Write by Canlelight workshop

Write by Candlelight

Write by Candlelight

Cameron Semmens, who has led us through a series of poetry writing sessions in a few issues of the hillscene last year, is holding a series of poetry writing workshops in June. But they’re not just any poetry writing workshops. It’s writing by candlelight, which seems very whimsical and romantic. So the question needs to be asked…

Why a writing by candlelight workshop?

There is something deeply cosy about candlelight, it draws us away from technology with it’s 24-7 demands into our own minds and our own imaginations.

When you let yourself enter into the small circle of light that a candle gives, it can help you focus in on own thoughts and memories, letting the rest of the world and its expectations fade into darkness.

Is candlelight more conducive to writing good poetry?

Writing by candlelight encourages the introspection that good writing and great poems need to grow and develop. And there’s something comforting about candlelight – maybe it’s the colour its light, or that small bit of warmth it radiates… I don’t know, but… it helps you focus. And good art always needs focus!

What will people take away from this these workshops?

Each session has a different emphasis, but each week you’ll end up with a number of pieces of writing – sometimes small haikus, other weeks, longer poetic memoirs.

I’ll be guiding you through it all – and each person can come to it with whatever skills they have. So if you’re a beginner, that’s great, I’ll hold your hand all the way. And if you’re an experienced writer – I’ll give you some framework or inspiration and you can take it wherever you want!

But ultimately, by the end of the month, you should have a nice little collections of writings to share with the world!

Do you have to be good with words to write poetry or can anyone do it?

Anyone can do these workshops. You don’t have to be ‘good with words’. Ironically, often the best poets are those who use ‘just a few words’ – they just choose the best words, and put them in the best order.

Actually, I started writing poetry because I was overwhelmed by the huge amount of words of longer forms of writing. So, you just have to willing to try things out, and you might be surprised what you can actually express in words.

Any last words?

I say, give yourself permission to write some poems. Often, in our busy lives, we don’t give ourselves the ‘luxury’ of expressing ourselves creatively, while at the same time, we have a whole crowd of insights, stories and revelations bubbling around our hearts just begging to be written. Give yourself permission. Help find the words for those fleeting wisps of thought. It’s very unlikely you’ll regret it.

Write by Canlelight workshop

Write by Candlelight!

Poetry Workshops for Wannabe and Know-it Poets with Cameron Semmens
5 sessions, across 5 weeks in 2 Melbourne venues.
June 3 – July 2, 2015.
7pm – 9:30pm at both venues.

A good poem is one that NEEDS to be written. Do you have stories, memories and insights within you that need to find expression? Poetry, with its imagery and brevity could be the perfect way to express them. Let Cameron help YOU find your poet within.

Week 1 – How to use METAPHOR for all it’s worth.
Belgrave: WED, Jun 3.
Hawthorn: THUR, Jun 4.

Week 2 – How to turn your MEMORIES and tragedies into quality poetry.
Belgrave: WED, Jun 10.
Hawthorn: THUR, Jun 11.

Week 3 – How to use just a FEW WORDS for a big impact.
Belgrave: WED, Jun 17.
Hawthorn: THUR, Jun 18.

Week 4 – How to use ANIMALS as metaphors and symbols to explore your soul and society.
Belgrave: WED, Jun 24.
Hawthorn: THUR, Jun 25.

Week 5 – How to pull your poems together into a BOOK.
Belgrave: WED, Jul 2.
Hawthorn: THUR, Jul 5.

There’s TWO Venues: Choose the location in Melbourne, or night, that works best for you. It’ll be the same workshop at both venues, and the same time: 7pm to 9:30pm, with a short coffee break in the middle.

Every WEDNESDAY night, Jun 3 – Jul 1, 2015 at Grunge Café, 1696 Burwood Highway, Belgrave (on the main shopping strip). www.facebook.com/GrungeCafe Coffee and snacks to buy.

Every THURSDAY night, Jun 4 – Jul 2, 2015 at Hawthorn West Baptist Church, 36 Barton Street (upstairs, in the cosy loft space). Coffee and tea provided, BYO snacks to share.

COST: For all 5 sessions – $95
For a single session: $30 (pending availability)

Cameron Semmens poetry by candlelight

Who’s leading this poetry workshop series?
Cameron Semmens is an award-winning poet, entertainer and poetry educator with 15 books to his name… AND a parent of 2 students of BHCS. He makes his living through poetry: performing, running workshops and selling his books. He lives in The Dandenongs with his wife and two youngsters. See www.webcameron.com for more details.

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Ukulele Festival Comes to Town

Post by Ross Farnell.

