Stories from Home: Writing Our Way Through the Pandemic

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
By: 
Writers Victoria

From May to August 2020, Writers Victoria in partnership with VALID, posted regular writing prompt for writers with disability. With so many of us isolated at home, this was a chance for us to reflect on our experiences and share them with others through our writing.

Stories From Home  aims to encourage, recognise, share and showcase the stories, writing and experiences of people with disability in a time when Covid-19 has halted or reduced our normal work, social activities and support services.

Selected writing from Stories from Home is posted here. At the conclusion of the program, these writers will be invited to take part in an Online Writing Workshop hosted by Lyndel Caffrey, Write-ability Program Manager at Writers Victoria.

 


Stories from Home – Our Selection

We want Stories From Home to be a safe space in which all participants feel accepted and encouraged to be their authentic selves. We believe that it is vital that people with disability are able to tell their own stories in their own way, and be published without fear of censorship.

Please be aware that writers participating in Stories From Home have freedom of expression and that some stories may contain coarse language or confronting themes.​

 


Writing about the View from the Window

 

Changes

I am sitting here and looking out my window and starting to think about how my life has changed.

Twenty years ago I was Broke. Homeless. Fired from volunteer jobs.

Over time I learned to pay rent and bills. Cook.  Wash my clothes.

Host radio. Perform.  Write stories. Smile and laugh.

I’m invited to strategic planning meetings.

People can and do change.

– Raphael Kaleb

 

 

I am sitting here looking out my window and starting to think.

East Keilor is a Hotspot 

Essendon is a hotspot

Niddrie is a hotspot

Broadmeadows is a hotspot

Craigieburn is a hotspot

Werribee is a hotspot 

Watergardens is a hotspot

– Anna Mina

 

I am sitting here looking out my window and starting to think about …..

Physical distancing.

We all have to wear a mask to keep us safe

We are doing our best to maintain social distancing.

I don’t listen to the news because the news is stressing me out.

I watch something funny.

We can take our time to go back to Yooralla, there’s no rush. There is no rush to go back to Yooralla at St. Albans.

Take one step at a time.

Think happy things.

– Anna Mina

 

 

I am looking out my window and thinking I hope COVID 19 goes away soon.

I want to go back to Moe Life Skills Centre. I want to see my friends again.

I miss them. I want to talk with them again and have some fun.

I want to do my classes in person. I miss seeing staff like Abi, Majella, Sarah and Stacey.

I love writing, I love seeing my friends in “Music”. We sing and dance together. I grow

my skills and meet some of my goals in “Self-Advocacy”.

I like going to the gym. “Fitness for You”, I miss doing that.

– Andrew Prior

 


Writing about Community

 

My Community

Trees and those who walk, talk, and hug trees.

Peace and those who flee violence and wish to live in peace

Reading and those who share their love of reading

Dancing and those who dance

My cat and those who pat my cat

Parking and those around the park.

Trevor Dunn

 

Brave New World.

Community, Identity, Stability.

In a world that values individual expression, this time has seen us yearn for community so much more.

I ponder this as I wander the streets.

Still in isolation.

I wonder where my community went.

They’re missing in the echo of their silence.

Leisa Prowd

 

In my community I volunteer with Nippers

This is what they learn

To paddle, swim, run, water safety

Red and yellow flags

Always swim between them

Put your hand up in an emergency

Swim, swim

Between the red and yellow flags

So important to be safe in the water

Tommy Leembruggen

 


Writing our Memories

 

Reality City

"Figures boy figures. You write extremely well but there’s no money in it.”

Sleeping on a concrete floor waking up screaming with cold and hunger each night.

“Either play the game or walk away. Your choice.”

Memories: Everything I wanted to forget.

Raphael Kaleb

 

Memories

wheelchair full time

wanting to walk for my first communion

mum at the left 

physio on the right 

dad at the back of me to catch me

no one in front of me

slowly shaking walking movement towards

wafer moon placed in the mouth 

a disbelieving church is crying 

Jenna Bailey

 

My Memories 

Memory, deeper than bones.

Plastic, lights, chaotic beats.

Screaming, sirens.

Pho, photos, eyes shut tight

Drift, longing, fear

Facials, shrines, crystals

Toilet flowers.

Walks under the moon.

Yoga, sweat, pounding miles.

Dancing love

Distance pulls two souls; earth and moon orbit.

Yearning

Back not forward.

Heart pounds.

Memory, my cage.

Leisa Prowd

 

My Memories  

The blue sky reaches up like the hands of a small child

Do you do graffiti mister?

What do you say?

She rang her back, but she won’t answer

What did she say?

Poppy was racing against the clock

Pink inline skates pink

Once around the park once

Trevor Dunn

 


Writing about Support

 

I can get by without my leg brace,

Can get by without my cane,

I can get by without my dentures,

Can get by without my glasses,

I can get by without my hearing aid,

But no matter how hard I try,

I can’t get by without my wonder bra.

Karleen Plunkett

 

Hand holding.

Ear whispering.

Back rubbing.

Hair stroking.

All this support is stifling. My body can’t breathe. I want to break out, struggle, scream. I want to throw up. Empty my insides. Bile and vomit a pungent pool on the floor.

