2015 in reading and writing

So many books, so little time. But over the course of the last reading year, I averaged 1.5 books a week – finishing 79 in total, plus every edition (bar the most recent of each) of Kill Your DarlingsOverlandMeanjin and Poetry magazine. Phew.

Australian Women Writers

My reading list included 20 books by Australian women writers for the #AWW2015 / #readwomen challenge, posting micro-reviews on Twitter for:

  • A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson (Writers Vic tutor)
  • Dirty Words by Natalie Harkin (for Poetry Book Club)
  • Drag Down to Unlock or Place an Emergency Call by Melinda Smith (for Poetry Book Club)
  • Fall Girl by Toni Jordan (Writers Vic tutor)
  • Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven
  • Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung (Writers Vic tutor)
  • Madeleine by Helen Trinca (for Clunes Booktown)
  • Market Blues by Kirsty Murray (Writers Vic tutor)
  • Paying the Piper by Cathy Hunt
  • Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood (Writers Vic tutor)
  • South in the World by Lisa Jacobson (Writers Vic tutor)
  • The Dangerous Bride by Lee Kofman (Writers Vic tutor)
  • The Empress Lover by Linda Jaivan
  • The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna (Writers Vic tutor)
  • The Factory by Paddy O’Reilly (Writers Vic tutor)
  • The Strays by Emily Bitto
  • Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckerman
  • Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood
  • Wild by Libby Hart
  • Word for Lovers by Doris Leadbetter

We Need Diverse Books

For the first year, I also recorded 12 books as part of the We Need Diverse Books challenge: “books where people of color can be first-page HEROES rather than second-class citizens. Books in which LGBTQIA characters can represent social CHANGE rather than social problems. And books where people with disability can be just… people.”

  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  • Caos Calling by Julie Mcnamara
  • Coming of Age: growing up Muslim in Australia (for Brimbank Readers & Writers Festival)
  • Contemporary Asian Australian Poetry (for Poetry Book Club)
  • Dirty Words by Natalie Harkin (for Poetry Book Club)
  • Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven
  • Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung (Writers Vic tutor)
  • Love Poems and Death Threats by Samuel Wagan Watson (for Poetry Book Club)
  • The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
  • The Dangerous Bride by Lee Kofman (Writers Vic tutor)
  • The Thin Bridge by Andy Jackson
  • Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckerman

RIP Terry Pratchett

Following his death in March 2015, Brien and I kicked off our Terry Pratchett memorial reading project, getting through 22 Disc World books by the end of the year.


There never seems to be enough time for writing. So in looking back on 2015, it’s good to remind myself that I actually got quite a lot done.

And for someone who’s much better at starting things than finishing them, it’s nice to be kicking off a new year with not one by three writing projects finally tidied away.

Twitter poetry

The constant undercurrent to my creative practice, in 2015 I celebrated the sixth anniversary of tweeting a poem a day. That means I now have a very large body of very small work. And I was chuffed to pass the milestone that now sees more than 5,000 people reading my poems every day.

Song-a-month project

Following on from my Push Songs mentorship in 2014, I challenged myself to keep up my songwriting by recording a song a month throughout 2015.

And although I found it terrifying (in the way the poem-a-day hasn’t been for a while) and I was sometimes a little behind my monthly schedule, I made it to the end of the year with 12 original recordings done and shared with the world.

It included some old songs and some new ones. It included tribute to my friend Stella (my first ever dance track) and one to my colleague Kat. It included some love songs, some spoken word and even a cover in honour of Dead on TV.

Writer in Residence: #SELFIES in Central Australia

I was completely thrilled to return to Central Australia to run a week of poetry and meme-making workshops for the amazing crew at Incite in Alice Springs – an honour and a privilege for which I still can’t quite find the words. So it’s lucky that collaborator Stu made a gorgeous film about my time there.

Twitter Poet in Residence: Australia Council Arts Learning Forum

Any day getting paid to be a poet is a good day in my book. So it was pretty special to spend my birth-week as Twitter Poet in Residence for #ArtsLearningForum15 at Footscray Community Arts Centre.

Over 3 days, I wrote 190 tiny little poems inspired by 30 sessions, activities and spaces. The poems were published live on Twitter and re-tweeted 290 times by 137 Twitter accounts, reaching a potential online audience of over 127,709 people. Phew!

Terrible Teachers

After 11 long years in the making (procrastinating), I finally self-published two children’s books in honour of two of the best teachers I have ever known: my mum and dad.

What started as a gift for the year they semi-retired was shocked back into production at the end of 2014 when I realised they had quietly retired for real (10 years later), and that with their first grandson on the way they finally had an audience for their eponymous picture books: Mr/Mrs Larsen and the Terrible Teachers of Flinders Park School.

My partner kindly suggested that I had to wait those 11 years for technology to catch up with my vision. But while I know my inner-procrastinator better than that, I was pretty pleased with the result (thanks to Blurb print-on-demand), the great unveiling at Nan’s xmas tree, and that strangers (FPPS alumni, I presume) have started to buy a few copies online.

LARSEN: The Musical

Another long-term project (this time only 5 years in the making), LARSEN: The Musical was born on a bus-ride between KL and Melaka the day after we discovered we had Swine Flu.

But was brought out of the drawer this summer (for one night only) while its incredibly niche audience were all in one place at one time. Full of in-jokes and 1908s GWN TV jingles, it’s not bound for Broadway anytime soon. But, just quietly, I suspect ‘My name is Jill-single-syllable-no-middle-name’ may be the highlight of my song-writing career.

We are walking on water, our head in the clouds. We are watching our dreams all come true. We are building our lives on the flow of the tides. This place always will be home to you.

Free the Arts

For many of us, 2015 felt like we’d taken on second (and third) jobs as professional submission writers. I don’t know how many thousands of words I churned out on state and federal policy and politics, or how much of an impact those words have had in the end (fingers still crossed). But I have been so inspired by the articulate, passionate and intelligent colleagues who raised their voices clear and loud.

Oh, and I also recorded the poetic manifesto I wrote for my fellow Aus Co Emerging Leaders cohort to add my own creative response to the call to #FreeTheArts.

Author: katelarsenkeys

Arts, Cultural & Non-Profit Consultant. Reader. Writer (Our Hybrid Future, The Relationship is the Project). Researching the art of arts governance. larsenkeys.com.au

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