Friday, December 18, 2009

Pigeons. Stories in the post

Cooking Up A New Friend. Pigeons is a community group dedicated to assisting children in improving their literacy skills and developing a passion for reading and writing. Pigeon Letters paired students from a suburban primary school with Australian children's authors in collaborative writing projects, through the exchange of letters. I was matched with Kaydi. The result of our collaboration is a fantastic story called "Cooking Up A New Friend". Kaydi is holding up the anthology of stories. Its an amazing testament to the energy and enthusiasm of Jenna Williams and Lachlann Carter, the drivers of this project, teachers and authors who donated their time. Kaydi and I met for the first time at the launch - we were a perfect match! Both a bit nutty! (Well its the best way to be.)
Other authors involved in the project: Sally Rippin, Claire Saxby, Jane Godwin, Michael Wagner, Tony Wilson, Michael Hyde, Michael Pryor, Paul Collins, Meredith Costain, Alison Lloyd and Kirsty Murray.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Newport Fiddle and Folk Club Carols in the Substation

It was suggested by the Hobson's Bay City Council that this Folk Club take on the task of creating a community carols night. Say no more and its done! Club dynamo Michael Stewart whipped up an orchestra of over 30 players, The Newport Choir joined with the Williamstown Willin' Women to create a choir of over 45 angelic voices, a Barber Shop Chorus and a variety of superb soloists leading the carols. The evening opened and closed with a lone piper who raised the roof and brought tears to many eyes. It was my honour to MC and speak on behalf of the Club. And I am so proud to be associated with this group of big hearted people who genuinely believe in the importance of music, song and story and in teaching people how to find a voice and shine.

Welcome Debbie Guneratne UK Storyteller

The VIC GUILD Storytellers welcome and share stories with Sri Lankan born, UK storyteller Debbie Guneratne.

This is the second time this year the Guild has hosted an overseas teller. Having a website and facebook has made us more accessible to the world and it is our pleasure to make these travellers welcome in our homes.

Claudette opened her door to us (and her kitchen) in Albert Park and we celebrated in festive style with food and wine.

Debbie Guneratne is an International Storyteller and the Artistic Director of Create. She founded Small Tales Storytelling Clubs, which train the storytellers of the future and leads educational workshops for The Royal National Theatre. She also works with young offenders and alienated youth, using story to help them reshape the direction of their lives.

Debbie told us a little of her life story in her unique style – a bilingual teller, she used a blend of autobiography and mythology, conversational and stylised language to weave her spell. Debbie’s family migrated to the UK when she was about 10 years old. She trained as a geologist but lives life as a travelling storyteller.

Debbie also talked about the work of other UK tellers – the way people are choosing to define themselves – as Performance Tellers and Fireside Tellers and the nuts and bolts of public liability and working with children checks. We enjoyed some discussion about the trends in the US, copyright and linguistic confusion in the States when describing oneself as a “storyteller” to customs!

Hearing tales from Renata, Janet, Pamela, JB, and Jim was a treat.

Cheers to all


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Substation Art Market December 2009

I don't normally attach so many pics but how else can I convey the wonderful atmosphere at the Newport Substation Art Market. Held the first Saturday of each month 10.00 - 4.00 the big brick building is full to overflowing with stalls, music and of course, storytelling. This month, Claire Saxby and I created a Story Space where we told and read stories to children. We also had our books for sale and of course happily signed copies for our customers. We will be back in February. Claire's new book The Old Sailor will be out just in time. The music at the Substation is always a highlight and this month The Mercurials were in the line up. The soft sounds of the Mark Ferrie, Andrew Pendlebury and Adi Sappir filled the space to the delight of stall holders and customers.

Altona U3A and Brighton PROBUS. GUEST SPEAKER

The end of the year brings a round of guest speaking spots. Its a pleasure to enjoy a midday meal with engaged and challenging seniors. These groups have members ranging in age from 60 to 90 years old. In 2009, as a travelling teller of tales, I have enjoyed sharing stories with with the 0 to 90s. And that's how I like it!

