Category Archives: Author Event

VidCon Australia 2017

Ticket Categories:

Cost: Community Ticket = AU $125.00
Duration: 08/09/2017 – 10/09/2017
Schedule: The Agenda

Community Events I’ve Attended:
Saturday 09/09/2017:
~Crafting a Community

Image Description: a large display screen with five circles featuring picture-icons, from left to right, Stephanie Patrick, Jake Bley, Matthew Patrick, Danielle Mansutti and Tyler Oakley

Crafting a Community

Image Description: a large display screen with five circles featuring picture-icons, from left to right: Stephanie Patrick, Jake Bley, Matthew Patrick, Danielle Mansutti and Tyler Oakley

Image Description: Matthew Patrick and Jake Bley sitting on a small black leather couch, Stephanie Patrick sitting in a single arm-chair

Crafting a Community

Image Description: from left to right, Matthew Patrick and Jake Bley sitting on a small black leather couch, a small white table, Stephanie Patrick sitting in a single arm-chair in the middle, another small white table, another small black leather couch with Tyler Oakley and Danielle Mansutti sitting on it.

What I Thought of the Event:
This panel was interesting and funny, however, having a group of people I’ve never heard from before giving me advice on how to build a community did feel a little weird, but I suppose it just highlighted how little I know about content creators on YouTube (definitely need to do some more research). For example: Tyler Oakley is super popular and has been involved with YouTube for about ten years now. As a result, Jake Bley and Matthew Patrick could play six degrees of separation with Tyler Oakley.

So while I don’t have an interest in Gaming, Journal Style YouTube Channels or Make-up Tutorials, I did get some advice on building a community (“It’s a conversation, not a one way street.” and “if you’re selling product, make it the best you can be, if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t sell it”), however, it didn’t feel like it was anything more than the generic advice I’d already heard. While Jake Bley and Danielle Mansutti were the only two Australians on the panel, it was good to see these two Australian YouTubers up there on equal footing with successful American YouTubers.

As a whole, I enjoyed the panel, and the panelists were all entertaining, however, I didn’t really connect with the panelists. Although, considering that nearly all the panelists have millions of subscribers, clearly they connect to other people (just not me) and I doubt they’re concerned.

~Hank, Grace & Mamrie Power Hour

Hank, Grace & Mamrie Power Hour

Image Description: a large display screen with the following text displayed: “What’s Next: 2:30 PM – Hank, Grace, and Mamrie Power Hour”. Beneath the text are three circles with pictures of (in order) Hank Green, Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart.

Hank, Grace & Mamrie Power Hour

Image Description: from left to right, Mamrie Hart sitting on a small black leather arm-chair, Hank Green sitting on a small black leather arm-chair (with his arm across his forehead to shield his eyes), and Grace Helbig sitting on a small black leather arm-chair.

What I Thought of the Event:
This event was super popular and I really enjoyed it. Hank, Mamrie, and Grace sat around and talked about their lives and answered questions and when Hank felt the crowd was getting too rowdy, he would unite us with the nationalistic chant of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie (Oi, Oi, Oi)”. Grace felt it got a little militaristic towards the end and, I must admit, she may have had a valid point there.

Hank seemed very confused at this, he was also confused by the fact that we all managed to stand up and sing the short version of our national anthem (seriously, that happened, not entirely sure why). But then again, this is the same gay who created songs such as I Fucking Love Science and Accio Deathly Hallows, so Hank really shouldn’t be that surprised that he has the capacity to inspire the audience to sing and chant upon request.

Grace and Mamrie were super funny together, I saw panels were they were separated and while they were good on their own, I felt that they were better together. I think the best kind of comedy is bouncing off people or people working as a team, although I’m sure other people will disagree. To be honest, I haven’t seen lot of My Drunk Kitchen, which is something I aim to rectify.

~Laugh It Up

Laugh It Up

Image Description: a large display screen with the following text displayed: “Laugh It Up” with five pictures in circles with names displayed beneath the corresponding picture. From left to right: Caris Bizzaca, Neel Kolhatkar, Tanya Hennessy, Ian Hecock, Grace Helbig.

What I Thought of the Event:
It was interesting to hear Tanya and Neel speak about how it was difficult to switch off, that nearly all social interactions were considered “I can use this for content”, however, it was a little depressing that both Tanya and Neel have to be involved in multiple projects (for example: Tanya has a show on Radio, she also does a separate podcast and does stuff on Facebook) in order to support themselves.

In saying that, I did find it interesting how Neel used a local pub as his feedback station/sounding board on which jokes worked or didn’t, regardless of the medium he used. On the other hand, Grace (while being very popular) said she had begun to feel less funny over time due to creative burn-out.

