Announcing: This is What Raising a Feminist Looks Like podcast

Turns out, because I can’t help myself, I’ve got a project I’m launching next month. It’s a podcast (and accompanying Tiny Letter) which will be the interviews I’m undertaking in preparation for the long-laboured book I’ve been working on about raising feminist sons.

The podcast is called This is What Raising a Feminist Looks Like and the first episode will be live in early October. In the lead up I’m launching the Tiny Letter I’ll be sending our fortnightly to share links to the work of my guests, other articles of interest and events that might be of interest to the podcast audience.

The best way to stay up to date with the podcast is to subscribe to the Tiny Letter and ‘like’ the Facebook page. For those not familiar with the Tiny Letter format it’s essentially a very short and sweet email that comes to your inbox.

2018 Reading Roundup

In an unexpected turn of events, Goodreads tells me I’ve managed to meet my 2018 reading goal already. I wanted to read a book and a half per week which has been my goal for the past couple of years (I have fallen short up until now).

This year I’ve had significantly more time housebound which has probably contributed to me reading more. Certainly when I look back over the titles I’ve read there are a much higher proportion of cosy crime audiobooks which are my go-to solution when my ME/CFS is bad and I’m stuck in bed.

Of the books I’ve read my highlights were Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee, Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough, White Tears by Hari Kunzru, Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Fleshers by Alison Croggon. Eggshell Skull and Catching Teller Crow particularly moved me. Notable mentions go to After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson and White Night by Ellie Marney.

It will be interesting to see how many I manage to read by the end of the year given there is still so much time remaining. I don’t imagine I’ll reach two books per week (104 in total) but time will tell.

CYL: Inky Awards Shortlist Announcement

Working at the Centre for Youth Literature there is always a project on the go or an annoucement of some kind happening. This one is especially dear to me because I’ve seen how much hard work nine teenagers have put into making it possible. The judges whittled a truly excellent shortlist of ten Australian and ten international YA books down to a final five in each category. They read 20 books, made notes, debated for literally hours and finally came up with this shortlist.

My job is mostly facilitating them getting their books, reading them by our deadline and sitting on a Skype call where I get to watch them partake in what I affectionately call Book Wars, where they argue with each other over the merits of the longlisted titles and negotiate their selections. It’s probably the best job in the world. I mean, I’ve never been employed as a chocolate taster so I can’t confirm it entirely, but I think getting a window into passionate bookish teens discussing the best YA literature of the past year is pretty great.

Now that the shortlist is public it’s time for teens all over Australia to have their say by voting. The winner of the Gold and Silver Inky Awards will be announced in Melbourne on October 2 at State Library Victoria.

MWF 2018

It will be a relatively quiet MWF for me this year! Most of my time and energy is being spent preparing our Centre for Youth Literature teens to facilitate panels in the schools program. They are a great bunch and I know they will excel in creating engaging conversations for students to enjoy.

My one session of the year I’m facilitating is Crime Scene Imagination where I’ll have the pleasure of chatting to Ellie Marney and Rebecca Lim about two of my favourite things: YA books and crime writing.

2017 Wrap Up

low light picture taken of a full auditorium from the stage at Melbourne Writers Festival
Packed MWF session I chaired with Danielle Binks and Diem Nguyen: probably the most fun panel of the year

This year was supposed to be my maternity leave year… how did I do keeping to my goal of not taking on any major projects? Well, let’s say I failed, but I failed well.

Linus was born November 2016, and I did manage to have almost a full 12 months without a major project. I did, however, take the opportunity to be a guest at the International Literature Showcase in Norwich, City of Literature. And then I accidentally (on purpose) fell into the perfect part-time role at the Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) at State Library Victoria.

So why did I knowingly divert from my 2017 goal? Because these two opportunities were worth it. Visiting Norwich and meeting literary programmers, producers and artists from all over the world was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I felt so fortunate to be the only Australian in attendance and learned so much in my week in Norwich. Joining CYL has been a career goal for me for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the few workplaces I see doing youth-driven, engaging programming for YA lovers. The chance to deepen my YA knowledge (I’m a huge YA reader) and learn from this experienced team of programmers and producers was one I couldn’t pass up. Not to mention it happens to be the perfect part-time fit for my current life with two children.

These two things are my clear work highlights of 2017. As I wrote about earlier this year, it wasn’t a stellar year for reading. I finished up reading 50 books, which is far less than I’ve managed for quite a while. That’s what having a baby does to your hobbies! I also facilitated some really great panels at Reading Matters, Melbourne Writers’ Festival and the inaugural Feminist Writers Festival: I always feel so lucky to speak with writers whose work I love such as AS King, Lili Wilkinson, Shaun Tan, Penny Modra and Kyo Maclear.

I’m looking forward to 2018. When I joined CYL it was on a short contract until the end of the year but I’m incredibly happy to have extended that until mid 2018. I’m really enjoying the role and working with some great people. It does mean that I am unlikely to get much writing done, but as always producing brings a different kind of work pride and enjoyment. I’d like to read more books next year, too. I think that’s my only firm goal for the year professionally: read more. Always nice to set a goal you enjoy.

MWF 2017

Tomorrow is my first day presenting at MWF 2017. As per my earlier post, I have six excellent sessions to host. Day one kicks off with two sessions in the schools program (Oliver Phommavanh doing writing exercises with students and Leena Van Deventer talking about writing video games). Did you know that the schools program is exclusively for young people? That’s right, no adults allowed. It’s one of the things I admire about the festival as especially in the YA space there can be a sense that adult fans are edging out young people. So no, if you’re over 18 you can’t come along and enjoy those sessions as much as you might want to.

