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Monday musings on Australian literature: Tasmanian Writers Centre

August 28, 2017

Continuing my little series on our writers centres, I’ve chosen the Tasmanian Writers Centre for my next post, largely because it is holding its Tasmania Writers and Readers Festival next month. Might as well give that a plug in case for my Tasmanian readers, though I’m sure they know!

The Tasmanian Writers Centre was established in 1998 and must have one of the loveliest locations in Australia, the Salamanca Arts Centre. It has a lovely bright webpage which announces that its aim is

Supporting writers to tell powerful stories, connecting with readers and building sustainable careers.

To do this, the Centre does the sorts of things that other writers centres do, and as before I’ll list their main programs …

A Writer’s Journey

Danielle Wood, Mothers Grimm, book coverThis seems to be an annual program comprising monthly workshops, with the overall topic changing each year. In 2017, the topic is “the challenges and rewards of a variety of non-fiction formats. Topics include memoir and life writing, environmental journalism, how to research for non-fiction and freelance feature writing.” The presenters include Danielle Wood (whose memorable Mothers Grimm I’ve reviewed here), Anna Krien (whom I’ve reviewed here a few times and whose topic was, appropriately, Environmental writing and journalism), and Maria Tumarkin.

Erica Bell Mentorship Program

This program, which started in 2016, provides “one-on-one mentorship with an established writer over a six month period.” Applicants submit a 10,000 wd excerpt from their manuscript and a letter explaining why they believe they would benefit from a professional mentor. Unfortunately, for nosey me, the site doesn’t say who the professional mentor/s might be.

Young Writers Program

The Centre seems to have an active program for supporting and encouraging young writers:

  • Twitch: This is the overall name the Centre gives to its youth program. It includes workshops, “Hot Desk residencies”, and the Young Writer in the City program.
  • Young Writer in the City: I came across the first year of this program on a visit to Hobart in 2015, and wrote about it then. The idea was that writers, under 30 years old, would set up “their chairs, laptops and notepads in the midst of shoppers and surrounds to compose essays between 1500 and 5000 words”. It was apparently successful, because after that first one in Hobart, the project has been offered in Launceston, Devonport and, most recently, Glenorchy. You can find links to some of the recent writing on the project’s page. One, for example, found her inspiration for writing about MONA in her childhood love of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in “Willy Wonka and his fascinating factory full of wonder and surprises”. Anyone who has been to MONA could understand that reference.

Emerging Tasmanian Aboriginal Writers Award

This award is being offered for the first time in 2017 – as part of the Festival. It is open to writers 16 years and older, and offers prize money of $1200. The lovely thing is that it accepts a wide variety of writing forms: poems or songs, short fiction, non-fiction (essay, autobiographical or biographical work), a play excerpt, or an illustrated story. There are different length limits depending on the form.

Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival

Tasmania’s festival is a biennial one, and like most such festivals includes “masterclasses, discussion forums, spoken word events, children’s programs”. It’s nice, I think, that it’s framed as a “writers and readers” festival. This year’s festival runs from September 14 to 17. At this year’s festival, masterclasses are being run by writers like Bradley Trevor Greive, Ashley Hay, Arnold Zable, and Alec Patrić (on Advanced Short Fiction). There’s also a delightful sounding session titled “Miles and Stella in Conversation”. Of course, I had to read more about that one, and this is what it said: “What do two prize-winning authors talk about when they talk about writing? Alec Patrić (2016 Miles Franklin winner) and Heather Rose (2017 Stella Prize winner) quiz each other on words, prizes, literature and life. A unique opportunity to get an inside glimpse into the friendship of writers.” This is followed by, in parentheses, the note that “(Cosmopolitans and Bellinis on sale for this session.)” Is there something I don’t know? Did our Miles love these cocktails? And what if I’d prefer a simple glass of wine? What a hoot.

It is also at this Festival that the shortlist for the biennial Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards will be announced – so, we’ll be looking out for that. The winners will be announced in November.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2017 11:56 pm

    I’ve been getting their newsletter by email for a while now, and I must say that they seem to have a really vibrant writing community there. I especially like a monthly feature which showcases four authors, and there’s usually a giveaway as well. I’ve bought quite a few books via that feature!

  2. August 29, 2017 2:27 am

    I’m hoping to get to Tasmania next year – too late for the festival sadly

    • August 29, 2017 8:59 am

      You”ll love it if you do Karen. It’s a lovely state.

      • August 30, 2017 2:33 am

        So I’m told by my physiotherapist who lived there for many years!

        • August 30, 2017 8:29 am

          The thing is it wouldn’t be “as” different to someone from Wales I expect as other palls of Australia, because of its compact greenness and ruggedness. But then I haven’t been to Wales.

        • August 30, 2017 9:09 pm

          Interesting. If it has sheep then i shall definitely feel at home

        • August 31, 2017 8:29 am

          Oh, you’ll find sheep there, in certain areas anyhow.

  3. August 29, 2017 4:24 am

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

  4. August 29, 2017 5:47 am

    I’m really looking forward to the Tasmanian Writers’ Festival! I have not been before and, this year, I will be participating in a small way – reading at the launch of the Forty South Anthology (finalists of the Tasmanian Writers Prize). I’ll also be attending a number of events (unfortunately, as is always the case with festivals, my wish-list time frames clash, so still working on final decisions). I’m really looking forward to the announcement of the Tasmanian Literary Award Shortlist. Katherine Johnson’s ‘The Better Son’ is in the mix and I am thrilled for her. I’m enjoying your series on the Writers’ Centres.

    • August 29, 2017 9:02 am

      Thanks Karenlee. I know exactly what you mean about dashing events. why can’t they know what we want to go to! Have a great festival, and enjoy your reading.

  5. August 29, 2017 8:05 am

    Glad that at least one festival recognises readers in its name. I disagree with the focus on the process of writing at the expense of the much more interesting subject of books and reading.

    • August 29, 2017 9:15 am

      Yes it’s good I agree. That said l do enjoy sessions about the process of writing too, because they help me as a reader to understand what’s behind what I’m reading. I know a lot of readers who are interested in the writing process. At least I’ve heard it explicitly saiin their questions at the end of a Session. However, that can become a bit simplistic if the challenges aren’t teased out, I appreciate. I think most festivals cover both sides but don’t articulate it the way the Tasmanians have.

  6. August 29, 2017 9:21 am

    Looks like a good program. Sadly (or happily?) I’ll be in Canberra and so will miss out.

  7. August 29, 2017 10:51 am

    I have signed up for 4 events, including one master class. I write but only when I feel like it and never seriously. I do like to keep up though with those who do as an interest. Going to Benjamin Law’s session. Will try to put up a couple of posts about it. Your writers centers posts have been interesting.

    • August 29, 2017 6:01 pm

      Thanks Pam. My daughter went to a weekend workshop with Benjamin Law a couple of years ago, and love it. I look forward to hearing about your experience.

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