Ada Cambridge biographical short story prize LAUNCH

Its been a busy time for storytelling. 26 November I attended the launch of the Ada Cambridge 2010 biographical short story prize. This award is part of the Williamstown Literary Festival - a wonderful event that has gone from strength to strength and is now the biggest celebration of writers and literature in the western suburbs of Melbourne. As co-winner of last years prize, I found myself eligible to submit my work to the Anthology of Award Winning Writing 2009 and ended up on the stage of the Melbourne Writers Festival! An adventure to be remembered. So its on again people. Check out the Williamstown Festival website and start planning. Shortlisted and winning entries are published in the Festival anthology 'Beyond Words'.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

State Library of Victoria

The evolution of storytelling.
'The storytelling tradition is as old as humankind, but since the technological revolution much of our storytelling happens on screen or online ...' So this event was promoted at the State library of Victoria. It was a privilege to part of a panel discussion on oral traditions and contemporary formats alongside Michelle Rayner from Radio National and Gabrielle Wang, a superb author and artist. Gabrielle brought along her hand-painted scroll, which if unwound would have spread half the length of the room. I was delighted to see a scene depicting a storyteller and feel inspired to capture some contemporary images of my fellow tale spinners at work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate

Its on the shelves in time for Christmas! Friend Claire Saxby's latest book for 0 - 5 year olds. A story for the very young illustrated by Judith Rossell and published by Windy Hollow. This is a team that thinks deeply about early childhood. A colourful, well written publication. I'm a fan.

Claire writes with simplicity and humour. I use her story The Old Sailor in my storytelling practice and it is a winner every time. I look forward to seeing The Old Sailor in print in 2010.

Australian Rhyming Verse Orators


Sunday 4 October, I joined the ARVOS under a Eucalypt tree in Kew (Melbourne suburb if you are reading this in another part of the world). The ARVOS proudly follow in the steps of some of Australia's master poets and reciters, Banjo Patterson, Will Ogilvie and Henry Lawson. A white board was propped up against a tree and all those in attendance were listed and a round of recitations followed. These included some self penned works. Featured ARVO was Stephen Whiteside (pictured). Poet and author of several books, Stephen explored the subject of different rhyming techniques. The ARVOS meet on the first Sunday of the month 2.00 pm, Kew Scout Hall at the Jack O'Toole Reserve, Willsmere St Kew (family friendly, no membership fees). I can recommend you join the ARVOS for a cuppa and a rhyme or two.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Children's Book Week 2009

Celebrating Children's Book Week at the Abbottsford Convent with fellow scribes and illustrator. Clare Saxby is proudly showing of her new book Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate, Mark Austin is looking dashing with Ringle Tingle Tiger and Jaqui Grantford is putting the finishing touches on her teddy bear painting. I am squeezed in the middle with Phar Lap who is sporting a lovely sticker - an Eva Pownall book of note! It was a long day, crowds of children and families enjoyed the activities and shows. The Convent is the perfect venue for Book Week and the weather was spectacular. The committee, who organise this event, are all volunteers, the authors and illustrators donate their time and energy and it is astonishing how it all comes together on the day. Looking a little crazy in this pic, it should be noted that all the authors and illustrators at the the CBC celebrations are extraordinarily talented and creating wonderful books as their websites attest.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Melbourne Writers Festival

AWAW - the Anthology of Award Winning Australian Writing 2009 was launched at the Melbourne Writers Festival yesterday. Excited authors, friends and families packed out the Festival Club, some folk traveling across the continent to celebrate. This anthology includes work from the north, south, east and west of the country. As the recipient of both the Ada Cambridge biographical short story prize (Williamstown Literary Festival) and the Pat Glover Memorial Storytelling Prize (Port Fairy Folk Festival), I have two pieces in the anthology. The collection includes stories that are based on the oral tradition and as I wear two hats - a literary one and a speaking one - I am delighted to say that my stories cover both my millinery proclivities! Here I am holding a copy for you to see alongside David Tenenbaum, Managing Editor of Melbourne Books. Thanks to Adolfo and Marleena from MB. I imagine rounding up all these authors was like herding a bunch of cats.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Daylesford: Words in Winter August 2009

In this, the 200th year since the birth of Darwin, the eighth annual WORDS IN WINTER Celebrations chose the theme – Evolution. The towns of Clunes, Creswick, Trentham and Daylesford joined to produce a program of poetry, theatre, book chat storytelling and more. The Storytelling Guild (Vic) played a significant role in the festivities with Anne E Stewart designing four events.

OPEN MIC for poets, writers and storytellers. Hosted by local philosopher and writer Basil Eliades.

