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Monthly Archives

October 2019

Disability Part 1

By | Disability, News
Lauren Hislop- blogging about living with disabilityHave you ever lived with a puppy, one which becomes your beloved family pet? Whilst you watch Netflix, it nestles in your lap, an intrinsic part of your life. However, after a long day at work, when you open your front door to be greeted with dog excrement, your endearment to the pooch wanes.

Living with a disability is similar to this situation, while I have embraced mine, it has its unique challenges.

The body I inhabit is always ‘currently under construction’. My disability affects every muscle, resulting in my gait being extremely unsteady and I walk as though I’m an accident waiting to happen. My speech is slurred, most people require subtitles to understand me. I appear as though I’m permanently intoxicated.

My disability is purely physical, it doesn’t affect my intellect in any way. I was accepted into university on my own merit and have three degrees.

My disability hasn’t prevented me from experiencing the richness life has to offer. However, there are challenges and some of the most confronting, are people’s perceptions and reactions towards me.

As I step out of my front door, dragging my contorted body along the pavement, I’m met with a sea of stares. Many feel entitled to gawk at me and I feel like a thousand paper cuts are pulsating through my body.

I’m a celebrity without renumeration. I realise people gaping is often due to ignorance and in most cases I ignore or smile. However, occasionally I snap and say “would you like a picture?” Most decline the photo opportunity. If I feel playful, I smile and say “sorry I’m taken”.

My unsteady gait and slurred speech, also causes many to believe I have the intellect of an infant. Their tone of voice alters, pitch rising as they condescend.  I’m frequently addressed as a ‘good girl’ and whilst I aim to have a Zen like attitude, sometimes this aspiration goes out the window.

For instance, once, as I was walking to the sink in a public toilet, a woman who emerged from a cubicle, instructed me to ‘go clean your hands like a good girl’. I was infuriated. How dare she patronise me, I thought. My face turned crimson, a wave of indignation came over me. I cleansed my hands, violently, and without sufficiently rinsing the soap suds from my palms, I stormed out. If my speech was crystal clear, I had a list of retorts on hand, I can assure you they were not G rated.

On another occasion, I sat at a table while my partner bought our meals at a club. Two elderly couples across from me, began vocalising their paternalistic concerns that I shouldn’t be left unsupervised.  I guess they had a point, they did look dodgy!

In most cases I try to explain I am intelligent.  When my partner and I first started dating, he was surprised that whenever I met someone, I would automatically announce to them I had three degrees. He thought it hypocritical and elitist from someone who professed to be a socialist. However, by spending more time with me, he understood the rationale behind the introduction.

Many people have limited understanding of cerebral palsy and require education. However, I feel enraged when condescending attitudes remain even after explanations are provided. For instance, my partner conveys to someone that I’m intelligent with uni degrees. They turn, looking toward me, saying, “you ARE a clever girl!" Sadly, the perception of people with disability being intellectually inferior is so ingrained. Ignorance moves into arrogance, which is extremely difficult to deal with.

People often express to me they find me inspirational simply for completing ordinary tasks. I once attended a job interview, during which I was praised for getting to the venue ‘all by myself’.  I had no idea that catching a cab was so impressive. My notion of inspiring action involves reducing world hunger. Placing witticism aside, it’s frustrating that people have such small expectations of me due to my disability. As I ventured home, ‘all by myself’, I knew I wouldn’t be offered that position.

Despite encountering prejudicial attitudes, I have also experienced empathy and inclusion. My friends and family value the essence of who I am. I have experienced the best of humanity. People generally yearn to understand.

So next time you see a person with a disability, don’t be filled with fear or curiosity. We are really not that fascinating. I can assure you, your Facebook feed is probably more captivating!

Here is Stella Young's TED Talk: I'm not your inspiration

About Lauren:

Lauren Hislop is a social researcher, writer and a passionate disability advocate. She has been a blogger for various organisations. Lauren has been known as a professional uni student. She is a member of HWC, living in Newcastle with her partner.

Lauren Hislop- blogging about living with disability

October 2019 Newsletter

By | News, Newsletter, Newsletters, Uncategorized

Along with live readings from the NPP finalists, a variety of local talent will be performing.

