Four talented emerging writers were offered professional guidance and support in developing their work for publication in Westerly, both in print and online. We are now delighted to be able to showcase their work here at the Editor’s Desk, and look forward to their inclusion in our upcoming print issue.
Sometime around the middle of last year, I applied to Westerly’s Emerging Writer Program on a whim. I was itching to write poetry again, and dug up some old works for submission. I was also really excited by the idea of getting to work closely with an experienced poet. Many aspects of the program have been interesting and eye-opening, but the most unexpected and significant aspect for me has been discovering a new kind of working relationship through mentorship. My conversations with my mentor, Marcella Polain, often struck me as, if not poems, experiences of their own, with their own rolling rhythms and tangents. The intertwining of textual support and analysis with a discussion on all sorts of things about the world and poetry was enriching. Writing poetry can often be a solitary experience, and it can become hard to see the culture or the people to whom you connect through to your work—these conversations were sometimes an antidote to that. They were also deeply educational, yet never didactic.
When asked to reflect on this process for the blog, I was interested as to whether I could capture some of this feeling for readers. I interviewed, or rather chatted, to Marcella at the end of the program. The conversation that you can read by clicking on the link below is an attempt to log that conversation, but also in using the format of a game (follow the links!—if you wish)—an attempt to embody some of the joy of these discussions—there’s a through-line, but there’s also freewheeling discovery and genuine leaps in comprehension about poetics, the work at hand, outside influences, and perhaps, life in general. Hopefully some of that comes across!
M – Marcella
V – me
Vidya is a writer, comic, and theatre-maker. She likes working across forms including written and devised performance, work for the screen, and of course poetry. She is a graduate of UWA and the VCA. Her writing is often interested in playfulness, transcendence, identity and dislocation. You can follow her on fb: http://facebook.com/vidyasairajan. She’d love to talk to you about anything, including, if it comes up, which it might, the 2003 film/religious experience Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep.