Vol 3, No. 2 ISSN 1442-0023
From the Director's Desk
You may notice that more than a few things have changed on the IP web site in concert with this issue if that isn't the case, you haven't visited us lately!
The site's been completely redesigned, and, with the help of the latest Macromedia Web Suite, it will now be Flashier (pun completely intended!), more interactive, and hopefully even more of a joy to visit!
Without giving away all of the goods, I encourage you to have a browse through the main areas of the site, denoted by the buttons at the top of your screen. And do spend some time in the mini-sites for our titles. Each have a Flash movie to introduce you to the Work, and many now have MP3 audio readings! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the use of MP3 audio is a first for an Australian publishing house, and even if it isn't we're still pleased to offer it to you!
You should find that, aside from all the glitz, the site works much better. We have optimised the graphics as well as the audio, so pages should load faster and work better for you. We will of course be fine-tuning over the next few months, so if you find any problems, or have any suggestions for making the site more appealing and effective, by all means let us know.
The new design has been applied to past issues of this newsletter and all the links have been updated. So, if you like dabbling in the archives, like time-warped Gary in Goodnight, Sweetheart you'll be able to keep one foot in the present. With this issue, though, you'll see more of a magazine design. Which makes sense, since the eNews is evolving away from the newsletter format and into a more comprehensive publication.
As well as features by our most recent authors, and news about launches we held in Warwick, Queensland and Sydney, you'll find an article on "contextual poetry" by American Thea Iberall, a set of impressions by our own cyberpoet Komninos Zervos, and my review of the Electronic Poetry Centre's recent competition for the best examples of "electronic literature" world-wide.
This issue also sadly marks the departure of its editor, Ben Selleck, who has moved on to a course in teaching English as a Second Language. I'm sure you'll join me in thanking Ben for his hard work over the past year with IP and wishing him all the best. He's looking forward to some work overseas once he's earned his qualification, and I hope he doesn't enjoy himself too much!
We hope that you enjoy this issue and the revamped site. As always, we welcome your feedback and your submissions.
IT'S Anzac Day as I write this, and the early morning show on our local classical music station has John Gielgud reading poetry by Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and the like.
I'm reminded of losses other than those who have fallen in war. Most particularly how we have lost the time and patience to listen to the music of the spoken word.
How many journalists these days have the skill to evoke the emotion of Brooke's "The Soldier" with anything better than cliches:
I should die, think only this of me:
But even if we had the time and patience would our authors know how to craft language that inspires? In our latest rebellion against tradition we have lost all sense of context for the present. Too many younger writers emerge with an inflated sense of their own worth partly because they have little appreciation of the classics and why they endure.
New artforms are emerging in concert with advances in technology and this is good. But the danger is that the written and spoken word will be weaker players on the multimedia stage, with more energy invested on elements that dazzle.
Who listens or even cares about the lyrics in most contemporary rock music? How many pop stars build their reputation on words? Will these new multimedia artists invest more energy on special effects than on the literature they aspire to create?
It was with those concerns in mind that I explored the short-list for the 2001 Electronic Literature Awards sponsored by the Electronic Literature Association (ELO). For those of you unfamiliar with the ELO, here is what they say about themselves:
The Electronic Literature Organization is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with a mission to promote and facilitate the writing, reading, and publishing of literature designed for the electronic media. Based in Chicago, ELO is directed by a national board of leading experts in electronic literature, internet business, and electronic publishing, and is additionally advised by an international board of literary advisors and a board of internet industry advisors. The ELO maintains the Electronic Literature Directory and an Electronic Literature Web Resource Center, staffed by a network of leading e-lit writers operating indepen-dently in different parts of the USA. ELO is support-ed by the donations of individual members, by corporations including ZDNet, and by foundations including the Ford Foundation.
Aside from the inescapable American [and English language] bias, the organisation has the commendable aim of supporting new forms of literature in the electronic environment. Though they are less clear about their criteria for identify-ing excellence. This should be first about rewarding authors and artists who are skilled in literary expression, and secondly about recognising their ability to transpose the linear into spatial work that straddles artforms
The closest they come to a statement of principles is in the judges' report:
"Many of the first and second round judges commented on the remarkable diversity of works submitted," said Scott Rettberg, executive director of the ELO. "Collectively, these works represent the efforts of a nascent literary movement that takes the electronic media not only as a new means of distributing literature, but also as an interactive space that can be utilized to create entirely new kinds of literary art."
