Image: Ian Schneider

2016 was a mammoth year for WestWords, and what better way to end it than looking back over all that has happened these past twelve months. WestWords would like to extend a huge thank you to all our authors, poets, illustrators, artists, schools and partnering organisations who have made these events possible, and more importantly to all of the young and emerging writers who have taken part in any of our workshops, writers’ groups, seminars and events – and shared your work with us.
For a full listing of all our collaborators click here
For a full listing of all our partnered organisations click here

Residencies

  • WestWords developed a year-long project titled Landscape, Place and Me with author James Roy, Granville Boys High School and Lightning Ridge Central School. WestWords supported James in two three-day writing residencies with students from both Granville and Lightning Ridge. Throughout the year, the schools have exchanged their written work for critique. The project culminated in an intensive, week-long writer’s camp with WestWords, James, and all students at Camp Cypress at Baradine, NSW. A Different Simple: Landscape, Place and Me is WestWords’ publication of the work produced. This project was supported by the NSW Government through the Department of Family and Community Services.
  • Illustrator Liz Anelli was the WestWords artist in residence at the Parramatta Artists Studios for two weeks in November, allowing her to develop illustrations in direct response to her experiences in Western Sydney. The residency is expected to produce an illustrated, cultural map of the Parramatta area. WestWords was also able to support award-winning author and illustrator Elizabeth Honey in a two-week residency at the Parramatta Artists Studios in which she worked closely with Western Sydney students and adults on poetry and illustration projects while working on her latest novel.
  • In partnership with Blacktown Arts Centre, WestWords supported Marley Nipps as writer in residence as part of the Blacktown Arts Centre’s Memory Project. This project responds to the ageing community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders in Blacktown and Greater Western Sydney.  Through the Arts Centre’s extensive work in the wider local area, it has become apparent that collectively their stories, wisdoms, and contributions to community have never been documented and mapped as a significant and interconnecting project. Marley’s residency focussed on the material generated by the research undertaken by lead artists Lily Shearer, Ursula Yovich and Darren Bell from Moogahlin Performing Arts.  Marley transcribed as well as interpreted interview material, developing the writing into education resource, audio works and other appropriate output.
  • Award-winning poet Mark Tredinnick completed a five-week residency at Rivendell School under the title of The Storyweavers ProjectThe theme of the project was “Imagined Worlds Within Rivendell” and centred on the students’ experiences, their realities, and their interactions with their environment; Mark helped students to develop their own work based on this theme. Students’ written work was presented in a special exhibition for families and school supporters at the end of the year, supported by visual art, musical composition and photography. The school is a joint Health and Education department initiative.
  • WestWords established an in-school writer’s residency with internationally-acclaimed steampunk author Richard Harland at Crestwood High School for the first six months of the year. Richard worked directly with Year 9 and 10 students to create dystopian stories of place, set in and around Crestwood environs. The subsequent WestWords publications, Ver 16.10: A Crestwood Anthology and Ver 16.09: A Crestwood Anthology are testament to the strength and distinctiveness of these emerging writers.
  • Author and artist Dub Leffler had a six-week residency spread across two school terms working with Year 5 and 6 students from Hebersham Public School to develop individual stories of place, family, school and future worlds. The WestWords-published anthology of this work features the illustrations of artist Michel Streich.
  • Celebrated poet Mark Tredinnick completed an eight-week residency at Granville Boys High School, working with Year 7,8 and 9 to develop a collaborative poetic work following a study of canonical poetry. The resulting work is published here.
  • WestWords in partnership with the WSU Writing and Society Research Centre and Sweatshop ran creative writing residencies in Sir Joseph Banks High School and Lurnea High School. WestWords enabled Western Sydney writers Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Winnie Dunn and Mariam Hussein to run two-hour creative writing workshops with students over a ten-week period, mentoring students to produce work that reflected their own eclectic Australian identities. Participating students also studied an array of texts produced by established and award-winning Western Sydney authors, focusing on literary techniques that mixed multiple languages and vernaculars.
  • WestWords supported the residency of Filip Stempien at the Bankstown Youth Development Service (BYDS), enabling Filip to facilitate a series of writing workshops at Bankstown Public School with students from Years 5 and 6, which resulted in written work was so strong that we published an anthology of the work titled Truth and Mysteries: an Anthology of Writing from Emerging Artists of Western Sydney, an initiative that sees the re-emergence of the Westside publication.

