Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lady Cutler Address

Lady Cutler Address

On the 13th of November I gave the Lady Cutler annual address at the presentation night for the Lady Cutler Award, which went to academic Robyn Ewing. I had been asked to outline my year as a National Reading Ambassador, which I was more than happy to do as it was such a satisfying and exciting year. But after reflecting on the gift of reading, which this year celebrates, as part of this talk I was inspired to convey my thoughts on ‘deep reading’ in this address which I entitled To Read Perchance to Dream…

The Children’s Book Council of Australia – NSW have requested the talk for publication and I’m more than happy for this to happen. I enjoyed the task of preparing a talk that reflected my National Year of Reading as Ambassador which brought together my passion and mission for poetry and writing for the young. 

Sangita's Singing. An International Launch in Kathmandu in the National Year of Reading

 Bec, Director of Mitrataa launching the book Sangita's Singing 

Children's Day celebrated Bollywood style 

Sangita's Singing. An International Launch in Kathmandu in the National Year of Reading

It was Children's Day, Friday 14th September 2012, at a Community Centre in Kathmandu. I was with Rebecca and Adam Ordish, founders of the Mitrataa Foundation I work with, that looks after the welfare of girls and women, for the launch of my new book for young people, Sangita's Singing.   The 32 page book  set in Nepal has a long text so is for older readers, with marvelous artwork by Nepali artist Bandana Tulachen with whom I worked over two years developing her artwork for picturebook presentation.
 Sangita's Singing was launched in true Nepali style; hundreds in the noisy eager audience, a very fanciful draped stage, lots of prize presentations for literature and art, the actual launch of Sangita's Singing  with a reading by two students and after some wonderful dance groups celebrating the book and the day - think Bollywood style dancing!
We have planned a movie and have a director and producer in Nepal but are now in the fund raising stage and have decided to feature some of the wonderful Nepali dancing.

It was a  elebratory day but also time to  give pause and to think about the situation for girls and women in Nepal, the low literacy rate for both girls and boys, the level of poverty, the use of child labour, the struggle to get education for girls in particular, and the like. Mitrataa fights agains the odds to achieve education for girls from far flung villages by supporting them in schools in Kathmandu and running workshops for women to help them gain some education. To this end, the income from the sales of the book goes to Mitrataa to help this worthwhile cause. The Teacher Notes and Student Workshops will ensure it has many uses as well as being an enjoyable read.

On a final note, Sangita's Singing though set in Nepal has great significance for children everywhere. with its themes of transition (from country to city) of loneliness, of longing, of bullying, of overcoming fear, of friednship and of learning, not to mention the power of singing. The story speak to all children who have had similar experiences. It will be launched in Australia in 2013.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tamworth & Narrabri

I had a  flying visit (just a day) to the friendly town of Narrabri, which is inland from Coffs Harbour. While I was there I  talked to Narrabi public schools, talented young readers and writers; then in the afternoon I  addressed a mixed audience, adults and home – schooled kids about poetry, picture books and reading.

Jenny, my guide made sure I visited the Tourist Centre where I brought local oil and mustard. Then onto Tamworth Library and poetry workshop with a writers group who meet regularly; followed by an afternoon address to about 60 local people and an afternoon tea from 2-4pm to mingle. I spoke about the process of making a picture book and used A Boy Like Me as inspiration. I also spoke about the poetry book, the ABC Book of Australian Poetry. The fact I met up with some old friends, teachers from my early career was a plus. 

I was thrilled to be interviewed by country radio in Narrabri and was pleased to think of perhaps on their trucks, in their shops and looking after kids listening to why reading is so important to all Australians.  

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 3-7th October

Bali has to be one of my favorite destinations in the world; and to have been invited to take part in the Ubud Writer’s and Reader’s Festival is surely a high point of any writer’s public life. One of the highlights of the festival was to sit around a table and talk poetry with none other than singer, writer film score composer, novelist and actor Nick Cave and have a photo to prove it, which was pretty cool!
And to meet with Australian writers as well as international ones was of course very  stimulating.

On the Australian side, I had the pleasure and the company of  novelist Phillip Gwynne who lives in Bali, Sue Macpherson winner of the Queensland Premier's Prize for an indigenous first time writer, wonderful  fantasy writer Isabelle Carmody, artist extraordinaire  prize-winning Anne Spudvilas, poet Katherine Lomer, freelance editor and writer Shelley Kenisgberg and novelist Inez Baranay who currently lives in Istanbul, to mention but a few of them!

I was kept busy giving workshops to some hundred young people as well as adult writers and being part of various discussion panels. So much so that I had little time to attend other talks, but led a splendid social life at night.

Janet de Neefe Founder and Director runs a great Festival from beginning to end, from carefully planned stimulating sessions and a wonderful Opening Ceremony with exquisite dances launching the festival at the palace, to the amazing fire dancers and fire eaters at the closing ceremony at Antonio Blanco's art gallery and everything in between.

Janet’s restaurant, Bar Luna, was our meeting point as we were bussed to amazing venues like private homes where Indonesians open their hearts and kitchens to writers for dinners featuring Bali’s finest food. There was also the Australian Embassy cocktail party, which was a glamorous affair at Casa Luna where I had the opportunity to meet the Australian Ambassador and staff to talk books and stories. 

