Today I was lucky enough to be granted an interview from the humble, hardworking admin officer at FAWWA (Fellowship of Australian Writers Western Australia) Yeeda Topham, with some contributions from FAWWA President Peter Bibby. The mission at FAWWA is to help foster the writing spirit of Australian writers, and doing so through providing a centre for which writers, young and old, can comfortably attend.
1. What makes the existence of FAWWA so vital to WA writers?
PB - "It's a chance to meet other writers for synchro., useful tips and nudges and the need for some serious advancement. Bit of an incentive to get a book/poem/play/essay UP to spend an hour with others doing it. Then launch your book, celebrate it, highway it. This is a facility. It defends writers from the troglodytes and empire builders. Uses grants wisely. Links up writers with opportunity and best practice practical stuff."
2. Can you name some massive contributions to writing FAWWA has made in the past?
PB - "It gave, still gives, publication experience to WA authors, alongside national peers, with regular anthologies, collections of best Oz and WA Oz work. “Lines in the Sand.” “Galloping On.” “Celebrations,” “Laughing Cry.” Has long-running competitions for poetry and prose: Tom Collins Poetry Prize, Stuart Hadow Short Story. Workshop series: The Book Length Project."
3. What has been one of your favourite pastimes at FAWWA?
YT - "Writing and sharing spontaneous results at Write Night. This is a relaxed gathering of writers who write to various prompts over nibbles and a cuppa. There is always an opportunity to read out, thus experiencing an audience for your writing."
4. Describe the average day at FAWWA.
PB - "Everything happens. The Resident Writer drops in to work out a workshop; check date, no clashes, Book Length Project coming up on weekend. Room available? Yes. Go for grant? Songwriting or novel? Arrange visit to publisher for anthology team. Office volunteer checking emails first up, someone needs editor, someone else needs space – book launch. They made it, the book’s out. Take enquiry about a poetry competition, run a poetry competition, receive an entry, like to stop to read this but... There’s always something interesting! Writers call in, students, interns, volunteers, the day is a hive. Usually we share a lunch of soup or pasta, genuine salad and what’s on in conversation."
A casual lunch at FAWWA with previous Writer-in-Residence Sarah Drummond
5. What does FAWWA pride itself on the most? What makes it unique?
PB -- "I would say our forward stance and our history. We will celebrate our 80th Anniversary in 2018, so we go back a long way. The FAWWA buildings are both heritage-listed, and gem architecture. They are full of ‘writer’, set in a bushland precinct, which creates the right ambience to inspire. The Vicker’s Library collects WA Literature, going back, moving forward, rich, rare and wonderful things."
6. Why do you think someone should come to one of FAWWA’s writing events?
YT - "They challenge intellect. They are interesting. We have practical workshops run by writers from the local scene and further afield. So far in 2017, we have hosted Writers in Residence Brendan Ritchie, Zoe Deleuil, Sarah Drummond and Tracy Farr. We will shortly host Hannah van Didden, Andrew Levett and Sydney poet Mindy Gill, who will be providing high-potential workshops between now and the end of the year."
7. Do you think FAWWA would be of particular use to a student writer? Tell us why.
YT - "Yes. There are opportunities to practice, share and advance your work, and attend book launches. You could join one of our regular writing groups, including Write Night, the Memoir Group or the Book Length Project Group. There is also the chance to network with established writers such as our Writers-in-Residence."
8. Can you tell me about what’s next in store for FAWWA? Any interesting news?
YT - "FAWWA celebrates its 80th Anniversary in 2018, so stay tuned for a full store of events, livewire conversations, a celebratory dinner, time-capsule interment and an unveiling of writer’s portraits too young to recognise. FAWWA will publish Storyfire – a book of winners from 10 years of the Stuart Hadow Short Story Prize."
9. What do you like about working at FAWWA the most?
YT - "The lovely bushland ambience of the Allen Park location and the interesting people I meet. Learning how to use new software and technology in order to administer the office. Attending occasional writing groups and activities."
10. When you think of FAWWA ten years from now, what do you see?
YT - "A vibrant organisation that embraces writing in the digital age, whilst still preserving its unique heritage. Action to engage writers and community."
A successful afternoon at FAWWA last month where OOTA performed readings to an eager full-house.