Never forget who you are – and never forget where you are

People from England, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, the Philippines, Nigeria and Scotland who ended up in Vienna talk about exactly what it’s like.

As part of this year’s Wir sind Wien festival, Write Now has organised eight readings by migrants to Vienna, describing their experiences and cultural journeys since arriving in the city. The readings will be held next Friday, June 10th at the Ankerbrotfabrik, Absberggasse 27, 1100 Wien.

How does it feel to migrate? How does it change your attitude to your new home, and the place you left? How do you retain an identity while becoming part of somewhere totally new? Do you need to, or should you just mix in? How do things like the job you do, the colour of your skin or your religion, get in the way?

Migration has changed hugely compared to movement from Africa, the Caribbean, the Subcontinent and Turkey into the big European economies in the 1950s and ‘60s. In many countries, such as the UK, two or three generations down the line, with people from all over the world having grown up in the same classrooms and workplaces, many of the questions have been answered, and the population at large feels that generally, the country is the stronger for having absorbed new people from around the world.

In many countries, though, it’s far less simple. As people continue to set out across the Mediterranean, how do those already in Europe and its new arrivals need to adapt to one another’s needs avoid to losing an entire generation of people to radicalism at both extremes?

As the literary partner of the Wir sind Wien event in the city’s 10th District, Favoriten, Write Now has brought together a group of eight ordinary people, from a range of different jobs and origins, to talk about their experiences of starting life elsewhere in the world and eventually landing up in Vienna, and where they really view as home.

The writers are a great mix: they started out in England, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, the Philippines, Nigeria and Scotland. They will read their respective pieces to the crowd at Magda’s Kantine, a café at the Ankerbrotfabrik arts centre site; there will be no stage, and the atmosphere will be informal; people will read their work, then open things up to the audience for questions. The readings will happen in two groups of four people, one at 4.00 pm and one at 6.30 pm. Other events (music, an artists’ initiative, etc.) will be held in the course of the afternoon.

The talks will also be backdropped by an exhibition of art by a Syrian refugee who contacted Write Now with his paintings. Highly professional, hauntingly memorable stuff. The talks will be humorous and insightful, there’s a performance by the superar orchestra, art happenings on the site and more – so come along on 10 June for a great afternoon!

 

Whiskey and Poetry Salon

Some very beautiful words spoken last night (St. Patrick’s Day!) at our Whiskey and Poetry Salon. A huge thank you to Neil McCarthy, the whiskey expert, and David Duffy the amazing man with a fiddle. Also thanks to the Irish Embassy and the University of Vienna for their contributions.

Don’t miss out next time! Neil will be doing another Salon on April 1, 2016 at Verein 08

And stay tuned for some video footage …

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The WriteNow Whiskey and Poetry Salon

WriteNow celebrates all things Irish…

Looking forward in so many ways to the Whiskey and Poetry Salon coming up soon! The evening of candlelit wit, wisdom and words will be hosted by Neil McCarthy, a published Irish poet and all-round raconteur based in Vienna, and held – as is only natural – on St. Patrick’s Day!

And this time around, the popular event will be co-hosted by Write Now, the Embassy of Ireland in Austria, and the Irish Studies Department at Vienna University.

On the evening, Neil will bring along four high-quality Irish whiskies, invite his guests and new friends to enjoy the fine tipples with him, along with Irish finger food such as sour dough bread, cheeses, salmon and more.

As each whiskey is opened, Neil will talk briefly about the history of the distillery in question, offer a description of each, while weaving in some of his own witty and wise poetry. He will be accompanied throughout by David, an Irish fiddler also based in Vienna, to warm the evening up further still.

In between each new whiskey, four or five guests will also be invited at random to share with the group a piece of poetry they themselves have written, or simply read and enjoyed somewhere along the way! So don’t come empty handed!

It all adds up to a quintessentially Irish way to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day with some beautiful whiskies and refined words. Look forward to seeing you there!

Where: Palais Palffy, Josefsplatz 6, 1010 Wien (30 seconds’ walk from the Albertina)

When: Thursday 17 March 2016, 8.00 – 11.00 pm

Cost: €12.00 a ticket (in advance only, via Eventbrite)

 

 

2016—a pivotal year for some very savvy Vienna writers

images-1This year will be unlike any other for those savvy writers who participated in Write Now’s exciting January meeting: 2016—Your Year of Amazing Writing Achievements. Facilitated by Kirsten Donaghey and myself, the meeting stepped writers through the process of creating meaningful writing goals and a realistic plan for achieving them.

