The Greenhouse Blog

Vale Kat Muscat

KM photo cropped

It is with great sadness that the Emerging Writers’ Festival learnt of the passing of our dear friend Kat Muscat – writer, editor, feminist. Kat was a volunteer at the Emerging Writers’ Festival from age fourteen and has been part of the EWF family for more than ten years, as an artist, mentor and so much more than words can convey.

We’re in mourning with our friends at Express Media and writing communities everywhere. Kat was the editor of Voiceworks magazine and the heart of so many communities, inspiring and fostering the voices of countless young and emerging writers around Australia. From an incredibly young age herself, Kat became a leader for the writers and artists who need nurturing the most. She gave time, energy and genuine love to a resilient community of writing and writers, who loved her back.

This morning we were sent an audio recording of Kat reading from last year’s festival, at an event called Amazing Babes. The event, inspired by Eliza Sarlos’ picture book of the same name, invited eight women to write and read stories about the women in their lives who had inspired them. Kat was the first speaker on the night, on a stage that now looks like it was set for her and her alone – decorated by flowers, slightly grungy, but in a room filled with love and light.

Kat, so many writers are lost for words right now, and rightly so, but know that we’ll soon find them and they will likely never stop for you.

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GriefLine operates a free, confidential telephone service with trained counsellors between 12noon and 3am, 7 days a week:

  • Melbourne Metro: 03 9935 7400 or 03 9935 74444
  • National: 1300 845 745

Lifeline operates a free, confidential 24 hour online or telephone crisis support service with trained counsellors:

Emerging Writers’ Festival response to Senate Inquiry into Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts

The Emerging Writers’ Festival submitted this letter to the senate inquiry into the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts on the 17th of July 2015. 

We write this letter as the Emerging Writers’ Festival, an eleven day Melbourne based festival, which supports new and developing writers, of all genres, in their creative practice and careers, and an important part of the literary sector and an essential step in the individual pathway of the writer.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) is an organisation that exists for writers and is recognised as Australia’s leading organisation for emerging writers. The organisation runs a year round program of live and online events, from the Digital Writers’ Festival in February, a Melbourne-based festival held in May/June, an interstate touring program that in recent years has visited QLD, NSW, ACT, SA and TAS, and an international exchange program with Bali Emerging Writers Festival now in its third year.
The Emerging Writers’ Festival has annually received funding for the travel expenses of writers from around Australia to attend and participate in the festival, creating a national meeting place for writers. In addition the festival has used Australia Council funding to tour its programs interstate and regionally, servicing writers across the country, and a number of individual projects have been funded, including the establishment of the world-first Digital Writers’ Festival (www.digitalwritersfestival.com)

As a small to medium arts organisation, we are deeply concerned about the redistribution of funds away from the arms-length processes of the Australia Council for the Arts, and how this might impact not only us but the stability and sustainability of the wider literary arts sector and its ecology.

Small organisations support each other independently, and extend the reach of government funding through partnerships in cost effective and culturally vibrant ways. The Emerging Writers’ Festival has been known and celebrated for its successful and innovative partnerships with other small to medium and arts organisations, who have also been supported through the Australia Council for the Arts – including significant national partnerships with the Queensland Writers Centre, the NSW Writers Centre, the SA Writers Centre, the NT Writers Centre, Island magazine, and the black+write! Program, through the State Library of Queensland, among others – and the threats to their sustainability, and ability to make national connections and share programs, impacts the festival significantly.

We are also deeply concerned for individual artists. The current and immediate impacts on the Australia Council for the Arts, in particular the discontinuation of the ArtStart program, will have a significant impact on the development of emerging and independent artists. Many of the Emerging Writers’ Festival artists and audience have used this set of funding to travel to and from the festival and to access professional development opportunities offered by the festival, moving towards making their own creative practise sustainable.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival prides itself on being the festival for writers – profiling over 300 writers in the space of a year. We are not only an outward facing celebration of writing and writers, championing early excellence, but we are an essential incubator for writers. Many of the festivals programs are intended for writers to build their skills, confidence and professional networks as they create sustainable careers. The successes of developmental programs such as these are inherently best suited to the democratic integrity of peer review processes and we recognise and commend the fairness with which the Australia Council for the Arts operates.

