Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pigeons. Stories in the Post. VOLUME 2

I was going to say intelligent and informative things about the Pigeons Projects in 2010 but have decided instead to give you the link so you can get the good news straight from the horse's mouth (bird's mouth). But I still must have my say.

Working with Pigeons is a privilege and a joy. This year my co author was Trinh and our story is called Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover. Over many months, and by snail mail, we have collaborated on this magical creation. And here we are, proudly holding up our copies of Pigeons in the Post VOL 2. The launch was the first time we met and yet after 12 letters passing between us, I felt like I had known her for a long time. Trinh is an inspiration. Her dialogue (especially when her characters are arguing) is feisty and real. She is a fearless editor - unafraid to take pink pen to the text and move things about.

Authors involved in this round of the anthology: Kirsty Murray, Sally Rippin, Meredith Costain, Michael Pryor, Paul Collins, Gabrielle Wang, Andrew McDonald, Jen Storer, Michael Hyde, Martine Murray, Jackie Kerin, Robert Greenberg, Claire Saxby, Tony Wilson, Bernard Caleo, Mirranda Burton, Alison Lloyd, Jen Breach, George Ivanoff,Stephanie Brotchie and Sherryl Clark. The 2010 project ran at Footscray City Primary School.

Here's a close up of the cover. Don't you just love it!

Pigeons is a community group dedicated to assisting children in improving their literacy skills and developing a passion for reading and writing. By offering project-based learning activities in line with teacher needs and curriculum objectives, Pigeons aims to cultivate creative partnerships between local public schools, authors and artists.

A core value of Pigeons is to celebrate and support the crucial role that teachers play in education and to provide resources that can be adapted and evolved to meet their needs in the classroom. Through collaboration and discussion with teachers, Pigeons is able to develop and deliver projects to meet curriculum needs.

Pigeons projects are delivered to schools and students at no charge.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Newport Artists Market : The Story Space

It was the final Artists Market for 2010 and Dharma, Dagmara, Claire Saxby and self set up our Story Space for the Xmas punters.

Once again, Dharma from Everlasting Books was multi tasking. Ably assisted by Gus, she set up the book table and when not promoting our books she took to the story chair with with guitar and ukulele.

Dagmara from Wild Goose Books was hopping between the Story Space and her own stall. Her beautiful hand made brooches, cards, puppets for sale. TREE, Dagmara's first book has almost sold out. Every copy of this gorgeous book has been assembled and stitched by hand. TREE is soon to be published in another form - I can't wait to see the 2011 version.

Claire put the smile on a few faces with autographed copies of There was an Old Sailor. One young fan was spotted at a table with her nose happily buried in her signed copy of Claire's Go Girl, Snow Play (soon to be released in Brazil!)

Of course, I sold a few Phar Laps. I would have thought everyone in Melbourne would have had one by now but NO! They sold out over the racing season and another reprint has been ordered in time for the Xmas sales.

I am sooo looking forward to my next book project hitting the stalls!!! All in good time ... all will be revealed ....

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Storytelling Garden: Variety Kids Xmas Party

I belong to a small group of storytellers who call themselves the Storytelling Garden. Our head honcho is Tania Tuttleby - the gal at the end of the line who takes bookings and generally tries to keep us organised. I'm sure she would say its a bit like trying to heard a bunch of cats!

For the past several years Tania and the Garden have supported the Variety Kids Xmas Party either as a financial sponsor or in kind.

Yesterday was party day. Thousands of children and families flocked to Jeff's Shed for rides, games, gifts and of course storytelling. It was exciting to meet some of our friends from the various special schools scattered around Melbourne.

Its an honour to be part of the celebrations and to tell stories to children on this special day

....and Variety is?
  • Variety is a charity for children because some kids are extra special.
  • Children growing up with disability, serious illness or disadvantage need help from a special charity.
  • Variety gives more than a million dollars worth of goods and services a month to Australian children with special needs.

See you there in 2011

To book Garden storytellers:
The Storytelling Garden

View my story programs Jackie Kerin

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Story Time

Wednesdays at 9:30am starting 8 December on Channel 31.

click on poster to enlarge

Story Time is a new children’s TV show centred on library Story Time sessions. Featuring a different Storyteller each week, all guests on the show are regular library performers and the show is hosted by a seven foot bear called Tall Ted.

The show has been made with the help of RMITV, the Dandenong Library, Casey Safety Village, the CFA and Myuna Farm.

