This week’s postcard is from Tonia Todman who has cast her mind – and memory of the fishing nets – back to her childhood on a small island in Papua New Guinea.
I learned very early on that my Mother loathed the kitchen and did all she could to avoid it.
I was brought up to consume what was on my plate so my broad pallet developed very early. That said, I grew up on a tiny island in New Guinea where most of what was eaten was of superb quality – the freshest tropical fruit and vegetables, the best fish (caught by father and daughter) and the odd leg of New Zealand lamb ‘found’ on ships travelling through China Straits towards multiple ports, with their final welcome arrival in England – where wartime rationing was still in place.
However, I developed a real longing for ‘Englishness’ – children’s books, birthday and Christmas cards were always festooned with hollyhocks, holly berries, snow, contented farmyard animals, pretty garden paths and grassy meadows – the complete opposite to my world at that time. How I longed for supper by the fire in a cosy, comfortable sitting room, seated on fat cushions and drinking tea from a pretty cup. Kitchen dinners around a large table in a spacious woody kitchen – this was all the stuff of dreams!
So, sadly there are no family recipes to pass on – my cooking is instinctively shaped by what is seasonally available and what I would like my family to eat.
Congratulations to Valerie Pybus who has signed a publishing agreement with Ark House Press for her historical novel, Beyond the Tamar.
Valerie said “It has all happened so unexpectedly and quickly that I am slightly ‘gob smacked’.”
Valerie had not thought to approach Ark House Press until during a recent presentation at the church in Miranda, the minister whom she has known for many years, suggested she tried them as they publish Christian books and he felt her work could be a good fit.
“I re-read Beyond The Tamar and it does carry a very Christian message throughout which I had not fully realized. Ark House Press’s books have a very good distributorship in Koorong Books (world-wide) as well as Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia among others.”
I am slightly biased towards Valerie’s book as I edited it but I know all members will join me in a little happy dance to help her celebrate.
Well here it is, the now famous Mock Chicken recipe that I forgot to include in last week’s email, courtesy of Jennifer McInnes…
MOCK CHICKEN A recipe from my childhood. Made by my Mother and used in school lunch sandwiches. Absolutely no chicken in it. My theory is that the name comes from the flavour being reminiscent of the stuffing that was used in home cooked roast chickens from time past.
Good on sandwiches and rollups, bruschetta, toast, dried biscuits.
1 onion, finely chopped 2 tomatoes, finely chopped 2 tbsp cooking oil 225g a tasty cheese, chopped up 115g butter 1.5 tsp dried herbs (sage, marjoram, thyme, oregano, whatever you have in the pantry)* Ground black pepper ? breadcrumbs 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
* If you have fresh use them for a much better flavour
In a saucepan cook the onion and tomatoes in the oil until the onion has softened. Take off the heat and add the cheese and stir until it’s melted. Add the butter, dried herbs, some ground black pepper. Stir until the butter has melted.
When the mixture has cooled, add enough breadcrumbs to make a thick paste. Add the parsley.
And there you go, you have Mock Chicken
At the monthly meeting in March, Leigh Hay spoke about memoir writing and how recording recipes is one way of connecting with family members and ancestors. Food is something universal, relevant to us all regardless of how we use and prepare it; from traditional recipes handed down through generations to instant microwaveable noodles or ‘wild’ food. Food is used for family celebrations, weddings, birthdays, funerals. Dinner parties cause joy and happiness or fuel arguments around the table. Whatever way, food unites us all.
Of course there are many other ways to connect: photographs, official documents, letters, family stories and more. Now days there are lots of online resources available to help people delve into their past. Tash Marsh touched on this in her talk at the April meeting when she described some of the resources available at Library at the Dock which may be of use to members.
Earlier this week I received the State Library of Victoria’s monthly newsletter and it contained details of two online courses being run by the Library for people interested in family history. The courses aim to show people how to make use of the resources available to explore their family histories. Click HERE if you would like to find out more information.
Book Chat has moved to the first Wednesday of the month at 10.30 am. Join members online for a fun and friendly discussion about books they have – or have not enjoyed! For further information and the Zoom link contact Caroline Webber, President: email@example.com
10th May Deadline for submissions to the May newsletter
A biennial award for a poem of no longer than 50
Open to all women poets, the award is managed by the Society of Women
Writers Victoria in memory of the late poet Kathryn Purnell.
