Skywriters Newsletter #4: Anthology update

Nearly Christmas, nearly 2019 and yes, nearly time to submit your Skystories!

21 December 2018

Skywriters Anthology A3 poster_2019 Call Out_VerySmallDear Skywriters,

How I’d love to share with you some of the skystories I’ve already received for our Skywriters Anthology! But, of course, that wouldn’t be fair! I can’t even discuss them with our editing curators, Susie Gibson, Val Clark and Gai Lander, at this stage because to do so would compromise their blind selection process!

Maybe I can tell you, however, that one submission, a skystory set at Siding Spring Observatory, is so funny (in the most positive sense!) that I actually Laughed Out Loud when I reached the end! Even now I’m chuckling as I tap-tap away at my laptop!

Another submission, a skymemoir, describes the author’s responses to the night sky in both the northern and southern hemispheres: Orion, the Great Bear and Southern Cross feature in this one. And yet another, a charming story you could loosely call a bush romance, is about a bushranger called Comet! Both are captivating.

I must say, too, that some of the skypoems I’ve received have astonished me with their lyrical beauty and profundity!

As you can tell, I’m really excited about our anthology! It’ll be a cracker! A diverse collection of skystories, and all of them set, at least partly, in our Inland and the big dark sky above. So please get moving with your skywriting if you haven’t already submitted. We need your prose and/or poetry by the end of January.

Let me know if you’re having trouble with this deadline though, or are feeling in need of a bit of support. We want the anthology process to be as easy as possible, especially for Inland skywriters who’ve never been published before.

And of course I understand that some of you don’t want to submit skystories this year – but maybe you will author something great for a future anthology! That’s my hope!

Send your ms as an email attachment to me at skywritersproject@gmail.com: a Word document, 12-point double-spaced, with your name, contact details and the story title on the cover page. I’ll save your original document, give it a number on a spreadsheet, and make a name-free numbered copy for each of our ‘blind’ curators.

Then the editing, publication in hardcopy and three digital formats by Big Skies Collaborator David Reiter and his Interactive Publications Pty Ltd in Brisbane — and the launch! Any ideas about how, when, where we should celebrate our first skybook?

My apology

When we launched the Skywriters Project back in March 2017, I expected to spend much more time with Inland writers – but reality intervened. My 91-year-old Mum’s general strength has deteriorated to such an extent that I need to spend more time with her at home in Forbes. And then there was my compulsion to open-up the project to First Nations communities – which led to the Wiradjuri Skywriters Pilot Project with the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin. As you’ll see below, our pilot project took off in some unexpected directions. The outcomes, however, have been thrilling.

But there’s another reason I haven’t circulated much this past year: I’m getting old(ish)! Those of you with as many decades behind you as me will know what I mean! Things that were once easy – like long-distance driving – are now exhausting!  Very disappointing!

Our Skywriters Project nevertheless continues, and 2019 will bring new opportunities and achievements. Including the launch of our anthology!

Wiradjuri Skywriters Pilot Project

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Condo’s celebrated Master Weaver and Big Skies Collaborator Bev Coe and some of her grandchildren with the Sistas’ Celestial Emu at the Condo SkyFest exhibition. Photo by Lyn Everingham.

I thought the Wiradjuri Skywriters Pilot Project was going to produce some oral histories and written stories. It didn’t! Because the women I’ve been working with decided they wanted to weave their skystories instead of writing them!  They’ve now co-created a break-through exhibition of sculptural works they’ve called Seven Sistas Weavings. Click on the link to check them out.

The Sistas’ exhibition became a feature event at the inaugural Condo SkyFest, another unexpected outcome of our Wiradjuri Skywriters Pilot Project.

We’re now hoping that Seven Sistas Weavings will travel to other galleries in 2019. Please contact Arts OutWest if you’d like them to visit your town

Inland Astro-Trail: another Skywriters’ initiative

First Inland Astro-Trail Symposium_ 2019_V5 Final 500wideSkywriters who attended our First Big Gig in Parkes in July 2017 might recall our discussion panel with inland astronomers Donna Burton, Les Dalrymple, Peter Starr, Trevor Leaman, and Ken Keith OAM, the Mayor of Parkes. One of the key ideas discussed was Inland Astro-Trail.

Well, we’ve made substantial progress since then!

In November 2017 a small group of skywriters founded a new organisation, Inland Astro-Trail Inc., and we’re now due for our first AGM and our first Inland Astro-Trail Symposium. We’re co-hosting these events on 6 February in Parkes Council’s Coventry Room where the idea was first mooted. Our project partners and in-kind supporters for this gig include Destination Country and Outback, CENTROC, Arts OutWest, Parkes Shire Council, University of Canberra, and the Australian National University.

The Inland Astro-Trail is an astro-tourism, cultural heritage, community development and STEAM outreach (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) initiative to catalyse new opportunities for inland communities. As I write this, I recall the aphorism attributed to anthropologist Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has

Check out the symposium on 6 Feb. on our Big Skies Collaboration website or Facebook and please join us there, if you can. I’m hoping some of our skywriters will also be speaking at this gig – but more of that another time.

My warmest wishes to you for a happy and peaceful holiday season and a very creative 2019. I look forward to receiving more skystories soon.

Until 2019!
merrill

The Skywriters Project
Big Skies Collaboration
T: 61 (0)404057162
E: skywritersproject@gmail.com
W: bigskiescollaboration.wordpress.com/projects/skywriters/
and merrillfindlay.com

With special thanks to the funding bodies, project partners and in-kind sponsors who have made our Skywriters Project and the Wiradjuri Skywriters Pilot Project possible, including Arts OutWest, Regional Arts Fund, Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, and the publisher of our forthcoming anthology, Interactive Publications Pty Ltd.

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