As the fine tuning is applied to the last details of DRUKE – the Dandenong Ranges Ukulele Festival – coming to Burrinja at the end of May, you can almost hear the 4 short strings of a hundred Ukuleles start to strum and hum in beautiful celebration.

So what is a Ukulele festival all about, and who is bringing us this joyous sound?

We tracked down DRUKE Festival Director Matthew Fagan for a quick chat about all things Ukulele and to get the lowdown on the Festival.

Matthew Fagan

Matthew Fagan – DRUKE organiser

Local hills resident Matthew is already known to many in the region for his virtuoso classical guitar playing – especially his ten-string, but he is also a master of the four strings; from fingerpicking, bluegrass and popular-contemporary to traditional folk music. Matthew performs and hosts Ukulele workshops across the country, from the Port Fairy and Illawarra Folk Festivals to numerous Ukulele festivals and clubs across this vast land. DRUKE is the second year incarnation of the Ukulele Festival, with its origins in the Emerald event run at GEMCO in 2014.

So, what made Matthew want to start a Ukulele Festival in the hills?

Kellie and I moved to the hills from St Kilda a few years ago for the environment and cultural life, and this is now very much our community. We had been the music director and administrator team for some large scale cultural community projects known as “Voyages” for the Cities of Port Phillip and Kingston. Since being endorsed as a ukulele performer for Maton, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy extensive touring experience performing in the USA and Australia at Uke festivals, and could see the potential for the enjoyment of a ukulele festival within the vibrant and unique music community in our Dandenong Ranges – a perfect environment to invite uke players to come and experience what there is to offer in our region.

Our first festival “the Emerald Ukulele Festival” was a great success at the Gemco Theatre, thanks to their great volunteer network. The numbers attending surpassed what we had planned for, so a larger venue was required for year two. Having already performed at Burrinja a number of times and enjoyed the range of performance venues there – from café to theatre – we had a chat with the team there and it seemed like the perfect fit.

Ok, so now we know how and why DRUKE was born. But what does Matthew like the most about the ukulele?

The uke is the People’s instrument. It’s the perfect way to experience playing music for yourself the first time, and the uke inspires fun.

UFO band

UFO band

So as a bit of virtuoso of the four stringed mini-beast, what does Matthew like most about playing ukulele?

It’s a fun and inviting instrument. The ukulele asks you to be yourself making music and to enjoy life and TO SHARE music with friends, strangers, everyone!  Also wherever I travel and I carry my ukulele people all want to hear it, it’s the perfect passport to the world.

Sounds like the ukulele would be the perfect extra luggage on a couch surfing adventure. But what has made it such a popular instrument these days? The Ukulele’s revival, especially in the community setting, has been quite amazing…

The ukulele loves nothing better than another ukulele to make music with. Two is better than one, and three is even better…..and so on. The uke says pick me up and play me – you don’t have to be a violin virtuoso and practice for 10 years to sound good, you can learn a song on the uke in 10 minutes. The uke is also a great fashion accessory – the uke can be any colour, shape , Hawaiian , metal, bluegrass, folk any style that suits you, or your shirt!

Lucy Wise

Lucy Wise

So I had to ask, what’s Matthew’s favourite song played on uke? And without hesitation…

Of course it has to be “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. And my favourite uke player is Roy Smeck form the 1920s vaudeville days.

In three weeks DRUKE is bringing three days of ukulele festivities to the Dandenong Ranges – as Festival Director with the finger on the pulse, what are you looking forward to most this year having moved it to the bigger venues at Burrinja in Upwey?

To hold the Ukulele Festival at Burrinja Cultural Centre is an invaluable opportunity to expand the scope of concerts, performers and activities for all uke players attending. The facilities are perfect for festival goers to attend intimate workshops, concerts and perform themselves at the open blackboard cafe events. Ukulele festivals are most especially all about PARTICIPATION – not just watching. Burrinja provides facilities for all these uke activities in an environment that reflects the earthy feel of our environment in the hills- thus a unique feel and ambience for the ukulele enthusiast. Music, great food and catering are also right here in the festival centre – especially good coffee, an essential for music festivals!

Black Orchid band

Black Orchid band

The Dandenong Ranges Ukulele Festival – DRUKE takes over the entire Burrinja Cultural Centre for three amazing May days of festival fun for everyone from May 29 to 31, 2015.

It’s time for to break out your Hawaiian shirt, dust off your grass skirt and join in as the world of all things Ukulele travels from the sand and shirts of Hawaii to the lush forests of the Hills. From the theatre to café, stages, workshops, gardens and galleries – it’ll be humming and strumming.

