Monday musings on Australian literature: Inaugural First Nations Australia Writers Workshop

I had planned another topic for today’s Monday Musings, but when I heard via AustLit News about the inaugural First Nations Australia Writers Workshop to be held in May this year, I decided to write about it sooner rather than later …

The workshop aims to bring together established and emerging writers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds with a view to further developing indigenous arts practice. It is being presented by the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) and is to be held at the State Library of Queensland, in Brisbane, from 9th-10th May, 2013. The Network was apparently established last year and its Chairperson is Canberra-based Wiradjuri poet, writer, activist Kerry Reed-Gilbert.

The workshop has an impressive line-up of presenters, including writers I have reviewed here:

  • Alexis Wright whose Carpentaria (see my review) won the Miles Franklin Award in 2007. It has been published in many countries and been translated into multiple languages. She has written several other works, and has a new novel coming out this year.
  • Melissa Lucashenko who won the Dobbie award for her first novel Steam pigs. Her latest novel is Mullumbimby (2013). (See my review for her short story “The silent majority).
  • Anita Heiss about whom I’ve written several times on this blog. Her most recent book is her memoir, Am I black enough for you?, which I plan to read and review in a couple of months. Heiss also co-edited The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature. (See my review of her Paris dreaming.)
  • Kim Scott whose novel That deadman dance (see my review) won multiple awards including the Miles Franklin Award in 2011. Like Wright, Scott has had several novels and short stories published.
  • Marie Munkara whose Every secret thing (see my review) won the David Unaipon Award in 2008 and whose next novel will be published this year.

Exciting list, eh? Other presenters are Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Bruce Pascoe, Sam Wagan Watson and more, including some new names to me. AustLit News also mentions Tony Birch whose novel Blood was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award last year, but I can’t find him on the Workshop’s website. Sharon Shorty, a Canadian First Nation writer, will also be presenting.

The program is broad-ranging with an emphasis on practical issues – copyright, preparing your manuscript, the future of the book, “writing our stories” – which is what you’d expect for a workshop. Creative Partnerships Australia puts it this way:

With the rapid and seemingly constant changes in the publishing and literary sectors it is imperative that Australia’s Indigenous writers embrace the knowledge, technology and global context for the sustainable development of their livelihoods and their art.

If you would like to keep in touch with the Workshop:

Tax-deductible (for Australians anyhow) donations are welcome to support attendance, particularly by writers from remote areas. Click this link if you are able to help.

6 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Inaugural First Nations Australia Writers Workshop

  1. Sounds like an interesting event. I heard a podcast from the Adelaide festival with Melissa Lucashenko reading from Mullumbimby. The Guardian covered the festival with a lot of enthusiasm I thought. And I have Carpentaria sitting on my shelves and have just finished a book this afternoon! (Although I’m so tempted to read Tall Man which arrived in the post last week.)

    • I wonder if that podcast is still around Catherine … I’ll look out for it. As for those two books … Hard choice. Both are, to use jargon, riveting. You have to have time to get into the flow with Carpentaria but I think you’ll enjoy her use of language.

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