Tag Archives: Creative Writing

2021 National Regional Arts Fellowship

Woo! I’m one of an additional three recipients who have been awarded a National Regional Arts Fellowship through extension funding in 2021. Six original recipients were announced back in May.

I’ve been dying to tell everyone for ages but it’s been embargoed since July.

Back in March this year I submitted my application for a National Regional Arts Fellowship. In May I got an email saying I was “unfunded excellence” meaning the panel thought my application deserved to be funded but that there wasn’t enough money to fund everyone and I had not been selected in this case. I expected that to be the end of it. I’ve had emails like that before.

In the last week of Term 2 (middle of July) the Director of Regional Arts Australia called to tell me they’d successfully lobbied for some additional funding and that would include funding my Fellowship.

Reader, I was unprepared for this delightful news (I was in the middle of mentoring a team for Australian Business Week at Renmark High School) and may have said swear words and/or screamed a bit.

It’s been under embargo since then, until Minister made official announcement, but it is now public and real and I can shout all about it!

Through the support of this fellowship I’ll be spending all of November exploring my community and writing and co-creating through my project Novel November:

“What would a version of the Riverland full of dragons and magic look like (and how can that help us better care for and build the real Riverland)? Novel November is a month-long collaborative experiment re-imagining our local haunts and habits. Writer and creative ‘doer’ Alysha Herrmann will lead a process of world-building and creative responses with other Riverland creative folk to generate short stories, poems, illustrations, songs, installations, experiences and ideas for the general public to explore a yet-to-be-named and yet-to-be-created alternate version of the Riverland.”

If you want to get involved with any of my fellowship activity, you can find all of the info here: https://partofthings.org/portfolio/novel-november-2021/

Novel November is the first stage of an ambitious multi-year speculative fiction project right here in our Riverland and I’m thrilled to have the backing of this fellowship to kick it off.

My long-term vision is that the fantasy world version of the Riverland created through Novel November will become a framework for future stories, theatre projects, visual art exhibitions, cosplay, LARP and other things here in my community.

image by Kirste Vandergiessen, created for the Part of Things 2021 program

Alysha Herrmann’s Novel November Residency is supported by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund.

Fill Me – Month of Poetry #MoP15

IMG_0176

I’m starting off 2015 with lots of small, achievable and fun creative outlets for me – one of which is participating in Month Of Poetry this January.

 

“Otherwise know as #MoP, Month of Poetry is a personal challenge to write one poem ever day for the month of January. Co-ordinated by Australian poet and children’s author, Kathryn Apel#MoP is for enjoyment and inspiration – for everyone. It’s not a competition, and you won’t be judged. There is no disgrace in writing less than thirty poems, so make the challenge work for you – and celebrate every poem you write!”*

 

As part of Month Of Poetry, Kathryn also offers a prompt challenge each Saturday. Today’s challenge was to write a colour poem (a poem inspired by a colour).

So this is my little effort:

 

Fill Me.

Painted walls slip as music spread between clean sheets and tasting plates. I am echoed. I am filled. I am joy. Grown into tall leaves and large faces. My daughter’s laughter in honey jars. Flakes of salmon painted in coriander and love. I am yellow. I am home. I am filled.

 

*from the Month of Poetry ‘About’ section, head here to find out more.

 

 

#summerinspiration #mop15 @sawriterscentre

Starting my 2015 by participating in SA Writer’s Centre ‘Summer Inspiration’ Program and Month of Poetry. Because I can. Because I promised myself more fun and more ‘me’ time this year.

 

Image Credit and source unknown. Found saved in an old folder on my computer…

 

This particular piece is tackling both Summer Inspiration and #mop15 at once – a poem inspired by the first Summer Inspiration prompt:

 

Remember the last time you refused to do something that somebody suggested. Imagine you didn’t refuse. Write the outcome.

 

Untitled

 

I say no a lot.

It’s true.

