Students respond creatively to make sense of COVID
Publishing an anthology has helped creative writing students at Avondale make sense of the “total change to the order of life” wrought by COVID-19.
A Type of Vertigo features pieces from the 15 students in the unit, Creative Writing, Poetry and Short Story. Each contributed at least one poem and short story. Those who attended the launch in Avondale Libraries (Lake Macquarie campus) on October 26 read a poem.
Jenaya Lewis revealed something of her inner self with “Halfway Gifted.” While poetry is “a journey of self discovery,” she felt “cautious” about sharing an insecurity. “But family and friends related to my metaphors and internal explanations, so that gave me confidence. Publishing a piece like this could help others discover more about their feelings.”
Dean (Learning and Teaching) Associate Professor Carolyn Rickett set the tone at the launch by sharing two quotations. The first from Hélène Cixous: “Writing is writing what you cannot know before you have written: it is preknowing and not knowing, blindly, with words. It occurs at the point where blindness and light meet.” The second from poet Robert Frost: “Writing is choosing the right words in the right order.” The poems and short stories in A Type of Vertigo show you have worked your way into the light, Carolyn told the students. With support from the university chancellory, the executive dean, research leaders, the course convenor, lecturers and librarians, “we’re here to celebrate your choices, the words you found to put onto the page.”
In acknowledging the work of lecturer Dr Lynnette Lounsbury, Carolyn reminded the students “books never happen, they’re always made.” She knows: an anthology series she began with a colleague at another university to publish poems by students alongside those by professionals won a national award for innovative teaching. Lynnette’s mentoring, she said, “made it possible for you to join the ranks of published authors.”
Lynnette and her students dedicate A Type of Vertigo to those who worked on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic to “[keep] us healthy and protected, at huge cost to themselves. We appreciate and acknowledge the freedom it gave us.”
The anthology is a response to two years of “isolation and separation, unity and care, fear and division, facts and lies.” We answered the question, “What comes after?”, with our imaginations, Lynnette writes in her editor’s note. We found ourselves in stories from “our history, our newly found interests, our relationships, daydreams, and our lockdown anxieties. We found that our new world and our fresh place in it was off kilter and we felt unbalanced.”
Lynnette is creating her own legacy. The communication strand convenor co-edits the anthology with a former student: Bianka Costigan this year. She told the students their writing shows “how times of struggle brings out creativity. With talent like yours, I’m excited about where writing is headed.”
A Type of Vertigo is available from Amazon.
Jenaya reads her poem
Creative writing student Jenaya Lewis reveals something of her inner self with “Halfway Gifted.” Here she is reading it for you.WATCH VIDEO