From the Vaults 1 Interviews

Blogs become treasure troves of memory.  Just sharing extracts from some of the interviews I have done from the last few years.  You are most welcome to go visit the whole interview.  You can find my folio of interesting blogs at Creative Souls Converse.

Interview with Shane Howard

Singing for a New Dreaming

“Part of creating a ‘new dreaming’ is the process of uncovering the truth about Australian history, and for Howard his finding of truth has been made possible through Irish Australian parents who were “very open minded, good and just” and instilled in him a love of music and song (from Irish Parlour songs to Bob Dylan, Peter Seeger, Woody Guthrie) and an openness to Aboriginal Australians who he credits with educating him with the truth.

Howard vividly remembers ‘serious questions’ gradually being raised in his mind from meeting with Aboriginal people – from Robert a friend who set next to him for a short time in class in primary school – to all the Aboriginal people encountered on his travels as a youth, with a limited budget, including an old man of the stolen generation.

“I kept running into Aboriginal people and grew more and more interested in the fact they were the real people of this country, they were the traditional owners, the original inhabitants. And that starts to invite some very serious questions – when you’ve been taught all your life that Australia was settled peaceably and there was no blood spilt here. Meeting Aboriginal Australia taught me that was a lie and that you’ve gotta search for the truth.”  (BushTV, 2012)

Cyclone Recovery Blogs

Shadows into Light Ten Months After Cyclone Yasi

You may wonder, ten months on from Cyclone Yasi, what life is like for the community and individuals I’ve written about on my blog. Straight after the cyclone life was extremely difficult, especially for those who’ d lost homes or work equipment. (ABC Open, 2011)

SandCliffe Writer’s Festival

Veny Armanno

We’re talking about issues of belonging and migration, I think – things I seem to have been writing about for decades. A lot of the discussion will depend on where the questions and conversations take us, but I’m sure Melissa will speak about indigineity, and I’ll be able to speak about European migration to Australia and the establishment of new homes and lives. We’re looking at this through the idea of being (or not being) an outsider.

Gregory Dreisse

I am looking forward to making some students giggle and some teachers learn some new things (maybe a giggle out of them too). I was approached through Speakers Ink.

Sheryl Gwyther

I’m chairing two sessions on Saturday 29th at Bracken Ridge Library: 9am-10.30, Unique Journeys with authors June Perkins, Duncan Richardson and Michael Aird.

And 11am-12.30,  Write of Passage with authors and journalists, Susan Johnson, Lauren Daniels and Jacqueline Henry. Should be fascinating!

Duncan Richardson

In telling a little of my journey with writing, I’d like to focus on the difference between false friends or muses and true living
sparks, when it comes to inspiration. I’ve known both and it took a while to learn the difference. If I can help new writers to save time by avoiding the false, that would be great.

LE Daniels

I’m chairing the event at the Brisbane Square Library with Veny Armanno and Melissa Lucashenko for ‘Insights of an Outsider’; a theme that underscores much of their literary work and serves up as a familiar perspective for writers across the globe.

For ‘Write of Passage’, Susan Johnson, Jacqueline Henry and I will be discussing the power of language as a societal catharsis and catalyst. That is both an immensely personal and vastly universal topic and I’m excited to see where it will go.

Writing Journey and the Power of Words Panel

Saturday 29th April 2017, was a day to be inspired as authors shared their writing journeys and ideas on the power of words with writers and readers gathered at Bracken Ridge Library.  Both sessions were chaired by Sheryl Gwyther (introduced by Adele Moy), an Australian children’s author. She writes novels, chapter books, short stories and school plays for children and short stories for adults. She is the recipient of two Australian Society of Authors’ Mentorships, and two May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowships as well as a SCBWI International Work-of-Outstanding-Promise award.

 

Will share more interviews from the vaults from poets, writers and illustrators in future From the Vaults posts.

From Exhibition to Book – The Smile Within

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On Sunday December 1st, After Yasi Finding the Smile Within, a full colour photo book with accompanying true and practical stories about how you can regain your joy through creativity after a cyclone, was launched at the Bingil Bay cafe in the Cassowary Coast.

It was partly born out of my community reporter work for the community recovery project, blogging in the aftermath project for ABC Open and an exhibition Smile Within put on a year ago at the Mission Beach Arts community centre.   All of these projects were motivated by the role of the stories and the arts in the healing process for people who have experienced a natural disaster.

Last weekend was a true smile within and without occasion when several of the community contributors, family, friends from as far away as Tasmania, local community, fellow workshoppers from Song Trails,  local Red Cross community cultural development officer, and members of Mission arts and Licuala WINQ Writers all came together to welcome the book into existence and to pick up their copies.

We listened to the powerful words of Christine Jenkins, one of the contributors, who movingly told us more than the anchor story included in the book to put that story into context; perhaps one day when she is ready she will write her own book on the recovery process.

Music was a big part of the launch, with my children playing some, and also receiving mentoring from some of the songwriters in attendance.  We shared stories about our lives and celebrated our community in an informal and creative environment.

Two other locals featured in the book, Sally Moroney and Pam Galeano gave farewell speeches, as our family is about to move to Brisbane and the launch also became an opportunity to say goodbye.

These two special human beings have made our time in the Cassowary Coast truly blessed, with their welcome and support for my wish to combine the arts with healing and peace.  A part of our family’s heart beats will always remain beating in the cane, rainforest and beaches of North Queensland.

