I am over the moon and beyond to have won the 2020 Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing in the Open Creative Nonfiction Category. This was incredibly special for me as it means an extract from my memoir manuscript is now published in the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing Anthology 2020 for the first time. You can download the eBook version of the anthology here.
You can also watch the announcement and reading from an excerpt of my work (read by actor Dennis Coard) at the 10min mark here.
Thank you so much to the judges Claire Coleman and Jeff Sparrow. In their judges’ report they say: ‘
‘As all our certainties collapse around us, we need truth, more than ever, but we also require writers with the poet’s ability to turn a phrase and make the familiar feel strange and the strange, recognisable.’
I feel very honoured and grateful to have won this prize.
This last update brings you my video poem ‘Why is this Passover Night Different?’.
This work plays on aspects of the Passover Seder; the Four Questions (Ma Nishtana), the Four Children (The Wise Child, the Rebellious Child, the Naïve Child and the Child who is Too Shy to Ask), and the Dayenu song (It would have been enough).
The Passover Seder includes the retelling of the story of the Jewish people’s escape to freedom from slavery, in a special order. This order can be followed along to, and read in a Haggadah. There are many Haggadah editions, and while they vary slightly, they all follow this same order, as a guide for families retelling the story at Passover. The Passover Seder also includes a festive meal.
Matzah is unleavened bread (made from flour and water) and baked before it has a chance to rise. This symbolises how the Jewish people fled slavery in ancient Egypt in such a hurry there was no time for their dough to rise. They carried the dough on their backs in sacks through the desert. The dough was baked by the sun and turned into a flat cracker. Shmurah matzah are round matzot made by hand. Matzah balls are dumplings made from coarsely ground matzah meal.
This work was created as part of Museum of Brisbane’s Artists @ Home Residency during Covid-19. Thank you again to MoB for this opportunity. I’ve enjoyed sharing my updates, process and video poems with you all.
‘Festive Meal’ is a video poem documenting my family’s home Passover meal, during the pandemic. This work contains over 170 individual line drawings!
The Passover Seder includes the retelling of the story of the Jewish people’s escape to freedom from slavery, in a special order. The Passover Seder also includes a festive meal. This video poem was created as part of Museum of Brisbane’s Artists @ Home Residency.
Thank you to MoB for this opportunity. Next week is the last week of my residency and I will showcase my second video poem ‘Why is this Passover Night Different?’
I’m writing about my creative process this week! Below are the photographs I took, documenting my family’s Passover Seder table. These photographs and visual records helped me write my poems.
After the documentation and writing process, I then recorded my voiceover reading the poems. The next stage is to create the animations. I visualise what I would like to go with each line of poetry, and focus on an image or action. I draw each image into photoshop, which makes it easier to erase and add lines onscreen. I turn these drawings into a stop motion animation with video software, by adjusting each image-length to match the flow of the poem.
I look forward to sharing more updates with you next week!
Below is my week two work-in-progress from my video poem ‘Why is this Passover Night Different?’, as part of MoB’s Artists @ Home Residency. I was inspired by the experience of cooking matzah balls with my Mum this year.
To create this animation, I used digital collage techniques. I cut out the matzah ball shape from my photograph of my family’s matzah ball dish in Photoshop using the ‘lasso’ tool. I then created the matzah ball animation, with each matzah ball on a different Photoshop layer. I moved each matzah ball over a sequence of twelve images to replicate the process of cooking matzah balls in the special pot.
Welcome to my week one update! Below is an animation-sketch from the opening of my video poem, ‘Festive Meal’, which I am creating thanks to MoB’s Artists @ Home Residency. This looped sequence contains seventeen drawings!
Usually I would peel twenty eggs for the Passover meal; one egg for each person. As we couldn’t celebrate Passover with our extended family during Covid-19, this year there were only four eggs to peel (one for me, my brother, mother and father). Traditionally, each egg is chopped into a small bowl of salt water, and is the first course of the meal. By visually sharing my experience of ‘peeling eggs’ for Passover, I hope to set the scene for the rest of my video poem ‘Festive Meal’, which will capture my experience of having Passover at home.
I look forward to sharing more of my inspirations, updates, and work-in-progress samples next week!
I am very grateful to the Museum of Brisbane for selecting me as one of ten finalists for MoB’s Artists @ Home Residency.
Over the next six weeks, I will work on writing and animating two video poems: ‘Why is this Passover Night Different?’ and ‘Festive Meal’, created from my home studio. These works are based on my experience of celebrating Passover during the pandemic. Passover is an important time in the Jewish calendar when my extended family gets together for Seder night. This year was very different.
I will post updates and samples of my progress each week. I look forward to sharing my work with you! Check out the Museum of Brisbane’s website here for more details.
I’m very excited to be running an upcoming online ZOOM poetry workshop through the wonderful Avid Reader. Book your place here.
Join me online on Sunday 26 July from 1pm-4pm, as we explore using our memories as a springboard for writing poetry.
This poetry workshop will include a talk about my experience of writing memoir poetry, a poetry reading from my collection Amnesia Findings, poetry exercises and prompts, and I will leave time to answer all questions poetry.
This workshop will focus on:
– The dark and light of memoir poetry. – Memory (and gaps in memory) and how poetry is the perfect form to express these short vignettes. – Our poetry journeys and how we came to poetry or how poetry found us. – Storytelling through poetry and snapshots we can use from our lives to inspire poems. – Reclaiming a sense of agency for our stories through poetry by working through ideas and experiences we want to understand further. – Using simple language and vivid imagery in poetry to evoke strong emotional responses.
To book a place, visit the Avid Reader website here. I look forward to seeing you!
I had been looking forward to appearing at Melbourne Jewish Book Week this year. The program looked amazing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and like all my writing friends launching books and appearing in festivals, these events have been cancelled to protect everyone’s safety.
You can still order a copy of my debut poetry collection Amnesia Findingshere, and check out what would have been an amazing program here.