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Write-ability and the Deaf Arts Network

The first Digital Writers Festival (#DWF14) took place online from the 13th to the 24th of February, 2014.

An initiative of the annual Emerging Writers Festival (held in Melbourne), #DWF14 was an online carnival dedicated to what happens when technology and the written word collide.

On the 24th of February, Access2Arts’ upcoming Artist in Residence Kate Larsen (AKA Katie Keys) represented Writers Victoria (where she is the Director!) taking part a session titled In Conversation: Write-ability and the Deaf Arts Network. In the conversation Kate discussed how the world of blogs and writing online can improve accessibility and to promote the work of all writers.

Check out Kate’s recent blogs on writing a poem a day and using twitter to publish your poems.

If you like what you hear and are interested in being part of Kate’s residency, discovering how you can use online resources to get your writing promoted contact  tools contact Access2Arts on 08 8463 1689 or email to

Michele’s World

Guest Blogger: Ad’m Martin

Pianist and vocalist Michele Thredgold spoke with Ad’m Martin about loving music, confronting mental health challenges, feelings of social isolation and her yearning for chocolate.

Michele’s parents would serenade her to sleep as an infant and that is where her love of music began. Her voice saw her become a finalist in a talent quest at the ripe young age of twelve. She now has her own music business and a new show Welcome To My World, debuting at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival.

One of my first questions to any disabled artist is what labels they choose to use. I am loath to thrust labels onto anyone, but when people choose their own it makes communication flow much easier and I love to hear people’s responses. When I asked Michele she replied simply “First and foremost I am Michele.” I thought that was a brilliant response. As for her impairment, Michelle refers to herself as “totally blind”

Music may be Michele’s life and work, but she does like to take a break from music every now and again with “a good talking book, a cup o’ tea and some Haigh’s honeycomb chocolate.

During our conversation she mentioned the social difficulties she endured growing up without the ability to make eye contact with people, with some moving anecdotes that have found their way into Welcome To My World. Performing songs both familiar and original, Welcome To My World, sees Michelle using song, and humour to explore depression, alienation and her addiction to chocolate! It promises to be a powerful one woman show (one woman and one dog) of song and storytelling about the various and fascinating facets of Michele’s life as a blind person navigating a sighted world.

It promises to be a powerful one-woman (that is one woman and her dog) which Michele hopes will enlighten people on all the various and fascinating facets of her life.

Michele is a Salisbury girl through and through, growing up in Para Hills and spending a lot of time within in the Salisbury community. So having the first three performances of Welcome To My World at the Salisbury Secret Garden, as part of the 2014 Adelaide Fringe on Feb 25, 26 & 28, is for her like “going home”. You can also catch Michelle perform Welcome To My World at The Bakehouse Theatre on March 12 & 13,2014 ).

Don’t miss your chance to experience life through the soul of a blind woman in her biggest solo performance to date.

Click here to go to the FringeTix website to book tickets


Fringe Parade on the Air

Guest Blogger: Lucy Kingston

I spent the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival Opening Parade in a dim, cramped hall high above King William Street. The beautiful lights of the passing Parade flooded into our little space as we gazed down on the dazzling array of artists going by.

I with a small team of broadcasters and audio describers, I was there to share the Parade with anyone who could not see it. As we went to air the Audio Describers, Eliza Lovell and Suzie Fraiser, poured forth a flood of words to describe the scene before us.

That night I heard an hour of radio that was as listenable, smooth and expressively presented, as I would expect of any experienced broadcaster. This was my first experience of audio description and I was both impressed and entranced as well as being convinced that radio and audio description are the most perfect partners.

One of the golden rules of presenting for radio is to use visual language where ever possible. With no images, radio relies on the imagination of its audience to visualise events and stories. Broadcasters know that adding some visual descriptions to what they say draws in an audience making a topic real. Audio description takes this descriptive language to a new level.

It is different to regular broadcasting though, providing minutely researched and extremely detailed points of view descriptions of events. and firmly grounded. This meant that during the Fringe Parade details were carefully shared with our audience as artists and floats past our vantage point.

Audio description is an approach designed for people with visual impairment, to ensure they can access arts of many kinds. I learnt at the Fringe Parade that audio description can offer a lot to any radio listener. If you are fully sighted and can be at the event, the detail and description will add a new dimension your experience. If you can’t be there, you are still handed a wonderful description of the event.

We are doing it all again this year. On Friday, February 14 you can listen in to a live description of the 2014 Adelaide Fringe Festival Opening Parade. To hear it tune into Radio Adelaide on your mobile, tune to 101.5fm, on digital radio or on

If you want to catch the audio description, Access2Arts will be hosting an Accessible Viewing area at the Rundle Mall tram stop (near 33-39 King William Street). They will have some radios and headsets available on the night but bookings are essential. To book, email: or telephone 08 84631689.

Lucy Kingston is Manager, Programming and Content at Radio Adelaide.

