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Blue Knot Foundation

By | Grieve, News

Within Blue Knot Foundation, the national Australian organisation which supports adults who have experienced all sorts of trauma, abuse and violence in childhood grief and loss is never far from the surface.
   Whether it is loss of childhood, of innocence, of meaning, of family or of possibility, Blue Knot works to help those affected to feel safe, rebuild trust and find a path to hope and healing. It is not about simply getting over it and getting on with it but it is about the support of others – listening, hearing and being there with and for one another. It’s about being human and sharing the vulnerabilities and sensitivities we all experience, at different times in our lives.
   My experience is that grief takes as long as it takes. Each and every person has their own experience, their own way of trying to deal with it, of processing their loss and an intensity of emotion, which at times, feels unrelenting and infinite. Yet as an organisation we daily witness the resilience of the human spirit, buoyed through connection and community, over time.
   Helping to judge some of the entries to the Grieve writing competition has been profoundly moving and humbling. The experiences of grief and loss, so deeply personal have presented works of raw honesty and lyrical imagery, metaphor and narrative rarely shared.
   To find out more about Blue Knot Foundation visit www.blueknot.org.au

Cathy Kezelman
President

Jean Kent poet

Jean Kent – poet and mentor

By | Member News, News, Poetry, Writing Groups
Pretending for a moment that she's not tough,
under the rotary clothes hoist the coordinator
of the Affirmative Action for Women program
buckles. This seems like the hardest job
she ever has to do, wrestling with wind and light,
the wet clothes slapping her face
and knuckling her into corners where sun assaults
and the frantic morning pegs down
like a sideshow tent while an audience
of waiting household tasks
boos and jeers
- from 'Superwoman' by Jean Kent (HWC member)
Jean Kent poet

Jean is a long term member of Hunter Writers Centre. Born in Chinchilla, Jean grew up in rural Queensland. She has published 5 full-length collections of poetry and co-edited a comprehensive anthology of contemporary poetry by writers who live in the Hunter or have close connections with the region. Here is her website.  Jean is available for mentoring – contact us at info@hunterwriterscentre.org (photo by Dean Osland, Newcastle Herald)

2018 Newcastle Short Story Award prizewinners

By | Newcastle Short Story Award, News, Uncategorized

The 2018 anthology is now on sale

Congratulations to all the prizewinners:

First Prize – sponsored by the University of Newcastle, awarded to Shaynah Andrews (pictured R with Prof Darrell Evans and Ryan O’Neill, judge)

Here is an excerpt from her winning story ‘Not for Me to Understand’:

My blood feels too hot. I want to beat my fists against Dad for treating me like a kid. I smash a cup on the kitchen tiles, half on purpose. There are little bits of glass all around me. Dad and Linda rush into the room.

‘I’m sorry, it was an accident,’ I say.

‘It’s OK, possum,’ says Dad. I want him to yell and scream at me but he is gentle. ‘I’ll clean this up darlin’, just get away from all the glass. Careful now.’

Dad and Linda hover over plastic dustpans. I walk out the front door and ride my pushie to the beach with Ellie behind me.

 

Cassie Hamer (R) won second prize donated by Newcastle Law Society represented by Sally Davies (L)

L to R: Megan Buxton, HWC President, Ryan O’Neill, judge, Kate Griffith from sponsor Westfield Kotara

Shawn Sherlock, Foghorn Brewhouse donated the Highly Commended awarded to Jane O’Sullivan

Amanda Shirley from MacLean’s Booksellers donated the Highly Commended awarded to Tanya Vavilova

Author Ryan O'Neill and prizewinner in the Newcastle Short Story Award

M.J. Reidy (pictured here with judge Ryan O’Neill) won a Commended award donated by Dymocks, Charlestown. 

Derice McDonald from Macquariedale Organic Wines donated a $120 wine pack awarded to Rhona Hammond, local writer’s award.

writers - local winners within the Newcastle Short Story Award 2018

Local Award Winners Shaynah Andrews, Edyn Carter and Stephanie Holm

Writing About Significant Loss

By | Grieve, News

Sometimes writing about the loss of a close family member can feel too hard because the enormity of all you have lost might stop you even starting. You may feel that in trying to describe it all you lose the sense of the person. What about writing about one aspect of the person? Start with a small physical characteristic or a small feature you loved about him or her – their smile, the way he sat to read, chat, write; the way she dressed or cooked or performed a regular chore. Below, Maree Reedman writes (in Grieve Volume 5) about hands as a recurring image which creates a clear and intimate portrait of her father. Enter your poem or story/essay into the Grieve writing competition.

