Skywriters Project

LATEST NEWS

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Skywriters listening to guest speaker, cultural astronomer Trevor Leaman, at the launch of Central West Libraries Orange Skywriters Hub on 7 April, 2017. Photo by Merrill Findlay.

Our Skywriters Project invites creative writers and aspiring writers to author new stories, in any genre, about their own or other people’s (or other beings’?) relationships with celestial phenomena in our Southern Sky, as experienced from within the fuzzy borders of inland southeastern Australia’s 700 Kilometre Array (700KA) of astronomical observatories. (See the map below).

UPDATE: 12 April 2017

April 2017: We’ve now launched a dozen Skywriters Hubs in public libraries in Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Warren, Parkes, Condobolin, Forbes, Cowra, Orange, Bathurst, and Grenfell, and registered more than 100 Skywriters ranging in age from late teens to 90 years young. 

Members of our very dispersed community live in or near three regional cities (Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo), at least a dozen country towns (Blayney, Millthorpe, Cowra, Canowindra, Forbes, Grenfell, Condobolin, Parkes, Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, Warren, and Narrabri), and at least 13 townlets, villages and rural localities, including Neville, Quandialla, Bimbi, Lue, Robin Hill, Ravenswood, Nevertire, Bugaldie, Eumunggerie, Tooraweenah, Emu Swamp, Warroo and Gooloogong. We also have a few Skywriters living beyond our 700KA region.

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Guest speakers at the Bathurst Skywriters Launch: novelist Tracy Sorensen, ‘space nerd’ Ray Pickard from Bathurst Observatory Research Facility, and amateur astornomer Niall MacNeill (centre three), at the Bathurst Library, with local skywriters and facilitator Merrill Findlay (left), Bathurst Library, 11 March, 2017. Photo by Jo Dicksen, Arts OutWest.

Three new inland community writers groups have also emerged from our Project in Condobolin, Forbes and Orange, to join the many pre-existing writers groups in inland NSW. These include Dubbo’s Outback Writers, the Lambing Flat Writers Group in Young, Grenfell Writers, Bathurst Poets, Point Blank Writers Group in Gilgandra, and Author-ised in Parkes.

We have achieved all this in just one month (March/April 2017) with the in-kind support of library staff; our partner organisation Arts OutWest and other Regional Arts Development Organisations (RADOs), including Orana Arts, ArtsNorthwest, and Outback Arts;  Dubbo’s Outback Writers Centre; local radio stations and newspapers; other in-kind sponsors, including ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (with special thanks to Dr Brad Tucker for printing our Skywriters posters and postcards for smaller libraries); a very effective collaborative social media campaign by Skywriters and supporters on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms; plus our great guest speakers. Oh, and, of course, all the amazing sponges, slices, biscuits, tarts, fairy cakes, sandwiches and nibbles provided by our Skywriter librarians and their support crews!

We’ve all been part of something we can be very proud of over the past month. Again, congratulations! To all of us!

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Skywriters at the launch of the our Hub at the Condobolin Public Library, 15 March, 2017. The Condo writers established their own writers group at this gathering, one of the many unexpected outcomes of this project. Photo by Merrill Findlay.

So what’s next? Now that Scarlet O’Barbara My Research Mobile and I have recovered from my travels the length and breadth of our 700KA, I can now add all your contact details to a spreadsheet and a mailchimp list, and start work on your first Skywriters newsletter . One of our Orange Skywriters, Sine Dellit, has offered to set up our closed Skywriters FB group, and will, I expect, invite registered Skywriters to join it soon.

I’m also negotiating our first Big Gig … which will probably be held at Parkes. I’ll tell you about it as soon as a few more details are confirmed.

So again, congratulations. We can now begin our next big challenges: creating a  solid and supportive inland Skywriters network, and producing some superlative skystories for publication in 2019!