Unfortunately, Grace’s situation is becoming all too common in the creative arts community. It was a diverse group of people and they all brought something different to the table, so overall, while I wasn’t familiar with most of the panelist’s work, I enjoyed myself and took away some valuable advice.

Sunday 10/09/2017:
~Nerding Out

Nerding Out

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Nerding Out”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Pamela Horton, Lee Naimo, Jayden Rodrigues, Stephanie Hames (SasEffects), and Louna Maroun.

Nerding Out

Image Description: five people sitting down in orange chairs in from a plain black table, from left to right: Pamela Horton, Stephanie Hames (SasEffects), Louna Maroun (wearing black cat-ears), Lee Naimo, and Jayden Rodrigues (cosplaying as Son Goku from Dragonball Z).

What I Thought of the Event:
Unfortunately this was another panel where I didn’t know a lot about the panelists attending, however, I would like to point out that the room was mostly filled, so clearly I’m in the minority here. The panel had a strong focus on gaming and conventions (Jayden Rodrigues is very passionate about cosplay) and while I don’t have a strong interest in Gaming, this panel was entertaining and engaging.

As I’m a big fan of the Axis of Awesome, it was great to hear about Lee and Jordan’s new project Insert Coin, it sounds like Lee and Jordan are having a blast working on it, I had to struggle to contain my urge to yell out “Read A Book!” when Lee mentioned Axis of Awesome’s song Rage of Thrones.

Just as all of the panellists were united in their mutual interest of Gaming, there was some division of experience between Pamela, Stephanie, and Louna in comparison to Lee and Jayden. Pamela, Stephanie, and Louna often felt as though they constantly had to prove their “Nerd Credentials” and Expert Status in a way that their male colleagues never have to.

For example, Pamela was often interviewed (or interrogated) by gaming magazines, who asked questions about obscure video games. Pamela, as a well-informed expert in her field, could answer the questions, but it was obvious that she shouldn’t have had to answer them in the first place.

Stephanie, a special effects make-up artist specialising in Horror, was often questioned on the basis that as girl it was “unusual” for her to like horror at all, and was often asked what her favourite horror movie was. The problem with questions like “what’s you’re favourite horror movie?” is that there aren’t any right answers, so Stephanie felt she was always being set up to fail regardless of what movie she said she enjoyed.

I think it’s also important to point out that Lee and Jayden, while confessing that they didn’t have similar experiences, never dismissed the other ladies on the panel and they were quick to offer their support and sympathies for such unacceptable behaviour.

~How Do You EDU?

How Do You EDU?

Image Description: a large display screen with five circles featuring picture-icons, from left to right: Jessica Holdman (Study With Jess), Hank Green, Armando Hasudungan, Dagogo Altraide (Cold Fusion), and Kati Morton.

How Do You EDU?

Image Description: five people sitting in orange seats at a plain black table, from left to right: Jessica Holdman (Study With Jess), Kati Morton, Dagogo Altraide (Cold Fusion), Armando Hasudungan, and Hank Green.

What I Thought of the Event:
One of the few panels were I actually knew who the panelists were, as a result, I really enjoyed this panel, it was entertaining, and I found it helpful with regards to helping me construct my next big project (although it still has a long way to go). The great thing about this panel was hearing about how all the panelists were passionate about their subject of choice, and how they originally created their channels.

Kati Morton created her channel because there was a gap between Mental Health services that were provided at institutionalised clinics (like a rehab centre or an eating disorder clinic) and services available to the public outside the confines of these clinics.Kati created her videos to act a free resource for those who may not be able to afford access to Mental Health services in the USA, and she created videos specifically for parents so that they could have a better understanding of the struggles that people with mental illness face.

Jessica Holdman and Armando Hasudungan are similar in that both created their channels as a way of helping themselves to study and to remember important information regarding their area of expertise, however, these videos also ended up helping other people as well.

Hank Green and Dagogo Altraide are similar in that they both possess an interest in a subject (Dagogo is interested in learning about new technology, while Hank is more orientated towards learning about science-based subjects), they have the desire to research it, and then share it with the rest of us.

In all cases, there was a subject of interest, there was a gap in the access to knowledge on said interest, and these people figured out how to fill that gap. It’s super impressive to be honest, although, Hank was quick to point out that a big part of why projects like Crash Course has been so successful was because YouTube gave them the money and the opportunity to help them embark on this particular project. Unfortunately, money is one of many big factors that can stand in way of a creator making good content.

~Out Online

Out Online

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Out Online”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Rohan Salmond, Patrick Starrr, Damian Parker, Jake Bley, and AJ Clementine.