Story Time has been developed in the hope that it will increase story time patronage for libraries throughout Australia. Each show will also feature a 15 second advertisement spruiking the local library story time experience.

Every episode features a craft that can be downloaded from the show’s web Visitors will also find a link to the Australian Libraries Gateway where they will find the contact information for their library.

View the Story Time Library advertisement here:

How can you help? Please download the Story Time poster from this

Please display it in your library. We hope that it creates a bit of buzz as the more people we can inform before the air date, the better. With your help Story Time will hopefully become a staple in every young child’s life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pigeons Projects: fundraiser at Trades Hall

Pigeons Projects Children's Literacy Projects is something rare and special to emerge onto the educational and literary scene. The creators behind the project, Lachlan Carter and Jenna Williams, are indefatigable in their drive and vision to support young people in developing a passion for reading and writing.

In this round, over 20 Melbourne based authors have been paired with students from Footscray City PS. The result will be a published anthology of brilliant short stories to be launched in December.

The fundraiser was organised and MCd for Pigeons by Michaela McGuire. Special guests included Tony Wilson, DJ Jess McGuire. Michael williams and Andrew McDonald.

Pictured at the mic are Jenna and Lach. I have so much respect for these two and their abilities. They are awesome and worth all the support you can offer.

You can now donate on line

YABBA and George Ivanoff

The Young Australian Best Book Awards conducted its 2010 ceremony at Bayside College Williamstown Campus on Wednesday 10 November. This was my first YABBA. Greeted by friendly and enthusiastic Bayside students, we were ushered into the Hall - authors, publishers and a couple of hundred students from all around Melbourne.

There were awards for writers young and old. You can read the winning tales on the YABBA website and if you click on creator's profiles you can read about some of Australia's favourite children's authors.

After the ceremony the authors were invited to sit at tables arranged in the library, sign copies of their books and chat to the students.

My table buddy was George Ivanoff. How lucky was I?
Turns out that George is a fellow Pigeons author but most excitingly, he has a wonderful new book on the shelves, Gamer's Quest. Check out the website - George has raised the bar in web presentation!

Thanks YABBA and Bayside for a fabulous day. Writing can be an isolating business - it's terrific to get out and about and meet the readers and other writers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Village: 4 - 7 November

Back at The Village Festival ...

... this time telling stories with story buddy Matteo in a yurt - all the way from Mongolia and still smelling of goat.

On Friday night we had a packed yurt and offered tales from Germany, Thailand and the Mountain Ash covered slopes of Mt Dandenong.

The weather was perfect, the people were perfect, the yurt was perfect.

Deep and sincere thanks to The Village people who make it possible for artists like myself and Matteo to practice our craft in such a magical setting.

The Village:

Newport Artists Market : The Story Space

The Newport Artist's Market supports performers.

As well as the jewellery makers, visual artists, clothes designers, chefs, pastry cooks and wine makers, there are musicians and storytellers - both authors and spoken tale weavers.

There is a need to provide something for children on trading days and the Market is the perfect place for intimate storytelling. When I take to the chair, I have a wonderful sense of being part of an ancient tradition - stories alongside food and wine - the staples of a good life.

Of course being November, it's the racing season and time to tell the story of Phar Lap. There are some who still confuse zebras with thoroughbred racehorses - but I think it makes for a heartwarming photo.

Big thanks to the Substation for their support of artists of all kinds

The Substation is a not for profit association whose aims are to transform the Newport Substation building and create a community arts centre which will provide a venue for the cultural development of the local community.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Phar Lap the wonder horse: Museum Victoria

My book Phar Lap the wonder horse , published in 2008, still sells like hot cakes. The suit I bought for the launch still fits and the folk still wipe away the tears even though they know the ending to the story.

Today the museum was packed to the rafters - it was an exercise in queueing. I queued to get in, queued for a cuppa, queued for the loo.

We had a crowd in the Melbourne Gallery where Phar Lap's skeleton is being exhibited alongside the mount. The Museum had a table of horse activities, a big screen showing the the live action at Flemington Race Course and I was scheduled for two performances.

It's wonderful to see so many people exploring the wonderful galleries and exhibitions.

Here's hoping the suit will still fit in 2011.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Carers Week 2010: Newport Fiddle and Folk Club

Carers Victoria is the statewide voice for family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness or who are frail and aged. Over 700,000 Victorians provide unpaid unpaid care and support to a family member of friend.

