Geoff Page / Harry Laing / Poetry / Workshop

In Others Words

Muhammad Shakoor Gharib’s khowar poetry

On Saturday, September 22nd, the ACT Writers Centre are running a unique workshop. Here are a few facts: In 2011, 81% of Australians aged 5 years and over, spoke only English at home while 2% didn’t speak English at all. The most common languages spoken at home (other than English) were Mandarin (1.7%), Italian (1.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.3%) and Greek (1.3%) So what about the other 19% of Australians who speak one of these languages when they walk in the door? And who among these statistics learnt English as a second language, or write in a language other than English?

In Others Words is a joint endeavour between the Multicultural Arts Officer and the ACT Writers Centre to stimulate interest in poetry as an art form, and promote recognised poets in Canberra who write in languages other than English. In addition, it aims to highlight the role of literary translators, who, through their work, have given the English-speaking world an insight into literature from other cultures.

Why Poetry?

Poetry, especially, speaks from the heart and has the potential to create bridges across cultures. In Others Words‘ prime objective is to establish a meeting point for authors, poets and storytellers to engage audiences in a cultural dialogue, and help them understand literature in all its forms and dimensions.

In this full-day intensive workshop participants will work with poets Geoff Page and Harry Laing to create poetry that will be read at a special public performance in the evening.

If you’d like to find out more about the application process, or if you’d like to attend the performance at the end of the day, all the details are available by clicking here.

We caught up with Geoff Page and Harry Laing briefly, to discuss their roles in the workshop series:

In Others’ Words is a rare opportunity for poets whose first language is not English to workshop at least one of their poems in a group led by an English-language poet with many years experience in publishing his work. It will aim to overcome any problems of idiom and expression caused by the poets’ relative unfamiliarity with English.There will also be advice on where to send poems for publication (mainly in Australia) and on some of the issues involved.

In the afternoon there will be a separate workshop (run by Harry Laing) on presenting the poems to an audience  and then in the evening a poetry reading by workshop participants and chaired by me.
Geoff Page

Poetry audiences are precious and poets need to be able to do their work justice in public.  To have written a strong poem is a good start but the poem then has to make its way into the world. Reading in public takes confidence and it means developing some particular skills. My workshop ‘Presenting Your Work in Public’  is all about learning how to relax, how to support the breath and how to give your poem its best shot. And yes, have fun doing it! But you can’t learn these skills sitting at a table, it’s about getting physical with poetry. That means using the whole room, participating in group exercises, warming the voice and reading together. The second half of the workshop is focused on the individual. Using some wonderful poems I’ll work one-on-one with participants helping them develop their own unique voice. We’ll also be working on the poem they’ve written with Geoff in the morning session and we’ll polish it for the evening performance.

Harry Laing

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