"Entirely new"? Surely originality would suffice. Without a reference point in present and past literary forms how can a work's literary merits be judged? Unless you're one of those theorists who assumes that creative work rises magically from the mists to deny it is anyone's progeny, least of all an 'author's'.
The proof would be in the short-list, as they say.
As expected a high percentage (50%) of the 12 artists are drawn from the US, with three Australian hopefuls, two from the UK and one from Canada.
Bad luck for the rest of the English-speaking world, not to mention those artists unlucky enough not to be fluent in English. But perhaps they'll catch up next year.
Unfortunately some of the works were not accessible on the Net, so their literary credentials are hard to judge. Several of those I could link to were rather hard to see as literature. Consider this sampling from the artists themselves:
fontpiece is accompanied by another piece of work that uses the font
to explore the relationship between what is written, what is translated,
Slippery, intangibility, sheer possibility? Not something you'd want to curl up with on a snowy Sunday afternoon if you weren't a judge for an international competition. And the work itself meets that billing.
And then there's this gem:
to Perplexia is a deconstructive/ grammatological look at the
construction of User narratives through the attachment to the Internet
apparatus. A mix between theory and fiction, the work makes wide use
of neologisms, advanced coding, and graphics while exploring the hidden
At least this artist makes no apologies for an interest in linguistics, deconstructionist theory and a pallid geek's desire to have a date on Friday night, but does simply calling it "fiction" make it literature? Have a look for yourself if you dare.
Lest the Aussies on the short-list feel neglected, this talent for obfuscation certainly has no respect for the International Dateline:
data][h!][bleeding t.ex][e][ts_r remnants from email performances
d-voted to the dispersal of writing that has been n.spired and mutated
according 2 the dynamics of an active network. the
In short this promises to be a "literature" born of overdosing on email spam and Flash leitmotifs, and the work is as mystifying as the syn_opsis.
In the cases where the artist risks stringing together sustained members of linguistically-related code systems [once known as 'sentences'], the work reads no better than an accomplished rough draft:
...a hypermedia novella exploring memory, girlhoods, cruelty, childhood play and sexuality. The piece is composed as a series of small stories, artifacts, interconnections and meditations from the point of view of a four year old, a ten-year old, a twenty year old...
The artist uses her medium quite well to 'explore' why she feels good about her sexual preferences, but a good editor would be advising her to be less personal in her writing, i.e. more fictional and less self-indulgent, if the work is to see the light of commercial publication.
No doubt these artists know their media. All are impressive in their use of visuals and web design elements though still not in the same league as their colleagues who have gone commercial. The trick is to integrate the technology with a vision that says something mature and enduring.
The key difference between multimedia contrivance and art is in the content. Whether it demonstrates the artist's mastery of fictional or poetic technique. If we come away from a work wishing we'd had a roadmap, we've been dealing with something other than literature.
There was a notable exception, Him. It's elegant in its use of technology and refreshingly unself-conscious in content. A Flash movie allows the viewer freedom to explore the permutations of theme, and it's written with the precision of language and irony we expect from good literary work. It even says something more than "watch me!"
Of course the CD-ROMs on the shortlist may be better for the extra playing time; we will have to leave that to the judges to judge. One work in particular, a tale about a female Frankenstein, Patchwork Girl, sounds promising. But there's only a teaser on the Eastgate site, with praise from noteworthy authors like Robert Coover and Michael Joyce.
We can only hope that the ELO will post samples from the winning entries if they are from the CD range so that we are better able to see how a work can be "entirely new" in form and literary at the same time.
It's more likely than not that the ELO will be rewarding works that are not quite literature this time around, but that's OK. New artforms, like Rome, won't be perfected in a day. But what needs to be recognised is that these artforms aren't there yet, and the ELO should have the guts to admit it.
Otherwise, we might as well just turn on the rock videos again.