Dissociated Daze

Guest blogger: Sharon Bulmer

Film maker Sharon Bulmer gives an update on her recent activity as part of a mentorship funded by Arts SA’s Richard Lewellyn Arts and Disability program.

For many years now I have been an avid photographer and amateur film maker. I am self taught and am like a kid in a candy store each time I fire up the computer. I have built my own ‘production computer’ with 32 gig RAM and plenty of grunt and makes rendering is a breeze. If I am ever AWOL I can be found playing in the magical realm of 1’s and 0’s!

On the January 10, 2014 I  directed a film shoot capturing footage for my current short film, mentored by the accomplished producer and journalist Louise Pascale. It was my first opportunity to work with an industry professional and am sure it will further my artistic growth.

Scripted by Louise and myself, the shoot brought together two fantastic actors, Tamara and Michael, Chris Houghton (cameraman & lighting) and Lachlan Coles (audio extraordinaire) who together supported the realisation of my vision for my film.

In early 2013 I received an Emerging Artist grant through Arts SA’s Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability fund and  I am using the grant to create a short film taking the viewer on a journey through an episode of poor mental health.

I draw on lived experiences when creating the film, and hope it will enable mental health survivors a means to communicate to other people how the experience can feels and how it can impact upon my life. 

I am looking forward to sharing my film with you all in the near future.

Sharon Bulmer finds that she is driven by creativity – be it photography, traditional media or digital arts. She loves to learn new concepts and is striving to live optimally with her mental health conditions.

What’s so great about Twitter anyway?

Guest Blogger: Katie Keys

I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I tell people that I’m a Twitter poet.

It would seem that Twitter doesn’t have the best reputation. People think it’s full of ‘twits’ describing their every move or meal, and I can’t deny there’s a bit of that sort of thing going on. Of course there are dull conversations happening on Twitter (just as there are anywhere else) – but if you take the time to look past the boring and banal, you can find beauty, creativity and an amazingly active online community.

As you know, I’ve written a poem every day for 4.5 years and published it on Twitter.  For me, it was a perfect match. I was too tired, too busy and too full of excuses to write, while at the same time desperate to get writing back into my days. So I put the dreadful draft of my dreadful novel back in its drawer, cut myself a break, and gave myself a 140 character challenge to write and tweet a tiny little poem each day.

It’s not hard to see why writing a complete poem in 140 characters or less is a lot easier than writing an 80,000 word novel – even if I do several drafts. So that’s why writing short-form poems worked for me, and why Twitter seemed like the perfect place to publish them.

But it’s not only about the word-count. Twitter has a thriving #poetry community. Some people use it to publish full poems, while others link to longer poems on their websites or share quotes from poems they like. Some write in specific forms (like #haiku), some write very short stories (#vss), and some use Twitter to send out a daily #poetryprompt for other people to respond to. There are thousands of poets writing from all sorts of places in all sorts of styles. Check out this list of some of the Twitter poets I follow for some examples.

If you’re new to Twitter, you might be wondering why I’m littering my sentences with hash signs (called ‘hashtags’ in tweet-speak). This is one of the ways that the poetry community comes together online. By tagging your tweet with #poem or #micropoetry, it becomes searchable by other people using or looking for the same sort of thing. Hashtags can help link you in to groups of people with the same interests or allow you to participate in time-limited events. For example, during my 140 Characters residency in Adelaide next month, I hope that some of you will join me in writing poetry using the #A2A140 tag.

So, we know that Twitter’s a great place to write very short poems or very short stories when you think you don’t have time to write at all. It’s a great place to get to know other poets and read their work. One of the other reasons I love Twitter is that it’s a place where people can come across a poem almost by accident – where someone who may not dream of picking up a poetry book can find and enjoy a bite-sized poem that could change the way they think about words or the world.

Twitter can also be used to get feedback on your writing. When I started sending out my daily poems, I had an audience of about four people – half of which were already friends in real life.  Slowly, as I joined in conversations, used useful and relevant hashtags, built up a body of work and a reputation for not tweeting about my lunches, the number of people following me began to grow. When they began to retweet and favourite my poems, I knew which ones were working well and which were not as strong. Some people even started writing to me directly with suggestions for a different word or rhyme. And now, nearly 4,500 people read my poems every day.

Building up a platform on Twitter has also led to other opportunities as publishers, teachers and festival coordinators have responded to the fact that I have a pre-existing audience. Being a Twitter poet has led me to publications, performances and interviews, speaking gigs at festivals, and residencies in five different cities (so far). It’s led to me being included on a creative writing curriculum at a high-school in Oklahoma and even towards me starting to get paid for being a poet from last year.

So, go on. Give Twitter a try. Or come along to my workshops at Access2Arts in March to find out more. I’ll look forward to seeing you in the Twittersphere sometime soon.

Katie Keys is a thirty-something non-Indig Aussie Brit based in Melbourne. A poet, writer and arts manager, her work has been published in anthologies, magazines and online in Australia and beyond. An advocate of online creative communities, Katie has tweeted one tiny little poem each day @tinylittlepoems for more than four years.