The Curtin Writers Club was founded back in February, 2017, by a group of diverse and determined students set to finally give Curtin that one thing it desperately needed: a creative hub for writers. Club president Andrew Allsopp, vice president Max Vos, and treasurer Penny Walker sat with me to chat about what it is that CWC does and what’s in for it next.
Why did you start CWC?
A -- "I started the club initially to have a website which allows students to publish their work and call themselves writers, because last year we got some feedback – class feedback – from our teacher, and she told us all off for being too apologetic for being students."
Who do you think CWC would be particularly useful to? Is it just for writing students or could other students benefit from it as well?
P -- "Well it’s giving anybody who’s interested in writing a chance to get together with people with similar interests and talk about something they’re passionate about, and they can get help with writing groups, they can submit through the submission point to an editor, and everything that gets submitted gets looked at through one of our editing team and the editor will work with the person who’s submitted it to bring it up to standard. So, it can be published on the website and they can say they’re a published writer."
M -- "The whole community [is] doing a print publication at the end of this semester. It’s going into print. So that’s just another way that students can say, not only am I published on a website or with the Curtin Writers’ Club, but I also have a print publication. And it gives them kind of an extra level of 'I’m a printed, published author'."
Why has it taken Curtin this long to get a stable writing club up?
A -- "When I first started up the club I got a lot of people saying “well it’s about time there’s a writers’ club! I’ve been waiting for one to come along for so long". I’ve got a theory about why – I think a lot of the writing students are dreamers, not doers. We all dream about sitting along the rivière writing the next big novel, but the harsh reality is you have –"
P -- "---You’ve got dreamers who aren’t actually any good at the business side of running an organisation, and the club is an organisation and it needs business skills, which [Andrew’s got] and I’ve got from my work outside of uni … we’re a really diverse team. We’ve got some older folk in there backing up the younger folk. And it’s a really balanced group. And we help out each other a lot. We’ve got a lot of experience between us."
What has been the best turn out so far?
A -- "Murder Mystery night we had over 27 people turn up. The guy who ran it he was an ex-student and he wrote it up all himself and he came to us saying ‘I got this murder mystery night that I’m trying to develop – can I test run it on you?’ So, yeah, cool, we’ll do that. So, from our perspective we didn’t have to do much for that. [Jared] So he’s developed that to the stage now where he can start charging."
P – "I think the talk by Paul Hardisty was. It wasn’t hugely well attended, we had fourteen, but he was incredibly engaging, and he spoke not just about his writing career, but also his work in environmental science and protection of marine wildlife. And we got some across-university participation. We had a couple of engineering students who came specifically because they wanted to talk to him about environmental science.”
What is there to look forward to from CWC in the future?
P – "Well the poetry slam on the 5th of October. Yes?"
A – "Yeah, poetry slam. That’s coming up. Was it Kai –?"
P – "Kai Schweizer."
A – "Kai Schweizer. He just came runner up in the poetry slam competition."
M – "I think he’s qualified for nationals actually, hasn’t he?"
A & P – "Yeah, he has."
M – "So he’s helping us run poetry workshopping sessions before the poetry slam so people can come along, workshop something, and then deliver it on the night hopefully they’ll enjoy that, and enjoy the experience of writing poetry coz that’s a course that gets missed in a lot of more professional writing-like courses and units and stuff. It’s such a huge and interesting form of writing that should really be explored more. So to give that opportunity to club members is something really unique and fun and there’s such a big community inside the slam poetry community."
P – "And we’re building connections with the slam community … So our students can come and slam but we’re also getting slammers from outside of the university."
P – "There’s AGM – AGM's coming up. Our [annual] general meeting."
A – “That’s when we have a wrap-up summary of how the year’s been, and then we have a vote on who becomes the new committee for next year. So we got the handover, we got food and a movie. And the Cozi launch.”
CWC is about to publish its first print publication ‘Coze Journal’. Tell me about it. How did this happen?
M – I think it just started in kind of the editorial team wanting to see something physical produced instead of just website publications. We wanted to drive up submissions to the website and submissions to the club and make sure people had something physical that they can give out and kind of a bit of memorabilia of the club. So the intent is to make it kind of a yearly publication, so that every year we get new pieces, new authors, new topics, and just kind of keep on making sure the writers of Curtin are heard and that they have a printed voice. We're fundraising at the moment."
P – "We’ve got a raffle."
M – "We had a raffle at the quiz night."
A – "And we also did a book—"
M – "Blind date with a book."
How would you direct a new student to approach one of your events? What should they bring?
A – "Bring your friends!"
P – "A good attitude!"
M – "I mean, if they’re coming to one of the talks they can always bring like some stationary – I don’t know – paper, maybe some money to buy a book, like a signed copy of the book that the speaker will bring along. Just an open mind. Buy a book to bring along."
When you do have newcomers, is it pretty easy to settle in?
M – "Yeah, everyone’s pretty like really casual and really open and really eager to chat. If someone comes up to talk to us, we’re immediately in a ten minute conversation about books and things."
You can read more about the Curtin Writers Club on their website https://curtinwritersclub.com/
**Photo credit to Charley Thomas**