from the editor's desk

2019 Writers’ Development Program Workshop

We were delighted to welcome the four participants in our Writers Development Program 2019 to the University of Western Australia in December 2019 for a three-hour workshop with Westerly General Editor, Catherine Noske, and Associate Editor, Josephine Taylor. Our WDP participants include talented emerging writers Riley Faulds, Mia Kelly, Kaya Lattimore and Thomas Simpson.

Introducing a new format for the annual workshop, this time we decided to focus on career development as a writer. We identified goals and opportunities, and discussed important industry organisations, publication outlets and contacts, the value of networking, and the need to balance industry with craft and self-care.

A writing workshop would be a poor thing without any writing, especially at the beginning of the the holiday season! So, the second part of the workshop was devoted to writing prompts, individual writing and group writing. Some lovely work emerged, and we know readers will be impressed with what these wonderful emerging writers produced from the workshop, with only minor tweaking before presenting it to you here.

We can’t wait to publish the work of the WDP writers in print and online in 2020. In the meantime, enjoy!

Tom Simpson
Toeprints on the wall 
Rain stipples the dusty, salt-sprayed window.
Percussive echo of sandy feet on floorboards.
Memory clad in bore-stained fibro.
A wattlebird picks a feed out of cobwebbed flyscreen.
Taps rusted shut; all the copper’s been nicked.
Rain stipples the dusty, salt-sprayed window.
Curtains dance like flowing skirts in the afternoon wind
shifting sand that settles and builds in forgotten corners.
Memory clad in bore-stained fibro.
Nicotine-stained paint above his father’s favourite chair.
Children’s dirty toeprints up their old bedroom wall.
Rain stipples the dusty, salt-sprayed window.
Whiff of stale beer, smashed stubbies on the floor
mix with the bent spoons and blankets of a squatter’s old nook.
Blood and memory clad in bore-stained fibro.  
Skin burnt and taut under his half-drunk tears
after walking the shore of a forgotten boom town.
Rain stipples the dusty, salt-sprayed window.
Memory clad in bore-stained fibro. 


Mia Kelly

The red house with the yellow path –
Flowers in the vase by the window
And most days she’s there alone.
First she saw all the cracks and peelings;
Now its hers, like her wrinkles,
The red house with the yellow path.
Nights the possum in the ceiling is a friend
Dancing in a ballroom above her head
And most days she’s there alone.
Maybe the kitchen warm with baking smells
Will entice somebody to visit
The red house with the yellow path.
Distant sparks of cars on the highway
Pretty like dreams when the sun is low
And most days she’s there alone.
All those bright vanishing moments she spends
Fending dust from every surface of
The red house with the yellow path.
And most days she’s there alone.


Riley Faulds
House Villanelle

None of the doors close properly (except for the front).
The windows are constantly fogged a little so
you can only see shadows within.
The rooms are square, all like boxes and
each is filled with them too. 
None of the doors close properly (except for the front).
Walk in (shoes off at the door) and 
your socked feet are cold on tiles;
you can only see shadows within.
Stepping past the faux-marble table covered
in enamel crockery, silversilver cutlery,
none of the doors close properly (except for the front).
One piece of art (The Gordale Scar) us 
half-obscured by a tall grey cabinet:
you can only see shadows within.
Breathing silky-cold in the next room,
yes, that one to your right hand.
None of the doors close properly (except for the front).
You can only see shadows within.


Mia Kelly
‘A party from the moment before it begins’ exercise

Soon the afternoon light will set across the clean gloss of the kitchen bench, where chip bowls and a jug of punch sit waiting. Kerry will swing open the screen door to the kick of shoes on the mat. For a while, the old house will creak with laughter. She will go out into the half-dark of the garden to light the citronella candles, and maybe Boris will end up at the top of the peppermint tree, like last time. And then the chip bowl will be empty again. Cans and bottles and a few lost socks or jackets, and the echo of the empty room when the fridge hums in the afternoon, and maybe the echo will be worse than before.


Riley Faulds

I can’t decide which I’d prefer. For it to play out just like it would in a movie I’m sure I’ve seen, us jumping out, a crazed ‘SURPRISE!’, laughter, tears of joy, merriment, relief. Or for him to arrive through the back door, see us all crouched behind the bench and work it out himself. For the surprise of friendship and tortuous planning to be his and not hijacked.
There is a photo placed by the projector. It’s the birthday boy years ago (11, 12?). This is (brightly obviously) before his Ralph Tommy Gucci conversions. Not a label in evidence anywhere in the brightly-lit studio snap. He’s actually dressed as a farmer (would you believe it?) with a hat and chew-straw (and not a shred of RM Williams).
And the projector-sheet is torn in the same pattern. The toasting-flute still wobbling with the intent of his hands and words. Some people are laughing and if I didn’t know him the way I do, I would be as well. But I see his mum picking up projector-sheet pegs, his sister pinching her earlobe repeatedly; they’re not laughing.


Kaya Lattimore
Group Fridge Poem (with added lines)

the door swings heavy
condiments approaching generous shelf-life
french dressing dripping
the toxic colour of spinach slime
in the veggie drawer
three softening, crimsoning strawberries
hummus crust in forgotten tub,
these once-promises
only edible: a quarter loaf of bread
cheese for lean-week toasties
scrape the bottom of the butter container
no hope for long-gone tomatoes
scraps of mushroom on the shelf
one hungry shopping trip now
the wasted bottom layer

Westerly is very grateful for the support of the Cultural Fund of the Copyright Agency and the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre, which makes it possible for us to offer this program on a ongoing basis.

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