Words for Earth: Writing Place and Environment
Held at beautiful Newholme Field Laboratory near the Armidale campus of the University of New England, the workshop will enable participants to write more evocatively about the environment, place and landscape in a number of genres, including poetry, non-fiction, fiction and young adult. Field walks with local botanists, archaeologists and artists will enhance participants’ understanding and appreciation of New England’s unique ecology. The workshop is suitable for beginning and advanced environmental writers of all backgrounds and interests.
Welcome and Introduction
Workshop I: Non-Fiction with Jessica White
Morning Tea and Free Writing
Walk I: Aboriginal Uses of Plants with Wendy Beck
Workshop II: Poetry with John Ryan
Lunch and Free Writing: Choose a Place
Workshop III: Fiction and YA with Fiona McDonald
Walk II: Writing and Sketching with David Mackay
Afternoon Tea and Free Writing: Choose a Place
Questions and Closing
Thanks to our sponsors!
Stuff you need to know...
CANCELLED due to the current fire situation, as this workshop was to be held out of town and involved walks through bushland.
John Charles Ryan is a poet and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of New England. He is the co-editor of The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature (2017) and Australian Wetland Cultures: Swamps and the Environmental Crisis (2019). His book Plants in Contemporary Poetry: Ecocriticism and the Botanical Imagination (2018, Routledge) examines the role of plant life in the work of Les Murray, Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo and other major poets writing in English. His creative interests include the flora and fauna of New England.
Jessica White is the author of the novels A Curious Intimacy (Penguin 2007) and Entitlement (Penguin 2012), and a hybrid memoir Hearing Maud (UWAP 2019). Her short stories, essays and poems have appeared widely in Australian and international literary journals, and have been shortlisted or longlisted for prizes. Jessica is also the recipient of funding from Arts Queensland and the Australia Council for the Arts and she has undertaken residencies at the B.R. Whiting Studio in Rome and at Ridgeline Pottery near Hobart. She currently researches and lectures at The University of Queensland, where she is writing an ecobiography of Western Australia’s first female scientist, 19th century botanist Georgiana Molloy.
Fiona McDonald is an Australian illustrator, author and publisher. Based in Armidale, she has had eleven books published internationally, including an illustrated novel for children, Ghost Doll and Jasper, and a bestselling history of street art, The Popular History of Graffiti: From the Ancient World to the Present. Fiona is also the co-founder of the independent children’s publisher Christmas Press and its two imprints, Second Look and Eagle Books. Her most recent titles include illustrations for the acclaimed picture books Two Fearsome Fairy Tales from France (retold by award-winning British author Adele Geras) and Two Selkie Stories from Scotland (retold by popular Australian author Kate Forsyth), both books published by Christmas Press. She is currently working on her Master of Arts in Creative Practice at the University of New England where she is working on a novella featuring Jenny Wren, the dolls’ dressmaker, from Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend.
David Mackay has combined a career in science and art from the time he first illustrated a book (on orchids of Papua New Guinea) at the age of fifteen. He has since illustrated over 200 botanical text books and scientific journal articles, and exhibited his botanical paintings around the world in over 60 solo and group exhibitions. His scientific research focuses on plant-pollinator interactions and the impacts of climate change on pollinator systems and endangered plant species reproduction. He teaches ecology at UNE.
Wendy Beck is an archaeologist awarded a PhD (‘Technology, Toxicity and Subsistence: Australian Aboriginal Plant Food Processing’) in 1986. Her early research concerned Aboriginal knowledge of plants, and included analysing different sources, including archaeology, ethnographic fieldwork in northern Australia, documentary sources, as well as laboratory work in chemistry and genetics. Wendy is also interested in how Australian archaeology investigates cultural landscapes and her writings work both as alternative forms of knowing the place, and as clearly positioned voices with a unique perspective. She also researches teaching and learning in Archaeology degrees. She is currently a UNE Adjunct Associate Professor.