This year, EWF helped six Creative Producers to develop and implement events during the Festival. Each of them worked on different events, from closed forums to suburb-wide programs and one-night bangers. In the lead up to the closing of applications for 2016 Creative Producers, three of our 2015 CPs share their highlights from this year’s festival:
Festival Highlight – Fiona Spitzkowsky – Monash Prize and closed forums
For this year’s festival, I coordinated the Monash University Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing, and facilitated the closed forum for writers with disability. Working on the prize was a very uplifting experience. We received over 300 entries and I was overwhelmed by the high standard and unique voices. All fifteen of the shortlisted writers journeyed to Melbourne for Opening Night, and it was a joy to see them connect with other emerging writers and cheer for Justina Ashman when she read her winning piece. EWF is all about bringing writers together to celebrate their craft, and it was fantastic to be part of that for these new emerging writers.
Working on the Closed Forum, however, I learnt that the industry is not always so supportive: writers with disability often face barriers that limit their involvement. While organizing the forum, I had unknowingly created some barriers of my own, using document formatting that didn’t sit well with text reading software. There is a lot of ignorance concerning the needs of writers with disability, and tight budgets and busy schedules makes it all too easy to let that ignorance go unchecked. But by allowing the industry to remain exclusive, we are missing out on a lot of brilliant writing from razor sharp, passionate writers. Out of the forum came this manifesto, a guide for organisations and individuals to make their practice more inclusive.
Festival Highlight – Else Fitzgerald – Late Night Lit
I had the pleasure of working with an amazing bunch of literary journals and collectives for the Late Night Lit events, and was blown away by the wonderful writers, ideas and literary shenanigans that they each put together.
It was incredible and moving to see many writers wrestling with concepts of the future and what it might look like, and challenging us to do the same. I was filled with a mixture of thoughtful sadness and hope at Chart Collective’s 1p Halley zine launch, listening to striking pieces from Emma Marie Jones and Hannah Donnelly about how Melbourne might look in the years 2061 and 2209 when the comet passes us again, and got a bit shiny-eyed during Oliver Mol’s piece Cis White Straight Males And Privilege And Culture And Sexism And Misogyny That Maybe Stems From The Inherent Reinforcement Of Patriarchal Power Structures Which Occur In Nearly Every Facet Of Our Lives Lol I’m Not Even Joking Shouts Out Private Schooling Shouts Out Marriage Shouts Out Government Still Taxing Tampons WTF It’s 2015 We’re Meant To Be Better We’ve Got To Be Better Than This read at Dear Everybody Collective’s creative conversations event, while surrounded by the mesmerising projections. It was inspiring, amidst what can often be a bleak media environment, to hear so many brave and hopeful words.
It was an honour and a pleasure to work as a creative producer for the 2015 Emerging Writers’ Festival, which for me was an amazing celebration of the literary community. Huge thanks to The Canary Press, Chart Collective, Kill Your Darlings, Black&Write, Dear Everybody Collective and Archer for the late night literary treats, delightful dorkiness and dancing (so much dancing!).
Festival Highlight – Zoe Simbolon – Words Out West
At this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival I was assigned the task of programming two events for the Words out West segment of the program. Together with fellow creative producer, Izzy Roberts-Orr, Alice in Downunderland was developed as a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s seminal work. Using Alice’s narrative as a point of reference, the artists reflected on strong female protagonists and challenged gender constructs in their performances. One of the highlights of the evening was Rachel Perks’ cracking monologue, The Female Protagonist, which featured the timely and incongruent appearance of a catsuit and an oven. (The piece has since been published in The Lifted Brow so if you missed the event, you can still read it!).
At the other end of Footscray, Letters to the West gave some self-proclaimed ‘westies’ a place to read correspondence to their home suburb and was held at Littlefoot bar. The prompt of ‘the West’ was also addressed in a broader sense, giving way to letters about fights, stolen bikes, underage parties and Yeezus himself. The missives were full of laughs and nostalgia and was a halting reminder of the literary talent blooming along the Maribynong.
You can also read our interview with EWF15 Creative Producer Adelaide Fisher here.