Out Online

Image Description: from left to right: Jake Bley and Patrick Starrr sitting on a small black couch, Rohan Salmond is sitting in a small black arm-chair in the middle, and AJ Clementine and Damian Parker sitting on a small black couch on the right.

What I Thought of the Event:
Yet another panel where I have no idea who the people are, with the exception of AJ Clementine because I researched them in connection to the Mental Health panel, however, I’m glad I attended. Patrick Starrr gave excellent advice for people wanting to be media creators, “Everybody says just be yourself, and that’s great but, you also need to make some friends, make some connections.”.

Even though I don’t have an interest in YouTube Channels that focuses on make-up (like Patrick’s does), I enjoyed his advice (“Be gentle, Be kind, Make friends”), I also admired how confident he was, and how he encouraged the audience to work with their strengths when it came to content creating (“are you a writer or a talker? I’m a talker.”).

Unlike with other panels, most of the panelists were Australian, it was great to see Australian representation, a result of this was that a large portion of the session was dedicated to talking about Marriage Equality debate in Australia and how to handle it with family members.

Jake was also passionate about how the LGBTQIA+ community needs to come together to support themselves and to protect themselves from outside forces. That we all need to be paying attention and become more active with regards to civil rights movement and civil rights protest-marches (if possible). Jake Bley was very passionate about the civil rights movement and civil rights protests, he encouraged audience members to go out and vote and to get involved.

I liked how AJ Clementine encouraged people to take their time to get to know themselves and that the only one had the right to label you, was you. In fact, AJ was very much against labels, unless they were helpful for your journey and growth.

~Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Let’s Talk About Mental Health”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Kati Morton, Nathan ZedJessica Holdman (Study With Jess), AJ Clementine, Dodie, and Annika Victoria

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Image Description: From left to right: Annika Victoria and Jessica Holdman (Study With Jess) sitting on small black couch,  Kati Morton and Dodie sitting on a small black couch in the middle, and AJ Clementine and Nathan Zed sitting on a small black couch on the right.

What I Thought of the Event:
This was the event I have been looking forward to for months. I know it will sound strange but I was nervous, anxious and excited all at once. I mean, it was a huge room and I was a distance from the stage, but it was thrilling to see Kati Morton, a person I had only watched within the safe confines of my living room, talk about Mental Health issues with other people.

I know it will sound silly, but the undeniable proof that Kati is a real person and had come all the way to Australia talk about this super important topic, it was a little overwhelming. Which is why I found it difficult to take notes, and thus remember what happened in detail, but I’ll give it a go.

Nathan Zed, being a person of colour and a man, spoke of how he felt the stigma and pressure not to talk about Mental Health problems and how he did want to be seen as a racial ambassador for mental health or that mental health was the only thing he was able to talk about. But Nathan did mention that once he did start talking about his mental illness struggles with his family, it gave his father permission to speak of his own struggles with mental illness.

Dodie talked about her struggles with derealisation and depersonalisation, depression, and anxiety. Something that makes Dodie feel better or bring herself back to her body is comforting physical contact, which is why Kati was occasionally patting Dodie on the back through out the panel. Dodie spoke about her busy schedule and how going on tour and to so many public events like VidCon within the year had taken a big toll on her mental health. Self-care was super important as well as being able to recognise when she was falling back into her depressive cycles and her bad habit of over-sharing.

Annika Victoria, a vlogger with a primary focus on sewing and DIY sewing projects, spoke about her chronic illness and the consequential mental health issues that arose from her chronic illness. Originally, Annika didn’t want to talk about her chronic illness and mental illness problems, she avoided talking about them on her YouTube channel until it was no longer possible to pretend the situation wasn’t occurring. Annika spoke of how important it was to take care of one’s mental health, alongside one’s physical health, and that talking to a therapist was not just a good idea but essential. Annika also spoke of the difficulties that people had with displaying empathy with regards to mental health and invisible disabilities.

AJ Clementine and Jessica Holdman spoke of their issues regarding anxiety, but, in all honesty, I can’t remember much. AJ spoke about how they felt mental illness wasn’t taken seriously enough and how people struggled display empathy and accept the situation. I vaguely remember that Jessica hesitantly spoke of her issues with anxiety (at first) and used her videos of a way of explaining the problem to her friends and family without having to discuss the situation face-to-face. Jessica also spoke of how common mental illness was and that Jessica made the videos she wished she had been able watch when she was a student.

~Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves

Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Sister’s Doin’ It For Themselves”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Erin May Henry, Kiana Jones (FreakMo), Damielou Shavelle, Danielle Mansutti, and Mamrie Hart.

Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves

Image Description: five people sitting in orange chairs at a plain black table, from left to right: Erin May Henry, Damielou Shavelle, Kiana Jones (she is holding up a fake hand to display to the audience), Mamrie Hart, and Danielle Mansutti.

