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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.

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.

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.

 
Shaynah Andrews Ryan O'Neill

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.

 

Shaynah Andrews Ryan O'Neill
Sally Davies and Cassie Hamer

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

Megan Buxton Ryan O'Neill and Kate Griffith (sponsor from Westfield)

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

Wayne Strudwick - award winner NSSA

Wayne Strudwick, Commended award winner for his story ‘Postcard

Shawn Sherlock and Jane OSullivan

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

Tanya Vavilova and Amanda Shirley

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 and Rhona Hammond

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

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