When the book was close to completion, Red Cross happened to be putting on an exhibition at Mission Arts of community books.  Cate Richmond ran workshops encouraging and skilling locals to make memory books and use print on demand facilities to make beautiful books of these memories, especially because so many people had lost things in the cyclone.  They invited the After Yasi  Finding the Smile Within book to be included as it fitted so well with their project goals.

Cate  took The Smile within book to a work related gathering in Brisbane, and interestingly one of my fellow bloggers in the aftermath project, Heidi Den Ronden saw it and was able to flip through it.

Full colour books are not cheap to produce and so the initial challenge after all the photographs and stories were collected was how to bring it to the public.

A traditional publisher did not seem the way to go for a specialist history/recovery book which would mean a lot to the Cassowary Coast or to others going through a natural disaster recovery process but perhaps not much to others.

Colour books are very expensive to sell unless you produce large numbers and so there was a quandary I had to solve as I didn’t have a lot in reserve, we were still replacing cyclone damaged goods for a good year and half later.

After mulling over this and looking at and finding how this project didn’t fit several grants on offer, I chose to self -publish using a print on demand printer that has a choice of high quality printing papers, an accompanying layout program and is relatively user friendly and options for hard cover and soft cover books

I did the layout, research and editing work (with some help from kind proof readers at various points) and made the decision to make the book as beautiful as I could to honour the many contributors.   I felt it had to be a coffee table type book which would be compelling readers to follow the story through images with a few words to support this.

I was able to do a bulk book order that reduced the cost for locals and several showed their support by pre-ordering the book. The local Cassowary Coastal library has bought the book for both loan and for their historical and reference sections at the library.

The goal of making this book was to capture and preserve the story of how Cassowary Coasters used creativity in their recovery.  Another goal has emerged though, which is to encourage people from other communities to do this as well and so I will be promoting the book to libraries so more people can access it.

I am presently working on an ebook version for release next year to make the content of the book widely and more inexpensively available and everyone is more than welcome to purchase a copy of any version if they wish.

Smile Within is a project blog which has charted the progress of the book, you can follow the books continuing journey out into the world of readers and send in responses to the stories from contributors and to my photographs.

The journey of this book, and its content, show that arts rather than being something people should put aside as a luxury can be a rich source of recovery.

I was delighted to hear that one of my friends is about to take her guitar and go to the Philipines under the auspices of an NGO charity for a month to assist in the rebuilding and recovery process there.

A big thankyou to all the people who contributed stories to go with the photographs as without you this book would not have had the same power.

So thanks especially to Christine Jenkins, Emma Gardiner, Lillian Galipo, Jennifer Giufridda, Lydia Valeriano,  Dina Milone, Nicole McClymont, Jenny Ottone, Moala Sitapa, Kerstin Pilz, Carolyn Bofinger, Danielle Stephens, Danielle Wilson, Sal Badcock, Donna Jones, Pam Galeano, Julie Headlam, Brendan Porter, David Perkins, Jean Vallianos,  Jennifer Morton, and Renee Schluenz,  the song trail song writers, and the many people featured in the photographs for their inspiration.

Gumboots Festival Time

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Gumboots 4 Peace – Circle of Boots – June Perkins

It’s that time of year again when Tully gears up for the Golden Gumboots Festival.

My daughter is considering entering the Golden Gumboot Quest.  We’re not really into quests so how has this happened? In fact, the last time a child of mine entered one was my eldest son as a baby in a shopping centre and we won because he had eyes like me, let me see we won a small sash saying ‘ he looks like his mother.’ I am still not sure how we were roped into that one either.  I think we might have been passing by.

But my daughter, a keen artist, feels a float and an interesting dress for quest night would be loads of fun.  I think we better keep her plans top secret for now. I think the motivation is that we feel the need for a bit of fun, joy and gumboots activity after all the cyclone recovery stuff, time to be silly and just go with the flow.

All we know so far is that she must go to the Grand Parade, be available on the night of the Festival for the announcement of the winner of each Category and that she also has to prepare for a quest night, and have a sponsor. I think I may have already tracked one down.

Now for other helpers – and equipment and more information and some hard work.

Will I survive being Mum to a daughter in a quest? Probably, because it’s primarily for fun, and we’ll fund raise for some worthy cause.

Do we care about the result? I don’t think so.  We just want a float that rocks and I can’t wait to see watching my daughter take to the stage, she seems to like that a bit now she’s a teenager.

Anyone got a ute?

Images of Cardwell

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View from the Jetty – June Perkins

I’ve just been looking through some old photographs and found some enchanting memories of trips to Cardwell, just down the road.  It is under going lots of restoration and change.

I miss how it was before Yasi.

Before the cyclone it had some beautiful trees, covered in flowers, and there for the climbing.

You don't bring me flowers
Flower Tree- June Perkins
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Tree to Climb – June Perkins

I remember early trips where we would see people’s boats sitting on the shore. Although I was never sure if this one was ever used.

a boat waiting for someone
A boat waiting? – June Perkins

Although walking around after the cyclone I found this headstone, which I’d never noticed before.

Celtic Headstone in Australia
Headstone – June Perkins

The trees were different but many were still there.

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Cardwell dancing Trees – June Perkins

And in the starlight

Starry Night at Cardwell Jetty
Starry Night at Cardwell Jetty- June Perkins

And the moonlight it hadn’t changed too much.

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Moonlight – Cardwell – June Perkins