Merrill Findlay, Project Coordinator, Forbes, 12 April, 2017

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Detail of our Launch poster by Jo Dicksen, Arts OutWest. The poster was printed by one of our in-kind sponsors, ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, at Mt Stromlo, Canberra, for distribution to Skywriters libraries in rural NSW. Thank you ANU. Download the poster (low res. pdf 385kb) here >>

HOW TO BECOME A SKYWRITER AND WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
You’re already a registered Skywriter if you’ve filled in one of our registration forms and returned it to Merrill, the project coordinator. This means you’ll be on our emailing list and should receive newsletters and invitations to our attend gatherings. You’ll also have access to the Skywriters Facebook group and other social media to connect with fellow Skywriters. You’ll be able to email or sms Merrill for support, updates and/or advice about your writing projects; and you’ll be able to enjoy many opportunities to engage face-to-face with fellow Skywriters, astronomers and other researchers in our region. Plus, of course, you’ll have an opportunity to be published in our Skywriters Anthology in 2019.

Download [pdf 348KB]  SkywritersRegistrationForm_Online_vJune2017

By becoming a Skywriter you’ll not only be developing your own creative talents and research skills, you’ll also be co-creating an inspiring, inclusive and, we hope, enduring inland literary community … And who knows where this might lead? Could it catalyse a literature-led renaissance in rural communities? An explosion of new ideas? Imagine …

To find your nearest Skywriters hub, click on the purple dots on the map below.

ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES
Outcomes of our Skywriters Project are expected to include:

  • a dispersed community of rural writers within our 700 Kilometre Array region
  • seminars, excursions and other opportunities for Skywriters to learn more about their craft, develop new skills, network, socialise and be astonished and inspired
  • dozens of new stories by rural people set in southeastern Australia’s rural inland and/or in the sky above
  • publication of Skywriters’ stories on this web site
  • a Skywriters anthology  published as an e-book and (possibly) in print form
  • links with other Big Skies Collaboration projects, and opportunities for Skywriters to contribute to them
  • ongoing support from local libraries, the NSW Writers Centre, and the ACT Writers Centre
  • interactive digital installations by composer Peter Kennard featuring Skywriters reading from their own works
  • and many new friendships and serendipitous happenings –  along with a great sense of achievement
  • an enduring support network for rural writers
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Astronomer Stuart Ryder, Head of International Telescopes Support, Australian Astronomical Observatory, and John Sarkissian, Operations Scientist at CSIRO’s Parkes Observatory, with our poster in front of The Dish before the March 2017 meeting of the Central West Astronomical Society. A few days after this quick snap was taken it became CSIRO’s ATNF Daily Astronomy Picture! The poster was designed by Jo Dicksen from Arts OutWest. ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics assisted with the printing of it. Our thanks to all our supporters. Photo by Merrill Findlay, Friday 3 March 2017.

FINANCIAL & IN-KIND SUPPORT
Skywriters Project gratefully acknowledges the raflogo-combined-with-text1-e1439955311967financial support from the Regional Arts Fund, through project partner Arts OutWest, and in-kind support from ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mount Stromlo; libraries and local government authorities within the 700KA region, as listed above; Bathurst’s historic Lachlan Inn; and from other individuals, groups and institutions who are contributing to this project. Our combined efforts will work marvels!


POSTER CREDITS
Launch poster designed by Arts OutWest’s Jo Dicksen, featuring the ESA/Hubble Telescope’s 2004 image of the Pleiades star cluster, also known as The Seven Sisters, NGC 1432/35 and M45. ESA/Hubble images, videos and web texts are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Detail of a giant poster in the hall to the Grenfell Library. Photo by Merrill Findlay, 2 February 2017.

The stars quotation is from the first stanza of Henry Lawson‘s 1888 ballad, ‘A May Night On The Mountains’, as shown on a mural in the corridor of Weddin Shire Council’s Community Hub, in Grenfell, New South Wales. Lawson was born in Grenfell in 1867. Read his entire poem here >>

Page created 3 February 2016. Last updated 8 October 2017.

Permalink: https://bigskiescollaboration.wordpress.com/projects/skywriters/

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