Writers’ Groups

  • Our Blacktown Young Writers’ Group, working with writer Siobhan Colman, which has been running since 2013, has provided an opportunity for writers aged 14 to 18 to strengthen their creative skills, and has includes weekly creative writing workshops, masterclasses and online publication. Throughout the duration of the group’s existence we are grateful for the partnership and support of Blacktown Arts Centre.
  • WestWords has worked together with Sweatshop, its Director Michael Mohammed Ahmad and the Writing and Society Research Centre, Western Sydney University to bring about the Western Sydney Writers’ Group, an ensemble of emerging and established writers and artists from Western Sydney who collaborate on a range of literary projects and events and meet fortnightly to develop and critique new creative writing.
  • The Penrith Writers’ Group, led by author James Roy, was a group for writers in Years 7-9 running over ten weeks. The program was held at the Penrith City Library and included weekly tailored creative writing sessions to inspire imaginative thinking.
  • The Story Room: creative writing for children was a five week course presented by WestWords in partnership with Parramatta City Library. Award-winning author Wai Chim took students aged 9-12 through a series of workshops dedicated to developing creative writing techniques, focusing on descriptive narrative. Individual creative writing pieces were presented at the end of the program.
  • Author Tim Harris has led the Creative Writing Workshop for writers aged 10-12, a collaboration between WestWords and Auburn City Library. Tim guided students through the development, structuring and editing of their own work over a six-week period.

Workshops

  • Playwright, actor and director Ned Manning facilitated two WestWords workshops with Year 10&11 students of Arthur Phillip High School, unpacking and performing Shakespeare’s Othello and The Tempest. Actor Bryan Brown AM (ambassador of WestWords) was also present at the Othello workshop and was impressed by the enthusiasm the students brought to the themes of jealousy, racism, villainy and the nature of evil.
  • As part of her WestWords/Parramatta Artists Studios residency, illustrator Liz Anelli brought a series of illustration workshops to young students from Parramatta North Public School, Korowal School and Blacktown South Public School. The workshop with Korowal School was held in collaboration with the Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum. Liz also facilitated an evening workshop for adults at the Parramatta Artists Studio.
  • In collaboration with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC), WestWords brought a series of workshops by James Roy and Noël Zihabamwe, authors of the award-winning 1000 Hills,  to students from Casula Public School, Arthur Phillip High School and Shore Grammar School. James’ and Noël’s presentations related directly to CPAC’s then current exhibition Refugees, a landmark exhibition which brought together the work of 22 artist who shared a refugee background. The author talks led to students creating postcards and artworks for the individuals being held in detention at Manus and Nauru.
  • WestWords, in collaboration with the NSW Writers’ Centre, has brought Everything You Need to Succeed in HSC English Ext 2 to HSC students from Western Sydney, a thorough and constructive workshop run by author and educator Felicity Castagna.
  •  Pamela Freeman led Writing the Past Back to Life, a two-day workshop for writers aged 10-13 at the Female Orphan School, Parramatta, in which she guided students through research techniques and ways of developing stories of colonial times based on historical facts – and some imagination!
  • Gravity (and Wonder) Writers’ Camp was a WestWords initiative run at the Penrith Regional Gallery and The Lewers Bequest. Judith Rossell delivered stellar illustration workshops and storytelling to budding primary school writers.
  • Multi-award winning author and illustrator, Elizabeth Honey, as part of her WestWords residency at the Parramatta Artists Studios, conducted a series of interactive workshops for both adults and students. Students from Bankstown Public School and Parramatta North Public School were able to think through poetic ideas and develop collaborative poetry. Elizabeth also presented Weaving Words and Pictures, a practical session for adults in which they created their own picture books.
  • WestWords facilitated three days of poetry workshops with students from Arthur Phillip High School, led by performance artists and poets Miles Merrill and Candy Royalle. Year 7 students were able to develop their own poetry under the guidance of Miles and Candy, leading to a final Poetry Slam performed in front of their peers. This series of workshops were made possible by the generous donation of the Arthur Philip High School Alumni of 1962.
  • As part of CPAC‘s Literature Education Program, WestWords enabled My Life as an Animal, a unique program for primary school students. This involved an author talk delivered by RA Spratt and a hands-on workshop in making animal costumes with artist David Capra.

