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Carol Millner: Thank You Once Again For a Wonderful Stay

In January 2023 I enjoyed a second week in a cabin at KSPWC as one of the EWP fellows.

The weather was strangely variable with nights cold enough for a doona and nights where even a sheet was unbearable, but throughout my stay I was enchanted by the garden and its inhabitants. Such a magical place!

As January is a quiet month for the writing groups I made the most of the opportunity to get on with writing which is, after all a solitary endeavor. It was lovely to have company from time to time though, and to hear about Jo Large’s novel project(s) as she is also in the EWP 2022 with me.

My primary focus during the week was to develop the opening for a series of essays that I am working on. I have been particularly taken up with exploring the tension between presence and absence in Modernist sculpture. Sculpting is, of course, a parallel creative process to writing, as my EWP Mentor suggested at our last meeting…and some sculptors who work with bronze are particularly interested in building up and paring back, something that I understand from poetry and short story where compression and brevity are so important. I’m always thinking about what to reveal and what to withhold. I’m still learning when to ‘stop talking’ as my Mother would say.

My second focus during the week was development of slabs of text that for a fragmented personal essay about the climate emergency, climate activism, and generally navigating the grief and anxiety that threaten to overwhelm our personal agency. Here is an extract that references my stay at KSP:

There are multiple families of quenda inhabiting this garden, they dig their cone-shaped foraging holes even in the midst of the track to the cabins; a nest of wild bees have made their home in an old eucalypt outside my window; and we saw a possum yesterday evening, a small sleek form, snout raised to the night. She seemed hesitant. She didn’t quite know where to go after she saw us, so we paused, while the trunks of the trees glowed in the light from behind the slatted blind of my cabin; three animals sniffing the air. And then, swollen drops of summer rain. I caught one on my wrist like a charm.

I record these things—as writers and artists do and will keep doing— not to suggest that ‘all’s right with the world’, but to invigorate myself, to help me maintain a steady pace on this century’s steep and uneven zig-zag between insistent news and the curve, rhythm and ceaselessness of all our lives.

Thank you once again for a wonderful stay! Carol Millner, KSP 1st Edition Fellow - January 2023


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