TWO OF THE OLDEST FAIRIES IN THE BUSINESS Daylesford Library, Matteo and Mary Lou entertained a delighted crowd of children for over an hour.

SPOOKS SPECTRES AND SPIRITS. The evening began with guild member David Demant, from Museum Victoria, treating us to a magic lantern slide show. After a short break, Matteo took charge and set the scene for the graveyard and horror tales that followed. Mary Lou shed her fairy costume and told a wicked tale that ended well. We have all been warned - never ask a neighbour for a cabbage! Anne E Stewart shared a serious tale of loss – The Lost Children of Daylesford. This story reflects Anne’s deep connection to the area and compassion for those who have lost a loved one in tragic circumstances.I wound up with the gothic tale of Bold Lady Mary - she was a bold one indeed!

HISTORY IN THE MAKING. In the front room of the Daylesford Museum, surrounded by photographic portraits, Anne discussed her work as a storyteller in the local region, shared a few yarns and invited comments and discussion.

Special thanks to the WORDS IN WINTER people of Daylesford who made us so welcome. Looking fwd to 2010.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WORDS WORDS WORDS at the Newport Festival

4 July, the Newport Bowling Club was the venue for WORDS WORDS WORDS. This open mic event was organised by the Storytelling Guild for the Newport Festival. Throwing caution to the wind, I MC'd the show with the help of Michael Reynolds and Simon Kerr. We attracted a crowd of 70. Folk from all points of the compass. Michael R - poet and the man behind Passionate Tongues at the Brunswick Hotel, is also a photographer. For this I am thankful as I accidentally deleted all my pics from the day. The enthusiasm for events like this is overwhelming and I am in no doubt that we will have WORDS again in 2010. Our guests recited and sang Lawson, original works, invited us to join the John Shaw Neilson Society, they told fairytales and chanted Aussie bush verse - we had it all. Special thanks to Stephen Whiteside for rearranging his life to take a spot at the mic. JJ, Imelda, Claudette, Josie, Jim, Wendy and Helen and Kala. Simon Kerr for his songs and Viv Wiles for her exquisite poems. Enjoy the pics ... L to R: Jackie, Mary Jane Wylie. Dave Davies , James Howard. Lish, Matteo. THE END

Monday, May 25, 2009


The NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL is on! This is the second time Newportonians have put on a festival celebrating their talents and those of others. A exciting weekend of workshops, open mics, singing, dancing, poetry and storytelling.  

1. Saturday 4 July 10.30. Dharma and I will be busy at the Newport Library with a kids story time . 

2. Midday I will be in the Bowling Club co-hosting a Poets, Storytellers and Singer-songwriters lunch. 

Click on the posters for details of these events.

Check Newport Fiddle and Folk Club website for the full program

Hope to see you there ... and please say Hi.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Newstead Short Story Tattoo

Neil Boyack arranged a billet with Jenny and Barry Lacey. Passionate gardeners, their garden has been open for the Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens and probably will be again. I couldn't have asked for a warmer welcome.

The TATTOO began Friday night with SLEAZY STORIES at the Mechanics Institute. I couldn't make it till Saturday arvo - arriving at the end of THE FICTITIOUS WOMAN- just in time to catch Cate Kennedy. It was standing room only in the Dig Cafe. I knew I was in for a great weekend! 

This is mate Anne E Stewart in her study in Daylesford  looking very studious. Anne drove to Newstead on Saturday for FIRE STORIES.  Neil made a massive bonfire by the racecourse. Folk appeared out of the dark to listen and share tales of all kinds. I can't believe I didn't take a pic - I was in my element and completely forgot. Ghost stories, love stories, horse stories, the eccentric and the strange - it was all there.

Sunday - it was HARD BALL - Stories and Footy in the Newstead Football Clubrooms. Starting with Martin Flanaghan who told us the story of his trip from Port Augusta to Darwin with Michael Long, we were then treated to Jo Bowers reading her story - The Return of Football from the Sleepers Almanac. A woman and pregnant  in the mens change rooms!! I loved this story. Jo read  deliciously - looking at us occasionally over the top of the book observing our pain as she took us through an agonising game between the Doggies and the Pies.

This last pic shows Jo standing next to Paul Mitchell and  Neil Boyack the master mind behind the Tattoo  (he's the one who looks like the cat who swallowed the cream and so he should). At A PLEASANT SUNDAY MORNING Paul read A Grandfather's Reminder from his book Dodging the Bull of which I have a signed copy! Another superb read and I will be enjoying the rest of the stories during the week.

