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Memoirs and Biography: Writing short life stories

If you read these blogs often you will know I love to insert quotes into them and this time is no exception. So, before prattle on I wish to quote Abraham Lincoln: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years”. Very nice I think, and a perfect intro to a shameless plug for Maureen-Helen’s last PCWC workshop for the year “Memoirs and Biography: Writing Short Life Stories”.

In this workshop, Maureen-Helen will help you with the basics of memoir writing (so, it’s perfect for beginners) as well as the basics of short story writing, how you can capture the ‘life in your years’ in in order to write about them and the steps to take once your short story is complete.

The workshop will take place on Sunday 22nd of November 2015 at 1:30-4:30 in the board room at Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre. The price of the workshop is $38 for members and $48 for non members. Registrations will close on Tuesday, 17th November 2015.

Maureen-Helen is an experienced writer, teacher and published author.  Her memoir, Other People’s Country (ABC Books, 2008) was listed for a Walkley Award and short-listed for the WA Premier’s Book Awards (SLWA WA History Prize).  Maureen-Helen’s formal qualifications include a PhD in Writing.

To register for this workshop or to learn more follow this link.

Plug over.

Play Readings to celebrate Centre’s 20th Anniversary

Six playwrights from Peter Cowan Writers Centre Inc will present script readings of their ten-minute plays on Sunday, 9 August 2015 at the Joondalup Library commencing at 2 pm. ‘The project forms part of the Centre’s 20th anniversary celebrations, and features plays inspired by the short stories of PCWC’s namesake Peter Cowan,’ said PCWC President, Susan Stevens.

StagesWA has provided support to the project with Dramaturg Polly Low mentoring the playwrights in the development of their plays: ‘Mobiles’ (Sue Braghieri); ‘Love and Affection’ (Elizabeth Brennan); ‘Film’ (John Dooley); ‘The Touch of Love’ (Susanne Harford); ‘Red-backed Spiders’ (Gayle Malloy); and ‘The Corner’ (John Trewin).

The plays explore the full gamut of human emotions, conflicts and experiences from the tension between two hitchhikers and the driver who picks them up (‘Mobiles’), to a coming of age story (‘The Touch of Love’) and dissatisfied spouses yearning for another life (‘Film’, ‘Love and Affection’). Other characters are confronted by the aftermath of parental neglect (‘Red-backed Spiders’) and a road accident (‘The Corner’) and must question the consequences of their actions, or failure to act.

‘StagesWA advocates for the development of the craft of playwriting. We are pleased to have been able to give the PCWC playwrights the opportunity of dramaturgy and a facilitated play reading as these are crucial steps in the craft and the work progressing to production,’ said StagesWA Director, Marie Rodger.

Perth professional and community theatre actors Kirstie Francis, Nicolas Kadmos, Shelley McGinn, Angelino Schintu, and Lisa Skrypichayko will assume the adult and narration roles for the play readings, with second and third year acting students from Principal Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts taking on the young adult roles.

Adults and youth over the age of 16 are welcome to attend the play readings and can participate in the Q and A session to provide feedback to the playwrights on how they can further refine their plays. RSVPs are essential. Contact PCWC on (08) 9301 2282 or e: cowan05@bigpond.com by 7 August 2015 to register your attendance.

Read more about Play Readings.


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Memoirs/Biography: Editing and Rewriting

I dislike editing.  You write and write and write in order to reach that deadline and to express what you want to express and then when you do finish it you haven’t actually finished it! You have to re-read it and re-read it again and so by then your sick of your own words and want to throw it out the window. Maybe I’m over personalizing at the end there, but in any case I find editing my work takes more effort than actually writing the essay or article but it is one of the most important things to do.

If my experience is anything like yours and you wish to refine the art of editing in order to perfect your writing then I can recommend Dr Maureen-Helen’s workshop “Memoirs/Biography: Editing and Rewriting”. This workshop is for novice writers and for those who want to perfect their writing through editing, feedback and managing drafts. She will teach you a number of methods and approaches to help you get your writing and editing life on track.

