The highlights of the Queensland Indigenous Language’s Symposium held at the State Library Queensland, on 4th of May 2023 were: the Kutaw Zoeru Torres Strait Islander Dance Troupe; learning about the project and policy work of First Languages Australia; and all the afternoon workshops particularly the presentation of Desert Pea Media, on building creative bridges between Elders and younger generations in community.
The major focus of this years symposium was youth. There was a youth workshop stream attached to the event, which occurred at the same time as the workshops for adults. In these sessions, held at the Edge, youth were learning about song and poetry and writing in language and language song recording.
The symposium brought together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages speakers, language workers, organisations, cultural leaders and youth for a full day of keynote presentations, panel discussions and workshops; to provide a platform to look…
After being stuck at home for weeks due to a few physical health issues that have caused a few tears from the pain, I thoroughly enjoyed the “Absolutely Everybody Sings” concert held at the State Library of Queensland, on Sunday April, 29th.
It featured inspiring performances from two Brisbane “Absolutely Everybody Choirs” whose members selected the songs for their personal significance to inspire their journeys to well being.
Songs, like, ‘It’s Alright’ (The Impressions), ‘The Climb’ (Miley Cyrus), ‘Fragile’ (Sting), ‘Stand’ (Rascal Rats), ‘Across the Universe’ (Beatles), ‘Staring at a Blank Space’ as well as two covers songs from the Guest Artist, Gregory Moore ‘Wings Beneath my Wings’ (Bette Midler) and ‘Bridge over Troubled Waters’ (Simon and Garfunkel).
We began the concert with singing ‘It’s Alright’ together and ended the afternoon with a three part harmony of the whole audience plus the choir and a celebration of one year birthday…
In the last few months I have been connecting with Pasifika Friends, who carry their/our cultures in the heart, in the art, and in the soul wherever they go, and connect to families who share that same passion to continue meaningful cultural practices even whilst embracing new homes.
I hear stories of endurance to obtain cultural tattoos, and reconnect with friends who dart in and around the Pacific, Australia and call so many places home, because they have family there. How I treasure these connections and the inspiration, strength and creativity within them.
I’ve been reading and attending forums on the Voice to understand where it comes from and what it means to people and work out how I wish to vote. At a Multicultural hosted Forum at the QPAC, it was raised that we are all migrants to Australia, other than the First Nations people who were here first, and that with many coming from countries where they do not have freedom of a voice, to ensure that future generations of First Nations will have an enshrined voice is something that all migrants can consider something they can give back to First Nations people through supporting the Voice.
A voice, is only one beginning, one action, a vote where people decide whether to support a proposal but the true changes will come through ongoing conversations, grass roots actions to connection, collaboration and friendship where listening, should forever be a keystone. Whether you think the Voice will work or not, few can deny the integral and ancient and important connection of First Nations people to this land and that listening, healing and actions go hand in hand.
However you choose to vote, do your homework with reliable sources, and don’t put unrealistic expectations on all the First Nations people you might know to do your homework for you!
The other thing I have been doing, until my health took a tumble, was walking. Daily walks to parks, full of bird life, turtles, and interesting trees and creeks. And little did I know how precious this would all become when I got serious sciatica and just couldn’t and still struggle to walk a little bit. My small pieces of film, photographs and memories of these special places is sustaining me whilst I make numerous trips to the doctors and begin the rounds of physios, orthopaedics, and more. I am still not able to return to beloved walks of more than a few mins if that, but only struggle out to my garden.
To sustain me through this time there have also been the memories of in person times with colleagues and friends, discussing stories, writing, community and the wonderful visits of friends who took the time to come and sit with me in my garden, and cheer me up with our shared memories and stories. There have also been a few phone calls to people who prefer that mode of communication, just to see how they are.
To overcome my feelings of isolation I have been doing lots of editing, reading, writing and attending and organising meetings on zoom when I can’t make it out of my house. I’ve made strides forward on some historical biographical work, and hope to do some interviews over zoom whilst I can’t venture too far from home.
A friend bought me a physical copy of Emily Dickinson, my first actual paper copy of her work as I usually read her online. And thinking about Emily’s use of time alone to write I have begun filling a notebook about the experience and sensations of pain.
Some very touching comments were posted on my face book wall. Some of my favourites were:
It was very sad to hear of some people passing away relatively young, who had been important at different times to our family in our children’s journeys at school, but inspiring to hear of the courage of forgiveness, of the daughters of one my close friends who lost their mother.
