From London to KSP - A Writer in Residence report ... plus top writerly website resources
I’ve just left my KSP residency and I’m off to the next exciting chapter, featuring at Ubud’s writing festival (in Bali). The swooping and cackling bright green 28 parrots, pink and grey galahs in the birdbath, the glittering view of Perth city in the distance and the speckled sunlight across the garden or verandah are the images I will remember. Being at KSP was so very different to living in my little flat in busy London.
It’s a privilege to be a writer-in-residence and I’m humbled by all the people that made it happen from Katharine Susannah Prichard who broke new ground with her writing and encouraged others, to the many dedicated volunteers and staff who established the centre and keep it going with loads of passion and love.
Living as a writer isn’t easy sometimes, juggling earning a living with writing can be tough. Staying at KSP and being able to write, hold readings, run workshops, take part in writers’ groups and judge a poetry competition, all by just stepping outside your door, felt like really living as a writer.
I heard and read some great writing, met many lovely people I would never have otherwise met and got a dollop of inspiration to bank for my future writing. Being a writer in residence is so much more than the writing you do. It gives you crucial time to think, observe, process, read and write. It stretched me in many ways. Judging the very first Mundaring/KSP poetry competition was a highlight, especially meeting our lovely winner Scott-Patrick Mitchell.
I’ve started to take on one-to-one mentoring and I really enjoyed that. I’m offering online mentoring next year. Teaching new poets reminds me of the joy of writing and makes me work harder to research technique and approach. It makes me look with new eyes. The writers in the poetry group and the writing workshop I led were very diverse and creative. The reading at the Mundaring Library challenged me and I loved it – I integrated readings with talking about my writing practice, taking questions as I went along. I’ll try it again another time. I was particularly impressed with how Australians are so much better coming forward with comments and questions than those audiences back home in London. It made for rich conversations. The silent Q&A that often happens in the UK seems non-existent here. I felt incredibly honoured at the literary dinner.
It was a key time for me to be at KSP because I got to spend extended time in Perth where I grew up – this was the experience I wanted to feed into writing my first full collection of poetry. Walking and going for runs in the local area reminded me a lot of ‘old Perth’ where I grew up. I took lots of photos of front yards that had trampolines, dart boards, or broken bikes. The national park, waterfalls, local cafés (Mojos is the best – and they also have bandicoots.) are great though you need a car or a friend to pick you up. Spending time with writing fellows @Jen Mapleson and @Helena Pastor was a highlight – very different genres but interesting projects and approaches. It’s an experience that will resonate for a long time to come. Thank you KSP.
Some top websites for writers
Superb retreats for writers in the UK if you ever get the chance
I’m told this is magical too (Greece)
Great for all writers: https://mslexia.co.uk/ (submissions, tips!)
Poets’ hive of magazine samples, submissions and competitions
Amazing sites for poems and resources – and to sign up for a poem a day https://www.poets.org/
Poetry, including recordings and articles
Great poetry crit site
International poems and translations
There’s some fabulous interviews of poets from Poetry East – this one is particularly wonderful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90xZr_7Nz3M
Great site for short stories
Good tips on rights for authors
Lots of resources for writers including magazine listings https://www.pw.org/literary_magazines