At the end of 2021 and start of 2022 I was fortunate enough to be able to self-fund a couple of writing residencies in Hobart at my beloved Kelly Street Cottage.
Although I had applied for the residency in the official manner, ongoing border closures and contact restrictions played tremendous havoc with the residency’s planning, forcing the organisers to have to rearrange everything and postpone the stays of people who had been booked in already.
Because of my status as a Queensland resident, and my newly flexible existence as someone whose job had been made redundant, I made the trip to Hobart, and just went with the flow to be the residency’s first guest in over a year.
It’s hard for me to overstate how much I adore Hobart. When I’m there, I can walk around all day, just beaming with excitement. I must look like a real idiot, but I don’t care. To feel the strange rush of invigoration I get from the place is extraordinary. I remember when I landed there on 29th September 2021 and walked up the street and smelled the woodsmoke from the chimneys, I was just in heaven.
Anyway, writing and editing had been slow. I seemed to have lost a level of sureness about what was good, what should stay, what should be cut, what should be built on. I was just drifting, mentally, stylistically.
When I returned in February 2022, I really dug in. I wanted something to show for all this. A friend sent through some award and submission notifications. One was for a chapbook competition. That seemed to grab me — I’ll do a chapbook. Well, that decision just cemented something, and soon I had gathered nine of my poems into a document, edited them, and then (this was the clincher) with the feedback from the same friend of a couple of suggestions about which poems should stay together in the sequence, I suddenly had a viable document. I was actually proud of the work, and I felt like I had my judgement back.
So, thank you Hobart, and thanks to my reader friends who gave me feedback and confirmation when I was a bit lost with things.
And a huge thank you to the Salamanca Arts Centre who administrates the Kelly Street Cottage residency. Thank you for letting me be your flexible artist-in-residence during a very weird time for us all.