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  • benjamindodds

Booranga Residency

The opportunity to spend two paid weeks in residence at Booranga Writers Centre in Wagga Wagga has been such a privileged one. Earlier this year, I was asked if I'd be interested in spending two weeks living and working in the writers flat here on campus at Charles Sturt University and I jumped at the offer. How often do poets have the chance to get away from it all and indulge in a fortnight of uninterrupted poetry? In this poet's case, not very often.

I'll admit I haven't produced much in the way of new writing at this halfway point in my stay, but I have spent a lot of time reassessing and editing a set of uncollected poems that may form the core of a new manuscript.

I also gave a reading to a wonderfully receptive audience in Wagga at a terrific cafe and bar called The Curious Rabbit. I read for two 20-minute brackets (which felt wickedly self-indulgent, but I do what I'm told) and then heard from some talented local writers during an entertaining open mic section.

On Saturday afternoon, I ran a workshop here at the centre. A group of eight writers joined me over coffee and chocolate biscuits as we took a look at some of my favourite examples of ekphrastic poetry, listened to some music, viewed some art and then wrote new snippets of poetry based upon these. It was a truly terrific afternoon and I can't remember the last time I enjoyed sharing poetry quite so much. I'm running a couple of online ekphrastic workshops later in the year for Queensland Poetry and, due to the success of the Booranga afternoon, I think I'll be returning to some of the same poetry, music and art for those sessions.

Today is the first day of my second week here in the very private and contemplative writers flat on the hillside at CSU. I'm planning on digging out and dusting off some older writing to see if it's hardy enough to survive here in the present, and I'll also be mulling over some half-formed ideas for future projects. Hopefully, at least one of these will prove worthy as a seed of new work. I'll also be heading to my hometown of Leeton to do a reading and to chat about place in my writing. I'm looking forward to that as I only became an active poet after leaving the Riverina in my early twenties and haven't ever revisited the area in the capacity of writer. I'm grateful to the Riverina Writing House in Leeton for their invitation.

Thanks to everyone at Booranga, The Curious Rabbit and Riverina Writing House for a memorable stay here in the region where I spent my childhood and adolescence.

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