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A positively inclusive writing group storms the city

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Writers living with a disability are being invited to explore their craft in an inclusive and celebratory space at The Kathleen Syme Library with monthly writing groups now being held until October 12.

Under the instruction of local mentor Jax Jacki Brown, a disability and LGBTIQA+ rights activist, writer and educator, attendees of the classes will explore writing processes and how to tell their personal stories creatively.

“We’ve been discussing writing as a form of disability advocacy,” Jax said.

“We will also have a session with esteemed poet Andy Jackson where he will talk about the creative process for writers with disabilities and explore how to incorporate that into your writing, either in the themes, in the forms, or just in the process itself.”

Attracting up to eight people at both the first two sessions, numbers are expected to grow with more people continuing to register before the next session on May 11.

Pleased with how the sessions are going so far, Jax said the writing groups would carry on being an exciting time for people to not only get to know each other and feel understood, but also to engage in fun writing activities.

“Getting to know each other and creating an inclusive and accessible space which celebrates who people are and celebrates their writing is really important to me,” Jax said.

 

For people with disabilities, we don’t often have many programs which are just for us, programs which are positive and affirming about what it means to live with disabilities, so being part of creating a space which does that is important to me as a person with disability myself.

 

The writing groups are the result of a partnership between the City of Melbourne and Writers Victoria, and part of the Storming the City program funded by the council’s Arts and Creative Investments Partnership program.

As well as providing a good learning opportunity, the writing sessions are also a convenient place to prepare writers for the Lord Mayor’s Creative Awards with entries now open until June 30.

This year’s writing awards event has five categories, following the latest addition of self-told stories by writers living with a disability. Winning entries of each category will receive a $2000 prize. An additional $10,000 will also go towards an overall winner.

In preparation for the category, Jax said people could register to attend an additional two free workshops that will be conducted on Thursday, May 12 and 26, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at the library.

Although deeming the awards as an “amazing opportunity” for writers to have their work seen, Jax believes the sessions are most invaluable due to their potential to develop “a sense of disability community and social connection.”

“The impact of programs like this are affirming and positive and supportive of people with disabilities. Our talents and skills, I don’t think, can be underestimated,” Jax said.

“Being a part of creating a space for us all to feel connected and celebrated for all that we are in all our similarities and differences, it’s really lovely to be part of each month, and to bring my creativity and passion to the workshops.”

Storming the City writing groups are held once a month on a Wednesday between 10am to 12pm at The Kathleen Syme Library.

The Wheeler Centre is also being used as an alternate location with sessions held on Saturdays with local mentor Nicole Smith •

For more information: writersvictoria.org.au/storming-the-city/

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