Guest Speaker Recap: Jessica Alice, Poetry Editor/Podcaster

Just a quick one today. Man flu’s descending, and I’ve underestimated how big a commitment these recaps would end up being! Let’s get into it. (I’m also terrified Mrs Ruby-White an anonymous follower will break my fingers if there’s any further delay.)

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ABOUT JESSICA

A couple of weeks ago, NMIT’s Writing and Publishing students were visited by Jessica Alice, another talented multi-hat-wearing young professional. Jessica is a self-described generalist: a writer, poet, editor, podcaster extraordinaire, and The Lifted Brow’s Poetry and Short Prose Editor. She is also the coordinator of the National Young Writers’ Festival and has been variously affiliated with Voiceworks (kicking myself for not getting involved with these guys!) and Express Media; independent young women’s magazine, Lip; the Darebin Council; and Kill Your Darlings. Jessica spoke highly of these experiences, but is especially fond of her current Brow role because of its autonomy and increased responsibility. Traditionally, The Lifted Brow has not had much of a poetry focus, but this is something Jessica is rectifying.

Throughout her presentation, Jessica enthusiastically spruiked a few art and culture ventures – not for any agenda; she simply wanted to help connect people with great art. She recommended the pop culture podcast Bring a Plate, and encouraged those interested in feminist writing to check out SCUM, an online literary magazine which she describes as the ‘punk kid sister of The Lifted Brow’. SCUM, for which Jessica is also an editor of poetry, has a DIY aesthetic, punk sensibility and penchant for favouring lesser-known writers. This last point’s especially important; like high school social groups, lit journals can be cliquey and insular.

Spoken word is another of Jessica’s passions, and she cited community radio as a great medium for enthusiasts. In particular, Melbourne station 3CR has been a great support throughout much of her early career. It’s through this involvement with community radio that she first developed an interest in podcasting.

PODCASTING 101

Surprisingly (at least to me), a majority of the audience professed an interest in podcasting, so Jessica took the presentation in that direction. She was kind enough to give us a primer, and I will relay some of that information now. Podcasting – (indulge me; I know you learnt this in 2005) – is a revolutionary media platform that is similar in practice to radio, but has far broader applications thanks to the internet. Its popularity can be attributed to its ease of use, as only minimal, basic tech is required to podcast (unless you’re an audiophile). (Tangential aside: ‘Podcast’ is a verb, right? I have no idea! I’m so far removed from this culture! It’s like someone asked the whitest person in the room to articulate the history of the hip hop movement.)

Unlike other New Media formats (i.e. YouTube), podcasts are audio-only; audiences cannot physically see the speaker. I believe I heard somewhere that video podcasts are called vodcasts, though that might’ve been a fever dream. Anyway, podcasts effectively remove image from the equation, allowing audiences to focus solely on content.

Podcasts can be streamed or downloaded, and are usually hosted on dedicated servers. Unlike radio listeners, podcast fans can enjoy content at any time – even while completing work or chores. Podcasts are highly accessible nowadays, particularly with the popularisation of smart phones and portable audio devices.

PODCASTS AND LITERARY JOURNALS

According to Jessica, most of the major Australian literary journals (Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Overland, Going Down Swinging, to name a few) currently produce podcasts. It’s seen as a more progressive medium than blogging or feature writing, and a time and cost efficient way for journal staff to create new and engaging content.

Podcasts also allow listeners to become involved with journals, to get a taste of their work and grasp their identity, without necessarily having to purchase their products. Obviously buying and supporting literary journals is ideal, but this can be difficult for monetary or logistic reasons. Regrettably, journals are sometimes seen as an unjustifiable expense – particularly in our current economic climate. In other cases, they can be difficult to purchase because of limited print runs or remote buyers. Though obviously no substitute for a bonafide print or electronic literary journal, podcasting is an interesting and inexpensive way to involve yourself with journals and stay abreast of their developments.