From small beginnings in 1992, Carers Association Victoria was established. The core business of the organisation is about improving health, well being, resilience and the economic security of caring families.

Every year in October, carers across Australia gather to celebrate Carers Week.

The Newport Fiddle and Folk Club were proud to be part of the celebrations providing an evening of singing, dance and storytelling at a dinner arranged especially for the carers in the west. The line up Newport performers included the club choir, Serbian dances, various combinations of our musos performing some old and popular favourites and pictured is the Newport Strings playing Bach.

I was privileged to be invited to share the beautiful story of Edith's Lyrebird. A wonderful night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Village: 4 - 7 November

The Village: is a cross between a festival, a fairground and a fete. A collection of temporary theatre spaces- tents, inflatables, busses caravans and shipping containers.

The Village: is an act of optimism in a cynical world. The intention of the Village is to have artists and community members leave with a strong sense of the essential goodness of people

This will be my 5th year with The Village. Usually friend Matteo and self, work hard in a little tent telling stories to tiny people but this year we are trying something different.

Hope you can visit us. We are planing to tell some of our very favourite, very old and traditional tales. I often say about these stories - that if they were solid and I could hold them in my hand, they would be so valuable, I would have an armed guard at my side. Glad that is not the case and we can share

Come and join us ...

In the Yurt with Matteo and Jackie
Bedtime Stories for big people
9.30 - 10.00
Thursday 4
Friday 5

Where: Edinburgh Gardens, Nth Fitzroy
Weekdays: gates open 6.00pm
Weekends: Midday

Melbourne Museum: 2 November Cup Day

Yes it's that time of year again -The Melbourne Cup. And I will be in Museum Victoria having a party with all the Phar Lap enthusiasts.

I kick off at 1.00pm. I will of course be dressed for the occasion - t'will be interesting to see if the suit still fits!

I'll be in the Melbourne Gallery. Don't be too shocked when you see the bones of the great horse. Its proof positive that he is no longer with us - just in case you believe , like Elvis, he is still out there somewhere.

11 Nicholson St
Carlton VIC 3053

Parking available or catch the Nicholson Street Tram

Open daily 10am – 5pm.
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Adult $8, Concession available and Child (3–16 years) free entry.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fundraiser for Pigeons Projects: 11 November

There are many good reasons for checking in at the Bella Union Bar at Trades Hall and this is one of them.

Pigeons is a community group dedicated to assisting children improving their literacy skills and developing a passion for reading and writing.

The core value of Pigeons is to celebrate and support the crucial role that teachers play in education and to provide resources that can be adapted and evolved to meet their needs in the classroom.

Pigeons Projects are delivered to schools and students at no charge.

Come along and support the coop: 6.00pm. Thursday 11 November. Bella Union. Trades Hall $12.

click on poster to enlarge

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Western Union Writers celebrate 25 years

Western Union Writers gathered to feast and share stories. A celebration of 25 years of writing fiction, oral histories, poetry, nonfiction ... the lot!

This group is an inspiration and a testament of what can be achieved if writers and storytellers support each other.

As part of the evenings entertainment the Storytelling Guild was invited along to tell a yarn or two. David Demant and jb Rowley joined me in sharing this most pleasurable task.

I met many extraordinary people on the night but I was particularly thrilled to finally meet Margaret Campbell. I had an email conversation with Margaret some years ago when I was working to help coordinate the youth program for the Williamstown Literary Festival but we never met. Margaret started the Western Union Young Writers in 1994. Currently the group ranges in age from 10 - 15. They run a national writing competition (judged by Sheryl Clark) and self publish - they actually hand make their books of which there are 8 titles.

Congratulations to the Western Union ( especially Helen Cerne and Bronwen Hickmen) and thank you for your generosity and support of our storytelling guild.

pic: storyteller jb Rowley in conversation with Margaret Campbell (seated)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rocket Clock: Time to Tell. October 6 Trades Hall

Last night I attended the inaugural Rocket Clock Story Slam at the Bella Union Bar in Trades Hall.

It was a blast. It's not often you can walk into a crowded bar alone and feel so comfortable. There was a buzz of nervous excitement as Storytellers and support crews gathered around tables undecided about whether to drink water or wine before stepping up onto the stage! Ten tellers took the plunge (including self). With only 5 minutes and a theme to work with, tales of pathos, boredom, transcendence, wisdom and lerv ... were woven around the notion of Firsts. The atmosphere was gentle, supportive and attentive.