I need space.

I need support.

Jess Obersby

 

Hi everyone

Winter is now here

It is very cold

Yesterday we had a meeting yes meeting and they were talking about friendship

Jeanette led the meeting. She was the leader in the Zoom

Olympia saw my hair and said Wow now I am Blondie and also said Annie girl

That’s what Olympia said.

Anna Mina

 


Writing about the Future

 

What I Look Forward to… 

What I look forward to after isolation

Job Seeker Payment is maintained

Robo Debt and Poverty under New Start a bad dream

Public Housing is given money to house the homeless

Walking past a rough sleeper in the street a distant memory

I sit in my favourite café

Trevor Dunn

 

Things I am looking forward to  

On the relaxing weekend I drive up to the waterfront and have a cup of hot chocolate and coffee while enjoying spectacular views of the bay and fresh air. I’m highly anticipated to back to work, travelling by car, train and bus as I missed my colleagues so much. Finally, I reconnect with people close to me within the tight-knit community – whether is singing or acting, it’s incredible!

Michael Chan

 

I DON’T LIKE CHANGE! 

In my future I don’t grow up, no chores, budgets and responsibilities. I love my family, friends, travelling and holidays unending. Workers help my peaceful routine enjoying nature walks, beaches, birds, trains; lots of drawing and drinking chai tea. I want mum beside me always she is my best friend.

Samantha Weerasekera

 



Writing about Friends and Neighbours

 

One on One with My Neighbour 

In April

A Neighbour up the road, her husband died

He was our gardener

The funeral might be online, I think

I helped her with her bins

I collected the mail

I made a card with stickers

 

Last week we all visited

It’s a nice house

I visited again

We did colouring in

Had a cuppa

And we talked

I am going to see her Thursday

Again

Georgia Green

 

Zoom Portraits: 4 Haiku 

she loves needling

like she’s looking at the floor

a bed behind her

 

monotone background

dark brown super hero

curl slow hand wipes back hair

 

yellow tiger top

bending forward unseen wheels

pictures on white wall

 

good sense of humour

door behind, what door? that door

battery dying

Artists from Arts Access Victoria’s Get Out! Studio

 

Untitled 

My friends family and neighbours

How are they coping with isolation?

What are they doing?

 

I feel happy with Mum and Dad

But I miss friends

 

Kristina on the bus

Michael running

I miss friends

 

I miss digital literacy with friends

Lunch at Heatherwood House

Art and craft

And cooking lunch with friends

Alice Cleeve

 

Untitled 

My life long magnet has been that of friends and neighbours. Since birth it has been there it seems, seeking that oft times elusive goal of relating to others. It is only now I see through this mirror I find myself and finally, I like what I see. Thanks be.

Eva Sifis

 


Writing in Isolation

 

Neville loved isolation, it made sense, was logical, mathematical, sublimely intoxicating. It had an order that pleased him, comforted him, even improved his appetite. Every evening as he sat by himself, not one pea, one bean, one carrot or any of his dinner touched. Personalised isolation on a plate. Bliss.

– Sprig Mason

 

People complain about having to stay home because of COVID19. Try having a chronic illness. Only a hand-full of friends visit, if you are lucky. People get sick of asking how you are, and hearing the answer. You are literally isolated by your own body. This isolation is everyday life.

– Christine Segaert

 

Isolation my cat sleeps in front of the heater in French

A shot rings out as a hooded figure sprints across a graveyard.

Kettle boils

I should prepare for my Zoom dance class tomorrow.

A small group of hooded figures now dance around a bonfire and chant in French

– Trevor Dunn

 

The world comes through my computer: stories, films, museums in faraway places, music, friends, workmates. I work, I wheel around the park. People smile or not. Birds call. Dogs career or amble. Owners swap dog stories. Our cat lounges. We picnic in the car. The garden grows. The virus lurks.

– Janice Florence

 


Writing about Home

 

Home is a sunny apartment. A tree outside my window is home to many noisy miners. Like clockwork they waken at 5.30. I like routine but I want them to sleep. I asked them to rise at eight o’clock, but they just keep drinking Chai tea and being noisy neighbours.

– Samantha Weerasekera

 

 

The aroma of fig and banana bread gently asks me to greet the world.

My lap top hums its approval eager to respond to my finger’s commands.

The silent main road startles me.

“Stage IV restrictions are now in place” begins the news presenter.

My home. My office. My prison.

– Raphael Kaleb

 

I have been cooking with my carers. I’ve been making lemon curd and sausage rolls and vanilla moist pineapple cake and lattice slice and Toblerone cheesecake and cottage pie and beef and black bean stir fry and Anzac biscuits and brownies and toffee nut slice and tuna pasta bake dish and more to come.

– Annie

 

Home Shit Home

I hate living at home because in here I can’t move

I can’t move

I can’t see people at all

I’m at home doing

Jack shit nothing

Nothing at all

It feels shocking

Home is shitting me

What happened in my home yesterday?

Nothing

– Collaboration by artists from Arts Access Victoria’s Frankston GetOut! Studio

 


You can find all the prompts for May and June, and read all the entries for Stories from Home here.