What I Thought of the Event: 
This was the last panel of VidCon, so the panel members were distracted and tired (which was understandable), and it resulted in an awkward pauses and short answers to questions. Mamrie Hart, as a more experienced and perhaps more successful vlogger (in comparison to the other ladies on the panel), took the lead on most of the questions and set the tone for the panel.

Mamrie Hart’s experience was that YouTube was a platform that allowed women to be on equal footing and she believed that she wasn’t treated worse because she was a woman online. Although Mamrie did acknowledge the presence of trolls and gross commentators, however, she did not dwell or expand on this. She truly felt that women may even have the advantage with regards to platforms such as YouTube. This felt rather contrary to what the Ladies on the “Nerding Out” panel had discussed, who felt they often had to prove themselves as “Real Nerds” to other men in order to be taken seriously.

The idea that gender might not be a big of a factor as I first thought sounded too good to be true. Just because sexism on YouTube (or harassment in general) doesn’t occur on one particular channel or a specific online community, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all.

Kiana Jones did speak of how within the industry, the special-effects make-up artists were mostly female, but the managers were mostly male or that men owned a lot of the special-effects companies. There were occasionally moments where female make-up artists were hired for dubious reasons, such as objectification purposes, rather than for their artistry skills.

Danielle Mansutti handled audience questions really well and, with Mamrie’s assistance, advised an audience member on how to not feel jealous or envious of other people’s success and how you should use those moments to inspire yourself to create better content. Danielle also recommended making the best videos you can make, but also acknowledged that the videos she was most passionate about (like her compilation video A Day With You) wouldn’t necessarily be popular with her audience.

All the ladies on the panel encouraged audience members to embrace their creativity, they encouraged the “Do it Today, Not Tomorrow” attitude, the only problem with this is that the “Just Do It” method is what I have been doing my entire life and it hasn’t been that successful thus far. If anything, VidCon had proven to me that I have a lot more research to do and a lot more planning to put in place.

The Emerging Writer’s Festival – Writer’s Night School: Podcasting

Image Description: a lit sign positioned outside of The Wheeler Centre, it consists of multiple-panes of glass, upon the first pane of glass is the logo for the Wheeler Centre, below the logo there is text on the sign which says, “The Wheeler Centre. Books Writing Ideas”, on the second pane of glass is a collection of logos that indicate a number of writing-orientated organisations that reside within the upper floors of The Wheeler Centre.

Image Description: it’s a display sign for the Emerging Writer’s Festival. The background of the sign consists of blue buildings in various shades of blue, with the occasional pink object in the back ground to add contrast, for example: there is a pink flower at the bottom of the sign, pink petals from the flower are scattered across the bottom of the poster. There is yellow text superimposed on top of the blue and pink background, the yellow text is “EMERGING WRITER’S FESTIVAL 14-23 JUNE”.

While completing my Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries, there was a unit available known as Radio Production, which was something I was interested in pursuing. Unfortunately, Victoria University doesn’t have a University Radio Station set-up like RMIT does (in fact we had a field-trip to SYN Media to check it out), so my unit lacked that much needed practical experience element.

During one of the lectures, we had a guest speaker come in and talk to us about podcasting, while I can’t remember much of the person himself, I can remember the intimidating feeling he gave me as he listed all of the very expensive equipment he felt was necessary in order to produce a high-quality podcast. Despite the reassurances of some of my class-mates, who had created podcasts themselves, that such expensive equipment wasn’t a mandatory requirement, I still had my doubts.

After all, I had tried and failed at so many projects previously, was podcasting worthy of the time and money I would need to invent into it? To be honest, I don’t have a lot of knowledge or experience with Audio Equipment, although I have been doing some research into it, and I have been tossing up the idea of either starting up my own podcast series or perhaps starting up my own YouTube Channel. I ultimately decided I needed more information on both subjects and chose to attend the Writer’s Night School: Podcasting event.

My teacher and host for the evening was Honor Eastly and it took nearly all my limited self-control not to make an Avatar: The Last Airbender joke (I managed to convince myself that she’s most likely heard them all already). She’s created and been involved in many various art projects, but the podcasts she predominately talked about were Being Honest With My Ex and Starving Artist. Honour talked about Content, Craft and Audience, however, the main topic of choice was Craft, which can be broken down further into Interviewing, Gear, Editing, and Narration.

During the University unit, I was able to get some interviewing experience as Victoria University arranged for us to interview staff at Western General Hospital (I interviewed a gentleman who worked as an interpreter). It was a positive experience and I would be considering creating an interview-style of content, however, there is a potential road block to that particular style of narrative. How do you go about getting people to agree to an interview with you? I would image this would be especially difficult if you’re just starting out.