My public session tomorrow is one I am so looking forward to. Sexism as a Mental Health Crisis will be held at QVWC, which is a gorgeous venue and they always make such lovely hosts. In preparing with the writers, it’s clear this session could easily run for double the time allotted and we still wouldn’t be covering everything. It’s a topic rife for deep analysis and I can’t wait to hear what these women have to say.

FFS Update

After much soul-searching, FFS has decided to postpone our FFS: Whose Conception is it Anyway event which was scheduled for this Saturday 26 August.

As most of you know, the event clashes with the Equal Love Rally. We were disappointed when it was announced as being on the same date as our latest panel, but hoped that people might be able to go to the rally and still attend the panel later in the day. As the rally information has become more available it’s clear this will be difficult for most people to manage.

Ultimately, we don’t want to be a deterrent to anyone attending the march. We are passionate about LGBTIQ+ rights, and believe that this rally is a priority for our community and us. It doesn’t sit right to be hoping people will rush off after marching to attend an event.

We will be offering a refund to all ticket holders, or you can hold on to your ticket and use it at the rescheduled event. We will be working with our speakers and venue to find another date to present the panel in the near future.

Thanks for understanding, and our apologies to anyone who is inconvenienced by this decision. It’s not one we have come to lightly. We look forward to marching with you all on Saturday!

Details for the Equal Love Rally can be found here.

Image by Jen Clark. If you would like a free downloadable version of the poster in the image Jen Clark has generously provided a downloadable version for you to print.

FFS: Whose Conception is it Anyway?

 

Feminist Family Salon (FFS) returns with a conversation about making families in new ways. Our panel will explore conception, pregnancy, birth and our bodies. How do we navigate the many different ways we can bring babies into the world when our family doesn’t fit the nuclear mould? Is how we conceive, grow and birth our child political? Does the ‘how’ of how our babies come into the world matter?

For more details see our Facebook event page. Tickets can be purchased via TryBooking.

2.30pm Saturday 26 August 2017

Farouk’s Olive

711 High Street Thornbury

Melbourne Writers Festival 2017

Every year when I’m asked to facilitate panels at Melbourne Writers Festival I pinch myself. The festival, particularly in the last five years under Lisa Dempster’s helm, is such a joy. I have found myself chairing sessions with writers I admire or talking about topics I’m passionate about. I love the opportunity to immerse myself in their work and explore what they write. This year I am hosting the following panels:

 

Write Here, Write Now

10am Tuesday 29 August

Budding writers, join author and stand-up comedian Oliver Phommavanh in this rapid-fire writing skills session! Learn exercises designed to beat writer’s block and finesse your writing skills to get you on your way to being a true wordsmith.

 

Video Games Writing

11.15am Tuesday 29 August

How do you write video games? Why are they such a great way of exploring narrative and consequence? Learn the tricks of the trade and explore a new form of writing with games writers Dan Golding and Leena van Deventer.

 

Sexism as a Mental Health Crisis

6.00pm Tuesday 29 August

Facing relentless discrimination, social stigma and violence, women are expected to succeed in a system that actively works against them. Anni Hine Moana, Zoe Morrison and Jenny Valentish explore the patriarchal structures exacerbating women’s mental ill-health.

 

Book Talk

12.30pm Wednesday 30 August

How do you share your love of books – blogs, Instagram, podcasts, a book club? Find out all the ways to talk about your favourite books and authors and where to get reading recommendations, with YA enthusiast Danielle Binks and podcaster Diem Nguyen.

 

Inside Advertising

3.15pm Wednesday 30 August

How are ads made? What are the symbols and language used to capture audiences? Graphic designer Andrea Innocent and arts aficionado Penny Modra take us behind the advertising curtain, with examples of ad images in progress.

 

Imagination

1pm Sunday 3 September

Hear beloved children’s author Kyo Maclear (Virginia Wolf) and Australian legend Shaun Tan (The Singing Bones) share their storytelling process and how they inspire imagination in young readers.

 

There is no way I could pick a favourite as yet again every single one has a topic or author I love, but I must say it’s a particular thrill to be able to grill Shaun Tan about the worlds he creates. Hope to see plenty of you out and about at the festival.

City of Literature ILS Trip: Norwich

After a week of panels, readings and discussions I’m feeling simultaneously exhausted and excited. The ILS has been an invaluable experience and I expect to be digesting all of the ideas and work I have seen for quite some time.

Coming in to this experience I had a clear idea of what I was hoping to do: talk to women from all over the UK and the world about the situation for women writers in their countries. I wanted to know if we faced similar challenges, if the gender inequality we are addressing in Australia is found elsewhere, and if so what initiatives, programs or organisations are working to address this.

The short answer appears to be yes, the challenges faced by women writers in Australia are similar in many other parts of the world. Having said that, there are also countries where women face additional pressures that most women in our country do not, often related to government censorship. It’s also clear that some of our initiatives and organisations are doing work above and beyond what other countries are currently attempting, which is heartening.

I will be returning home with some surprising findings, and some excellent opportunities for international collaboration and learning. I have confidence that we can offer support to each other, and have already seen the generosity of spirit from organisations such as the Glasgow Women’s Library and WoMentoring Project who have offered resources and information to follow up on.

It’s worth noting that as always whenever I talk to women writers there is a genuine desire to help each other out in individual and institutional ways. The sheer volume of volunteer hours and unwavering support is remarkable.