Writers' Connect

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Winter 2017

Welcome to our Winter 2017 issue of Writers Connect. We continue to celebrate diversity in literature. It's a basic human need to be included – in conversation, literature, positions of influence and life generally.

Last month, we said farewell to Dr Rosie Scott AO. A very special warm-hearted and loyal friend, a strong activist for human rights, a brilliant writer and former UTS lecturer. We remember her as a significant role model who was all about creating positive change. She was a life member of PEN International and former executive of the Australian Society of Authors and worked tirelessly to support her fellow writers and students, as well as asylum seekers, refugees and people in need. Rosie brought so much light into so many lives. This amazing woman was celebrated at one of the most moving memorial services I have ever attended in late May.

In this issue, we share tributes from writers that knew and loved Rosie. She affected the lives of so many at UTS, knowing her was an unforgettable experience. She'll be greatly missed and will always remind us that we can make a difference and create positive change. My thanks to all who contributed to this special issue, with special thanks to Danny Vendramini and my co-editor for this edition, Debra Adelaide.

For writers, diversity begins with awareness that our narratives can be inclusive. It might mean including characters from minority groups, or who have a physical disability, or a unique way of perceiving the world. It should mean making sure we do proper research, that we treat our characters with genuine compassion and avoid stereotypes. It should also mean not appropriating the culture and stories of others to make our own stories more 'exotic'. Yes, it can be difficult but it’s important.

As Young Adult author, Sarah Ayoub, explains: In a social climate that’s dictated by race relations and questions of otherness, giving a platform to minority voices … gives minorities a chance to challenge (outside) existing representations about them and highlight the things that make their communities special. But mostly, it gives young people grappling with their own questions about identity a validity that they lack everywhere else. A validity that allows them to feel like they have a valuable – and welcome – contribution to make to society.

Marisa Wikramanayake writes in Diversity Roundup (Jan - Feb 2017) on the Australian Women Writers website:"Diversity" as we use it includes authors/characters/issues within the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour (POC), those who are of indigenous or aboriginal and torres strait islander heritage (ATSI), those who are differently abled or disabled and those of culturally linguistic and diverse backgrounds (CALD) … the roundups are here to help you find diverse work to read and review and to do your bit in making the entire literary scene a bit more equal for everyone involved.

Also included in this issue Devika Brendon takes us to the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka. Pamela Mawbey generously invites us in to her "disorganised mind" and life with autism, and Felicity Pulman tells us about The Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) 2017 conference with the theme "Identity: Origins and Diaspora". Debra Adelaide shares the a new website of Empathy poems and the guidelines for contributing. Also, check out the New Books section for some great reads. In between issues, these are posted on our Facebook page which is regularly updated.

 

Sharon Rundle
Chair, UTS Writers' Alumni
Editor, UTS Writers Connect

Full professional member: Australian Society of Authors; Institute of Professional Editors; Society of Editors NSW
Founding member: Asia Pacific Writers & Translators
Life member: Indian Association for the Study of Australia
Member: South Asian-Australian Writers' Network, British Council Alumni, Writing Fellow, FAW

 


 

Feast of Reason, Flow of Soul

Devika Gooneratne

Dr Devika Brendon shares her excitement of attending the Galle Literary Festival in January 2017.

A Disorganised Mind

Pam Mawbey

Pamela Mawbey shares her journey in overcoming Asperger's Syndrome and being a productive journalist, writer and blogger.