But contrary to what I thought (which was simply cold-calling people), Honour put forward her method, which was emailing contacts. Honour also recommended being as transparent as possible about the interviewing process, which included a pre-interview over the phone before meeting the interview subject to clarify what questions she would be asking and establish which directions she intended to take the interview. Honour emphasised that the key to good interviewing was making sure to value time of other people.

Next, we moved onto Gear and Editing, which I was interested in finding out more about. During my time at VU, we used Zoom H2N Handy Recorder, they were okay (sound quality was good and relatively simple to use) but the interface was a pain in the arse. If I were to invest in audio recording equipment it would probably be the Zoom H1 (if anyone has some experience or feedback to offer, please feel free to do in the comment section).

When it comes to software, my unit teaches recommended Audacity, mostly because it’s free, however, this software made me want to pull my hair out and cry, so now I refuse to use it. I previously had a student subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, which has the program Adobe Audition, which works like a dream, so I highly recommend Audition (if you can afford it).

If not, there is another alternative that Honor suggested, which is Reaper. I’ve never used Reaper before, so if readers want to leave feedback in the comment section below, please feel free to do so. Honor also recommended Trint, which is a paid Transcription service she uses but is also happy to recommend to others and I figured, regardless of whether I decide to pursue podcasting or a Youtube Video channel, this could be helpful for me either way.

Unfortunately, this meant that we didn’t have a lot of time to talk about Audience, however, Honor did have some good advice, such as “Make something people want to hear, give them something, so that they gain something by listening.” and “The best marketing plan is the one you can achieve.”. Although Honor was quick to point out that a component of her success with podcasting was good timing and consistent content releases (once a week being optimal for a singular podcast project).

All in all, it was a fun evening learning about something new, but I’m still uncertain as to whether or not pursue podcasting, however, I have decided that I shall investigate my local community radio station and take from there. So my dear readers, are you involved with a podcast? What’s it about and what is/was your experiences like making it? Was it a singular project or a team effort? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Twilight School: Bruno's Farewell

Image Description: From Left to Right; Lisa J Cole, Bruno Lettieri and Bernie Hetherington. All three are wearing bright red shirts in honor of Bruno. In fact, many people came to the event in bright print-shirts of various colours.
Before I begin, I recommend reading these articles first to provide context:
~Hard days of not working by Barry Garner
~Article: Hello, You Beautiful Creature, Barry Garner
~Letter: Flows of Bruno Emotion, Bruno Lettieri
~Letter: Twixt Light and Dark, Marisa Spiller
~Gallery: Farewell to Bruno!
~Queer Without Gender: Survival of Naming by K. A. Cook
~Article: Alice Pung in Conversation with Bruno Lettieri
~Article: Bruno, Martin Prewer
~Rolling the Twilight School Credits!
Image Description: The green well-manicured lawns of the Rupertswood Mansion

Image Description: Another picture of the green well-manicured lawns of the Rupertswood Mansion, but this time with a focus on a tree I thought looked pretty

Image Description: The Rupertswood Mansion, which is a mostly grey ye-olde building with white trimming

Image Description: this picture was taken inside the Rupertswood Mansion and it's a picture of two stain-glass windows in mostly red and blue colours

Image Description: Another picture of the stain-glass windows located inside the Rupertswood Mansion, this one has various animals depicted such as a stag and a platypus.
The Twilight School is located at the Rupertswood Mansion, which is on the grounds of the Salesian College in Sunbury and has been the host of many author events. Some of these events have been engaging and entertaining such as A Night with Rosalie Ham (author of The Dressmaker). Some of these events have been cathartic and validating such as the Three Personal Perspectives on Mental Health forum. One session was about taking that frightening step towards healing from sexual abuse such as when Bruno spoke to Francis Sullivan (CEO of Truth Justice Healing Council).

But this session in particular was about saying farewell to Bruno before he leaves for Indonesia, a pilgrimage he has been regularly undertaking since he was a teenager, and was eager to learn the language to impress a young lady. Image Description: Lisa J Cole and Bernie Hetherington, holding microphones and standing in front of a raised platform with three chairs
Lisa J Cole (author of Six Backpacks: a journey through Vietnam) and Bernie Hetherington took over as hosts and Mistresses of Ceremony, while they both channeled their inner-Bruno, greeting people with hugs and declarations of “Ciao!” at every possible opportunity.
Image Description: From Left to Right; Ailsa Piper, Bruno Lettieri and Sofie Laguna
Image Description: From Left to Right; Alice Pung, Bruno Lettieri and Sofie Laguna
Meanwhile Ailsa Piper (author of Sinning Across Spain), Sofie Laguna (author of The Eye of The Sheep) and Alice Pung (author of Laurinda and editor of Growing Up Asian in Australia) took turns interrogating Bruno, I mean, discussing with Bruno about various topics such as his life and his achievements.