Events 

  • In February, WestWords convened Writing the West, a seminar and planning workshop to set future directions for Western Sydney’s literary culture at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. The seminar and workshop was facilitated by Sue Boaden, Principal of Sue Boaden Cultural Planner. It was an extraordinary day with many positive outcomes and clear requirements across the whole sector which included representatives from the Australia Council for the Arts and Arts NSW.
  • WestWords, in partnership with Express Media, was delighted to present Tracks: Western Sydney, a one-day program to facilitate, develop, inform, and showcase young writers and publishers in the Western Sydney region.
  • WestWords presented The Amazing Thing! with author and artist Dub Leffler, as part of the Way Out West Festival with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, in which 80 children developed a collaborative story, guided by Dub and published online by WestWords.
  •  In collaboration with Sydney Writers’ Festival, WestWords presented a highly unique exhibition, Picture Gallery, a collection of original children’s book illustrations featuring the work of Liz Anelli, Tony Flowers, Andrew Joyner, Chris Nixon, Cheryl Orsini, Judith Rossell and Shaun Tan. Works were on display at the Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum and the Max Webber Library, Blacktown.
  • In September, WestWords was invited to curate a poetry-reading session as part of the Poetry Sydney program at the Brett Whiteley Studio that showcased a range of voices, both established and emerging, coming from Sydney’s West. WestWords invited poets Fiona Wright, Maryam Azam and Winnie Dunn to present.
  • WestWords supported Studio Stories to present Words from the West, a night of storytelling, conversation and provocation at the Parramatta Artists Studios. Featuring award-winning author, essayist and journalist Alice Pung, alongside the 2015 Copyright Agency WestWords Western Sydney Emerging Writers’ Fellows Sheila Pham, Maryam Azam and Peter Polites with author and Studio Stories curator, Felicity Castagna.
  • Australia’s largest African festival, Africultures, brings the heart of Africa to Wyatt Park in Libcombe. For the eighth year running the Africultures Festival celebrated the richness and diversity of African culture in Australia. Africultures Story Hour was organised and facilitated by WestWords Copyright Agency 2015 Emerging Writers’ Fellow Sheila Pham in collaboration with STARTTS and was the first time writing was showcased at the festival.
  • In collaboration with artist Terry Denton, the Blue Mountains Libraries, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and Books Illustrated, WestWords presented The Many Story Treehouse Exhibitiona celebration of Denton’s illustrations for the phenomenal Treehouse series of books with Andy Griffiths. Over two and half weeks of the exhibition, 2482 people enjoyed Terry’s illustrations and working drawings at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
  • WestWords supported Word TravelsThe Rumble: Poetry Slam in May at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. The Slam final showcased the work of Philip Wilcox, Nate Marshall and Sarah Kay, who performed alongside young students from Western Sydney, hosted by poet and Word Travels director Miles Merrill.
  • With the support of Sydney Writers’ Festival and The Red Room Company, WestWords presented West Side Stories at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and Narellan Library, a moving event of author’s talks and performances for young readers, featuring emerging writers of Western Sydney, Russ the Story Bus (the SWF’s mobile library and book exchange) and authors Deborah Abela, Duncan Ball, Wai Chim, Libby Gleeson,  Richard Harland, Elizabeth Honey and Catherine Jinks.
  • As the culmination of The Penrith Regional Gallery and The Lewers Bequest’s George Gittoes: I Witness exhibition WestWords facilitated a panel discussion with George, James Roy and Noël Zihabamwe discussing the ideas about justice, truth and civil society as it relates to their art and their life’s experience.
  • WestWords assisted Western Sydney University in their 2016 Young Writers’ Day as well as their 2016 Primary School Tasters Days. Students from Greater Western Sydney gather annually to hear keynote addresses and participate in workshops from established authors. This year, WestWords arranged three Primary School Taster days with author and artist Dub Leffler.

