'Fiona approached the mammoth task of putting together our latest anthology with never anything less than total commitment and enthusiasm. As well as the nitty-gritty of compiling submissions and forming an editorial committee, Fiona looked to innovate at every level. The result is the brilliant Cry of the Curlew, an anthology that not only can everyone in the Writers Craft group be hugely proud of, but serves as a sophisticated showcase of our writing to the local community.' - Wayne Marshall.
Wayne Marshall is the author of Shirl, Affirm Press. His short story collection was shortlisted forVictorian Premier’s Literary Award 2019. He is co-founder of the Peter Carey Short Story Award. Wayne’s short stories have appeared in: Kill Your Darlings, The Writer’s Bloc, Island, Going Down Swinging, Review of Australian Fiction, Cry of the Curlew and more.
'Fiona is an asset to our writers group. She is the glue that keeps us together as well as the cheer squad who champions all our successes, no matter how small. Her reviews of members’ work are insightful, carefully given and help provide new audiences for our writing. It also needs to be said that her own work is just as deserving of the praise she gives others. A firecracker of an artist who gives light to all around her.' - Jem Tyley-Miller.
Jem Tyley-Miller is an emerging crime writer from regional Victoria whose stories have been shortlisted for many awards including last year’s Margaret River Short Story Prize. She is currently longlisted for Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award 2020. Jem is a 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow, and her work has been published in Meanjin, Overland and We’ll Stand in that Place Anthology and Other Stories. She works in film and TV to fund her writing and co-organises the Peter Carey Short Story Award in her spare time.
Fiona’s work is never less than outstanding in its quality and displayed a combination of intelligence, imagination and hard work. Her folio was outstanding; conceptually and her development of skills and techniques were really exciting. Fiona’s Seminar Presentation
remains with me as the best I have ever encountered in my teaching experience or have
had from a student in all my time at tertiary institutions. It’s been terrific knowing and teaching her.
Dr. John Forrest - Visual Arts Lecturer (Painting), Victoria College.
Fiona D'Silva's Poetry Workshop
Review by Tim Hogan 17/4/21
'It was a liberating feeling ... I definitely came away from the workshop feeling I had picked up some new skills for writing in general but particularly for poetry.' Tim Hogan.
I have dabbled in poetry writing over many years, but I only produce something when an intense moment of inspiration strikes me. That is not all that often and I have often wondered how the poets who are prolific produce so many poems. Are they such sensitive and imaginative souls that they are more easily inspired? Or is there some other aspect to their creative process?
After attending a poetry writing workshop hosted by the Moorabool Writers' Craft in April this year, I now have much more insight about this question. The workshop was presented by group member Fiona D’Silva.
The session began with a big question, ‘What is Poetry?’ A question that has taken up millions of words in literary academic circles no doubt, but Fiona asked us to make simple instinctive one or two word responses to this deep question. This freed people up and lots of responses were made. After this we further discussed and reflected on what poetry was by watching a very short film about poetry and reading some quotes by various people on what poetry was. I was particularly inspired by the quotation by Percy Shelley on poetry, “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar."
After getting deep and meaningful in a fun and relaxed way we got on to the practical aspects of the workshop. We did what could be called a reaction exercise where we listened to and read a poem by Les Murray, ‘An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow’.
We were then asked to write down any words which came to mind in response to the poem. It was a powerful and emotional poem and I found about 10 words or phrases came streaming out very quickly. We then shared our words and this helped us interpret the poem.
All this was good for an English literature class but how was it going to help you write poetry? This is where Fiona turned all these imaginative responses into a tool for creating a poem. She did this by showing us a technique which involved assembling ‘response’ words into a poem. It could be response words to visual stimuli like pictures of people sheltering in the Tube during the bombing raids of London in World War Two. Or it might be the ‘response’ words produced after reading a poem. The point is it gave me a quick set of words to work with, without straining to think of some brilliant opening line like, ‘I Wandered lonely as a cloud’. . . It was a liberating feeling to have a set of words to work with so quickly, no waiting for inspiration! When I assembled my words into a poem in a rough order, I found I did not use all of them. But that didn’t matter. It got me started, which for me is one of the harder parts of writing, and I was quite happy with the end result. I have never written a poem so quickly!
It looked like all the participants in the workshop had a similar experience. We all shared what we wrote and there was a great diversity of imaginative responses. I definitely came away from the workshop feeling I had picked up some new skills for writing in general but particularly for poetry.
The most appealing aspect of the workshop was Fiona’s utter conviction that you must feel free to express yourself and not worry about any rules or conventions. The most important thing was to get your creative spark happening. And for this she showed as a very useful tool to enable that to happen. Then, when this is done you could always return to your work and refine it, or change it considerably, or simply leave it as an expression of your thoughts at that particular moment. It is all part of what poetry is, making the familiar not so familiar, as Shelley said.
Moorabool Writers Craft member, 8 May 2021
State Library of Victoria Principal Librarian