The Australia Council for the Arts is a highly respected and valued institution – with forty years of organisational knowledge – and its peer review processes ensure a diverse range of major, medium and small arts organisations are funded through its programs, as well as independent artists at all stages in their careers. For the health and diversity of the Australian arts landscape the Emerging Writers’ Festival requests that all funding – including efficiency cuts – are returned to Australia Council and their peer reviewed processes.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Callingham
General Manager

Sam Twyford-Moore
Outgoing Festival Director

Emerging Writers’ Festival appoints Michaela McGuire as Festival Director

michaelaThe Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) today announced the appointment of a new Festival Director and co-CEO, Michaela McGuire, commencing Monday 20 July 2015.

Michaela is an author, journalist and commentator, as well as a founder and co-curator of the internationally acclaimed literary event, Women of Letters (WoL). Under Michaela’s guidance, WoL has expanded from a single event, into a series of sold out shows that have been held across Australia, Indonesia, the UK and the US – and has produced five acclaimed anthologies of writing as well, promoting a wide range of Australian and international authors.

Outgoing Festival Director, Sam Twyford-Moore, departs EWF on 28 August 2015, following the completion of a three-year tenure. Under Sam’s direction EWF has seen the festival audiences soar by 30% and box office by 50%. Sam programmed some unique and popular festival events and launched the highly successful Digital Writers Festival.

EWF Board Chair, Andrea Spencer, said today; “Sam joined EWF in 2012 and has made a valuable and passionate contribution to the organisation. His incredible commitment and raft of original ideas has not only delivered three very successful festivals, but it has propelled EWF into its second decade.”

“Furthermore, Sam is adored by his colleagues and the literary community. Please join us in thanking Sam and wishing him well in his next endeavor.”

“We are delighted to appoint Michaela McGuire whose experience as a writer and as a literary curator with Women of Letters makes her ideally suited to the Festival Director role. Through Women of Letters, Michaela has created speaking and publishing opportunities for countless emerging writers. Michaela understands how important it is to build a community for the sharing of ideas, stories and conversations and how important the EWF is for the professional, artistic and social development of new talent. We are excited to provide Michaela with the opportunity to work with the literary community to create new and enthralling festival programs ” said Andrea.

Michaela will work alongside co-CEO and General Manager, Kate Callingham.

In a statement Michaela said, “Through my work with Women of Letters I have developed a great passion for literary programming, and I am beyond thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to continue this work with EWF. New literary talent energises me, and it is a great pleasure to be able to both champion and be inspired by new generations of writers. I cannot wait to work with Kate Callingham and the EWF team to continue creating innovative professional development opportunities and a dynamic program of events. EWF is a unique platform for new talent, and it’s an honour to be able to help emerging writers from all backgrounds to engage with and contribute to the world-class literary community of Australia.”

The Emerging Writers’ Festival is a not-for-profit organisation whose foundations are built on supporting emerging writers. Engaging writers in the eleven-day festival, our digital festival and events interstate and internationally, the EWF is a place where creativity and innovation are celebrated, where new talent is nurtured and where diverse voices from across Australia are represented.

For more information, visit: http://www.emergingwritersfestival.org.au

Writers and Disability closed forum statement

Written by Jax Jacki Brown write-ability-ewf15

(Write-ability Salon-Emerging Writers Festival)

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land we meet on tonight and pay my respects to their elders past and present

I would also like to acknowledge the work of First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN)

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(FPDN group photo from http://www.fpdn.org.au)

FPDN advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have a disability. I also want to acknowledge that indigionality and disability often intersect with ABS statistics suggesting that 50 percent of indigenous people have a disability.

1 in 5 people in Australia have a disability, its 2 in 5 if you include carers or family members.

What would that expand to if we included lovers, friends and allies?

We are all only temporarily able-bodied, we will all age and our bodies and minds will change in our life times.

I want to invite you to think about disability anew, to ponder disability as resulting ‘from the interaction between a persons impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers, these  barriers hinder our full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’ (UN General Assembly 2007) or as Stella Young put it ‘‘I am not wrong for the world I live in, the world I live in is not yet right for people with disability, and we need to change it!’’

People with disability are one of the most marginalized groups in society 45% of people with disability live on or below the poverty line (Human Rights Watch report, 2015).

We are subject to disadvantages in the key areas of employment, education, transport, housing, rates of violence and abuse and access to the health system.

Some quick stats
Employment – half that of people without disability
Education – only 24% have completed VCE
Housing – 2x’s more pwd’s live in public housing, age-care or inappropriate accom, more likely to be homeless
Transport – 1.2 million people with disability reported difficulties accessing transport
(Source: Disability and health inequalities in Australia, Vic Health 2012)

Women with disabilities are assaulted, raped and abused at a rate at least two times greater than that of women who do not have a disability. 90% women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse.  More than two-thirds  (68%) have been sexually abused by the age of 18 (Voices against Violence Report, 2014)

So what does this have to do with writing? It means that we want have to equal and paid access to the writing world.