Dr. Maureen-HelenFor those who are unfamiliar with Dr Maureen-Helen she is an experienced writer, teacher and published author. Her memoir, Other People’s Country (ABC Books, 2008) was listed for a Walkey Award and short-listen for WA Premier’s Book Awards (SLWA WA History Prize). Her formal qualifications include a PhD in Writing.

The workshop goes from 1:30pm – 4:30pm on Sunday 12th July.

Please refer to the flyer for information on the workshop, how to apply and the cost for members and non members.

Photos from the PCWC 20th Anniversary High Tea

We all had a great time at the high tea celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Peter Cowan Writers Centre.

Highlights included a few words from the newly appointed ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman, the Head of the School of Communications and Arts at ECU Mt Lawley Professor Clive Barstow as well as Professor Glen Phillips. We also enjoyed listening to Liana Joy Christensen recite a poem she wrote during her time in the Advanced Poetry workshop here at PCWC and which is also published in the Homecoming coffee table book.


Thank-you to everyone who made this day possible.


  1. A few words from Professor Clive Barstow
  2. Group under Marquee including Mayor of Wanneroo Tracey Roberts and Professor Glen Philips
  3. Snapshot of PCWC Volunteer Nicole Waddilove, Liana Joy Christensen and Lynne Cohen
  4. PCWC President Susan Stevens talks to Cr Tom from CoJ
  5. PCWC Member Sue Henderson and PCWC Volunteer Robyn Negus
  6. PCWC President Susan Stevens and Professor Clive Barstow

Do you want to kick-start your writing life?

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaac Asimov

Dr. Maureen-HelenDr Maureen-Helen is back at PCWC with a workshop to help kick-start your writing life. If there is a single part of you that wishes to write, whether that be professionally or simply as a hobby then this workshop might be right up your alley. You will learn about a number of proven techniques and approaches to help you tame that writing beast to your complete satisfaction.

The workshop will take place on 28th June 2015 at 1:30pm-4:30pm but registrations close on the 23rd of June at 5pm.

As the Greek Philosopher Epictetus once said “If you wish to be a writer; write!” and it’s this workshop that will help you achieve this simple advice.

Please find further information and the application form here

Another poetry workshop

Shane McCauley is back with another poetry workshop called Editing Your Poetry, which is about…editing your poetry!

If you went to Shane’s beginners poetry workshop, Introduction to Poetry, in March then this workshop is the other half of your poetry education.

Shane has made this workshop to be purely practical. So, applicants will be immersed in methods of how to shape a poem, what to include and exclude, how to utilize imagery to the best effect, how to incorporate sounds and rhythms in both traditional and free poetic forms. Applicants will also examine examples of the good and the not-so-good.

photo shaneIf you were not an applicant of Introduction to Poetry you may not be familiar with Shane’s work.

Shane McCauley has been a TAFE/University lecturer since the mid-1970s and seven of his books of poetry have been published, most recently The Drunken Elk (Sunline Press, 2010) and Ghost Catcher (Studio Press, 2012). He was awarded the 2008 Max Harris Poetry Award. So your poetry will be in good hands!

We have several places still available so the closing date for registrations to this workshop has been dropped for now to allow for any interested parties to apply at a time that’s appropriate for them. But make sure you get in soon because Editing Your Poetry will be taking place on the 30th of May. You may apply via phone, email or through our new online application process on our website! 

What makes a beautiful poem?

What makes a beautiful poem? Emily Dickinson described it like this:

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?”     (1870)

To write a memorable poem one must first learn how to express emotion in their poetry that envelopes readers and audiences in the same way Emily Dickinson has so vividly described.

JaJackson pic 26-11-2014ckson – facilitator of the workshop Writing Powerful Poetry – will help you achieve this. Her poetry has been published many times, she has a wealth of teaching, mentoring and poetry editing experience and in 2014 she won the Ethel Webb Bundell Poetry Award.

Her workshop will take place on Sunday the 17th May at the Peter Cowan Writers Centre and will cover the ways in which strong emotion can be transported through poetry as well as analyzing the ways in which famous poets construct mystery and magic.

To quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves”      (1865)

Further information about Writing Powerful Poetry

Jackson’s Facebook event page for Writing Powerful Poetry