Monday, 13 October 2014

Friday, 17th October is Prose with
Helen Hagemann @ the Fremantle Arts Centre:  Helen’s start will be directly after lunch in Room 3
Class to read excerpts from Poppy by Drusilla Modjeska. Writing Exercises and discussion will include “fictionalised biography” and modern-day journal writing.

Drusilla Modjeska was born in London in 1946 and was raised in Hampshire. She spent several years in Papua New Guinea (where she was briefly a student at the University of Papua New Guinea) before arriving in Australia in 1971. She studied for an undergraduate degree at the Australian National University before completing a PhD in history at the University of New South Wales which was published as Exiles at Home: Australian Women Writers 1925-1945 (1981).
    Modjeska's writing often explores the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction. The best known of her work are Poppy (1990), a fictionalised biography of her mother, and Stravinsky's Lunch (2001), a feminist reappraisal of the lives and work of Australian painters Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. She has also edited several volumes of stories, poems and essays, including the work of Lesbia Harford and a 'Focus on Papua New Guinea' issue for the literary magazine Meanjin. Her awards for Poppy include: Fellowship of Australian Writers; Herb Thomas Literary Award, 1990. National Book Council Banjo Award for Non-Fiction, 1991, NSW Premier's Douglas Stewart Award for Non-Fiction, 1991, and was also shortlisted in London for the Fawcett Awards and the PEN International Award.
   Poppy is part truth, part fictionalised biography. The story Modjeska tells is of her mother’s unhappy childhood and cold mother, her marriage to a kind but conventional man, their comfortable middle class life in the south of England, and her three children. She later separated from her husband, took a university degree, worked as a probation officer and formed a new relationship, having a love affair with Marcus. Modjeska sets out to collect and sort the evidence of her mother's life. But when the facts refuse to give up their secrets, she follows the threads of history and memory into imagination. There she teases out the story of Poppy, who married at twenty and sang to her children, until suddenly one day in 1959, she was taken away to a sanatorium; a breakdown that lasted for two years.


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    Writing at the Centre is an independent writing class conducted each Friday at the Fremantle Arts Centre, Print Room, upstairs in the main building.

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