It angries it’s way out of me

On sharp teeth and tongues

And inside, outside dreams.

 

We load that great hulking beast

Together. With fucks that burst from my fingerprints

Staining our day

Training you not to suggest things anymore

Training me not to trust you. To give in. To bend.

 

We arrive and I bounce. From foot to foot. Tense. Ready. Fight or flight. Such a ridiculous response for returning a broken item. There is no shame in asking to get what you paid for. This is why I wait at the door when you do things I’m not ready for. This is why I like to learn things and ask questions privately, one on one. So it doesn’t catch me in its claws. With its shiny metal teeth.

 

Embarrassment. Hot. Itchy. Temperamental.

I told you so.

 

*

Sprung Open #writeme30

 

The Contributor:

This week’s #writeme30 photo supplied by Matthew Church. I met the lovely Matthew through my involvement with JUTE Theatre Company’s Enter Stage Write (2012 and 2013). Matthew and I were both playwrights in the program, with Matthew being our youngest playwright (still at school at the time). He’s now a uni kid doing all sorts of awesome. He’s supplied a rather lovely photo that I really haven’t done justice to with my response. I think there’s a song somewhere in my response but I couldn’t quite reach it, so it’s a lot of words tipped onto a page for now.

The Photo:

Matthew Church Photo

The Response:

You are the seamless sides of me

Painted in liquid leaps of colour

Splashed in rain drops

To kill with

Live with

Bleed into and out of and bent within

 

In night time dreams

Softly sucked

Gently rocked

And blended

Two into one

Many dreams into singular traps

Opening maws beneath peep toe shoes

Feet painted a glorious yellow to let the light in.

 

Spilt

Spilled. Streaming out. Threads of hair woven into your sheets.

Left bare. Left bare. And given there. To you. To me.

 

I’ll see you there. I’ll see you there.

 

Are you even listening to me? Is anyone? Stringing these sentences into more nonsense in your mouth. Reaching out. Fanning out.

 

Boxes blaring. TV shows never caring.

Your hands in mine. His eyes in his face. Your eyes on my back. Spilling. These secret sorrows. The ones we have no words for. Only a yearning too big to breath through.

 

You and I. wrapped together in these silences. These soft smile moments. We’ve broken them. And built them. And woven them together. Into this one life we have to live. Together. Apart. Together again.

 

What saves you? Saves me. Makes me? This precious time. Used well. Used to overfill hours we can never have back. Who are you. Have you been. Will be again.

 

I am my own silence. The frozen moment. The moment I stopped myself. The moment I said nothing. Did nothing. Was nothing. And then smiled. Bowed my head to a world too big for me.

 

No more. Ever. Then. I’m breathed into a new silence.

 

A wordsea to rock you to sleep. When my arms are empty. Emptied by words unspoken, unseen, unknown.

 

We will weep together you and I. Quietly. In between newspaper sheets and multiplying tabs. Sprung open with the force of their fear.

Caught by the Now #writeme30 @FELTspace

 

I’m about to put up this week’s #writeme30 in a separate post, but for anyone who is actually counting, you may have noticed that I’ve missed a few weeks.

*slaps own hand*

I don’t want to make excuses. So I won’t, but I do intend to play catch up so I end up with 52 posts by 18th March 2015. So the reckoning will come then…

And although I’ve missed some weeks for #writeme30 there has been other writing happening.Which I wanted to share.

Like this:

“I am fascinated listening to both artists talk about their work. Listening to them attempt to unpack complicated thought processes and articulate the process of making to explore those thought processes. My ears and heart leap towards the crossovers and juxtapositions between the two works and the artists who’ve made them. My fingers itch with the questions they’ve asked in discovering these works. As artists their creative output is a lens for me to discover my own answers. I’m ready and reminded.”