We want to change and challenge perceptions of who we are as people with disability – we are not objects of inspiration or tragedy – we are complex and whole individuals leading full and rich and messy lives.

We want to break down these stereotypes, these meta narratives of disability by having our writing published in the mainstream.

We want to read and write stories of disability pride, of sexuality, of parenting, of teenage angst, of falling in and out of love, of the intersections of identities- of being queer and disabled, of being indigenous and disabled or the pletha of other identities one can have- we want to proclaim the the disabled body as desirable, to read and write stories which show disability as a valuable part of a person not something to be afraid or ashamed of.

Such misconceptions can only be broken down if we are published, and published wildly and in accessible formats so that people with a variety of disabilities can have access to and enjoy text.

Like any minority we want to tell our stories ourselves, because this is where empowerment and societal change happens, we are tired of others writing about us. Its time to get our voices out there.

If we happen to be written about by others who don’t live the experience of disability we want to be consulted in the same way that the Indigenous community is consulted about how to address Indigenous stories and issues

Nothing about us, without us.

We want writers with disability to be included in the programs of festivals and events as a mater of course. We want mentorship by and for writers with disability, funding for writers with disability, paid positions within key literary organisations.

We want to get rid of the barriers people with disability face, we want accessible buildings and accessible stages so we can share our work on the sage with others, equally, proudly and boldly.

I don’t want to see disability continue to be included as an afterthought, as a box to occasionally tick but instead as a key and valuable part of the human experience and as in important minority which deserves to take up space and tell our stories for ourselves.

 

Women in Writing Manifesto: one year on

At the Women in Writing session on 30 May 2014 a manifesto was created. It had eight key points focusing on the challenges faced by women in the industry, and concrete ways that action could take place to better support, promote or highlight their work.

What became clear after the #EWF14 Women in Writing round table was that many of the calls to action needed a framework within which to happen. Who would conduct the surveys we suggested? Where could we have resources hosted so that we could share information? The existing organisations and initiatives operating within this space are already under-resourced and stretched in their scope. At first individuals started chipping away where they could. We hosted events in partnership with The Wheeler Centre. We wrote op-eds. Other writers started their own initiatives.

Some wonderful things happened, but it soon became apparent that there was no one entity looking at the overarching and interrelating issues facing women. So we’re starting one. I’m proud to announce the formation of Women in Literary Arts Australia (WILAA).

WILAA aims to foster community and promote women in the literary arts. We want to be a hub of information for women writers. To draw attention to the opportunities that exist for them, and to advocate for their needs where those needs are not being met.

To begin, we’re taking a survey of women writers to ask about their experiences. We have committed to one big project for 2015: to undertake a count of women at literary festivals around Australia. We know women are underrepresented in the media, but what about on stage? We hope to grow beyond this, though. And we’d love to hear from you if you have ideas on what we should tackle next. Take our survey, send us an email, leave us a comment. We look forward to hearing from you.

In the meantime, one year on from the round table, what has changed? Here is an update on how things have changed, how they remain the same in 2015, and what we hope the next year will bring.

Before we talk about how women should pitch more, negotiate pay better and advocate for themselves, we should recognize that if women fail to do these things as freely and readily as men, it is because they are conditioned to do so. Overcoming this lifetime of socialisation takes knowledge and empowerment. Women should be empowered to talk about what they are being paid. We want to see practical guides and advice for women on how be assertive, how to negotiate and advocate for their work. It’s time we figured out how to empower women with these skills in practical ways.  We want them given all the tools they need to know what others are paid, what a fair rate for their work is, to negotiate for better rates and conditions. We love the recently launched Pitch, Bitch initiative. It’s practical and supportive, and we thank Estelle Tang for making it happen.

This year an entire day of #EWF15 has been dedicated to workshops, panels and performances empowering women with practical knowledge. There’s also a full day for high school aged women, too. Having a space for women to discuss and learn from other women regarding the unique challenges they face is invaluable.

We need to arm women with information. Transparency is vital. Are female authors offered lower advances than men? If publishing houses won’t tell us, we want an anonymous survey that authors can answer to help us find the truth. And are freelancing women offered lower per word rates than men at the same publication? We want to analyse some of the data from the ‘pay the writers’ campaign and find out. And if this data shows that women are indeed paid less, we want publishers and publications to answer to that information.