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In March, we launched two new print titles, The Ventriloquist's Child by Clayton Hansen, and Frankenstein's bathtub by Tricia Dearborn. Neither Clayton nor Tricia are from Brisbane, so we thought we'd take their respective launches to their home turf.
Clayton lives in Warwick, a regional town about an hour and half's drive south-west of Brisbane. A primary school principal there, Clayton has more than a few friends, and most of them turned out on the night, despite the fact that we were competing with the pubs on St Patrick's Day (17 March). In all more than 130 people celebrated with us long into the night.
We were most grateful to Audrey Hoffmann who opened up the Warwick Art Gallery for the event, and who made sure that everything worked smoothly. Her team of volunteers assisted Clayton's wife Libby with the catering, and the finger foods and service were so good that many metropolitan venues should take note!
A week later, we were at the New South Wales Writers' Centre in Sydney for their Harvest Festival and the launch of Tricia's book, and the venue there was also packed out. In the spirit of the moment I pointed out to the crowd that even though the numbers were a bit down from the previous week, they would still have the chance to match the enthusiasm of Warwick in their purchase of books. The Sydneysiders proved equal to the task!
Thanks to Irina Dunn and the staff of the Centre for helping with all the arrangements and making the launch the success that it was.
If you haven't had the chance to sample these excellent new works, click on the cover images to go to their respective mini-sites. The sites feature Flash movies and MP3 readings, so if you're equipped for multimedia you'll have a treat in store!
Clayton's feature on his book follows, and if you missed Tricia's feature on hers in the last issue, just click on the link to IP eNews 9.
Speaking of multimedia, I also had the chance to provide demos of my literary multimedia title, The Gallery, both mornings of the Festival. It was a good excuse to talk about recent developments in New Publishing and the production of e-books as well as the opportunities offered by multimedia and technology for widening the audiences for literary writing.
For those of you interested in viewing a sample from The Gallery you can now download some sample pdf files from the mini-site. This will take several minutes, and you'll need the free Acrobat Reader and Quicktime players to get the full multimedia experience.
The next issue of eNews will give you a sneak preview of our Spring 2001 Season.
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[This issue focuses on Clayton Hansen, who discusses his writing and what he had in mind for his first book, The Ventriloquist's Child, a hybrid of short fiction and poetry that will vault him onto the national literary scene. Well-published overseas as well as in Australia, Clayton lives and works in Warwick, Queensland with his wife Libby and their two children Ellen and Anthony]
Ive always enjoyed writing about life. My life as a writer began in a Queensland High School where I had the rare experience of having the same English teacher for five years. It wasnt really the point of my beginning, my genesis, it was however the point at which I had gathered enough first-time experiences under my belt to be able to be genuinely reflective. Or so I thought.
years on and hey, I admit it, I didnt know so much then.
But I know it all now, right? You see, I havent learnt anything.
Perhaps Ive learnt that life is a parade: a great and colourful
thing that we all participate in, and that it is a terrific place
to find the best material for writing.
more than ten years of writing and publishing poetry and short fiction
in Australia and overseas, this first collection, The
Ventriloquists Child is the culmination of different
phases of my life as a writer. It is an attempt to define the sense
of voice that permeates the seminal moments of life, whether they
are recognized immediately, upon reflection, or not at all. This first
book comes with a cast of voices and parts, thoughts, emotions, allusions
to time and place and the ephemera of living.
the opening pages of The Ventriloquists Child I
refer to quote from a story by Anton Chekov. In the selection from
the story The Bird Marketa bird fancier is guiding and
development of his junior in the art of bird selection. Where the
junior is drawn to the bird that boldly sings at the market, the fancier
favours the bird that can sing when it is alone, away from the tumult
and frivolity of the market. Short story writers like Chekov, Carver
and our own Wilding and Winton, poets like Judith Wright, and playwrights
like Louis Nowra have long been able to discern from the throng of
voices that which speaks to a greater, perhaps more universal, element
of human experience.
It is the experienced ear and eye that produces writing that is accessible to a wide audience. It is the rarest of birds. And when I write, like most writers, I venture into the experience alone, away from the markets and hubbub of daily life, and I try to sing. The voice that comes to the page is what I work to refine: want to do well.
