At the beginning of this year, Inner Sydney High School opened its doors to a group of excited year seven students ready to begin their adventure into high school. The founding of the IN_SYD Writers Club has been an important part of the development of our school. Every Monday afternoon, a group of students meet to practise their writing and share their work. At the beginning of the year, WestWords connected our school to the wonderful author, Tanya Vavilova, who ran workshops for the students.
It was such an exciting and valuable experience to work with a professional writer. Under Tanya’s guidance, students explored character development, narrative structure, imagery, setting, voice and the drafting process. Throughout these workshops, students gained the skills and confidence to express their own personal voice in writing. As a result, this collection features fantastical works about ancient wolves, terrifying thrillers, abandoned theme parks, feminist poetry, time-travel, wizards, secret societies, chocolate cake, angry neighbours, post-apocalyptic worlds, untimely deaths, fast-food robberies, forgotten identities, self-discovery, and, of course, angry shoppers fighting over toilet paper. Our partnership with WestWords and Tanya’s workshops gave students opportunities to build their literacy and writing skills, develop their creative thinking and experience the joy and pride in publishing their work.
Not even a global pandemic could slow them down. As COVID-19 descended, Tanya’s workshops went online so that IN_SYD Writers Club could continue from lockdown. This was only made possible by the hard work and quick thinking of everyone at WestWords and I am so grateful.
Hannah Goldstein: English Teacher, Inner Sydney High School
Tanya Vavilova is a writer preoccupied with liminal spaces and outsider perspectives – by life on the margins. Her debut collection of essays, We are Speaking in Code, was published by Brio in March 2020. She recently won the Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award for her short story collection Grub and was shortlisted for the Seizure Viva La Novella prize for her manuscript Sick Bay. Her essays and stories have been published in journals and anthologies, including Meanjin, the Mascara Literary Review, Westerly, The Lifted Brow and Slow Canoe.
WestWords would also like to particularly thank the Cultural Fund of the Copyright Agency through the Writers in Schools project and the Australian Catholic University who support WestWords’ publishing program. Without their combined support we could not deliver beneficial programs such as this.