This is one area where we have no more information than we did this time last year. It’s vital for women to know if the national wage gap average of 17.1% is reflected in literature. In the following year we will start to formulate ideas on how we can ascertain this.

If women are counted on the page, they should be counted in public, too. The VIDA and B&P/Stella Counts unveiled the statistics showing women get a raw deal in literature. We want to see a count of public literary events broken down by gender. Too many writers’ festivals have women relegated to the women’s topics and women’s panels. It’s time to hold programmers and event managers to account for the amount of women they place in key platforms in their events. We challenge festivals and cultural institutions to do their own counts, and if they won’t do them and consider these issues, we’ll do it for them.

In 2015 WILAA will undertake a survey of literary events. We invite festivals and literary events from all over Australia to get in touch with WILAA to ask how they can be included in the count.

As well as counting these stats, we want to hold those in positions of power accountable for them. We will challenge them to respond to the statistics of the Stella Count and the Festivals Count. We want them to participate in this dialogue and speak to the industry about what they are doing to redress gender imbalances.

It is our aim to directly engage with editors, programmers, publishers and the industry as a whole in 2015. WILAA will invite those in positions of power to engage in a dialogue about the state of affairs for women internally within their organisations, and lobby for better working conditions including representation and pay.

We want to see mentorships for women where skill-sharing and career advice can be enabled. We want to see further training that breaks through the barriers women face in reaching the top levels of industry. More importantly, we challenge those in positions of power to start a dialogue about and with women in their organisations. What do they need? How can you support them?

In 2015 WILAA will search for funding and program partners for a mentorship program. We see this as a key way for women at all stages of their careers to skill share and network.

We challenge the accepted concept that boys won’t read girl protagonists, or than men won’t read stories with women protagonists. Many books prove this concept wrong, and teachers and parents repeat it like it is law. Why won’t they? What can be done about it? Is it even true? If women are 50% of the world, it’s natural for them to be 50% of the characters in books, and to lead those stories. Girls read books featuring boys all the time, and boys, when given the opportunity, are just as adoring of characters like Katniss as girls are. Education is vital from an early age. We want to see better support for initiatives like the Stella education program, which goes into schools and talks about boys books vs girls books, what they are and why the delineation is irrelevant. And we want to delve into the Australian high school texts lists to see how women fare in those lists? Are there great female authors and great female characters for young readers to explore?

Since the roundtable in 2014 the extended Stella Schools Program has been released. It is an exciting initiative which addresses all of the issues discussed in this point. There is a resource kit, school visits, teaching notes and professional development for librarians and teachers. It has been accompanied by events at many key festivals around Australia talking about these issues and engaging with parents, librarians, booksellers, teachers and young readers.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do the covers of books by female authors say? We’re tired of seeing headless female torsos, giant lips, half faces, windswept hair and longing gazes into middle distance. Who comes up with these marketing rules that say green don’t sell, or female authors must use covers that highlight their gender and alienate half the population? We will create a visual display of the covers of books by women released in the last year and bask in the hot pink, the pastel tones, the beheaded women. What will it look like when we are confronted with this? We don’t know, but we look forward to finding out. And when we do, we’ll be awarding a literary version of a razzie to the worst cover offenders.

December 2014 saw Cover Girls Uncovered take centre stage at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. This was an excellent start to the conversation. You can watch the video here.

Women are not a homogenous group. We will not be treated like one. Within our community there are women of colour, women from refugee and migrant backgrounds, queer women, indigenous women, people who reject gender as a socially created construct that is of no consequence at all. All women’s stories matter, and they matter to everyone regardless of gender. We’re here, and we won’t be erased or silenced or ignored.

WILAA hopes to represent the interests of women in literature, while remaining aware that the needs of our community are as wide-ranging as our members.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Closed Forum Manifesto

On 3 June, 2015 the EWF was fortunate to bring together a group of passionate emerging and established Aboriginal writers and representatives from a number of key organisations who work with Indigenous writers. In the forum, over two hours, the group discussed a range of key topics and concerns, and these have been brought together in an EWF Manifesto.

The aim of the Manifesto is to inform and improve processes around how to better engage with and support emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and how the EWF and other organisations within the Wheeler Centre can enhance their programming of Indigenous writers in the future.

 

Gender

-          The experiences of Indigenous men and women can be different – writing can be a gendered experience.

-          Women can have a lived experience of trauma – an intergenerational “journey”.

-          How do Indigenous women construct and document their stories?