– Excerpt ‘Caught in the Now’ for Feltspace Writers Program

and this:

“THEY BECOME FRAGMENTS. Memories. Flashes of who you have been, who you are, who you could be. Bleeding together. Blending out. Too many things to hold inside of yourself. The more you try to make sense of them, the more they slip into your peripheral vision. The more dreamlike they taste on your lips.

Twelve-year-old me being kissed by a sixteen-year-old boy in a shearing shed. With tongue.

Fourteen-year-old me being held down by a man for the first time. Screaming into the pillow over my mouth.

Fifteen-year-old me sitting my parents down at the kitchen table to tell them I’m moving out. My mother crying quietly in her bedroom.

Sixteen-year-old me working fifty hours a week in a factory. My feet hurt. Home to a house that stinks of hopelessness.

Seventeen-year-old me holding a tiny screaming bundle of flesh and bone in my arms. My son, ready or not.
THESE ARE SOME of my memories. The ones that bleed into my story.”

-Excerpt ‘Not for Me’ for Griffith Review, Cultural Solutions.

 

I’m not sure where I’m at right now. I’m full of lots of feelings. Lots of fears. Lots of hopes. But it’s good. It’s all good.

 

PressureLands WIP 2010

 

Come play with me. I’m keen as.

 

*

Seashell Dreams #writeme30

 

The Photo Contributor:

Joey Kennedy. Actor. Artist.

And now proud mama.

I met Joey when she was co-facilitating a program run by Riverland Youth Theatre about youth entrepreneurship for young artists – Joey’s been in a couple of films you might have heard of (Shine and Red Dog) but the film featuring her you should most see is ‘Dance Me To My Song’. We’ve maintained a casual connection through facebook, as so many of us do, and I particularly love seeing Joey’s ‘Mimism’ statuses sharing the funny and adorable things her new little person says and does.

Joey sent this very special and personal photo of her little person for #writeme30 with the following (which I wanted to include here because it’s so precious):

“Sleeping Beauty, Jemimah Rose. Love this co-sleeping/family bed photo of our milk-drunk cherub. Sam took it quietly in the darkness, whilst Mim & I slept peacefully, dreaming contentedly, Mother & Child. Yep, she has this Mama Pyjamas wrapped firmly around her little finger as she holds me & I hold her. She still shares my bed, sleeping cradled in my arms & heart… Circles end where they begin, Alysha. Truly blessed. xxxx

“Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun.” – John Donne “

 

The Photo:

Photo Credit: Sam Rochester

Photo supplied by Joey Kennedy

 

The #writeme30 Response – Seashell Dreams:

 

Softly now.

Into suckled hands.

Wet shoulders, warm with love.

Ear shells curled into startled waiting.

Fingers gripped accidently onto hair rocked free.

And these two arms held suspended by love made flesh and hope.

 

Stretched by hunger.

Gripped by fear laced words,

On the edges of warning labels that sing.

Cheeks upturned, towards lights that dim and twist.

Fluttered eyes that wait in dreams overfull with shape and colour.

Legs bent straight by hopes unspoken before we whisper them quietly.

 

Sighed into life.

Delivered into skin’s echo,

Love’s fragile shadow held, gently.

Rocked by woolen comforts made warm,

By skin slept in and woken again and again and again.

These nights we lean into. Stitching futures into the dark. Together.

 

 

* I will be a few weeks short of photos so if you would like to submit a photo for me to respond to, you would be very welcome to. Email it to me at: pressurelandsATmeDOTcom

** #writeme30 posts are published ‘as is’ (rough!) without any editing or curating as the project is about exploring my responses to the photographs supplied. Some posts may plant the seeds for future writing projects but they are not written with that in mind.

 

 

 

Honey-less #writeme30

Kate Reilly has supplied this week’s #writeme30 photo. Kate and I went to school together in Burra (a really cute little town in the mid north of South Australia) and like many other friends through our family’s many moves we lost touch over time. Through the power of ye olde facebook we’ve since connected again in a loose sort of way and Kate has shared this photo from a safari in her backyard last winter.

