was successfully added to your cart.
All Posts By

Hunter Writers Centre

BlueKnot grieve logo and image of the CEO

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

The Olley Poems book cover

HWC Poetry Group

By | Member News, News, Poetry at HWC, 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.

Doris Zagdanski

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

man reading grieve anthology

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.

 

 

Wish upon a southern star book cover

Member News – Graham Davidson

By | Member News, News, Writing Groups

Wish Upon a Southern Star is an anthology of re-told fairy tales for a YA audience. The work of 21 authors from Australia and New Zealand was chosen, including HWC member Graham Davidson’s 10,000 word story, The Tale of Krinkle-myst, Cinderella and the Prince: The True Cinderella Story. The re-telling is set in modern-day Sydney, with Cinderella and the Prince having failed to realise their destiny 1500 years in a row.

 

NSSA

Newcastle Short Story Award Prize Night 6th April

By | Lit Resourses, News, Short Story Writing

Mark your diaries for Friday 6th April at 5.30pm – the eve of the Newcastle Writers Festival – to hear competition judge, Ryan O’Neill, discuss short story writing and his experience judging the competition. Following this live chat, we will announce the prizes: $3000 – first prize (University of Newcastle); $1700 – second prize (Newcastle Law Society); $1000 – third prize (Westfield) plus 2 highly commended awards, 2 commended and several local awards and we will launch the 2018 anthology.

Short story writing is a demanding craft. There are several key aspects you must focus on due to the restricted length. For example, the opening line must grab the reader’s attention and this is a consistent feature of the finalists’ works that have been selected over the past years of the Newcastle Short Story Award. The opening line does not need to be comedic and entertaining, although that is one way to engage, but it should arrest the reader’s attention and pull them in. Starting with a description of the weather, or a similar scene setting that plods towards the action of the story can disengage the reader before he/she has read very far. Here we have assembled a collection of Newcastle Short Story finalists’ opening lines that make the reader ‘sit up’ and want to read on:

You can drive a pretty hard bargain with a socket wrench. – from ‘Wrench’ by Rafael S.W

Jeff spent sixty years trying to kill me. – from ‘Heart Murmurs’ by Joanna Nell

 She truly thought she was better, but after she decided to rescue that stupid dog she realised she wasn’t. – from ‘Mad Dog Woman’ by Marcelle McDonald

It makes one feel differently about the beginning when one already knows the end to be a failure.  – from ‘The Red Wallpaper’ Elianna Han

‘You know, I was an immortal once,’ said Grandfather. – from ‘The Land of Always Living’ Claire Bradshaw

“You shouldn’t name something you’re intending to eat.” – from The Names of Things Angus Gaunt

The house should be empty. – from ‘The Remains’ Karen Whitelaw

When the taxi arrived, Eileen was grumbling to her mute budgerigar. – from ‘A Silver House’ Joseph Sexton

My neighbour is sick. I hear him coughing at all hours, especially in the middle of the night. I am not sure if he sleeps. He must, I suppose, or he would be dead. I have heard you die faster from not sleeping than from not eating. Thirst will always get you before hunger or tiredness, but lack of air will kill you before anything. – from ‘The Man Next Door’ by Johnathon Hadwen

Dream Trip

By | Uncategorized

By Megan Buxton

Tess hopes she has packed everything they’ll need in the new caravan. Bob was at the club last night, saying goodbye to his mates. By the time he came home he could hardly stand let alone make decisions about packing.
    Now he’s hitching the van to the new four-wheel drive. Tess looks at the car, squat and pugnacious, and misses her little hatch-back.
    ‘Silly to keep it love,’ Bob said. ‘It’ll be sitting in the garage for six months doing nothing. May as well sell it and use the money on the trip. And we’ll only need one car when we get back – now we’re retired.’
    Tess shudders at the thought. Bob looks up from the couplings and glares.
    ‘Nice for some,’ he says. ‘Started the holiday already I see.
    She climbs into the car, lips thinned. The door slams and the seatbelt is yanked across, the tongue jammed into the buckle.
    ‘Steady on Tess, old girl. Treat the car with a bit of respect, eh, love.’
    Tess takes a deep breath.
    ‘Well. Here we go, eh love. Trip of a life time. All our dreams coming true.
    Tess thinks of Paris, Rome, the wonders of Europe. Someone’s dreams are coming true at any rate.
    An hour later they slow down, along with all the other northbound traffic. Tess looks ahead and sees dozens of vans in the line, inching along like giant silver snails.
    ‘A caravan of caravans,’ she mutters.
    ‘Eh, what, love?’ says Bob. ‘I thought this new bypass was supposed to speed things up. By the way, did you pack my hand surfer?’
    ‘Jesus, Tess. I’ve been looking forward to using it. I love that thing.’
    Yep, thinks Tess. He loves it so much he hasn’t touched it for five years.
    Silence in the cabin. Tess gazes ahead at the white lines dissolving in the liquid shimmer of the road.
    She thinks of the aluminium siding of the van, sucking in the heat, storing it up to torment her throughout the long night. They didn’t get the air-conditioning.
    ‘No need for that, love. We’ll be sitting in the annexe, enjoying the sea breeze.’
    Bob begins to whistle. He calls it whistling anyway; forcing air between the gaps in his teeth, the tunes unrecognisable. The sound slices through her like a paper cut.
    ‘What are we having for tea, love?’
    Tess groans at the thought of cooking in the hot box on wheels.
    ‘I thought we might go out,’ she says. ‘By the time we arrive and set up it’ll be late.’
    He looks crestfallen. ‘Oh, no love. First night in the new van. We’ve got to christen the new equipment.’
    What’s with the ‘we’ she thinks. You’ll pour a beer and relax while I cook. Same shit as home, just a different location – and more difficult.
    They pull into a petrol station.
    ‘Stop, revive, survive,’ parrots Bob, returning to the car with an ice-cream and a packet of chips. ‘Didn’t get you anything, love. I know you’ve gotta watch your weight,’ he beams at her as the fast-melting ice-cream drips onto his paunch.
    He crunches on the chips as they drive, slurping the salt off his fingers after each one.
    Tess thinks about the journey ahead.
    Six months of caravanning. Six months of caravan parks. Six months of amenities blocks with tinea –infested shower stalls and using toilets after someone with terminal digestive problems. Six months of Bob at close quarters.
    In a couple of hours they’ll be in Port Macquarie. Tess gets out her phone. Google tells her there’s an airport there. With a few clicks she could book a flight home and another to France. She’d be packed and on her way before Bob gets back from fishing. She hopes her passport is still valid.
    Bob reaches across and pats her knee.
    ‘This is going to be so good,’ he says. ‘And there’s no-one I’d rather be travelling with. You know that, love?’
    Tess sighs, puts away her phone and stares through the windscreen at the long road ahead.