Fees: Per entry – $10 (members of SWW in all states) $15 (non-members)
OR 3 entries $20 (members of SWW) $30 (non-members.)
judge: Tegan Jane Schetrumpf has a Bachelor of Medical Science and a Master of
Letters in English from the University of Sydney. In 2015, her postgraduate
research into ‘New Traditionalism’ form and narrative in millennial Australian
poetry won the Dame Leonie Prize. She has been published in Antipodes, Axon,
Meanjin, Southerly, and The Australian Poetry Journal.
Tegan is the Creative Editor for Alterity Studies and World Literature.
For further information about the prize, Terms and Conditions, entry form and payment of fees, click HERE
It is a late weekly email from me this week – a whole day late in fact! I had a lot of information to include and so a short letter and straight to it…
Until next week, happy writing, Caroline
We had a good turnout for the monthly meeting on Friday 30th April held the Library at the Dock, Docklands, Victoria. Members joined online or in person.
The main presentation at the meeting was delivered by Di Websdale-Morrissey who spoke about Creative Non-Fiction. I made the following notes during the meeting and thought I would share them here…
Creative non-fiction writing has been a genre for many years. In the mid-twentieth century, lots of American journalists hopped over into creative non-fiction. Many jobbing journalists saw the opportunity to produce longer, creative pieces.
Notable writers who wrote creative non-fiction include Tom Wolf, Mark Twain and Truman Capote. John Hersey wrote a series of articles about Hiroshima after he visited the city in 1946, not long after the bombing. While in Hiroshima, Hersey found five regular people, including a priest and a woman who worked in a typing pool, and asked them to tell him what they had been doing immediately before the bomb exploded.
He wrote the accounts of these people in ‘snap shot’ form. The woman from the typing pool described what she was doing, turned her head, saw a flash… This part of her story ended here and was picked up again later.
Hersey’s work was deemed so important that Einstein bought a 1,000 copies of the book and the BBC and ABC stopped regular broadcasting and read a chapter from the book each evening.
This shows the power of creative non-fiction. Describing the emotion and the feeling can enliven accounts, make them interesting and relevant. Feelings and emotions are universal, we all experience them to varying degrees. Hersey’s book drew out the universal themes. We all have cornflakes and toast for breakfast. We all go to work in the morning and wish we haven’t laddered our pantyhose on the way,
Creative non-fiction writers take the facts and apply their writerly skills to them to make the facts sing and dance. Everybody brings their own life experiences to the truth.
The truth differs for everyone. There have been scientific studies using functional MRI scans which demonstrate that each time a person recalls a memory and then ‘closes’ it, it changes slightly.
There are often as many different answers to a question as there are people answering them – even when people have been in the same room when a group of people wearing ski masks barge in.
When Di wrote On a Wing and a Prayer, she used historical records to show that Amy Johnson and her husband were having a difficult time in the plane. While Di could not be certain of exactly what went on in the cockpit, she used signifiers to tell the reader exactly what parts were factual and what parts were creative, such as writing “of this we can be sure”.
In her creative non-fiction writing, Di follows the premise that she can sign her name at the bottom of each page she writes to confirm none of it is made up.
Creative non-fiction – and stories in general – are how we make sense of the world. In the early days of humanity, there is evidence to suggest that people told stories to educate their tribes; stories about where the best berries could be found or what happened in their quest for food. People learn through stories and stories can change the way people think.
The thrilling tale of an aviation escapade dreamed up by Melbourne’s Lord Mayor in the 1930s- a London to Melbourne air race that captured the world’s attention and told a remarkable Australian story.
In 1934, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor announced a London-to-Melbourne air race to celebrate his city’s centenary.
The audacious plan captured imaginations across the globe- newspapers and magazines everywhere were filled with it; the world’s pilots scrambled to get sponsorship; and the organisers scrambled to get the rules straight and permission to fly in foreign air space. Sixty-four entrants from eleven countries signed up, but only twenty planes eventually took off on 20 October 1934. The winner arrived in Melbourne seventy-one hours later-but three planes crashed and two pilots died in the attempt.
The world followed the progress and applauded the winners, Britain’s Grovsenor House (outright) and The Netherlands’ Uiver (on handicap), but the real climax of the story is the astonishing efforts by the town of Albury in saving the Uiver as it battled through a fierce thunderstorm with no navigational aids, guiding the tiny plane to an emergency landing in the middle of the town with the most quick-thinking, imaginative response to its terrifying predicament.