Join us
Level 8, 
NeW Space 
from 2pm 
Saturday 26th October at the

Newcastle Poetry Prize Ceremony

Program includes:
Live Reading
$25 000 Prize Pool awarded
and the launch of the 
2019 anthology

See the list of poets to be published in the 2019 anthology

University of Newcastle logo

University of Newcastle NeW Space Building

Level 8, NeW Space, UoN. What a view!
HWC Workshops

3 places left:
Creative Writing Workshop
with Karen Crofts

Monday 14th October

Have you always wanted to write or been writing at home alone for years? Do you want to write your life story or family history in an engaging way?
Join our Creative Writing course. Learn more here.
 
Live Readings at Newcastle Art Gallery

Another successful live-reading was held Tuesday 1st October.

Next live reading: 3pm, Tuesday December 3rd
Bring your stories, poems, essays, rants, songs, scripts.
In response to the 'WISH YOU WERE HERE' exhibition.

HWC Member News

HWC Member Susan Francis will have her memoir ‘The Love That Remains’ published by Allen and Unwin on February 4, 2020. A third of the way through writing the book about finding her natural parents, Susan met her husband. He helped her find many of the missing pieces in her story, and they soon went to live in Spain together. One morning in Lisbon, her life and the subsequent manuscript took a very different path. You can listen to Susan’s interview with Richard Fidler from ABC’s ‘Conversations’ here.

HWC Member Kit Kelen was asked how he felt about being selected for the 2019 Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology, and this is what he said. Will his poem ‘Hardanger’ win a prize from the $25,000 prize pool? Join us at the NPP event on October 26 to find out (info at the beginning of newsletter).

HWC Member Magdalena Ball and Ellen Shelley had poetry featured at It’s Raining Poetry in Adelaide. Poem #16 by Magdalena Ball: “It always comes back to the bird: simulating a tougher species, reaching an arm / with privilege’s casual grace, nudge of hip or smack, easiest with small eggs / or chicks, curved beaks, striped plumage, power of the pack, slogans, insults / often reflect the wielder, truncation, onomotopoetic mud this cuck.” View the location here.

HWC Blog

Lauren Hislop

Our October blogger is

Lauren Hislop on

Disability Writing

Excerpt from Blog 1: “People often express to me they find me inspirational simply for completing ordinary tasks. I once attended a job interview, during which I was praised for getting to the venue ‘all by myself’.  I had no idea that catching a cab was so impressive. My notion of inspiring action involves reducing world hunger. Placing witticism aside, it’s frustrating that people have such small expectations of me due to my disability. As I ventured home, ‘all by myself’, I knew I wouldn’t be offered that position.

Miss last months posts? You can read about Nature Writing by Julia Brougham here.

Other Literary Events

Boundless Festival

Bankstown Arts Centre

Saturday 26 October

The full program has been announced and boasts a powerful line-up of local and interstate names – including Alice Pung, Benjamin Law, Jack Latimore, Nardi Simpson, Sarah Ayoub, Stephen Pham and Winnie Dunn. The free all-day event will include performances, readings, panel discussions, an exhibition, professional development, and opportunities for audience members to meet the writers and purchase their books.

The full program is now available on the Boundless website.

Patrick White Oration

Scone Arts & Crafts Hall

Saturday 16 November

The Patrick White Oration is a new, major event for the Scone Literary Festival and will feature Christos Tsiolkas the award-winning author, critic, essayist, playwright and screenwriter in Conversation with Festival Patron, Phillip Adams. The Oration also doubles as the launch event for the Festival’s 2020 Program with ‘hot’ ticket specials that night only for the March event.

Learn more here.

Author Talk: Peter Fox

Raymond Terrace Library

Thursday 31 October

Former Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox is a 36-year veteran of the NSW Police Force, during which time he investigated countless child sexual abuse cases in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. His book details some of the horrors that face our police every day, revealing cover ups, backlash and the lengths those in power will go to to avoid facing the the truth. Join him at Raymond Terrace Library this month– the event is free but bookings are essential: call 4988 0111.

More info here.

HWC Writing Groups

Attendance is free as part of your membership. There are vacancies in most of our groups especially: 
Belmont, Maitland and Teralba.
Email us for more information 
or see the entire list of writing groups in the Members Area