon. However, when I’m not reading Ulysses and Emma, I’m pouring over comics. Recently, I’ve been really getting into Jillian Tamaki. Writing wise, I’m mostly penning a series of narrative poems focussing on anxiety. When I’m not doing all of the above, I’m editing for a technology services company magazine.

What made you want to be a Creative Producer for EWF?
At this point in my life I know two things for sure: 1. I am at my best when working on creative projects. 2. I have an unfettered love for writers’ festivals. Spurred on by these two truths, I applied to be a Creative Producer for EWF 2016.

You’re an editor, writer and now creative producer. How do you juggle the three, and how do they differ?
Luckily, editing full-time last year for my uni’s student magazine, Farrago, while also studying and working a second part-time job definitely helped me hone my juggling skills! In terms of how these roles differ, I think they fall on a scale of creative freedom to creative guidance. As a writer, you obviously have full creative license over the work you produce. However, as an editor, while your role remains creative, you are often assisting the author in achieving a finished piece of work based on their creative vision. Thus far, I’ve found the role of Creative Producer to magically fall somewhere between the two. While you have a certain level of creative control in the way you envision the event to run, you’re simultaneously working with the brilliant ideas of the festival artists and other team members. The collaboration between your own vision and the ideas of these talented individuals is what is so exciting to me.

What’s your favourite thing about writers’ festivals?
How engaging, empowering and inclusive they are. I find this to be especially true of Emerging Writers’ Festival and National Young Writers’ Festival. Every time I attend one of their events I feel like I’m floating around a think tank of creative, generous and inspiring people. What more could you want?

You’re stuck on the International Space Station (because desert islands are so passé). What’s the one book you take with you?
I think it would have to be Stephen Fry’s first autobiography, Moab is my Washpot. I can’t imagine anything more comforting (as I perish on an International Space Station) than wrapping myself in Stephen’s wittily wise tales of his early childhood.

Can you give us any goss about what you’re working on for this year’s EWF? 
After the success of last year’s #writingwhilefemale, my main project for this year’s festival has been exploring new ways we can celebrate the ladies of literature!

Maddy Cleeve Gerkens is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. She is a Creative Producer at the 2016 Emerging Writers’ Festival and former editor of Farrago, The University of Melbourne’s student magazine. Her writing has appeared in Above Water and Seizure. She is (very slowly) finishing up her Bachelor of Arts degree in which she majors in Creative Writing, English and Theatre Studies.

The 2016 Emerging Writers’ Festival program launches on Tuesday, 10 May at The Wheeler Centre.

Early Bird Tickets to The National Writers’ Conference are available now. Taking place over two days, with over seventy speakers, The National Writers’ Conference features panels, conversations, and performances, allowing you meet this year’s Ambassadors and other writers from around Australia.

Golden Tickets to the Emerging Writers’ Festival are also available now. Golden Tickets are your passport to the Emerging Writers’ Festival. They will give you access to the National Writers’ Conference, plus the rest of the festival including all panels, talks, performances and selected workshops.