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
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 …..
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
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.
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.
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
Between the red and yellow flags
So important to be safe in the water
Writing our Memories
“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.
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
Memory, deeper than bones.
Plastic, lights, chaotic beats.
Pho, photos, eyes shut tight
Drift, longing, fear
Facials, shrines, crystals
Walks under the moon.
Yoga, sweat, pounding miles.
Distance pulls two souls; earth and moon orbit.
Back not forward.
Memory, my cage.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Writing about Friends and Neighbours
One on One with My Neighbour
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
Zoom Portraits: 4 Haiku
she loves needling
like she’s looking at the floor
a bed behind her
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
Artists from Arts Access Victoria’s Get Out! Studio
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
I miss friends
I miss digital literacy with friends
Lunch at Heatherwood House
Art and craft
And cooking lunch with friends
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.
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.
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.
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?
– 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.