The festival line-up features a diverse range of world class ukulele performers, massed ukulele groups, workshops, ‘Women in Uke’, blackboard concerts, competitions, stalls and more!

Highlights include Tomoki Sato (Japan), Paul Jonson (NZ), Lucy Wise (Aus), Sarah Carroll (Queen of Bellarine), Alex Burns (Aus – UK), A.J Leonard & Jenny Rowlands (AUS), Amie Brûlée (France… almost), Matthew Fagan (Aus) and many more.

Tomoki Sato

Tomoki Sato

Sarah Carroll

Sarah Carroll

And if you want to strum your own stuff, check out the competitions and blackboard open stage.

All Festival details are on the DRUKE web site. 3 day Festival Passes get you to every single wonderful event including the Friday festival launch party and the Gala Saturday night concert. But if you can only make one day, then there are day tickets too.

Book online or call the Burrinja Box Office on 9754 8723 for details.

Dandenong Ranges Ukelel Festival poster

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Rob Snarski

A Coffee with Rob Snarski

Rob Snarski

Words and photographs by Matthew Thomson.

Matthew is a Melbourne based writer and photographer. His passion for photography sparked early on, when his father introduced him to an old Minolta X700 SLR. After buying his first DSLR at 15, Matthew was able to develop further in his later years of high school. Since graduating Matthew has spent time travelling, where his blog ‘Following My Feet’ highlighted his emerging talent as a young writer. Matthew now focuses in street, editorial and fashion, with his writing complementing each field. For further information about Matthew go to: www.matthewthomson.com.au

Sitting on the front verandah of his beautiful Mt Dandenong home, in the brisk morning air, listening to the whispers of the trees and the songs of the birds, I got a chance to talk with Rob Snarski about his recently debut solo album ‘Wounded Bird’, and the progression from his early Perth days.

“You can imagine in 1983 it was a very different scene in Australia… we didn’t have the internet… If you were going to sign to a label, you couldn’t really be based in Perth.”

Snarski’s music career started in WA with his brother Mark, in Chad’s Tree, however they soon moved across to Sydney to sign with label Hot Records, joining with the likes of The Triffids, The Laughing Clowns and The Benders.

“That was fantastic for us as kids…I was only 19”.

By 1989, he had moved back to Perth to start up the holiday band the Blackeyed Susans, a culmination of Chad’s Tree, The Triffids and Martha’s Vineyard.

“The idea was to play about 6 or 7 shows, record an LP…That was 1989…It’s now 2015 and I still play in a band called the Blackeyed Susans”. Over the years the Blackeyed Susans have toured globally, playing with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Marianne Faithful.

Rob Snarski - 1

Snarski’s latest album was intended to be a follow up duo to his and Dan Luscombe’s 2004 works ‘There Is Nothing Here That Belongs To You’, however whilst driving home from a recording session Luscombe sprung on him that “this should be a solo record”.

“Initially I felt like punching him in the head, but in the end it was like a gift to me”.

Collaboration still remained important for Snarski and ‘Wounded Bird’, with Luscombe co-writing many of the songs, Shane O’Mara producing and Bruce Haymes, amongst others, adding his own touch. Even the financing was a holistic experience, with Snarski conducting Acoustic House Concerts as a way of crowdfunding the album.

“You have to be fairly open…You can’t walk into someone’s house and put on some sort of music persona… [however] it’s been a real joy”.

Rob Snarski - 2

However, ‘Wounded Bird’s’ production wasn’t completely smooth sailing, as a stolen computer and corrupt hard drives forced him to essentially start again on several songs.

“We had gotten about half way through, and things started to unravel.”

The album cover of ‘Wounded Bird’, a “bigified sparrow…resilient… [with] an arrow sticking through its heart” as Rob describes, was created by Melbourne artist Sandra Eterovic, and reflects the difficulties around the album and how they have been encompassed into the final product.

Fortunately, the end result is a poetic adventure through tumultuous landscapes.

Snarski himself, has been a resident of Mt Dandenong for several years, with it becoming a retreat; a reminder of his childhood neighbouring town of Araluen. However, he admits that the serenity of being enclosed by trees is unnerving in fire season.

Snarski plans to release another Blackeyed Susans album sometime in 2015/2016, with one more solo album, ‘a record of requests’, coming out around June.

Snarski has had a brilliant 10 months or so since the release of his debut solo album Wounded Bird. The record has been showered with accolades. He will be Live and local at Burrinja this Saturday, 2 May. For more info head to what’s on at burrinja.

For more information about Rob Snarski go to: www.robsnarski.com

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