This heroic race, considered the greatest single sporting event in the history of aviation, is a tale of eccentric characters, daring deeds and sublime courage. Di Websdale-Morrissey’s page-turning account will have readers holding their breaths, just as the world did eighty-five years ago.
Members then took a short break for lunch with many delicious shared plates, including a traditional yoghurt dip/side dish and crackers made by Lee Hirsh, and Mock Chicken wraps made by Jennifer McInnes. Thank you to everyone for bringing along a plate to share.
Jennifer’s Mock Chicken recipe will be included in the next President’s letter.
The second part of the meeting included a presentation from staff at Library at the Dock who gave an overview of the resources available and how to access them.
Following ten years of research, Veronica Schwarz’s book, Busting The Myths Of Mars And Venus: Gender: Reality, Myth or Disaster, has been published. The book is available as an ebook for $4.99 or as a paperback to Amazon Prime subscribers for $19.87.
To purchase a copy as either ebook or paperback, please click HERE
Earlier this week, Evie Wyld’s novel, The Bass Rock, was announced as the 2021 Stella Prize winner. Have you read it yet? I have added it to my reading list. If you missed the online award ceremony and are interested in hearing the shortlisted writers discuss their views on “If They Could Talk: On Voice and Voicelessness”, then you can view the recording HERE.
Chair of the 2021 Stella Prize Judging Panel, Zoya Patel, says “The Bass Rock is a consuming and perplexing book, one that forces the reader to think and engage with the unique narrative structure, but in a way that feels effortless, so engaged are you by the story. This is a novel that demonstrates the author’s versatility of style, with the separate narrative parts each having an individual voice. And yet, at no point does the book feel disjointed. Instead, it is as though Evie Wyld has chosen each and every word with precision, building a novel that is a true work of art.”
According to the judges, The Bass Rock is a novel that weaves together the lives of three women across four centuries. “It explores the legacy of male violence and the ways in which these traumas ripple and reverberate across time and place for three central female characters. Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life.”
Although Evie Wyld’s book is fictional, the final sentence of the above paragraph reminded me of Di Websdale-Morrissey’s keynote address at the Society’s event for International Women’s Day earlier this year. I am looking forward to hearing more from Di at the meeting on Friday 30th April at 11am at Library at the Dock, when she will be talking about creative-non fiction.
Di’s presentation will be followed by a presentation from Tasha Marsh, Adult Literacy and Outreach Support Librarian, who will talk about delving into databases, familiarise yourself with family history and cast around catalogues and will explain about the resources Library at the Dock has on offer to help your writing. It promises to be an interesting and informative meeting and it might just be the thing needed to help those of us who found our writing stalled during lockdown last year.
Of course, there are members whose writing flourished during lockdown and I am very much looking forward to reading this year’s COVID-themed submissions to Sparx.
This year’s Sparx will also include the winning entries to the Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize. I am delighted to announce that poet Tegan Schetrumpf is this year’s prestigious judge and member Suzanne Benson has taken on the role of Receiving Officer for the competition.
There is still plenty of time to submit to Sparx and enter the Katherine Purnell Poetry Prize, but don’t leave it to the last minute and miss out on the opportunity. The Society encourages members at all stages of their writing careers and especially looks forward to hearing from new members.
On the subject of new members, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Gay Collins and Karen Meyer and I look forward to meeting you in person at a future meeting.
FOR THOSE ATTENDING THIS MEETING IN PERSON THE ‘OUT OF HOURS’ ACCESS IS TO BE USED. SWWV COMMITTEE MEMBERS WILL BE ON HAND TO GUIDE YOU IN.
CREATIVE NON-FICTION WORKSHOP presented by Di Websdale-Morrissey
Creative Non-Fiction can be a confusing concept – many think of it as a licence to embroider the truth so heavily with fiction that the facts are lost in the process. Creative non-fiction is a way of presenting a true story or essay based on fact in a creative way. It is factual writing using the voice, eye and sensibility of the novelist but adhering to the truth as far as it can be understood. This presentation will provide a brief history, demonstrate the tools (and tricks) of the Creative Non-fiction writer and encourage anyone who wants to lift their non-fiction writing to the next level to try it out. Some handouts provided.
After the lunch break library staff will present a Super Sleuthing Workshop: Delve into databases, familiarise yourself with family history and cast around catalogues. Find out what the Library has on offer to help your writing, followed by Perfecting Podcasts: Introduction to podcasting.
If the library is closed please enter through the side doors opposite the park. A committee member will be there to let you in. Also don’t forget to bring your lunch as opportunities to purchase it are limited.