Writing a New Chapter - Farewell Elizabeth
'Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?' Mary Oliver
This quote by Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Mary Oliver was written down by KSP's Chairperson (and published poet) Elizabeth Lewis a few years ago. It is still hanging on a chalkboard in the KSP sitting room. It is an inspiring quote that asks you to stop and think about your time, which is finite and special - what will you do with it, and who will you do it with?
For the past five years, for Elizabeth, what she did with life was being the esteemed Chairperson of the KSP Writers' Centre, which she did whole-heartedly. She is also a loving daughter, a friend, a sister, aunt, poet, and library officer.
Elizabeth's contributions to the Centre from 2017-2022 were incredible, and while this is a sad loss for the team, we are so happy for this exciting new chapter for Elizabeth, as she now gets to pursue new dreams.
Photo: Elizabeth Lewis, immediate past KSP Chairperson (2017-2022), and her Dad Bernie Lewis, at the 2019 Open Day.
The KSP team is also lucky to not lose Elizabeth's expertise completely, as she will continue to serve on the Literary Advisory Committee.
As the KSP's longest-serving (consecutive-year) Chairperson in the history of the KSP Foundation since 1985, Elizabeth was known for her big beautiful smile and welcoming nature. She was also extremely dedicated to the Centre, hard-working, kind, empathetic, and passionate about the KSP community. Her generosity of time and skills varied from chairing monthly meetings, to grabbing a shovel to help out at a weekend Busy Bee, to representing KSP at festivals and literary events in Perth and Margaret River, and meeting staff at cafes to brainstorm another literary program or community project.
Other notable achievements include:
MCing countless book launches, community events, award ceremonies and Sundowner Sessions
Supporting KSP staff members through all the good times and bad times - all the celebrations and crises, recruitment processes and farewells, funding 'woohoos' and woes, and many many problem-solving conversations
Helping to overhaul the KSP Constitution, 2021
Sitting on a variety of KSP subcommittees, including Wild Weeds Press, LitCom, and the Public Fund
Actively helping with special collaborative projects such as Food for Thought with Mundaring Arts Centre
Generously stepping in as a substitute tutor for KSP's youth groups
Running school holiday zine-writing workshops and facilitating a new poetry group
Presenting a deputation to the Shire of Mundaring council in May 2021 which led to the first successful increase in funding in over 16 years, and enabled employment of KSP's first Community Engagement Officer
Using family and friend networks to access freebies and discounts, which enabled the Centre to have WIFI in the retreats, upgrade their Access database and the hard-drive on all computer systems, and enjoy a plethora of whitegoods and furniture and handy-man repair work
Contributing to the creation of KSP's first comprehensive Strategic Plan and Heritage Collection Policy
Hosting the very first video guided tour of the KSP Writers' Centre
Successfully and calmly leading the KSP Writers' Centre through the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Some farewell messages:
'Personally, as the Foundation’s current Patron and as a founder of the Centre, I have always looked forward to being greeted at Katharine’s Place by Elizabeth’s welcoming smile. She has aided me as the deliverer of many a formal speech at the Centre’s annual events and as a published author of the Wild Weeds Press with my Collected Poems and at several launches of other books of mine. Sad as I am at this juncture, I wish Elizabeth the greatest successes in her next ventures but hope she will have time to sit back and relax a little after her term. If Katharine could still be with us, I am sure she would have been delighted by the presence of Elizabeth Lewis in her house!' Professor Glen Phillips Patron, a KSP Founder, Life Member and KSP Past President
'When I stood down as Chair and passed the baton onto you, I knew KSP was in good hands. I couldn't have asked for a warmer, more dedicated successor to the seat of Chair. And for that I am truly grateful. You picked up where I left off, and made KSP your own. When I come back to visit these days, every corner quietly serenades with Elizabeth-ness. Elegant and eloquent, just like you.' Tabetha Rogers-Beggs, Former KSP Chairwoman, 2014-2017
'Dear Elizabeth, as a fellow poet, I should write a poem about what you have meant to us all at KSP, but my words would fall short. I'll just fall back on a few adjectives that also seem inadequate: inspiring, capable, loyal, caring and fun. We will miss your guidance.' Mardi May, KSP Life Member
Thank you Elizabeth - you are a shining star, and we can't wait to see what is next in store for your wild, precious life! Written by: Shannon Britza