And what I have learnt about writing in the creation of The Ventriloquists Child is that the process of developing that voice is a life-long task. Having the words, even the tune, doesnt mean you can sing. But as Chekhovs character says, encouragingly, to his young charge: sing in solitude, if you can I try. I do. I re-do.
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[D A (Tony) Kearney, M.Lim., M.Obfus. Oxb. Hon FARSO FRSL, is a Tasmanian writer whose most recent work, A Frolic in Fiction, has just been released by IP Digital as an e-book]
am an 81 year old Irish-Australian. Born in Cork, I was sent in
chains to Van Diemans Land (now Tasmania) in 1938. I was a member
of the administrative staff of the University of Tasmania from 1946
to 1978. During this period, I wrote a multitude of agendas, letters,
memoranda, minutes and reports. While all were couched in exquisite
and exemplary English, they were also incredibly dull.
various part-time activities on behalf of the Tasmanian and Commonwealth
Governments from 1978 onwards, I became an unemployed and unemployable
human resource in 1994 at the tender age of 75. In order to avoid
stagnation and an early grave, I took up writing first as a hobby
and then as a part-time career. My output now includes 31 articles,
28 short stories, 18 odes, over 500 limericks and 1 very short play.
work has appeared in three books A Potpourri of Limericks
and Rollicking Ramblings of an Irishman (both VDL
Publications. 1997 and 1998 respectively) and most recently A
Frolic in Fiction, an e-book from IP Digital, Brisbane. I
write more about this book below.
stories and poetry have also been published in 200 Years of Australian
Writing (an anthology from VDL Publications), New Writer
Magazine (KT Publishing), Tea Time Tales (Readers
World), Galloping On (Access Press), and In
Black and White (Murlysdar Publishing).
include first prizes in Oz Writer 1996, Maroochy Arts Festival 1998,
Betty Nicholson Memorial 1999 (shared), Salivan (Montreal) 1999 and
Readers World 2000 Short Story Competitions and numerous high
commendations and commendations.
order to equip myself properly for my onslaught on the literary world,
I undertook a correspondence course in short story writing with the
Outer Mongolia College of Literature and the Arts and completed it
in late 1994.
my studies, I had perforce to read hundreds of short stories and this
experience left me with three impressions. The first was that good
novel writers did not necessarily make good short story writers, the
second that humour and satire were very scarce commodities in modern
literature and particularly in the short story genre and the third
a corollary to the second that far too much emphasis
was given to doom, gloom, sex and violence in that genre.
I have to confess that the first short story I wrote bore the sombre
title "Revenge", contained not even one soupcon of humour
or satire, but did contain a murder and two suicides, a pervading
atmosphere of doom and gloom and even a modicum of sex.
lurking in my subconscious, was a desire to frolic in the world of
fun and fantasy and suddenly and for no reason, I embarked on an article
about limericks a subject in which I had never before had any
interest and about which I knew practically nothing. The result was
the book referred to above, the title of the article in it being,
"The Aetiology and Physiology of the Genus Vers Limericus".
then followed a plethora of further limericks, odes, short stories
and a series of articles on such esoteric, exotic and, indeed, erotic,
subjects as cats ("Get Thee To A Cattery"), pills ("Pill
Poppers of the World Unite"), sheep ("BAA BAA Black
Sheep"), breaking wind and breaking fast ("Wind Breaking,
Fast Breaking and Related Matters"), nuts ("Nutty As A Fruit
Cake") and obfuscation (four articles including "The Ancient
and Royal Society of Obfuscators").
A Frolic in Fiction contains a comprehensive selection of these works four articles, 39 limericks, nine odes, one play and four short stories. Their common ingredients are humour and satire and the message it is hoped they convey is THE IMPORTANCE IN MODERN LITERATURE OF NOT ALWAYS BEING EARNEST.