The sour sobs in the photo very much reminded me of Burra – as kids we all used to eat them!

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been participating in the #futurepresent residency with Vitalstatistix and Urban Theatre Projects. During the residency which finished a few days ago, our team watched this short video from futurist Kristin Alford:

The loss of bees in the future really stood out to me and reminded me of Kate’s photo. Although I’ve heard about the risk to bee populations before, something about Kristin’s talk made it seem more real than it’s felt before. I love honey on toast. I’ll really miss honey in the future. What does that mean? I don’t know yet, but it’s something to think about.

So here’s the first #writeme30 post for June.

The Photo:

Bee Photo from Kate Reilly                              Photo supplied by Kate Reilly

The Response – Honey-less:

These days spin

Left waiting in wrappers

Soft with

Warm days

Warm thoughts

 

To reach into the future

To pluck out these weeds

 

Ease our days in walls left untended.

Eyes left un-mended, and now,

Now.

 

This winged, waiting breath. Just breathed.

With hands too small to capture

Eyelids pulling at the wind

Reigned in,

To beginnings,

Fresh with ice

Trailing longing

Weeping forgotten

 

To sit.

Gently perched,

On future dreams.

 

* I will be a few weeks short of photos so if you would like to submit a photo for me to respond to, you would be very welcome to. Email it to me at: pressurelandsATmeDOTcom

** #writeme30 posts are published ‘as is’ without any editing or curating as the project is about exploring my responses to the photographs supplied. Some posts may plant the seeds for future writing projects but they are not written with that in mind.

 

 

Moving #writeme30

This week’s #writeme30 photo has been supplied by the beautiful and super talented Lynden Nicholls. Lynden was our movement teacher every Wednesday during 1st year Acting at the Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts back in 2006.

I loved movement class – I’d easily say it was my favourite class that year – and Lynden was a fabulous teacher who really suited my learning style. And I love that through the power of facebook we’ve stayed connected and I get to see little updates from Lynden popping up in my newsfeed every now and again.

I have really bittersweet feelings about my year at BAPA,

I loved it.

I loved the classes, the community and the learnings I was having but I was also personally (and with family) going through a really difficult time, which led to me leaving at the end of first year. I continue to feel that my performance studies are an unfinished business – and yet leaving led me to some amazing opportunities and experiences in the Riverland (not to mention meeting the beautiful man who is now my husband) so I certainly don’t regret leaving, but it was difficult and I do feel like I lost a fantastic learning opportunity and community by not completing my studies.

*bittersweet *still trying to articulate what it means to me *sigh

With all of those connections and memories these are the words that spring to mind when looking at the photo Lynden sent me for this week’s post:

  • Ripples
  • Movement
  • Life
  • Moving on
  • Transparent
  • Vulnerable
  • Skin
  • Flowing
  • Earth
  • Connection
  • River
  • Home
  • Hope
  • Promise

The Photo:

pink layers photo from Lynden Nicholls                              Photo supplied by Lynden Nicholls

The Response – Moving:

These ripples behind eyes,

the sting.

The shift.

Into,

weighted skin,

waiting dreams,

The hall is too large for the small group that waits there fidgeting. Some familiar. Some new. The walls catch our words and bounce them into smallness as we greet the familiar. The new shift self-consciously on the edges of our smaller group within a group. Jessica, our facilitator arrives in a wave of sound and energy, pulling us into the comfort of a workshop circle. We play a name game. We laugh at ourselves. We twist our bodies into shapes. And then.

A new exercise. A movement moment. Find a space by yourself. Feel the music. Respond. Don’t censor. If you find yourself in close proximity to another person, allow yourself to be changed by them. Move with your whole self.

Jessica dims the lights.

Fingers, dig in. Deep into this skin I wait in. My head bowed. Breaths shallow, but ready. Ready. I’ve always been ready. The sound opens beneath my feet. Welcomes my limbs to unfold. My feet to spring into empty space. Tied to a beat I cannot hear. A fear I cannot reveal.