My Father’s Hands
Maree Reedman

Long, tapered fingers,like candles.
Not a musician,though your sister
tried to teach you the piano.

A gardener
of fruit trees and roses
until you toppled over
the rosemary; the builder
of a mustard bookcase for my childhood
and my adolescent home;
a maker
of home brew
and pongy dog stew.

Your half-moons purpled
with blood as I held
your hand
while you snored,
mouth open
you always slept
easily.

My brother tried to close your lips
when you left,
off to go on that long-awaited
honeymoon with Mother,
the one you never took.

2018 Newcastle Poetry Prize Judges

By | Newcastle Poetry Prize, News

We are thrilled to have poet Nathan Curnow as one of our judges of the 2018 Newcastle Poetry Prize judges. Nathan is based in Ballarat, Victoria, and is a past editor of Going Down Swinging. He was published in the 2011 Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology and his published books include The Ghost Poetry Project (2009), RADAR (2012), The Right Wrong Notes (2015) and The Apocalypse Awards (2016). His work has featured in leading journals and been shortlisted for major prizes, receiving the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize in 2010. As a peer assessor he has worked for the Literature Board of the Australia Council, Creative Victoria and Arts Queensland. He has recently taught Creative Writing at Federation University and continues to conduct school workshops across the country.

What a coup that Sarah Day agreed to judge the Newcastle Poetry Prize this year with Nathan Curnow. Sarah’s most recent book is Tempo (Puncher & Wattmann, 2013); it was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and won the University of Melbourne Wesley Michelle Wright Prize. Awards for previous books include the Judith Wright Calanthe Queensland Premier’s Award, the Judith Wright ACT, the Wesley Michelle Wright Prize and the Anne Elder Award. She was poetry editor of Island Magazine for seven years. Her poems have been widely anthologized in Australia and overseas and have been set to music in Australia and Britain. She has written reviews and articles for magazines such as Island; The Monthly; Southerly; Cordite; Famous Reporter. In 2016 she was one of the judges of the National Wildcare Nature Writing Prize. Her next collection will be published early this year.

Cover of Newcastle Short Story Award anthology 2018

2018 Newcastle Short Story Award finalists announced

By | Newcastle Short Story Award, News

 

Ryan O'Neill, 2018 Newcastle Short Story Award judge

Ryan O’Neill, 2018 Newcastle Short Story Award judge

We are thrilled to announce the authors selected to be published in the 2018 Newcastle Short Story Award anthology.

Join us at the prize ceremony to find out which of these authors (listed below) will win the prize pool valued at over $7000.

Hear the judge, author Ryan O’Neill, discuss short story writing and this competition.

When? On the eve of the Newcastle Writers Festival, at 5.30pm, 6th April, 2018 in City Hall, Newcastle.

 

In alphabetical order, the selected authors are:

Shaynah

Andrews

Not for Me to Understand

Sophia Helen

Barnes

Look Me In The Eye

Kate

Cantrell

We Caught Her in the Act

Edyn

Carter

Gyne

Jessica

Clements

Blackberries

Else

Fitzgerald

Felidae

Chris

Flynn

Fantasia

Jean

Flynn

Suffering is Universal

Marlish

Glorie

Red Dust & Pearls

Cassie

Hamer

Sculptures by the Sea

Rhona

Hammond

Socks

Nicole

Hodgson

Just One Night

Stephanie

Holm

Grey Gum

Elspeth

Ives

End of Lease

Roland

Leach

G

Beverley

Lello

Blue Day

James

McKenzie Watson

Twin Suns

Meg

McNaught

Fresh Dirt

Paul

Mitchell

A Belt for Buddha

Rashida

Murphy

Strands of Jupiter

Alexandra

O’Sullivan

Lucky

Jane

O’Sullivan

Red Belly

Hollen

Pockets

Water the Colour of Clay

M.J.

Reidy

Dachshunds on Antidepressants

Emily

Riches

A Bad Friend

Peter

Rodgers

The Right Call?