I'll be back for more but I will have to wait until the school hols - clashing commitments. In the meantime I will be keeping an eye on the Rocket Clock website, checking out the themes and planning my next story.

Bella Union Bar

Level 1, Trades Hall
Corner of Victoria & Lygon Streets
Carlton South

Free entry. Doors open 7.30pm; slam kicks off 8pm.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kamishibai : Storytelling

Kamishibai translates as Paper Theatre.

Chris Downes, Sarah Howell, Ben Hutchings, Jo Waite,
and Bernard Caleo are pushing our understanding and appreciation of this Japanese style of storytelling by combining their skills as storytellers and comic artists.

My love of stories was developed by reading comics as a child and my passion for stories has never left me. The bringing together of the comic artist and the storyteller is for me, a match made in heaven.

You can see the art work in the window of Kids in Berlin, 472 Victoria Street, North Melbourne but if you want to see Bernard Caleo in action with the pics and telling the stories ....

Performances: Tuesdays 28 September, 5 October, 12 October, 6 - 8pm
If you want to learn more about the artists visit

Bernard is also part of the Pigeons Project.

Pigeon Letters is an in-school letter writing exchange linking school students with Australian authors. Run over two school terms, the project facilitates a creative collaboration between the author and student, resulting in a piece of writing such as a short story, poem or comic. The final pieces are published in a professionally printed and bound book.

Life is too exciting: places to go, stories to tell!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Melbourne Fringe Festival: Instability Tango

Theatreworks and Blue Straggler productions present:

Instability Tango - special concert.

As part of the concert, I have written in collaboration with Alison Richards, a voice piece for three females. Using Tango rhythms and exploiting the plasticity of spoken English to the max, we sing chant, whisper and shout our way through 10 mins of chaos.

Working with Fay Bendrups and Alison has been a treat - a highlight of 2010. Hope you like it 'cos we reckon there could be more to come!

click pic to enlarge

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Phar Lap the wonder horse

The fascination with the great race horse Par Lap never seems to fade. Although he died in 1932 his mounted hide in Melbourne Museum remains one of the most popular exhibits.

I was in the MOV yesterday and had the chance to view the current PL exhibition. When the champ died his mounted hide came to Melbourne, his bones went to New Zealand and his heart to Canberra. Some bright spark had the idea to unite the relics and display them in the MOV. Well ... the heart is too fragile to move but the skeleton is on display.

I confess to feeling a little shocked. The hide is so real that it's possible to believe that PL is in some state of suspended animation and any moment he will breathe. However with the skeleton in the room that day dream is brutally dispelled.

My book is well displayed in the Museum shop. And as I browsed the store, I was delighted to see it being sold. I even had the chance to sign a copy for a couple who bought one to send to their grandson in Denver in the USA.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Road Behind : Jonathan Griffiths

The Road Behind is Jonathan Griffith's first published novel. Jonathan and I met in 1999. We'd both joined a writers' group at the Footscray Community Arts Center facilitaed by Mammad Aidani. It was a formative group for several of us who have continued to write and publish children's books, plays, poetry and now - the novel!!

I remember Jonathan reading to the group slices of The Road Behind as distinct but connected short stories and then at some point these morphed into a novel.

Our writers' group faded after 4 or 5 years and Jonathan went on to join the Western Union Writers. Here he met Helen Cerne, a writer and publisher. The result of this friendship is The Road Behind. Helen is the publisher and editor of Vanark Press. Vanark is interested primarily in giving innovative, young and new voices a start in literary publication - at the cutting edge of Australian publishing and literary consultations encouraging creative approaches in writing, publicity/marketing and distribution.

pic: Jonathan (seated) Mark E Lawrence (standing)

Jonathan's book will be launched
(appropriately) at the Footscray Arts Centre on October 23rd. I'm proud to part of the team invited to speak at the launch. This morning we met to settle on the order of ceremonies. An informal meeting in Jonathan's kitchen, I met for the first time, my co-launcher - actor Mark E Lawrence. Mark will be reading selections from The Road Behind while I have been having fun drafting some launching words! Not as easy at it might seem.

I wish Jonathan all the best for this exciting venture and a special mention to Meredith Griffiths for a brilliant cover.

Read more about The Road Behind. Available for purchase on line:


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