[Komninos Zervos, who lives at the Gold Coast, Queensland, is a pioneer in cyberpoetry. His work Cyberpoetry Underground has been short-listed for the Electronic Literature Organization's Award (see the neighbouring column). He has kindly agreed to share his impressions of an important American centre for poetry of all forms.]
from buffalo new york.
here for e-Poetry 2001, the first conference on electronic poetry
organized by the electronic poetry centre. i did not realize the importance
of buffalo new york before i arrived. although i have been a member
of the ub poetics list for a couple of years now.
is the home of the University of Buffalo poetics program, teaching
exclusively poetry to graduate and
collection has as its goal the
held James Joyce's passport and wore his thick glasses, flipped through
a collection of ts eliot poems signed by the author to joyce, ran
my fingures over the edited manuscripts and colour coded notebooks
full of words he had found or made up, which eventually found their
way into finnigan's wake. A totally mind blowing experience.
from all around the world come to Buffalo to study the archive. There
is an ample representation of Australian Poetry and Robert spoke fondly
of Robert Adamson and John Tranter, who have visited the archive.
oh and if that is not enough a reason to visit the university of Buffalo, they are also hosting the first electronic poetry conference with representatives from 13 different countries coming to discuss this new mode of existence of poetry.
by Loss Glazier, the conference over four days has been a great success
with digital presentations and academic papers from france, belgium,
malaysia, germany, u.k., usa, mexico, brazil, and austria as well
as my contribution from australia. i have been video-ing the experience
and will edit a report when i get back. Each hour gets more exciting
and only two days have passed,
seems like i have been here for a year. i "knew" nearly
all of the present-ers through e-mail correspondence prior to arrival
and flesh factoring with these people for the first time after five
years is a little overwhelming.
i will try to post again soon, its 3am, i'm still running on an australian clock and can't wait to share my experiences with the list.
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[Dr. Thea Iberall is a poet and scientist living in Los Angeles, California. Thea has had her work published in Rattle, Spillway, Common Lives, Peregrine XVI, ONTHE-BUS, Next... Magazine, and the Lesbian News, and has written three chapbooks of poetry. Thea represented Los Angeles at the 1998 National Poetry Slam Competition in Austin, Texas, where the team took third place out of 45 cities. In addition to her creative writing, Thea has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts and has written three scientific textbooks and numerous articles on human brain function and hands.]
is Contexual Poetry?
There is a boundary between the science and the arts, between history and the present. As we move from an education steeped in classical knowledge to books such as Spoonfed Stuff for Dummies, what will happen to thousands years of accumulated history, science, philosophy, and theology? Our libraries will soon be bursting at the seams with digitized information, yet we increasingly live in a world of trivia and instantaneous solutions: the useless cultural tidbits of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, fast-food restaurants, and a pill for every problem.
need knowledge in our lives, for ourselves as well as for future generations.
But if we dont find a way to bring it in coherently we will
stumble over anything that takes too long to learn or to find with
our search engines. Science writers and historians try to explain
the past and its discoveries, but is there a way to go beyond explanation
and achieve a true dialog? Can poets participate in this quest for
wisdom and provide insights into human life against a backdrop of
poetry is a form of expres- sion that integrates the knowledge of
multidisciplinary science and history with the insights and language
of poetry. A contextual poem is a poem with supporting material. The
supporting material allows the writer to explore the deeper knowledge
underlying a poem. It can be an essay, a scientific demonstra-tion,
an image. The essay should be about the same size as the poem. Beyond
essay, this expands into a variety of multimedia dimensions, as our
currently static books evolve beyond the written page into hypertext,
intertextuality, and interactive literature.
rules for writing a contextual poem are simple:
the context is not an explanation or an epigraph, but a jumping off
point for a dialogue of integration
poem may be separated from the context, so the poem must stand on
its own feet and have its own strengths. But anyone who wants to know
more will be intrigued to read the context. The context should raise
questions. It should be thought provoking. It is a teaching tool,
a start of something, a place to start exploring. The citations should
take interested readers into dimensions they didn't know about before.
A hypertextual version of a contextual poem provides the reader/ user
experience a tactile interaction with the poem. However, I would contain
the context into a manageable, thought provoking chunk of knowledge.
The danger of hyperlinking is supplying too much information and too
does one write a contextual poem?