Bruno, a man who always had his eye on the letter-box, spoke about his family and his father’s passion for gardening (“My gardens are metaphorical gardens, a garden of the mind.“), and even though he grew up in a bookless house, his parents still valued education immensely and eventually, education became a special interest (alongside many others) that Bruno became passionate about. As mentioned before, as a teenager Bruno got a job in a bookstore and became infatuated with the store-owner’s daughter and he “followed her around the store like a puppy”. Because she only spoke Indonesian, this led to Bruno actually going to Indonesia, with little to no knowledge of the language when he first arrived. But this didn’t stop him from integrating with the community. Bruno has always possessed “such a great sense of belonging”.

Bruno continues to regularly visit Indonesia and teaches classes on how to learn Indonesian language in Australia. Bruno spoke of the cultural differences between the Indonesian and Australian education systems, such as “Students love to be remembered” and Indonesians have a great respect for their teachers. Normally teachers stand still at the front of the class and lecture from a podium. Bruno felt this wasn’t his style, and he would often wander among the rows of students and engage with them in a more direct fashion, he “hated the idea of boring the students to death.”. Although Bruno is dismissive of his influence, I feel this is ultimately disproved, mostly because when years later when he has returned for a student/teacher reunions, students still remember him fondly and desired to be remembered in turn. When he was asked by a student if he remembered her, he replied with “Oh yes, I remember you, you’re… you’re the cheeky one!”.

I find it easy to believe that Bruno is memorable. My first memories of Bruno is of him coming into a classroom while I was still undertaking the Certificate IV and Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. He was a small bundle of warm energy and enthusiasm. He was in there to let students know about Platform and then he encouraged all of us to submit something for the magazine to publish. There was no doubt in his voice of our talent or potential, that all we needed was the right opportunity and encouragement to follow through, and he was right. Writers, myself included, are at times such fragile creatures, and we often need that extra push to get us moving in the right direction.

Bruno’s verbosity and confidence are well-noted characteristics, which was why I was taken aback when Bruno said that when he went through university, he didn’t talk at all. Though it does make me wonder how he managed to become president of the Indonesian language club at university. Bruno spoke of how he went to a lunch time meeting and came out president. At this point, Ailsa noted how Bruno was a gatherer of people, that he seemed to create a community wherever he went and, upon looking around at the sheer variety of audience members in attendance, I had to agree with her.

Sofia also noted that Bruno worked frequently with Writers, who require a high degree of solitary space to perfect their craft. Ailsa, Alice and Sofia noted that Bruno also had the unusual talent of being able to coax out the solitary-prone writers and actively engage with them and their craft. I nodded in agreement as I frantically attempted to scrawl down notes. During the Rotunda In The West Events, I had observed Bruno’s talent for taking a possibly mundane subject, and make it interesting and engaging. Bruno replied that he wanted only to ask writers whose work spoke to him, and that he wanted to turn that solitary craft and make it into a reflection of their work.

This naturally lead to Ailsa asking how Bruno managed to persuade people to go along with his projects and his ideas? Bruno described his process for recruiting writers for his author events as going for a walk, occasionally chatting to people (“I know I look like I haven’t a care in the world”) and he thinks “how do I go about doing this?” and he mulls it over. He eventually came up with the idea that it would be great to collect all these writers together, and have discussions with them.

I assumed that he meant that being able to discuss something with another person allowed him to understand the problem. Ailsa also brought out a copy of the Open Letter Bruno wrote (link is here) and read a portion of it to the audience. Bruno confessed that it felt very disconcerting having his words read back to him. The audience (mostly comprised of writers) laughed, myself among them, as I too was familiar with the sense of unease that occurs when someone reads your work out loud, and not knowing how people will react.

Bruno was then asked, “Why do you have these conversations about being a good man?”

Bruno explained that his primary goal was to focus directly on the conversation, not do a thing or a hobby and have the conversation around that. It was clear that providing a good example was important to him. Bruno spoke of how it wasn’t standard for men to talk or to emote, and how he wanted more than that for his sons (“I want my boys to be big-hearted men”), so he lead by example. Even if that meant being embarrassingly enthusiastic at lacrosse games.

Bruno spoke of his and Barry’s friendship, which is both admirable and a little enviable. Bruno recalled how they met through Victoria University’s Adult education course and how he managed to convince Barry to read his work to these year 10 secondary college boys, which was met with a positive reception. As Kim said later in the car on the way home, it’s glorious how secure Bruno is in his masculinity and in his own skin. The world (but especially a place like Sunbury) needs more men like Bruno and Barry. Men who aren’t afraid to care for each other and aren’t afraid to express themselves.