TIPS FOR NEW PODCASTERS

For anyone interested in doing their own podcasts, Jessica endorsed the following software: Garage Band (native Mac program), Audition, Audacity (limited functionality, but a good starting point) and Cool Edit Pro (expensive, but with more comprehensive features). In lieu of a proper (and often costly) recording setup, Jessica recommended using your laptop’s built-in microphone. Of course, you must first ensure a quiet working area. Shut all doors and windows, and soundproof your computer or recording device by covering it with a sheet (high thread-count Egyptian cotton is a nice touch). This will reduce the echo echo echo, reverb and muffle some outside interferences, like dads who scream unnecessarily during televised football.

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‘It’s okay, guys! I’m soundproofing!’ Continue reading

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Guest Speaker Recap: Lauren Williams, Poet/Songwriter

How’s this for serendipitous? Determined not to repeat last week’s hunger-induced rudeness, I opted for an early lunch on the far side of campus. Moments after putting away my last Le Snack biscuit (yep, I eat eight-year-olds’ lunches), I was approached by a guitar-toting woman who asked me for directions to the Writing and Publishing block. This was Lauren Williams, our guest speaker. I escorted her to said destination and, on the way, told her a bit about myself and this ’ere blog.

‘I’m recapping the year’s guest speakers!’ I enthused – no doubt coming across like Peter Brady. ‘Don’t worry: I won’t put anything salacious in it!’

She wasn’t worried, and would later go on to share a few of her tangos with the media. Par for the course for a published poet, I discovered. Right away, Lauren struck me as approachable and passionate. Admirably, she wasn’t afraid to share her strong views on the industry – my kind of guest speaker!

Anyway, let’s proceed with the recap.

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Guest Speaker Recap: Pepi Ronalds, Blogger/Freelance Writer

Regular readers will know of my recent resolution to increase my productivity. My first step towards accomplishing this was to draft a list of goals, and the second is to actively increase my output. I think recapping the year’s guest speaker presentations is a great excuse to commit pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were).

The guest speaker program is, in my opinion, one of the best components of NMIT’s Writing and Publishing degree. Receiving advice from experienced professionals is a privilege; these people are out there in the wilds of the industry, working hard and accomplishing greatness. I enjoy hearing all about the effort they’ve put in and vicariously enjoying their success. Regrettably, it’s taken four years of study to start committing their wisdom to paper. But, hey, I’m doing it now.

So, without further ado, here’s what I garnered from Pepi Ronalds, our first guest speaker of 2014. Continue reading

To Do: Write a Post About To-Do Lists

I’m a big fan of to-do lists. Maybe it’s my OCD leanings, (the completionist in me finds Xbox’s Achievements system hugely compelling …), but there’s something genuinely thrilling about meeting the challenging stare of a task sheet head-on. To-do lists — a staple of pop psychology — are a great way to keep organised. Physically laying out our goals and responsibilities keeps them at the forefront of our minds. Similarly, crossing tasks off gives a feeling of progression; lists remind us that we are accomplishing something — no matter how minor — each and every day.

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Holding myself accountable: first week of study and already my to-do list has cracked two pages. Continue reading

An Update (Inc. News of Recent Publishing Successes)

Just an update on what my last few months have been like, writing-wise.

Study

In late November, I completed my third year of study and attained an Associate Degree in Writing and Publishing. This was my first year at a new campus, and I only knew one other person going into it. (Ever the introvert, I know about three–four coming out of it.) Overall, a valuable way to spend my year. The course has helped me further refine my writing, editing and publishing skills. The highlights were the fantastic lecturers and the guest speakers, who came from all walks of the industry. I’m looking forward to 2014, the year I commence working towards a Bachelor of Writing and Publishing. (This will also be my final year of study, unless I go on to do a PhD.)

Published Work

I’ve been a little lax about sending work out this year. Although I came away with a string of rejections (mostly the encouraging, personalised kind), the string was not as long as 2012’s. Nevertheless, here are my two recent publishing successes.

  • The first was in the ninetieth issue of American literary journal, Crack the Spine. This story, ‘The Wall’ (found here), and I have been through a lot together; it had been knocked back – always with positive comments – and subsequently redrafted many, many times. I always believed in this one, so the fact that I was eventually able to place it feels like a lesson in perseverance. Notably, this marks my first international publishing credit. (Unless I count Vine Leaves – a journal that operates from Greece, but is run by two Australians.) Continue reading