Monday, March 31, 2014

The Australia Wild Project

On Sunday I took a train ride up to 'the hills', to Belgrave. I was invited by the Australia Wild Project to talk about the story behind the story of Lyrebird! A true story. This project 'seeks to increase awareness of our unique native flora and fauna through art and through seminars on environmental topics in conjunction with community environmental groups'. As always, when I talk about the research behind the book, I come away having learned more and with a deeper respect for the folk who work to protect the habitat of wild animals.

The seminars and workshops are taking place in Sherbrooke Art Society Inc's beautiful gallery. It was explained to me that this gallery was a restaurant back in the 1920s and 30s. I have no doubt, Edith Wilkinson might have enjoyed a meal at the 'Red Mill'. 

Its well worth taking a moment to check out the coming events listed on the Australia Wild Project website. There are events for children, the Lyrebird Survey Group and Field naturalists Club of Victoria will be making presentations and so much more.

And the cream on the cake are the glorious works on display in the gallery.


Monday, March 24, 2014

100 stories at The State Library of Victoria's Children Book Festival 2014

The State Library of Victoria's Children Book Festival once again drew crowds from around Victoria. The State Library was founded in 1854 – a beautiful building, famous for it domed reading room.

I work as a volunteer with 100 Story Building, a centre for young writers based in Melbourne’s inner-west and our contribution was an all-day activity set up in the Queen’s Hall. 

When one child became overwhelmed by all the activities, I said, ‘You don’t have toparticipate, you can just lie on your back and enjoy the ceiling. Its so old and beautiful.’ And she did!

We evoked the 100 Story Building with some very long sheets of paper marked out with all 100 stories. Then we invited our curious guests to explore the 'lost property' suit cases, find an object, work out on what floor it had been found, then draw and write a story to explain the whatever!!! Then the story was placed on the building. 
Does that make sense? Course it does! Well ... maybe you had to be there. It was chaos but brilliant. We made a 100 Story Building!!!! 

World Storytelling Day: Monsters and Dragons

I love the way the internet enables folk to build communities across countries and languages. My storytelling friends and I celebrated World Story Telling Day along with Singapore, Alaska, Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, India, Norway, Sweden, England ... its a long list!

It was a small beginning, something I hope will grow. In my universe, World Storytelling Day will find a place in forests, libraries, homes, schools ... (I'm listing again!) all around Australia. Such a wonderful way to bring people with diverse languages and cultures together.

A big thanks to The Boyd Community Hub at Southbank, part of the City Library cluster and especially Natalie who made us so welcome.

It was an honour and a pleasure to celebrate alongside other Vic Storytellers, Niki na Meadhra, Anne E Stewart, Hakan Mapolar, Kate Lawrence and Teena Hartnett.

World Storytelling Day HERE

Monday, March 17, 2014

FRAMED at 100 Story Building 2014

My day began with a short ride to Footscray to the 100 Story Building where I volunteer when I can.

As word spreads about the fun to be had at 100 Story, more schools are booking workshops. There are many to choose from: DIY Universe, Comic BOOM, 100 Stories Down but today the students were ready to be FRAMED!
FRAMED is a collaborative workshop involving, drawing, talking and embodying story. The participants find themselves using the language of film, comics, third person narrative and direct speech. With two ‘actor volunteers’, the young writers, explore character and relationships as well as physically directing the action while putting speech into in the mouths of their living protagonists.

The primary school students this morning chewed through the activities. 

Its difficult to explain so I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

Lachlan has drawn the setting (under direction). Its a tall building and we can see a light on in one of the windows.

Zoom in for a close up of someone reading a book. Its 'Lola' and she doesn't want to be disturbed.

What the pictures don't show is the adventurous 'Kylie' (because she was taking the photos). 'Kylie' has found a rare and valuable wombat skull. Very mysterious! The more thoughtful 'Lola' has a book about secret paths and strange places. Could this book solve the mystery of the skull?

100 Story Building brings together young writers and members of Melbourne’s creative community, and encourage them to share in their skills and understandings through creative writing excursions, publishing programs and after-school activities.

Learn more about 100 Story Building HERE

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stephen Whiteside: The Billy That Died With Its Boots On

Stephen Whiteside was thrilled to be able to bring an advance copy of his soon-to-be-released collection of poetry for children to the Port Fairy Folk Music Festival. Titled "'The Billy That Died With Its Boots On' and Other Australian Verse", it is being released by Walker Books Australia in May.
The book is targeted to primary school children in grades 5 and 6, but Stephen says he likes to see it also as a book for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, godparents, etc. Stephen writes in the tradition of Banjo Paterson and C. J. Dennis, and believes the book will be great for adults who are keen to introduce children to Australia's rich heritage of rhyming verse.
Many of the poems in the book relate to the Australian outdoors - the mountains, the snow, the beach, the ocean, native birds and animals, etc. However, there are also poems about dinosaurs, sport, the weather, and suburban living. There is even a poem about Martians!
Stephen has been writing rhyming verse for over thirty years. He writes for both adults and children. Many of his poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, both in Australia and overseas, or won awards. He received a Golden Gumleaf for "Children's Poem of the Year" at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards in 2013 for his poem "The Sash", which features in the book.