In life, As in Death

By | Uncategorized

By Robert Edmonds

Behind the crematorium
they toss unwanted wreaths.
As local kids we piled them up,
and liked to play beneath.

In Loving Memory became
a place where girls would hide,
hanging their hair with flowers
that had only just arrived.

In Peace became a fortress
that I once attacked
with Always tied around my neck,
Forever on my back.

I like to think God Broke My Heart
was the scene of my first kiss.
But it might have been Remembered,
or even Deeply Missed.

We dug a pit and covered it
with Waiting For Me There.
We waited there to ambush those
In His Eternal Care.
Gone But Not Forgotten
was a cubby at the rear.
But they were close to compared to So
Far Away and Yet So Near.

The toughest kids I ever fought
were from Cherished and Adored.
They were bold and fearless and
Forever In Our Thoughts.

Our allies used to run away.
They fancied they were clever.
They’d go and hide in Sadly Missed
or in With Us Forever.

Sleeping Now were all defeated.
Those playing dead did not survive.
And so I swore I’d never
Stay At Rest while still alive.

And when I find I’m Free Now,
I’m In Heaven drawing breath.
Make me a part of everything
In Life (yes) As In Death.

 

My Brother Ross

By | Uncategorized

By Bronwyn MacRitchie

An accident, they said. By his own hand, they said.
    My brother Ross was twenty seven years old when he died. He had been working alone on a mine near Hermidale in NSW and I hadn’t seen him for several months.
    We are in the basement carpark lift at the Sydney RSL on the the way to his wake when the lift stops. It is stuck between floors with twelve passengers. Except for my sister, everyone else is a stranger to us, but not to my brother. They have travelled from the Central West to attend his funeral. Having shouted, banged and pushed every button, we introduce ourselves and reminisce on Ross’ exploits while waiting for rescue.
    He was crazy, inventive and loved to push the boundaries. When our older brother came home to Dubbo on school holidays he and Ross would go down to the shunting yards and roll between the train wheels. Ross was five. He built a rocket when he was eight, climbed up a tall tree and launched it from there. Instead of shooting into outer space, the tree caught fire instead. He tried skiing on the dam with a piece of corrugated tin pulled around by the jeep. Time and again it sank or hit the fence that went through the middle. When he worked in Cobar he built an airconditioner from an aeroplane propellar and inserted it in the wall of his bedroom. It was too powerful to use. Having a pilots licence brought out more mischief. We were travelling from Orange to Mount Hope in a small Cessna when he decided to herd a mob of wild goats. I didn’t find it amusing as he dipped and turned. I held my breath and gripped the seat. Crop dusting had been good practice, he said. In New Guinea he was flying goods to isolated areas. The plane became stranded and he was surrounded by cannibals. He managed to convince them he would not be a tasty meal and offered them a bottle of whisky as a substitute. It became one of his regular runs. He could fix anything mechanical and was fastidious in servicing the aeroplane and car.
     The lift begins to move upward. We will be half an hour late but that doesn’t matter because Ross loves a good party. He will be honoured with tales from those who’d encountered his quirky humour and brilliant mind.
    But no-one knew him the way I did. The boy who comforted me when my backside hurt from the strap or one night when my nightdress caught fire when he burnt his hands putting out the flames. They didn’t know he punched Johnny Paterson in the face for calling me an stupid idiot or when he took the blame for my wrongdoing and got the strap. They didn’t know he had driven me to the station after a fight with Dad and cried when I left. He wept when our animals died and insisted on a full burial each time. We had small crosses all over the back yard. He was fiercely protective always. He hated being in the city, even for a short time but he did it to spend time with me. They didn’t know his tender heart was bruised many times by a cruel step-mother and manipulative father.
    ​ The rope was round his neck, they said.

Storytime lane

Story Time Lane

By | Member News, News

HWC member Graham Davidson and Emily S. Smith have created “Storytime Lane”, a YouTube channel with regular storytelling webisodes in response to the declining literacy rates in Australia. They hope their project will support the development of young children’s literacy skills by providing adults and children with access to visual storytelling and free resources and activities that extend on those stories. The webisodes will have an Auslan interpreter signing the stories so more people have a greater access to the content. Storytime Lane