The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

Omar Musa headshot

Writing poetry involves a balance of the visceral and cerebral, content and style, says tutor Omar Musa. Ahead of his upcoming workshops, we talked to Omar about what he has learned from ten years of performing poetry.

Earlier this year, Tania Cañas, Arts Director at RISE Refugee in Melbourne, wrote an article 'Diversity is a White Word’ that subsequently exploded on social media, igniting discussion across the arts and in literary journals (Koubaroulis, 2017; Aranjuez, 2017; Iyer, 2017).

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Applications are now open for the 2018 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

Now in its seventh year, the Fellowship commemorates the life, ideas and writing of Hazel Rowley (1951–2011) and awards $15,000 to an emerging or established Australian writer to support research and development of a new biographical work.

The Fellowship encourages writers to immerse themselves in their subject’s lives and culture.

Hazel’s own career received a boost when receiving a fellowship enabled her to travel to the USA while researching ‘Richard Wright: The Life and Times.’

'The Girl From Munich' is your debut historical fiction novel. It tells the story of Lotte who grew up indoctrinated, at school and through The League of German Girls, to give her all to the Third Reich. After World War II, when her wealth and privilege is stripped away and Germany falls to the Allied forces, Lotte sees the horror of Hitler’s Germany and the terrible consequences of the war.

Your latest book follows the tourist-laden vessel Java Ridge as it encounters the asylum seeker boat Takalar off the coast of Indonesia. Takalar is headed for Australia but runs into engine trouble and becomes desperate for help. Did you find 'On the Java Ridge' an emotional book to write?

'Australia Day' is an engrossing short story collection that won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2016. The book charters the experiences of everyday citizens and the circumstances that can make them feel stuck, stagnant or alone. It represents the cultural fusion and diverse social structures that inform Australia as we currently know it. When did you decide these stories were destined for the ‘Australia Day’ collection?

Your first novel 'Laurinda' was a comment on friendships and the hierarchy amongst private school girls. The book won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult’s Literature at the 2016 New South Wales Premier’s Literature Awards. Your new book for Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers’ series explores the life and influence of Australia’s literary treasure, John Marsden. How did Marsden’s own work impact your writing of 'Laurinda'?

Erik Jensen

Your first book 'Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen' went deep into the psyche of one of Australia’s most celebrated and, as it turns out, most troubled artists. The book won the Nib Award for Literature and you yourself have won multiple awards for your outstanding work as a journalist. Your new book for Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers' series explores the life and influence of the Australian writer, Kate Jennings. How much did Jennings’ work impact your own journey as a writer?

'Wish you were here' is your memoir of a broken heart and a crazy dash across America in a red spotty dress and a shiny red sports car. After many impossible adventures it ends with you finding love. Was writing 'Wish you were here' a cathartic experience?  

Photo of Emily Brewin

Your novel 'Hello, Goodbye' was sparked by your aunt’s story of being single, pregnant and Catholic in the 1960s. Though not a retelling of your aunt’s experience, how much did the need to honour your aunt, and other women who had been through a similar experience, weigh on you as you wrote the novel?