Samhita Arni visits MHS for annual Book Week Literature Festival

The Year 9 students were privileged to see guest speaker Samhita Arni this week as part of our annual Book Week Literature Festival. Samhita was visiting Australia for the Melbourne Writers Festival and we were very lucky that she had time to come to MHS as well. She talked to the students about her books, including The Mahabharata: A Child’s View (published when she was just 11 years old; she said that opportunity for publication just arose through luck). She said that her first book arose out of her voracious reading and love of mythology combined with the loneliness she felt after moving back to India after living in Pakistan. She showed some of the beautiful images in her bestselling graphic novel Sita’s Ramayana(illustrated by Moyna Chitrakar) and explained the historical background behind retellings of this Indian epic from a woman’s point of view as well as the implications of the renewed reverence for the story in modern India. She also talked about her most recent novel, The Missing Queen, which is another retelling of the Ramayana, this time in the form of a thriller set in the modern world. Other projects she mentioned included her participation in the cross-country anthology Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, and her online project, Out of Print, which provides a platform for writing about sexual violence in South Asia.

The students were very positive about her talk, some of them saying afterwards that it was “an eye-opener,” exposing them to a side of India that they weren’t familiar with. One student said he really appreciated the way she conveyed feminism in an interesting and approachable way, arising out of her life experiences and her books. Another student commented that he found it fascinating the way she explained the relevance of ancient Indian epics to modern day life, reinvigorating mythology. The overall consensus seemed to be: “Brilliant!” (written by Mr Blair Mahoney)

Samhita Arni has been interested in Hindu mythology since she was a child. She has written The Mahabaharata: A Child’s View, a version of another great Indian epic, which has been translated into seven languages and was named Book of the Month by the German Academy for Youth Literature and Media, and one of the Best Published Books of 2004 by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. It also won the Elsa Morante Literary Award (Department of Culture, Campania, Italy). Samhita has also written scripts for film and television and is currently working on a thriller based on The Ramayana. She lives in Bangalore, India. (Source: Goodreads)

Sita’s Ramayana

The Missing Queen

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean

A collection of sci-fi and fantasy writing, including six graphic stories, showcasing twenty stellar writers and artists from India and Australia: Isobelle Carmody, Penni Russon, Justine Larbalestier, Margo Lanagan, Lily Mae Martin, Kuzhali Manickavel, Prabha Mallya, Annie Zaidi, Kate Constable, Vandana Singh, Mandy Ord, Priya Kuriyan, Manjula Padmanabhan, Samhita Arni, Alyssa Brugman, Nicki Greenberg and Amruta Patil. (Source:Goodreads)

When she was eight, Samhita Arni started writing and illustrating her first book. “The Mahabharata – A Child’s View” went on to be published in seven language editions and sell 50,000 copies worldwide, winning the Elsa Morante Literary Award, and receiving commendations from the German Academy for Youth Literature and Media and The Spanish Ministry of Culture. (Source: Amazon)

   

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Laureate Launch 2015 – guest author Chris Womersley

170505-111203-rev-womersley This year’s Laureate, our literary magazine, was launched in the library this afternoon, with award winning Australian author, Chris Womersley, as guest speaker. There is no doubt that Melbourne High School has an abundance of writing and artistic talent, and we celebrated this in style today. After his speech Chris presented our talented students with a copy of the Laureate. We were happy to see so many people at the event – parents (and possibly grandparents), teachers and students all enjoying a lovely afternoon tea and good company. Thank you, Chris, for coming and presenting your speech to encourage our students. Thanks to Mr Sam Bryant for organising the event. Thanks also to the talented students, including those who finished last year. Thanks to our principal, Mr Jeremy Ludowyke, and our assistant principals, Dr Janet Prideaux and David Smyth, for supporting the event. Thanks also to the teachers who came to support their students. Note: This was a photographer’s nightmare with everyone moving and shaking during the Laureate magazine presentations for contributing writers. Please excuse the blurry photos resulting from multiple filters attempting to block out reflection from all the ceiling lights and from windows. unnamed (8) unnamed (26) unnamed (11) unnamed (3) unnamed (1) Isaac Reichman presents Chris with a token of our appreciation. (… a couple of tokens…)unnamed (29) It was great to see our past students again. Many had contributed last year to this year’s Laureate. unnamed unnamed (25) unnamed (24) unnamed (23) unnamed (22) unnamed (21) unnamed (7) unnamed (20) unnamed (19) unnamed (18) unnamed (17) unnamed (16) unnamed (15) unnamed (14) unnamed (13) unnamed (11) unnamed (9) unnamed (6) unnamed (4) Interesting – I wonder what what they are pondering. unnamed (2) trio Richard Nicholas   The cover of the Laureate 2014 features art work by Hieu Nguyen, the student whose art was awarded the Melbourne High School Art and Cultural Trust & Melbourne High School Foundation Art Acquisition Prize 2013. unnamed (31) A big thanks again to Mr Sam Bryant for organising this very important event. Library staff always enjoy hosting school events, especially if they promote the talents of our wonderful students. Thanks also to parents/grandparents who joined us.