All in all a superbly run festival in a divine setting - well that's from my point of view.  And to end it a wonderful afternoon in Shelley's eccentric and wonderful home, seat of Editing in Paradise, before reluctantly going to the airport. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Libby in Dubbo for National Year of Reading

Libby and her sister, Margi enjoyed the hospitality of the Director and staff of the Macquarie Regional Library.

A gifted and talented talk and workshop at the main library, was followed by a wonderful evening of shared writings. A talk followed by an inter-generational workshop where families waxed lyrical using the Hathorn Technique of Poetry Writing.

Next day off to a warm welcome at Narromine where there was lively storytelling for bubs and parents and much singing and dancing followed by a K to 6 talk to a school of interested students and teachers.

And time en route to the plane to look in at the impressive Dubbo Zoo. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery

There is a brilliant art show called 'Look, The Art of Australian Picture Books Today' touring from the State Library of Queensland to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Art Gallery as part of the National Year of Reading. 

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery invited me to talk about my book 'Way Home' now in it's 16th year of publication with Greg Rogers marvellous artwork. The book will be part of this great exhibition.

Powerhouse Discovery Centre & Poetry

Just a teaser about the Hathorn Technique for Poetry Writing being coupled with wonderful objects from the PDC, e.g Harry's famous Cafe de Wheels and a springy Cobb and Co coach for a Poetry Trail to be launched as part of the National Year of Reading 2012. After many meetings at the PDC and Kenthurst School trailing the program, we are almost ready to roll later this year. Watch this space.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Virtual Launch of A Boy Like Me

Harper Collins and Electroboard hosted a Virtual Launch at Electroboard premises of A Boy Like Me with both author and artist Bruce Whatley able to talk to students and librarians from Tasmania to Toowoomba. A virtual book signing - maybe Australia's first - was followed by a hearty afternoon tea and the book is out there for all to enjoy. With its theme of peace and Bruce's sensitive illustrations it is a timely work for both children and their parents.

Monday, May 21, 2012

National Year of Reading Event

DOUBLE BAY LIBRARY had lots of prams parked outside today. I talked to some 20 families about the National Year of Reading and read The Very Cranky Bear, the chosen text for Simultaneous Reading across Australia, with lots of sound effects from the gathered pre-schoolers; and then I read from one or two of my own picture books and talked to the mums about the importance of reading and of introducing their kids to poetry at a young age. Right now!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Masterclasses for Budding Writers

I had wonderful fun with young writers of Year 2 at Randwick Public School, teaching The Hathorn Technique of Poetry Writing using my book, The ABC Book of Australian Poetry.

One of the Dads who is an accomplished artist, Todd Hunter, painted an amazing river scene for the back of the class room with the help of several students. We attached poetry words to this beautiful river painting, which helped the children develop their 'word wallets' before waxing lyrical in poems modelled on those in the collection.

The presentation of the student's poetry to parents is still to come.

National Year of Reading Ambassador Visits

I'm pleased to be invited to a number of libraries in country towns, such as Griffith and Tamworth as well as local city libraries, such as the Hills.

I will be launching my book on peace, A Boy Like Me (Harper Collins), with illustrations by Bruce Whatley in both country and city.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poetry Reading for Rhizomic

Last night enjoyed a new venue for a poetry reading of my Rooming House Cycle to a small but enthusiastic audience. Please note Rhizomic meets every third Wednesday of each month and there is an open mike opportunity. Looking forward to the launch of Rhyll McMaster's new poetry collection Late Night Shopping, 10th April at Sapphos Glebe. http://rhyllmcmaster.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poetry Masterclasses for NSW High Schools; Connected Classroom

I have run 3 Poetry Masterclasses for 8 state high school groups across NSW with the help of Teacher Librarian and wizard technician Joachim Cohen at the Bondi Teachers' Centre with the enthusiastic eye of Gavin Patterson, School Education Director. Using my compilation The ABC Book of Australian Poetry which has the river as its theme, some 65 students and 8 teachers took a trip down the river with me from waterfalls to the sea, using the Hathorn Technique of Poetry Writing.

The students responded to poetry models, specially chosen visuals, music and the joy of words demonstrated in quality chosen poems, with poems of their own. A certificate of accomplishment is being awarded to all students, then poems will appear on a blog (to be announced). I hope and trust a new relationship to the wonders of poetry established for life.

Poetry Party

My first official workshop as National Ambassador for Reading 2012 was at NSW State Library in March using the ABC Book Of Australian Poetry.

Students from 3 schools attended and we were delighted that the State Librarian Dr Alex Byrne, and Frances Sims - Director of Public Library and Community Learning Services paid us a visit and watched poetry writing in the making. In the afternoon, two remote schools responded by video conferencing to more poetry writing; a great Poetry Party Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Launch of National Year of Reading Valentine's Day 2012

A great beginning to this year, I was lucky enough to be able to launch Year of Reading at a wonderful morning tea (complete with love hearts) at Woollahra Library and preached to the converted about the wonders of the written word. In the evening attended NSW State Library launch which was equally enjoyable, catching up with writer friends and libarians and other bookish folk and listenening to rousing speeches about reading. The Premier and some of his ministers attended and Richard Glover launched the event followed by writer Debra Abela giving a spirited talk about reading and also about youth who need special encouragement to learn to read.  This should be the year!