Dorothy

Simmons

Jupiter Rising

William

Stanforth

Animalia

Wayne

Strudwick

Postcard

Tanya

Vavilova

Excess Baggage

Sanchana

Venkatesh

Arranged Marriage

Joshua

Wildie

Saviour

 

 

 

HWC Poetry Group

By | Member News, News, Poetry, Writing Groups

Hunter Writers Centre funded the publication of the HWC poetry group’s series of poems that pay tribute to Margaret Olley. Olley was an iconic figure in Australian art whose main focus on landscapes and interiors turned everyday objects and scenes into bursts of colour. As the model for one of Australia’s most recognised Archibald Prize-winning portraits by William Dobell, she looks out towards the viewer, a serene presence with a hint of mischief in her eyes. The book can be purchased from the Newcastle Art Gallery for $15.

Willy Wonka’s widow

By | Grieve, News
Our Grieve writing competition (open now) receives many stories and poems about dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory loss conditions.  The fabulous actor, Gene Wilder, suffered Alzheimer’s and his widow wrote this very honest article in Rolling Stone magazine  about the toll this condition takes on carers. 40% of Alzheimer’s caregivers die before their patient. Our Grieve writing competition gives carers the opportunity to express their loss and sadness as Pam Miller did in her piece which was published in Grieve Volume 4 – purchase the anthology here:
 
No One There
by Pam Miller

He holds her hands and gazes at the wrinkled skin. So soft now. These hands haven’t seen work in a long time. They are smooth and soft. Not like a baby’s hand. All round and plump and strong and grasping and reaching out for new things . . . reaching out for life.

These hands are still. They are lined and wasted and weak. There is no purpose in their life. They don’t cook or iron or clean or garden. They don’t hug or touch or comfort.

That all stopped long ago.

It stopped when her “confusions” started to appear, spreading its tentacles and stilling her hands. It forced the memories of her life into little recesses which could only be reached occasionally. In time, it pushed them further and further back. At first, it was every month when the memories couldn’t be found. Then, every week. And then, every day. It left a huge black hole, where once a life full of love and laughter had been.

He turns her hand over. There is no resistance, no feeling, no recognition of his presence.

He strokes the hand that is so familiar and that he remembers so well. And he basks in the memories that these hands remind him of. His memories. Their shared memories. He visits this empty shell of a person every week. He listens to the silence. He doesn’t say much. She was always such a talker. “Have a chat” was her nick name.

He grasps her hands and his memories of her. And he looks into the eyes of his mother. There is no one there.

 

Grief and Loss – ‘Tell it like it is’

By | Grieve, News

The Grieve writing competition accepts stories and poems on any topic related to loss: loss of a job, loss of a home, mobility, a pet.

Yes, death is a common theme in the stories and poems that are selected to be published in the Grieve anthologies, but the judges are also looking for stories and poems about loss that are not always recognised in society because grief can accompany any significant change or shift in our lives.

Doris Zagdanksi has been one of the Grieve judges for 3 years. Doris believes the Grieve project allows people to “tell it like it is.” From Doris:

In my 20s, I lost an infant daughter to SIDS.  It was a terrible time in my life especially because I was so young. I knew nothing about grief. Nobody in my family had died, it was such a struggle to know how to cope, to know what to do. I worked it out after a few years searching for information. And I found it really helpful to start writing. I found the experience of writing to be cathartic, a way to express feelings that I couldn’t discuss with friends or family.

People need to know there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel when coping with the death of someone they love. When people read somebody else’s story, they think ‘I’ve been there too’.

Visit Doris Zagdanski’s website All About Grief

Enter a poem or story in the 2018 Grieve writing competition

Grieve Writing Competition Opens Valentine’s Day

By | Grieve, News

The Grieve writing competition opens every year on Valentine’s Day – you know the measure of your love by the weight of your loss.

Grief is the human response to change and loss in our lives, such as the death of someone we love. It is a natural and normal response, which has a physical impact on our bodies as well affecting our emotions and our thinking. This statement is from Good Grief, an Australian organisation that awards a $250 prize in the annual Grieve writing competition.

One of the programs that Good Grief delivers is the Seasons for Growth program to children and young people who experience significant life changes. The aim is to normalise the experience of grief like giving them clear, factual, age-appropriate information about the loss they have experienced; help build protective factors and minimise risk factors that affect mental health.

If you are interested in facilitating the Seasons for Growth program you must be an accredited companion which involves a 2 day training program – learn more about the training program on the Good Grief website.