Bodies move beside me. Around me. In the darkness between our beating hearts. We are lost. We are found.

The lights blast on again. The music ends. Chests heave. A woman’s voice speaks. Jessica. I do not hear her. I hear only the sound of the hairs on my arms reaching towards HIM.

The group comes together again into that safe circle. Still huffing. Not unfit, but so terribly, deeply, painfully open. None of us can look at each other. We are too open. Instead we focus our energy onto the floor, in the centre of the circle and fill it with our fears. Jessica’s voice is subdued. She feels our energy and how fragile it is.

“I’ll see you all next week. You’re all beautiful. Be kind to yourself.”

We all exit out into the cold night air. The other bodies drift off. To their own spaces. Homes lit ready for them.

HE lingers.

We stand awkwardly by the bumper of my car, words tumbling easily into each other’s hands. Our bodies are awkward. Our words are perfect. We skin history. We skim the future. Weave possibilities unknowingly. Lose hours. Eventually fallen silent in the face of what we find.

HIS fingertip brushes my arm as he turns away to head home. Deliberate, but gently.

My arm stings all the way home.

I lay in bed.

Thoughts.

Floating. Stinging. Moving.

 

*This particular piece is entirely fictional though it was inspired by some real life experiences. *cough* Nic Tubb…

** I will be a few weeks short of photos so if you would like to submit a photo for me to respond to, you would be very welcome to. Email it to me at: pressurelandsATmeDOTcome

** Note – #writeme30 posts are published ‘as is’ without any editing or curating as the project is about exploring my responses to the photographs supplied. Some posts may plant the seeds for future writing projects but each post itself should be considered a raw and unfinished piece.

 

 

 

 

 

Rage of the Heart #writeme30

 

Earlier this week I attended the launch of a very special book about my little friend Kaitie.

The photo for this week’s #writeme30 post has been supplied by Kaitie’s mum Kimberlee Francis, one of my very dear friends and shows Kaitie and Kim during one of their many hospital visits.

Kaitie is only 9 but has endured more than 30 operations as a result of the rare genetic disorder she was born with. She was born with Mucopolysaccharidoses Type 1, one of a group of incurable diseases known as MPS, which can cause intellectual impairment, eye and hearing problems, bone and joint malformation and heart and breathing difficulties. You can read more about MPS on the MPS Australia website here. And more about the launch of Kaitie the Courageous here, plus listen to Kim’s moving speech as part of the launch:

This week’s #writeme30 post:

The Photo:

Kaitie and Kim                                            Photo supplied by Kim Francis

The Response – Rage of the Heart:

 

I will hold you.

With my hands shaking.

Eyes raking white walls.

Lips straining cold sheets.

Palms caught in held time.

Fingertips glimpsed and softened.

Ready.

 

I will hold you.

In these new hours. Fresh and quiet.

The edge of falling again.

Your fingers will curl in mine.

I will squeeze back.

My heart will hang itself on the back of the door.

And beg my dreams to tangle into your sleeping hair.

I will find myself there.

The echo. The possibility.

The singing sigh of a tomorrow me.

 

I will hold you.

With smiles staining my tears.

With tears biting my smiles.

 

I will hold you.

Today. Tonight. Tomorrow.

I will hold you.

*

 

And here’s Amaya modeling Kaitie the Courageous at the launch:

Amaya with Courageous book

You can purchase a copy of Kaitie the Courageous via the MPS Society by emailing info@mpssociety.org.au or head to their website here. You can also read more about Kaitie’s journey here.

PS – If you happen to be getting married anywhere in South Australia. Kim also happens to be an ace marriage celebrant (she married us earlier this year in March on the stage of the Chaffey Theatre) – go ahead and like her facebook page here.

