#11 – Let’s make public literature projects

Oh my. Hobart is so beautiful.

I spent my first evening at Mona, the gallery here, marvelling at the eclectic collection housed here, and watching the sunset fade sitting within a James Turrell sculpture (pic above). This part of Tasmania is fizzing with activity. Hobart looks like an olde English town, with a mountain backdrop, and tons of public art everywhere. Even the street furniture is decorated by artists.

Literature-wise, there’s a buzzing Writers’ Centre housed in an arts complex, a festival for writers and readers, and a great literary and ideas magazine called Island, which has a growing reputation. During my stay I met with the arts and communities teams at Hobart City Council, as well as with festival directors for the writing and the Ten Days international arts festivals.

Tasmania has the highest proportion of older people in Australia, and its local policies reflect that. Hobart has two really great strategic frameworks. One is about positive ageing, supporting the participation of seniors in the Hobart community. The Council runs Mathers House, a centre which promotes friendship, social connectedness and interaction. The second is Creative Hobart, a strategy to boost the arts in the city… and includes an emphasis on public literature projects, such as writers in residence schemes and community writing activities. Rock on.

With Jo and Danielle, I spent the morning considering how these two strategies interlink. We thought about the ways writers could bring their writing from a solo practice to public forums, use plinths and walls, pavements and light boxes, join and facilitate community groups, and offer readers and audiences marvellous new ways to interact with poetry and fiction.

The idea of public or collaborative or community or applied literature really intrigues me. But there are challenges, as writing is usually a private act, a solo practice. How can we elevate this form of writing equal to that produced on the page or for the stage?

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