 

-          Collaborations

-          What are the protocols on how to document stories e.g. who owns a story? When an Indigenous person who is not a writer has an amazing life story and collaborates with a non-indigenous writer to tell the story, who owns the writing? By law, ownership reverts to the writer. So how do Aboriginal people retain authorship of their story when in collaboration with non-Indigenous artists? There is the potential to mark lived experience on works as a “story witness” – but is that enough?

-          Collaborations also impact on areas such as royalties.

-          This is too big an issue to solve in this forum so how do we put it on the table?

-          ACTION: How do we provide information to Aboriginal writers and communities regarding their rights regarding sharing and telling of stories, and make information on intellectual and property rights available so that Aboriginal people are informed? This could be through fact sheets, workshops etc – explore the options.

 

Workshops

-          Writers want the opportunity to meet with other writers to work on their own stories and to develop new stories collaboratively.

-          Are there currently Indigenous writing group writers can access? There is an Indigenous writers group at Victoria University, which meets fortnightly. Participants write together, critique work – in this instance, facilitated by a non-Indigenous mentor. This could be replicated in other workplaces, for instance.

-          With a writing group, there is a need to determine the agenda together as to what the group wants to achieve.

-          One alternative is for a group to be set up online e.g. Facebook, which would also make explicit the resources available for Indigenous writers – a centralised body. Social media is a quick and easy way to reach the community – put the word out to Indigenous writers.

-          Alternatively, a physical writing institution that would be a safe space for writers. Venues can be very problematic – can be very intimating. SLQ has made sure there is an Indigenous person on the front desk, and that signage is welcoming.

-          Writers groups could include professional development opportunities for writing in different genres – or this could take place within a festival. NB South Australia has an Indigenous writers’ group that provides workshops and a skills transfer.

-          There could be guest facilitators or readings by experienced writers that would get people to attend. The space needs to be accessible.

-          Celebrities and champions have star power/ can be a draw card to attract young emerging writers to workshops/events such as Festivals

ACTION: Explore the setting up of Indigenous writing groups. Explore existing models and network with already existing Indigenous writing groups. Explore physical locations where a group/groups could meet. Share information that would help other people set up their own writing groups.

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Mentorship/engagement

-          Mentorship can develop a mentees confidence. Mentorships can be a two way process, with both gaining.

-          Organisations need to follow the best practice of FCAC as it takes long-term investment to get community support. For example it took 5 years to build community support that lead to an Elders in Residence program.

-          ACTION: Identify established Indigenous writers who are interested in mentoring.

 

        Rural/outer suburban writers

-          There is a need to create sustained engagement with Indigenous writers who are not living in the city. There are stories that aren’t being told that communities should be making/creating. The opportunities need to be provided – the effect of this dispels myths about Indigenous people to a wider audience.

 

Funding

-          The funding needed to facilitate these opportunities will be affected by changes to Australia Council funding. Organisations within the Wheeler Centre need to continue to lobby the government about this.

-          Writers orgs just put up grants and competitions etc and don’t advertise and promote within the Aboriginal community then expect that diversity ‘just happens’. We want more than just funding, we want to build long term relationships.

-          There needs to be more assistance in the application process for arts funding – if this does not happen, diversity in who art practitioners are will not change.

-          ACTION: Share with forum information on the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Conference in August and information on Creative Victoria grants to pay for travel/ registration for FNAWN.

 

Barriers to organisations within the Wheeler Centre

-          Provide opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers/editors/ publishers to network.

-          Although it is a national organisation, where is the Victorian equivalent of Black+Write to create writing communities?

-          Venues can be inaccessible e.g. the CBD location may be a deterrent for Indigenous people in outer suburbs to attend their events.

-          Welcoming/ signage is important. There is a need to create culturally safe spaces.

-          Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) is an example of achieving Indigenous engagement. It took five years to make Indigenous groups feel welcome. Organisations need to be committed, as success will be incremental.

-          ACTION: Look at ways to build sustainable relationships with Indigenous writers using the Victorian Indigenous Literature Officer position to create a hub at the Wheeler Centre. Look at ways to make the Wheeler Centre venue culturally safer. Potential to create a bookshelf in an organisation such as The Wheeler Centre which share books by Indigenous writers.

 

Publishing/producing

-          Accessibility of getting published – You write and write but then you think, who’s going to publish me. How do I even begin to speak to a publishing house?

-          Sweatshop model from Western Sydney. Provides professional development guidance, workshopping, a way of coming together.