Many thanks to Neil and the team who organised a brilliant week end - I don't know who you all are but thankyou. And especially - thankyou for honouring the oral tradition on Saturday night. Nick Dattner, Phil McNamara, Georgie Dowell, Peter Tangey, Lauren Lee Williams, Anne E Stewart and Kenny Joe Blake - what a night!

Jo Bowers
Paul Mitchell
Neil Boyack
Newstead Short Story Tattoo

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Ada Cambridge Prize Williamstown Literary Festival

The 2009 Willy Lit Fest shaped up to be a fantastic w/end of words. One person can only be in so many places at once. I missed more than I saw and I was in sessions solidly for two days! It's true. This Festival is the biggest of its type in the west. My highlights included Catherine Deveny, Kerry Greenwood and Robin Grove's w/shop - The Hidden Life of Language.

I am also proud to tell you that I am a joint winner of The Ada Cambridge Prize for biographical short story writing 2009. My story is called 1984. The author standing beside me here is Simonne Michelle-Wells. Simonne's story, Broken Light, is witty, powerful, beautifully crafted and from the heart. I feel honored to share a prize with such a gal. Our stories are published in the anthology, Beyond Words 2009, available at the Hobson's Bay Libraries and local booksellers. Already looking forward to the 2010 Lit Fest.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Williamstown Literary Festival May 1-3

Williamstown will be buzzing with writers from all over Melbourne. This festival is the biggest in the west. There will be a mix of forums, workshops, performances and awards. 
* Sun 1.15 - WRITERS AND PROMOTION. Claire Saxby will host a  discussion with children's authors, Corinne Fenton and Glenda Millard. Its not easy crawling out from behind the writing desk and actively promoting your work. 

* 3.45  BEFORE THERE WERE BOOKS, THERE WERE STORIES.  Talking about oral traditions. Covering nursery rhymes to traditional folk and fairy tales to the task of writing new stories in language for speaking rather than reading. If you are curious about how this traveling storyteller thinks - come along and join me.

booking and program details

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Children's Book Council of Australia says PL is of note!

Phar Lap the wonder horse has been listed as an Eva Pownall notable book by the CBCA. Text by moi, illustrated by Patricia Mullins and published by Museum Victoria - we are delighted. Nothing more to add - smiles and more smiles.

Pirate Funday

Too much colour is never enough! Terry and Jen and mystery pirate ( he looks friendly). Working as roving performers at the Pirate Funday - raising money for the kids at Mekala House orphanage in Cambodia. An exhausting but successful day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

ArtPlay at Birrarung Marr

ArtPlay is where learning, imagination and play come together to expand the minds and lives of our youngest generation. What a wonderful way to end the week. How good is it to work with a professional team who understand and respect the very young.  In their beautiful building on the north bank of the Yarra - ArtPlay created a perfect space for stories for me and the children today. Thankyou.  

ArtPlay is located in Birrarung Marr behind Federation Square.

Monday, March 23, 2009


A large part of my work with The Storytelling Garden is visiting kindergartens. These 'Children's Gardens' are usually buried in the back streets of suburbia - in winding cul-de-sacs, attached to primary schools, churches or Infant Welfare Centres. I am an expert with the Melways!  Through storytelling in kinders I have become familiar with many places in the western suburbs of Melbourne and beyond. This week I have been working in Sunbury and Essedon but I have bookings south of Ballan and Bannokburn. The ability of 3 and 4 year olds to learn rhymes and stories astounds me. And the quality, dedication and patience of the teachers working and preparing our children for school is an eye opener. I meet women who I can only describe as living embodiments of spoken children's culture - handclaps, riddles, rhymes, chants and stories. It's all alive an well and being passed on to the next generation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pirate Funday

Put this on your notice board! 

PIRATE FUNDAY is a fundraising event for FDCC, a charity dedicated to supporting children in rural Cambodia.