Stephen works as a medical practitioner (GP) in the suburbs of Melbourne and you can read about him HERE

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Storytelling at the Port Fairy Folk Music Festival 2014

This annual Folk Music Festival is held over 4 days in one of  the most picturesque locations in Victoria - the dynamic south west coast. This year I was up to my elbows in the storytelling program. Curated by Jim Haynes, it included a debate, a show, a workshop, a book launch and the Pat Glover memorial Storytelling Award.

My friend Greg Jenkins from the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club kept me company for my story set which added a new dimension to the tales but after that I was at the mercy of Jim and bush poet Bill Kearns.

I love the friendships forged at festivals, the spark and improvisation that happens between tellers. It can be years before paths are crossed again but that's the fun of it.

Camping is always a challenge and working out a system for lugging gear up the venues.

Working with Greg was a treat. A born comic, I was never sure what was going on behind my back!

I was carrying the Storytelling Australia (Victoria) banner and it looked stunning against back back drops in the theatres.

The Pat Glover  Award is always a highlight and I now have the honour of sitting on the judging panel. The beards this year were particularly spectacular. Pictured here left to right is the indefatigable Jim Haynes, three time winner and judge, Rob England and the 2014 winner, Mick Coventry

 Port Fairy Folk Music Festival HERE

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Phil Rush: storyteller, poet and raconteur. Cygnet Festival 2014 (Tasmania)

One of the things I love most about the Australian summer festivals is the opportunity to meet with other people working in the oral tradition.  At the Cygnet Festival 2014 I had the pleasure of meeting Phil Rush.

Born in 1939, Phil worked as a teacher for 36 years. He was drawn to the country and spent most of his teaching years in one and two teacher schools. In the early 80s he took on the job as Educational Consultant for an area that included Rosedale, Malacoota, Tubbut, Omeo, Swifts Creek …  In 1957, alongside the teaching, Phil began working as a Methodist preacher (later the Uniting Church).

With his teaching and work for the church, Phil has been in a great position to refine his craft and absorb stories. No wonder they say, ‘Phil Rush has a story about anything’.

Phil reckons he was a shy boy who hated poetry at school but at 16, decided it was time to ‘speak up’. He discovered the pleasure of memorising and reciting poems and up until 1994 had a head full of Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson and CJ Dennis. But over the years, these poems have receded and been replaced with original works.

In 1993, Phil moved to the Huon Valley in Tasmania. A few years later, he approached ABC Radio 936 Country Hour with an idea that fell on fertile ears. Since 1994 he has written and recited 927 poems (at the time of our meeting) for broadcast on Fridays. The only times he misses is if its Good Friday or the cricket is on. And for Sunday he’s written 660 true stories, all ending in a poem.

But Phil’s storytelling interests are broad and like many of us, he has a shelf groaning under the weight of global anthologies: Tibetan, Russian, South Pacific, Australian Indigenous, Irish, Scottish, Hawaiian … Still loved by children for his storytelling, Phil took on the task of ‘veteran storyteller’ for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2013 (Hobart). Expecting small numbers, he was amazed, when the Festival came to a close he’d told stories to hundreds. He enjoys drawing with soft block chalks as he tells but reckons as an artist, he’s ‘pretty rough’. He must be doing something right to attract such a following!

Phil Rush is best known in the Bush Poetry circles where he recites and MCs. He is acknowledged by the Australian Bush Laureate Awards having had 7 books, 5 poems and a CD in the finals and in 2006 he was awarded Book of the Year with Australian Poems that would Captivate a Koala. He has self-published 20 books and sold over 156,000. I reckon that would have to be some kind of record for selling poetry.

Phil has 75 poems memorised. He keeps a small notebook in his back pocket with the first lines of all of them, just to jog his memory, how long the poem takes to recite and the volume and page number of the publication where it can be found.

Phil and Yvonne Rush left Victoria over 20 years ago – a win for Tasmania! Sitting with Phil at the Cygnet Festival and listening to his story, I was in no doubt I was in the company of a Living Treasure.

Learn more about Philip R Rush HERE

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The storytelling year begins with stories for the very young

There is a pattern to the storytelling year. It begins with visits to kindergartens and childcare centres. This is what the boot looked like this morning as I headed off to a Teddy Bear's picnic.

Tough life but someone's got to do it!

I'm proud of my versatility. Its developed over years and years and years and years .....

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kamishibai Library of Swaps hosted by UK Storyteller Derek Carpenter. New stories.

For those interested in Kamishibai storytelling, there is a Library of Swaps hosted on UK Storyteller Derek Carpenter's site. To get a story out, you have to put one in. However if you are not the artist type and don't have any original stories to exchange, you can negotiate with the maker.

Derek's website has just been renovated. Its worth a visit, as not only can you check out the library, you can learn a little about this form of Japanese paper theatre storytelling.

Pictured is Derek on Skype, at home in Newcastle on Tyne, having just received (as pdfs) a set of story cards which have been sent from me in Newport Victoria, Australia. Magic or what!

Learn more about the Kamishibai Library of Swaps  HERE


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