Awards and Commissions

  • WestWords teamed up with The Red Room Company to present The Disappearing 2.0, commissioning ten emerging and early career poets to map poetic traces and vanishing spaces of Western Sydney.
  • This year, WestWords presented the 2016 Copyright Agency, WestWords Western Sydney Emerging Writers’ Fellowships. We were thrilled to announce the 2016 fellows, who each receive $4000 towards developing their craft and to work on developing an extended piece of writing: Joseph Michael Chebatte, Tamar Chnorhokian and Eda Gunaydin. These young writers will be working with Bryan Brown AM, Melina Marchetta and Maxine Beneba Clarke respectively. WestWords cannot wait to see the results of these fellowships and encourage all applicants to apply again in the future.
  • In partnership with The Q and supported by Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), WestWords presented the Propel Playwriting Initiative, a training opportunity for up and coming playwrights, 16 – 26 years old, from across Western Sydney and beyond. Propel gave 6 young playwrights the chance to develop a new short work under the mentorship of a team of professional theatre makers.

Resources and Teacher Development

  • WestWords has worked with the English Teachers’ Association to develop Writing Placea resource for teaching in year 7-10 English classes in line with the new concept-based curriculum.
  • Throughout the year, WestWords has concentrated on building resources for teachers and educators, focusing on quality content and easy online accessibility. This has involved publishing online resources for Kenny’s Coming Home, Ned Manning’s classic 1991 play with songs, recently published by Currency Press. Developing similar resources for teachers will be an ongoing project.
  • In 2016, WestWords has partnered with Western Sydney University to deliver professional learning development opportunities to teachers through their Education Knowledge Network (EKN) scheme. This has included WestWords-faciliated workshops with Deborah Abela and James Roy.
  • WestWords worked Western Sydney University to present a teachers’ development workshop in Creative Writing. Facilitated by James Roy it formed part of WSU’s 2016 Young Writers’ Day.
  • With Express Media, WestWords presented Toolkits: Creative Writing, a series of six online seminars facilitated by author Felicity Castagna combining theoretical approaches, practical exercises, and one-on-one mentorship to guide young writers through the development of new works of fiction.
  • 2016 has seen WestWords working closely with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre to develop their Literature Education Program, involving workshops, author talks and teacher resources.
  • WestWords has this year created WestLit with the Public Libraries Association NSW Western Sydney Zone. This burgeoning network allows each library system across Greater Western Sydney to stay connected by sharing information on authors, exhibitions and events.

Publications 

  • 2016 marked the launch of the online publication, Writing Western Sydney, an interactive, digital story map. The first year of a ten year project, this literature map of the entire Greater Western Sydney area consists of 300-500 word stories/extracts written by students and adults from Western Sydney. Writing Western Sydney is populated by extant works as well as being an avenue for digital publication of new work undertaken by WestWords, WestWords’ partners, Western Sydney schools and local artists.
  • Hebersham Anthology 2016stories of place, family, school and the future world written by students in Years 5 and 6, guided by Dub Leffler. Illustrated by Michel Streich.
  • The Amazing Thing! (2016, Online Publication): a story compiled by 80 children from Western Sydney, guided by artist Dub Leffler, as part of the Way Out West Festival, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.
  • Truth and Mysteries: An Anthology of Writing from Emerging Artists of Western Sydney: published in partnership with Bankstown Youth Development Service. This publication sees the Volume 5 of Westside Jr.

 

2017 is looking to be even bigger than 2016! Keep up to date with next year’s events by subscribing to WestWords on the top right of the page. We’ll keep you in the loop with all our upcoming projects. If you want to see more events like in 2016, send us an email to admin@westwords.com.au