#LoveOzYA Spotlight: Girls Write Up
#LoveOzYA Spotlight is a monthly series of blog posts highlighting bookish initiatives that promote Australian youth literature.
In September, the #LoveOzYA team spoke to Stella Schools Program Manager Bec Kavanagh about Girls Write Up.
Q: The Girls Write Up festival was established recently, in 2016. For those in the #LoveOzYA community who may be unfamiliar with it, can you please explain what it is and what it aims to do?
A: Girls Write Up is a daylong festival for teens aged 12-18 that teaches empowerment through writing and sharing stories; explores the relationship between language, gender and power; and examines the effects of unconscious bias on our sense of self.
Girls Write Up is for anyone who has felt limited by their gender and wants to understand how language can be used to liberate and empower.
Q: Many #LoveOzYA authors have featured on workshops and panels for the various Girls Write Up programs since its inception. What are some highlights?
A: We’ve been so thrilled with the number of exceptional writers who have appeared on Girls Write Up programs since it began, and are really excited to work with writers across different fields (from slam poetry to comics to novel writing). Since the inception of the Stella Schools Program, we’ve worked closely with many of the incredible authors from the #LoveOzYA community, and are always so impressed by what they have to say and their generosity in events like Girls Write Up.
One highlight that #LoveOzYA readers can still experience for themselves, was having Bec Lim on a panel with fellow superstars Jax Jackie Brown, Nayuka Gorrie and Karen Pickering at this year’s Girls Write Up in Melbourne. Bec was on a panel called The Personal is Political, which explored the intersection of personal story and political events in each writers work, and we were able to record this and put it on the Stella Podcast. So anyone can have a sneaky glimpse of a part of Girls Write Up by listening to that here!
Q: Other than “traditional” #LoveOzYA fiction, what other forms of storytelling does the Girls Write Up program explore? Why?
A: Anything and everything! Any kind of writing is fair game for Girls Write Up, because we want attendees to see that there are so many ways to tell a story and to find your voice. I think this is important because not everyone’s story (fiction or non-fiction) is best told in the “traditional” way, and it can be easy to feel that your story doesn’t matter or that it (or you) aren’t good enough if it doesn’t match the narratives that you’re typically exposed to. So we’ll keep bringing in as many people as possible who have found a great way to tell a story and share their voice with the world, whether that be through slam poetry, plays, songs, blogs, novels, comics or zines.
Q: Australian teens are the target audience of both the #LoveOzYA movement and Girls Write Up. Why is it important for teen voices in particular to be empowered and amplified in discussions about YA literature, writing and storytelling?
A: Because as adults, we can’t suggest that we know the things that matter to teens if we’re not listening to them speak. The world is not a static place and teens should be involved in conversations about the things that matter to them, and the things that are shaping the world around them and, more importantly, they want to be. The teens who performed their work at the Girls Write Up slam poetry sessions this year, and who shared their work on the Talking Back tumblr are absolute proof of that, as are the incredible questions that are shared in the Ask Me Anything sessions that conclude each Girls Write Up event.
Q: The Girls Write Up festival is a fabulous initiative. Are there any particular ways the #LoveOzYA community can help support it?
A: If you’re a teen – come along! Or spread the word. It would be great to see our events for Girls Write Up shared in school libraries, across teacher networks, but really we want teens to be talking about it because it’s their space – so encourage any teens you know to check out the tumblr and the podcast, and come along to the next Girls Write Up event in their state! And tell us what you want to see more of on the Stella Schools Twitter :)
Thank you for answering our questions, Bec!
The Girls Write Up festival has upcoming events in Wodonga in October and Brisbane in November. For more information, visit the website: http://thestellaprize.com.au/schools/girls-write-up/