Fog, gloom, men in wigs – It’s coming up to World Poetry Day

To celebrate World Poetry Day  we’ve decided to make a bit of a fuss in the library. We are grateful to Mr Blair Mahoney, English Teacher Extraordinaire, for contributing an eclectic and inspirational collection of poetry and art to our display – shared in the presentation below.

Denise has selected literary haiku from David Bader’s One hundred great books in haikuThese have been printed on small cards and displayed adjacent to the corresponding books. Here’s a slideshow of our displays.

The Laureate Launch

The Melbourne High School student literary publication, Laureate, has been revived after a ten year hiatus. English teacher, Sam Bryant, has been instrumental in this revival. Melbourne High School celebrates worthy events in style, and thanks to Sam and his colleagues, the Laureate Launch was a successful event which included assistant principal, Dr Janet Prideaux, staff, students, parents and the guest speaker, Judith Rodriguez, renowned Australian poet, author and educator. Since the publication comprised of student writing from 2012, we were pleased to welcome back past students to receive their congratulations and a copy of Laureate.

Here is Sam Bryant’s speech delivered on the day (26 June 2013):

Special guest Judith Rodriguez, parents, students and staff,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here to this special occasion, the launch of the 2012 Laureate. On behalf of the Melbourne High English Department, I thank you for coming to celebrate the creative writing of MHS students.

Although this is the fourth edition of Laureate, it is now ten years since it was last published. Early last year it was decided that the magazine would be revived as it was recognised that once again there needed to be a student literary publication at Melbourne High School. The students of Melbourne High School have a long and rich tradition of creative writing, and it is fitting that their work will once again be published and shared with the wider school community.

The English Department extends its congratulations to the students who have been selected to appear in this year’s edition of Laureate. This is your publication. Nevertheless, many thanks should also go to the teachers of the English Department for their tireless work in nurturing the students in their creative endeavours, providing them with advice and feedback, and also for proofreading the work submitted for this publication.

It is envisaged that Laureate will now become an annual publication and that it will further the already thriving culture of creative writing at Melbourne High School. Hopefully, a gathering such as this is will become an anticipated event on the school calendar, and one that continues to celebrate and promote the literary talents of Melbourne High School students.

It now gives me immense pleasure to introduce to you our special guest speaker, Judith Rodriguez.

Judith Rodriguez was born in Perth, but lived in Brisbane from the age four until she was twenty-four. Her years at Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School and the University of Queensland are among her fondest memories.

She has published thirteen volumes of poetry.

Judith’s first poetry collection was published in 1962 as part of Four Poets, the others being fellow Brisbane poets David Malouf, Rodney Hall and Don Maynard. In 1974 she began making woodcuts and linocuts for book decorations; these appear in several of her poetry collections, and have been exhibited. In 1978 she was awarded the inaugural South Australian Government Prize for Literature in for the collection, Water Life. Mudcrab at Gambaro’s received both the Sydney PEN Golden Jubilee Award for Poetry and the Artlook/Shell Literary Award in 1981. From 1979 to 1982, she was poetry editor for the literary journal Meanjin, and from 1988 to 1997 she was a poetry editor with the publisher Penguin Australia.

In 1994 she was awarded the Fellowship of Australian Writers C.J. Brennan Prize for Poetry.

Judith collaborated with Australian composer Moya Henderson on the opera Lindy, about Lindy Chamberlain, which premiered in 2003 at the Sydney Opera House, and with Robyn Archer on the play Poor Johanna, produced in Adelaide in 1994. Her long ballad, The Hanging of Minnie Thwaites, with an historical account of the life that led Thwaites, aged 26, to the gallows, was published only last year and along with many of her other works can be viewed on the table over there, and I encourage you to have a look at them after the presentations.

Yet it is significant that Judith has not only shared her passion for poetry and creative writing through her own works. She has also devoted her life to the teaching of creative writing. She taught English at La Trobe University from 1969 until 1985. In 1986 she was writer-in-residence at Rollins College, Florida, an experience commemorated in her ninth collection Floridian Poems (1986). In 1989 she took up a lectureship in writing at Victoria College, which in 1993 became part of Deakin University, where she continued to teach until 2003. Judith has taught literature and writing in universities on four continents and continues to teach at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne. She is a life member of Writers Victoria, a member of the Australian Society of Authors Council, has chaired the Melbourne Shakespeare Society and continues to work for PEN International.

In 1994 Judith was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for services to Literature.

Information for Judith Rodriguez’s biography was sourced from  Australian Poetry Library Australian Society of AuthorsDeakin University and Wikipedia

Shortlist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature

The shortlist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature is out as well as the Best Writing.

The Melbourne Prize for Literature

The Best Writing Award