Both these instances of mortality and forgiveness give me an urgency to finish particular projects or ensure there is someone to continue them if something should happen to me.
My silence on this blog means I am healing, reading, living – and pausing to reflect I write to express gratitude for all that life teaches, whether it be walks, or ill health.
Many thanks to all the true friends, and so sorry to miss birthdays, invitations, walks, functions, meetings where we normally connect I will be back or you can visit me in my garden, and we can listen to the wind, enjoy the stillness and bask in the memories of nearness.
It was an enthusiastic and joyful opening night last Friday, when the first Genrecon (themed Forbidden Doors) in person for three years, happened in Brisbane on the Terrace of the State Library QLD after having to be online during the pandemic and floods.
It included fairy floss, popcorn, sushi, Japanese beer, sandwiches, a back drop of Rocky Horror Show silent on a big screen, some cosplay for launch night for this who wanted to, socializing, and a celebration of all things to do with Fantasy, spec fic, crime, romance, fairy tale as well as combination genres.
You could if you like talk to some of the best selling authors, like Garth Nix who were super friendly and encouraging of emerging and budding authors and who stayed throughout the weekend for more than just their own panels. Other presenters and writers in attendance were Nalini Singh, Natasha Lester, Rob McDonald, J.P. Pomare, and Jay Kristoff, Ali Sinclair, Leanne Young and more.
Lori-Jay Ellis (CEO of the QLD Writers Centre), was delighted to launch the event, and spoke up talented best selling Queensland writers, as well as our international and interstate visitors for the conference and the best cos players.
Roaming photographer Jemma Polari, and also MC board member, captured some of the joy and creativity of the evening. Other board members also in attendance over the weekend were Lara Cain Grey and Stephen Torre.
The amazing Lauren Elise Daniels, editor, writer, writing across a number of genres, soon to be panellist and panel host over the next few days strutted her costume out in super scary style.
There were speeches and prizes for a writing competition (Jay Mckensie won for February Girl), and costumes, with Writing Centre CEO, Lori-Jay aka, Wednesday Addams, and sponsors and organisers (Craig Cauchi came as Lori-Jay’s favourite character/actor). Which included the major one of the QLD Writers Centre and the State Library, but other sponsors are listed on the website and were dutifully and gratefully thanked.
Raelene Purtill won best costume, and gave a thank you speech in character!
One of the major highlights of Genrecon, was being able to learn about genres you might not have considered writing before, and realising you perhaps could. As well as being surrounded by writer tribes you might not have known before.
As well as of course for some connecting with their much missed writing tribe, separated by said floods, and pandemics and lack of interstate travelling rights.
The enthusiasm, knowledge and skill of the horror and speculative fiction writers, as well as writers of paranormal romance, was so enjoyable to witness.
I particularly enjoyed talking to creators, like Geneve Flynn, over the weekend, author/ co-editor of Black Cranes who I was later to host on a panel, Writing Partnerships.
There are some tremendous photographs of genrecon being posted online, with one of my favourite being this one by Garth Nix which captures Craig Cauchi communing with the Fairy Floss machine in full gladiatorial glory. You can find many by following the hashtag #genrecon2023
Most of the audience had little experience of this, and were curious to learn more, especially about the personal qualities to look for in potential collaborators and the mechanics of managing a writing partnership.
We examined this from the point of view of writing partners, collaborating editors and creating publishing opportunities to bring collectives together to have a voice.
Jay’s meeting with his writing partner, of Illuminae and Aurora Cycle, Amie Kauffman, was over their difficulties in navigating overseas taxation for individual books they had coming out, and a suggestion from a third party who said they could help each other out. They then had a breakfast meeting and this led to a cowriting…
It’s been a busy year, with four panels, meet ups with the Pasifika Baha’i Group, SCWIBI, South Australian Contacts for the Uncle Fred Murray Story, seeing friends I haven’t seen in years, and working on several teams including the QLD writers centre management committee.
Some of my favourite times have been being immersed into the stories and cultures of people from all over the world. This collage represents some of that journey.
And there were times when some of these dear friends fed me, cheered me, or dreamt and planned with me. Forever grateful for your amazing friendships, collaborations, and for just being you. There will be more of these panels as I remember the year that was.