I start with the poem, and then ask myself what has been left unsaid due to the structural confines of the poem. I identify disciplines to draw on for facts, theories, ideas, and supporting evi-dence, and then people and resources.
writing the context, I go to experts for refining the accuracy, extent,
and citation relevancy of the essay. Invariably, we discuss the poem
as well, thus initiating a dialogue that hopefully continues as ripples
in a pond. I have developed a questionnaire that asks questions
regarding accuracy, relevance, depth, and problems with my essay.
roots for context Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), the grandfather of Charles
Darwin, was a physician, inventor, and poet. His scientific writing
was far ranging and brilliant. Erasmus published Phytologia,
developing new ideas and major discoveries in the areas of plant physiology,
plant food, photo-synthesis, plant diseases, agriculture, and a philosophy
of organic happiness (i.e., more active animals have a greater capacity
for happiness and thus survival).
a poet, he was the leading poet of his day. Interestingly, he incorporated
his scientific theories and ideas into his poems. In 1789, Erasmus
interspersed three prose interludes, totaling 31 pages, into his poem
The Loves of the Plants. These essays discussed the differences
and links between prose, poetry, drama, tragedy, painting, and music.
In 1792, he published a poem The Botanic Garden with about
80,000 lines of notes.
the poem was about the birth of the universe and the world, the notes
mostly concerned the 'sciences of the Earth' vegetation, geology,
and the atmosphere. The notes included at least two drawings, one
showing a cross section of the Earth, another a model of the atmosphere.
was read widely, influencing younger poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, and writers such as Mary Shelley.
In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge drew on
Phytologia for its notions of universal sympathy and organic happiness.
Darwin's influence is also seen on Coleridge's Kubla Khan,
Wordsworth's Goody Blake and Harry Gill and Tintern
Alley, Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and Queen
Mab and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
science ascended in importance and gained a place for a separate technical
education, there has been a growing bifurcation between the arts and
the sciences. In 1959, the mutual suspicion and incomprehension had
escalated, leading C. P. Snow to argue that there were two cultures,
the literary intellectuals and the natural scientist. A successful
novelist and scientific researcher, Snow argued that we had lost a
common culture, that people could 'no longer communicate with each
other on the plane of their intellectual concern.' He remarked how
bizarre that 'very little of twentieth-century science has been assimilated
into twentieth-century art.'
a culture (scientific or otherwise) is a set of assumptions, a common
vocabulary, and methods, unless one is studied in the field, it is
incomprehensible. Non-scientists are tone deaf to science. For example,
Snow went around asking people if they knew the Second Law
of Thermodynamics and got blank stares. Since Snow's time, there
has been a continual sprouting of sub-disciplines with rigid divisions
lead ing to lack of mutual comprehension and feelings of superiority.
Aldous Huxley says science focuses on the public world, literature
poetry and hypertextuality Using the Internet, hypermedia documents
can be open-ended, thus implementing the notion of intertext-uality,
a term coined in the 1960s by Julia Kristeva to refer to the way texts
lack independent meaning. However, as Greco and Bennett (Intertextuality,
NY: Routledge, 2000) point out, it is necessary that 'artists in this
medium must continually devise strategies to strike a balance between
effective multilinearity and utter fragmentation.'
context can be a reason to use hypertextuality as a method of presentation
for a poem, contextual poems do not need hypertextuality.
For examples of contexual poems and to learn more about contextual poetry workshops, visit www.contextualpoetry.com.
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A few months ago IP announced our PPP (Pitch your Project to the Publisher) Program in which we invited writers' groups in regional Queensland to assist us in identifying authors whose work might be publishable in one of our three imprints: Interactive Press, Glass House Books or IP Digital.
This Program is partly funded by the grant we receive from Arts Queensland in support of our publishing program.
We're pleased to announce that the first PPP sessions will be held in Cairns from 1-3 June and on the Atherton Table-lands the following week (dates to be confirmed).
The venue for the Cairns events will be the Cairns Library, where David will talk about IP Digital's plans for e-publishing, give a demo of his multimedia interactive work The Gallery and read from Letters We Never Sent to show how that work was adapted into multimedia form. Presentations and readings are planned for Friday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon.
Given IP's commitment to publishing projects in regional Queensland, David is keen to meet with prospective authors and multimedia artists during his stay and has asked that they send him samples of their work and a synopsis in advance of the meeting. You can register your interest by email.
We are hoping to schedule further sessions up north later in the year, but we encourage groups interested in participating to contact us as soon as possible.