Personally, I find Barry’s articles relatable (links are at the top of the page), and Barry’s words are exactly the right kind of words for young men to hear (they’re the right words for anyone really). I feel Barry demonstrates the struggle not just with Mental Health issues, but with society’s unfair standard that productivity equates to value. When Bruno spoke of visiting Barry in the psyche ward, he said it was a scary experience. To me, the absence of fear isn’t bravery, that true bravery is perseverance in the face of fear; of continuing despite the odds or the obstacles.

This same bravery was evident when Bruno mentioned the session where he spoke to Francis Sullivan (CEO of Truth Justice Healing Council). The first question Bruno asked was “Is it appropriate to be having this conversation here in the Rupertswood Mansion?”, the location where sexual abuse has occurred. We live in a in a society that still refuses to acknowledge that sexual abuse occurs and, in my subjective opinion, forcing victims and survivors to pretend that an incident of sexual abuse never happened is emotionally traumatizing. So, I was glad that Bruno was brave enough to host the event in the first place, but also to ask such a question straight away (“Conversation isn’t just pleasurable, and this topic is so hard to talk about.”).

It’s the job of a Writer such as myself to navigate out into the Ocean of Imagination and Possibility, but I’m also certain that it is the job of people like Bruno Lettieri to act as a Lighthouse, a guide back to the Shores of Reality. Perhaps, this time, we will be Bruno’s Lighthouse.

Memorable Quotes:

“You need to run out into the world, just get moving, we should all have a moment when we run through a banner and cheer on those who haven’t been cheered on before.”

“I really like the letter, we’re all letter writers really and if you’re going to write, you’ve got to be a dreamer and be able to cuddle up with your own thoughts. You are your own first audience.”

“There are the twinklers and the non-twinklers and we are the twinklers.”

Upcoming Events via Victoria University

As I’m now super busy with University assignments and my publishing project, I just wanted to write a short post about upcoming events that are occurring through Victoria University and MetroWest.

Flyer for Visualis

Visualis is a celebration of the academic year at Victoria University, and an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of the students of the screen based units that are supplied as part of the Screen Media and Creative Industries. These subjects will include but not be limited to:
Digital Sound and Video
Creative Arts in Context
Writing the documentary
Online Screen Media
Post Production
Studio/Graduating Project
Visual effects
Motion Graphics

It is an opportunity for students to see their work on the big screen. It is also an opportunity for the University to showcase to the community the fine work being undertaken within its walls. So, if you’re a student at Victoria University, entries are to be submitted by providing the Vimeo link by 31st October via email to:

Event Details:
Location: Sun Theatre Yarraville
Date: Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Time: 5:00pm

Ticket details to come. Please email Matthew Hunter Swan at if you have any queries.


The Offset Sixteen Launch

Offset is Victoria University’s Creative Arts Journal, produced by third year College of the Arts students.

Offset Sixteen celebrates the diversity and talent of our local and international communities across poetry, prose, visual art, film and music.


Event Details:
Location: MetroWest, 138 Nicholson Street, Footscray 3011
Date: Friday 21st October 2016
Time: 6pm
RSVP: Monday 17th October to
Social Media: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Please include any dietary requirements with the RSVP.

The Melbourne Writer's Festival – A Romantic Career

Victoria University were offering the opportunity to apply for the position of event reviewer and/or article editor for The Melbourne Writer’s Festival, I applied for it, thinking along the lines that “I probably won’t get it as so many other people will be applying as well”, however I received an email and apparently I was selected to act as reviewer. The event I’ll be attending and reviewing is:
Event: A Romantic Career
Summary: Long-time romance novelists Australian Anne Gracie and American Mary Jo Putney share the ins and outs of their writing careers. They’ll talk about how the ever-popular genre – and the way it’s published – has changed over the years. In conversation with Kate Cuthbert.
Date & Time: Saturday 22 of August 11:30 am
Venue: The Wheeler Centre Performance Space
Duration: 60 minutes

I’m definitely looking forward to Saturday. There’s also the Victoria University Reviewer For A Day Blog, which I would recommend readers check out.

