Nearly four years ago, I answered a call out from writer Michelle Vlatkovic, via the Queensland Writers Centre, for members to form a writers group. I’d been in Brisbane for a few years but was finding it hard to meet other writers. I walked into Avid Reader to find Michelle waiting for me at a table, a copy of the story I’d sent on the table before her. As we chatted over coffee, I found that Michelle hadn’t followed the now-standard approach of going to uni to study creative writing, but had immersed herself in community radio and not-for-profit organisations. Her writing was striking in its unconventionality - abstract but full of heart at the same time.
Since that meeting the group has grown and shrunk as people come and go but we still have four core members – Michelle, myself, Pamela Greet and Rose Anderson. Pam has just finished a PhD in creative writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast and has a wry, quiet but incisive way of writing, and Rose’s tiny fiction is off-the-wall and marvelous.
The group has grown us as writers. One of the first stories Michelle and I workshopped made its way into Griffith Review. With feedback from others (including, at one point, artist and writer Julie Kearney) my story Old Honey was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize and published in adda. Michelle’s work has been published in the Review of Australian Fiction, Southerly and Gargouille. Rose’s work has been read on Quart Short and published in a fine line, The School Magazine and 4th Floor Journal.
We haven’t met much in the last year because I fell off my horse with full-time academia and Michelle and Pam have started an exciting new venture, Salon REaD.
In response to difficulty of finding publication in literary journals, which usually only have a select readership and are highly competitive, Salon REaD showcases the work of artists and writers in the Brisbane community. It’s about growing audiences and gaining exposure at a grassroots level. Michelle and Pam have hosted a couple of salons over the past year and it’s working: the audiences are expanding, artists are selling their work and writers are finding their feet. Poet Nic Addenbrooke for example, who read at the last salon, is part of this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival.
This Saturday I’ll be reading at Salon REaD5 with Pam and Stefan Jatschka. Artist Manu, whose chalk art is at the Burrow in West End, will exhibit his work. Music will be performed by Nigel Kimber Llewellyn of the Dustbin Hoffmans.
The salon will be held at 59 Ekibin Road Annerley, and entry is by a gold coin donation to community radio station 4ZZZ. Performances and readings at the salon will also be recorded for broadcast on 4ZZZ. Hope to see you there!