-          There are opportunities too with self-publishing/online. It would be wonderful if there were more digital avenues for young Indigenous writers to get their writing visible and to let young people know about these.

-          Centre for Indigenous Story is a new online avenue for sharing stories and is looking for content.

-          Likewise in theatre nearly 100% of dramaturgs are white and then wonderful black voices are shepherded into white dramaturgy frameworks. How to break these paradigms?

-          Build more pathways for Indigenous editors, publishers, front cover designers, etc. We need to address the lack of Indigenous people working in the publishing industry. State Library of Queensland Black & Write is a good model.

-          What other opportunities are there for writers? Artists in schools program seeks writers.

-          ACTION: Share information regarding online opportunities. Create factsheet/guidelines for the publishing industry on how to edit Indigenous writers. Provide support on how to contact publishing house/ how to pitching etc. Playwriting Australia to look at developing Indigenous dramaturgy processes.

 

Audiences/critiquing

-          How do you develop audiences/readership? Is reading a lost art form?

-          How do you create a hype around people when new writing comes out? One way is to make a deliberate choice to buy black writers to give as gifts.

-          Aboriginal readers need to read voices and hear and see authors and protagonists that they can relate to. Reading black voices and writers is an act of decolonisation.

-          Also need to build more Indigenous reviewers who review both Indigenous and non indigenous theatre/ writing/ film/ art.

-          Famous Indigenous people could promote books by Indigenous writers to the general public a la Ophrah’s book club.

-          Overall the forum felt it was important that we talk about these issues and attempt to achieve new outcomes rather than waiting to get it 100% right.

-          ACTION: To bring together Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander writer to discuss these issues on a regular basis and to measure the progress of our ACTIONs.

Five Gems that Might Just Save your Arse

I’ve spent most of today in the Freelancing for Life Masterclass, an event that’s part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival (which finishes up TOMORROW – can you believe it?!). The day presented a series of panels offering advice from editors, … Continue reading Continue reading

Early Words – How Art Tells Stories photos

Translation Nation photos

Wrap up – zine panel

During this year’s festival, the young writers of the Signal Express will be recapping a variety of events so you can catch up (or refresh). Find more of their writing here.

By Olivia Hurley

Featuring four experienced zine creators, the National Writers’ Conference’s zine panel celebrated many of the uniquely fulfilling and gratifying aspects of this form of publication. Anna Poletti, Cameron Baker, Oslo Davis, and Alexandra Duguid discussed the merits of zines, zine culture, the communities that stem from them, and the production and distribution of the zines themselves.

Each of the panellists had fairly idiosyncratic perspectives on why zines are important and what they mean on a personal level. Cameron describes zines as essentially being quiet ways humans can try to share something good. He appreciates the way they leave room for simplicity and sincerity to translate into something physical. Alexandra was told early on that her unbridled enthusiasm and excitement for the things she loves got in the way of her writing, so she uses her zines as a way to channel these intense feelings that threaten to make her chest explode and to find people who might just get where she’s coming from. Zines create a space where she doesn’t have to play it cool, as she feels like they have no bounds. For Oslo, his zines began as a way to free the jokes, sketches, and observations that were trapped inside his notebooks. By creating zines he taught himself to share his sense of humour and learnt about publishing. Anna (who actually wrote her PhD about zines) says zines are about freedom, energy, making space, and connecting with an audience. She can see the way zines are a wonderful way of making people feel special.

The panellists mused (prompted by questions from the audience) about what enables the zine to transcend the evolution from print-publications to online. What seems to keep zines popular is the fact that they are so personal and intimate, plus they have that fleeting and unabridged quality, which inevitably makes the reader feel special and involved in something important. A zine is a tangible thing, which can be kept, treasured, lost, found, torn or annotated, and this gives them their almost whimsical sensibility.

In terms of actually putting together a zine, it was suggested that there is no concrete process as zines are so individual. Some use Photoshop, PowerPoint, InDesign, Word, or nothing more than a pen and paper to create the master copy. Oslo admits that the covers are usually the best part of zines, and Alexandra speaks from past experience when she suggests you shouldn’t leave the photocopying to the last minute.

Finally, when discussing the feedback/opportunities that can come from zines, it was apparent that all four of the panellists had experienced some kind of public connection as a result of creating zines. Possibly in the form of subscribers, submissions, appreciative emails, project proposals, or simply somebody telling you they enjoyed it.  If you put a bit of yourself into the world, chances are someone is going to take notice. People must be noticing, just look at the way the Sticky Institute is bursting at the seams.

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