RITW: Dr Roger Averill and Gideon Haigh

Rotunda In The West are Creative Arts Industry events organised by Bruno Lettieri with the assistance of Victoria University staff and administration, Victoria University students and community artists. As a result, Rotunda events are usually an interesting mixture of:

Musical Performances:

Creative Art Opportunities, such as submitting to Offset

and Author Interviews

Bruno Lettieri interviewing Dr Roger Averill

Bruno Lettieri interviewing Dr Roger Averill

Michelle Fincke interviewing Gideon Haigh

Michelle Fincke interviewing Gideon Haigh

Bruno was eager to discuss Dr Roger Averill’s novel “Exile: The Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz” a memoir-biography cross-over about Werner Pelz, a friend and mentor who appeared, on the surface, to be an excellent sociology lecturer at La Trobe University, however after his passing, Roger discovered that he was so much more. Bruno dived into the interesting themes involved in Exile, such as student-mentor friendships and the zest for education and knowledge in a time era where “Weapons of Mass Distraction” did not exist.

One of Werner’s greatest attributes was his ability to listen,” said Roger, and even through there were similarities between the two of them such as “coming to teaching at a later age, with more life experience,” however, Roger made it clear that the two of them weren’t alike in teaching styles, “I thought I should never teach because I could never be as smart as him, we are very different people so we’re very different teachers.”

Werner, at the end of his teaching life, taught reading and emotion. In order to ensure his survival, Werner had to cut off the trauma he had suffered,so he splintered off into this abstract academic life, which was why he considered society’s ability to abstract things as very dangerous. He had suspicion for certainty, he viewed society’s demand for certainty as a death wish, because the only thing that is certain is death, so he encouraged uncertainty in life. He was a flawed, fragile creature. Just like the rest of us.”

Roger explained how Exile was interwoven with 3 narrative strands:

  1. Biographic snippets of Werner’s life
  2. Snippets of Werner’s illness and his dying from a journal (written from Roger’s perspective)
  3. Werner’s papers from the archives at the University of Melbourne

Roger paused for thought when Bruno asked him if he thought his mentor would have been happy with the book, “I don’t know how I could answer that. All the people that have known him, for much longer than I, none of them objected. But as for him, he wouldn’t have read it, he wouldn’t have needed to, he’d lived it, he was very humble by the time I knew him. He would have said, ‘Haven’t you got anything better to do? But go ahead, if that’s what makes you happy’. There was no desire on his part to impress me. I was more shocked that he felt that he hadn’t done enough. So, to me, this book was a resuscitation, a brief counterfeit afterlife for him and anyone who can read.”

Michelle Fincke, long time friend of Gideon Hayes since they had first met in university, described Gideon as, “He said what was on his mind and didn’t suffer fools, because fools were everywhere, like land-mines, and I worried he would not survive the blast.” She described his writing as “open and rich”, his website as “sparse and self-deprecating.”

I found his comments and perspective on Journalism and reading fascinating,
When I got my journalism position at The Age, my interest with fiction ceased, I found out that there were more stories out in the real world, far better than I could make up myself. You work every word and every paragraph as absolutely hard as you have to, so that every sentence is as long as it needs to be.”

You cannot discriminate in your reading habits, though I find myself partaking in less recreational reading, I’m always reading for a purpose and I’m always trying to figure out, what is the writer’s purpose? What is the riddle or puzzle? What’s on your beside table is fundamental to you as a journalist or a writer.”

When asked about the writing process of his first published book, Gideon Hayes responded, “It was a piece of piss, more books should be like that, but you wouldn’t want all your books to be like that.” I found his choice of metaphors  amusing, especially for how he described how it felt to publish his first book.

It was like losing my virginity, a little anti-climatic, and thinking ‘oh well, got that over and done with’. You build that first publication up in your mind. You’ve spent all this time and energy into putting it all into this one shot, then you’ve shot your wad and then you’ve got nothing left over for your second shot. However, it was good, in a sense, to get that first book published so quickly.” He also described the printing process and how, due to printing errors,  he presented his finished manuscript to his publisher as a scroll.

While both Authors work in completely different fields (memoir-biography and cricket journalist respectively) from each other and myself, I walked away from the event contemplative and invigorated. Can we ever truly know a person, no matter how close? Do writers place too much emphasis on their first publication and therefore too much pressure on themselves to succeed? Though I do not yet know the answers, I’m still eager to find out.

Useful Links:
The Write Zone
It’s All About The Writing

Rotunda In The West

Victoria University presents…

Rotunda In The West

Gideon Haigh (real-world story-teller, cricket journalist for The Australian and author) in conversation with Michelle Fincke

Roger Averill (VU Liberal Arts Tearcher and Winner of the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award) in conversation with Bruno Lettieri

Date: Thursday 3rd of April
When: 06:30pm for a 07:00pm start
Where: VU Bar, Level 0 (Building M), Victoria University (Footscray Park Campus), Ballarat Road, Footscray.
How much: $15 or $10 concession

RSVP is essential, just contact Bruno via:
Facebook: The Write Zone Events

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