Sunday 5 April

82 Nelson Place  Williamstown
10.00 - 4.00

Children under 4: free
Children: 4 and over $15
Adults: gold coin
all activities included in the price

I will be there telling salty tales  and representing the Storytelling Guild of Vic. Hope to see you there. JK

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Phar Lap Club Family Day

The Phar Lap Club had its first party for the year in the Bluestone room at Flemington Racecourse. There was a jumping castle, animal farm, pony rides and plenty to eat and drink. It rained today for the first time in months but after such a long dry spell, no one was complaining. My friend Kate (who took this stunning photo) assisted me and while I told the story of Phar Lap the Wonder Horse she handled the sales. I am certainly getting value out of my vintage suit! After the party Kate and I meandered down to the track and enjoyed watching the horses and jockeys in the mounting yard and a thundering race.  Flemington looked stunning -  roses galore. The Phar Lap Club puts on a phabulous party - we were made very welcome by all the staff and party goers. Thanks Kate, Kate and all the kids and phamilies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Port Fairy Folk Festival

This weekend has been one of music, dancing, food and storytelling. The Port Fairy Festival weekend would have to be my favourite couple of days in calendar. It was especially exciting this year as I entered the Pat Glover Memorial Storytelling Award and received the GONG! Pat Glover was a local PF identity who was passionate about the art of storytelling. His daughter continues to represent him on the day. The award is a wonderful opportunity to meet tellers from around the traps. In particular my old mate Julie Perrin was there with an exquisite tale to tell and I finally met Stephen Whiteside who is the man behind the C.J. Dennis Festival at Toolangi. Rob England was absent this year. A past winner - no one speaks more movingly about the plight of the Coorong. Finally - I have to say - the story I told was PHAR LAP THE WONDER HORSE. I am so proud of this story and the book so powerfully illustrated by Patricia Mullins and published  by the Melbourne Museum. Thank you Port Fairy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gordon Institute of TAFE

This morning The Storytelling Garden sent me packing to talk to students of Child Care at the Geelong TAFE. This is one of my favourite gigs as  I get to talk for an hour about my work with preschool children. An hour is never long enough - its a big topic! I always pack way too much in my story box but there is so much to share about the magic of working with very young children. We chanted, sang, did string stories, finger rhymes, Auslan and read A Nest for Kora by Claire Saxby - and that was just the tip of the iceberg!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

State Library Victoria

Celebrating reading  - Hamish Curry and Paula Kelly from the SLV. To mark the end of the Summer Reading Club, Hamish and Paula hosted a special event on Sun 22 Feb at the State Library. Over 100 young people accompanied by their families came into the city to celebrate with activities, give-aways and stories. Matteo entertained with a trad folk tale - heaps of interaction and I followed with a recitation of a true story - Phar Lap the wonder horse.

The SLV welcomes families and folk of all ages. Opposite Melbourne Central, cross the road and you are in a wonderful, hospitable environment. And yes - its FREE.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sustainable Stories

Early Friday  on the banks of the Yarra at the Sustainable Living Festival - story mates Gael Cresp and JB relax in front of the Dome Tent before the arrival of year 9 and 10 students from St Albans and Tintern. This is the first time The Story Telling Garden has offered a program at the Festival and we felt right at home. We were part of a range of speakers and performers to be found in the 'talk tents' - the diversity of topics and presentations was inspiring. The Festival finishes on Sunday 22 - for full program details visit
Wishing you all a good week ahead.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yarraville Festival 2009

 The Yarraville festival was bigger and better than ever. Working with Dharma was a treat - as usual. Billed as a Story Time and Sing-a-Long we attracted healthy crowds of tiny people with parents and grandparents in tow. Dharma knows more songs for kids than most of us have had hot breakfasts and she sings like and angel. Although exhausting, community festivals have a special buzz. Anderson Street was packed with stalls, entertainers and musicians - many of them from the inner west. And the food!!!

You can visit Dharma at her shop - Everlasting Books 238 Somerville Rd Kingsville. On Thursdays 11.00 am she  reads and sings for preschoolers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Sustainable Living Festival

February  20 Friday Federation Square

The Storytelling Garden will be in action.

PLAY TENT - Secondary program
10.30- 11.15

FEEL TENT - Primary program
11.30 - 12.15

Myself and my story mates, JB, Gael, Matteo and Tania are proud to be part of the 2009 Education Day that launches the Sustainable Living Festival into a hectic weekend of festivities. Hope to see you there.

Yarraville Festival

Come to the Yarraville Festival Anderson St Yarraville

Saturday February 14

I will be telling stories with my friend Dharma

Kids Stage
11.15 - 12.00
2.30 - 2.55


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