 

 

Homecoming. #writeme30

 

So…I’m a little late getting this week’s #writeme30 post together…

 

Saturday just past (the 19th April), I brought a new human into the world. Our daughter Amaya was born beautiful and healthy a week before her due date. We are both fine, but very tired so taking it easy over the next little while.

 

Mummy with Amaya

Hence, the lateness with this post…. 🙂

This week’s #writeme30 post is inspired by a photo supplied by Mr Matt Shilling, a friend from Youth Parliament*. Matt and I met in 2010 when we were placed in the same team as participants. Matt and I have very different political and religious views and this difference (underpinned by respect) is something I really value. If I wanted to just hear people agree with me all the time, I could just talk to the mirror!

Matt didn’t give any particular insight into this photo, just that he thought of me and my request for a photo when he was taking it.

The Photo:

Matt Shilling Photo copy                               Photo supplied by Matt Shilling.

The Response – Homecoming**:

Just until this song ends. We’ll sit right here. You and I. With our hands and eyes entwined. All you have to do is lean in.

His eyes flick to the side. Around the corner of her head. Listing. Reaching for the next question. The moment beyond this discomfort. He deliberately doesn’t respond to what she’s actually asking. Instead responding only to the literal. The actual. The direct. The intention behind her eyes is discarded in favour of his safety.

This has been their pattern. Their dance. Together. Apart. Together. Apart.

Lean into me. Into this. Into love. Into home.

 

**

It hit him coming round the curve in the old mail road, his hands soft on the wheel. Sharp and deep. Unexpected. The forgotten ache of home. Too long. Too long between drinks. Lucan pulled the car into the gravel shoulder. Left the ignition running and stepped out into the gentling darkness. Sucking in the smell of it. The smell of home. Of long lost things. Buried things. Growing things. Past things. Half remembered things. It hurt to be home. It was good to be home.

The house was dark. The key under the mat where it had always been and he let himself into the back door. The familiar kitchen opening under his feet. Nothing had changed. Except that everything had. The floor was cold. The air still and empty. The walls waiting. Every surface pregnant with loss.

Every surface trailed beneath his fingers felt too close, too real, too cold. Too close to knowing. And finally, that last empty room, with its large empty bed.

Sunlight smacked him into life the following morning. The edges of the old couch digging into his ribs and hips. His eyes stiff with the night before. The night’s darkness left behind for the day’s. Lucan didn’t bother with a suit. This wasn’t a town that needed suits. He pulled on jeans and a button shirt. Didn’t notice the soft wrinkles left behind by lack of care. He pulled a comb through his hair. Made himself ready in every other way he could.

The office was cool and smelt of cleaning products. Too similar to a hospital for Lucan’s liking. The woman behind the desk smiled at him with that soft I’m sorry kind of smile. He didn’t smile back. The smile held too long. Became awkward.

“Is there anything else?”

She blinked, startled.

“No. Just. You just need to sign here,” she said, sliding a sheaf of papers across the cheap wooden desk. He flicked through them all, slowly. Knowing it made her nervous. Not caring. Finally, pulling a pen from the cup on the desk and signing beside each marked x.

“Done.”

“Done.” She agreed, “I’m sorry for your loss.” The awkwardly held smile again.

“I know.” And he left the way he’d come. Back out into the fresh clean air.

 

 

*Youth Parliament is a fantastic youth leadership/development program for under 25’s building public speaking and debating skills alongside an understanding of the parliamentary process. Youth Parliament programs run in most states. I spent three years with the SA program, the first year as a participant and then two years as part of the organizing taskforce. It wasn’t something I thought would really be my thing and I only really went the first year because I had the opportunity to go for free, but discovered that I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, More info about the SA program here.

 

**I’m keen to spend more time experimenting with prose fiction. This post is obviously the beginning of an idea rather than a fully realised narrative.

 

Read the other #writeme30 posts here. Or subscribe to get them delivered straight to your inbox.