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Locating Literature – Investigating Place


22 August 2014

Guest Blogger: Matt Blackwood

Many people disconnect with a place when they read. They drift from their seat on the 5.15 to Gawler, beyond armpits and sixteen year old screeches, to step into hover boots, rhinestone sandals or to spread toes on tropical sands. Locative Literature is the opposite of that!

Locative Literature is a way of connecting with a place by experiencing stories in the places where these stories are set. For example, this could mean reading a story about a laneway while standing in the same laneway. This story could be about a person who tagged a wall while standing three feet from the tag itself. Or it could mean sitting at a table, waiting for a coffee, and reading about a barista crafting a love heart in froth, who spends extra attention to the shape because of the customer she is about to serve. And then you receive your own soy latte.

The point of Locative Literature is for audiences to embrace the place they are in and to be immersed by a story. It works on the same principal that a scary story told under torchlight in the forest is scarier than if told from under compact fluorescents in the safety of your Ikea lounge room.

The Locative Literature I create is a mix of fact and fiction – it’s ‘faction’ so to speak. I research the place where the stories will be set, looking for minutiae that will trigger my imagination and interest, and then I study the types of people that visit this place, the history of the place and then create a story to suit.

Part of the reason why I am so passionate about Locative Literature is the new publishing possibilities that it presents. Stories can be self-published and presented for minimal cost by using Post-it notes, Scrabble tiles, alphabet fridge magnets and labelling tape to name just a few of the available forms. Locative Literature can also provide an important entry point for many people who have disconnected with reading and literacy. It can even be an important part of shifting attitudes towards specific places.

Of course Locative Literature won’t replace longer forms of reading or impact tablet sales or the share price of Dymocks, but anything that connects people to place and shares the love of words is surely worth the read.

To explore more possibilities of Locative Literature visit his website: and follow @MattyBlackwood on Twitter. Matt Backwood will be coming to Adelaide in October 2014 as Access2Arts’ Artist in Residence and will be presenting a series of workshops exploring Locative Literature. Keep an eye on the EVENTS page of the website for more details.

Matt Blackwood writes short stories, slightly longer short stories, and stories so long they think they’re too cool to hang around with the shorties. His fiction and non-fiction has been published and won awards and he has received several grants and commissions for his Locative Literature projects. Matt has been an invited guest at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, the Emerging Writers’ Festival, the Castlemaine State Festival, National Young Writers’ Festival and if book: Australia.