Among various discussions, writers were encouraged to explore where their writer’s journey might lead them—whether they sought a lofty career as a literary novelist, or they were happier to traverse the more earthly path of the writer who simply loves to explore. Either way, a journey is best enjoyed one step at a time—mindful of the daily writing activities that gradually lead the writer to their destination. Along the way there are milestones—those sacred markers that affirm the writer’s compass is true. We explored those too. What milestones could be reached by the end of 2016? These would become each writer’s goal.

But what worthy adventure is not fraught with danger? Every writer is at least peripherally aware of the obstacles, like loose rocks on a steep mountain pass: they might cause a mighty tumble. The summit is no place for the unprepared or the foolhardy. So we discussed the obstacles (see the list below), and we listed ways of avoiding or overcoming these. Each writer weighed up the risks—were they prepared to set forth all the same?

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I think everyone on the evening realised it takes a great deal of courage and perseverance to become a successful writer. And when each writer read out their plan for 2016, Kirsten and I saw the determination: they were bravely setting out on an amazing journey. To keep them in good company, we encouraged each writer to choose a buddy—another writer who would check on their progress along the way. Both writers are aiming for their respective summits. We wish them every success.

Do you have a writer’s plan for 2016? Here is the writing plan each writer developed on our planning evening:

  1. My writing goal for 2016 is…
  1. I will achieve my goal by writing…hours / week .
  1. I will write at the following times:
  1. I will monitor my writing progress by…

5,   The biggest threats to me achieving my goal are…

  1. I will avoid / overcome these by…

You should print out your plan and display it where you can see it every day. Adhered to, your plan will lead you on to amazing writing achievements.

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Songwriting Workshop

na2008024_Renee Benson_Head ShotsInterview with Renee ‘Raie’ Benson

“Thank you Renee, for teaching me how to turn my broken heart into a song.” 

Ghislaine, Visual Artist, commenting on Introduction to Songwriting, January 2015

On 23 and 24 January 2016, New York soul singer (and much else besides) Renee ‘Raie’ Benson will be hosting a Write Now workshop, Beyond the Basics of Songwriting. The workshop will build on Introduction to Songwriting, which she ran in January 2015. This workshop will look more closely at the technical and emotional aspects of songwriting, focusing on the art of arranging music, using and understanding chord progressions, and developing strong musical intent.

Tim Martinz-Lywood spoke to Renee about what writers can learn from the process of writing a song, what she does in her spare time to help her musical creativity, and what advice she would give a young singer starting out on her career…

Hi Renee, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us! What have you been up to in the past year since Introduction to Songwriting?

It’s been quite a year, Tim! Since the last workshop with Write Now, I’ve performed in New Orleans (always a dream of mine), taught in the NorthWest Territories of Canada (teaching songwriting and singing with First Nations youth), flown an eight-seater passenger plane, taught and led an arts programme for young women in the South Bronx of NY, started writing my first solo album, and worked as the Musical Director for Caravan Stage Theater Co (in New York). I’ve also just finished a Gospel tour throughout Austria. So a busy year, all told.

How did you meet the musicians you’re working with currently?

The members of No Home for Johnny came together through horn player Julian Prueschl. He had an idea for a project combining jazz and hip hop with a singer who could sing intricate jazz lines and rap (and most importantly write her own music).

The group’s killer rhythm section, Raphael Prueschl and Michael Prozwanik, was Julian’s first choice (and not just because he grew up with Raphael!) The group was originally the brainchild of Julian and Vincent Pongracz, but Peter Rom of Jazzwerkstatt joined us after Vincent left. Peter brought sounds and melodies to our music we’d never even dreamt of.

Meaghan and I, of Cheating on New York, met here in Vienna, although we are both New Yorkers. We instantly found each other’s wild and quirky energies charming, and have worked together ever since.

Where can people see you performing in Vienna in the near future?

Well, my time here is coming to an end, as I will soon be off to work on my youth programmes in North America. But for Nina Simone fans, I am doing a tribute at the Albertina Passage in Vienna, at 10.00 pm on 21 January.

What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your musicality?

Nothing. Music is everywhere in life. Every moment contributes to my music. I am a writer. Even flying a plane has its own melody.

What are some typical mistakes people make when trying to write a song, do you think?

Overwriting! So many songs have too many words, too many images and too many metaphors in them. There is no space for the listener to breathe, capture the moment, pack their bags and take a trip with you. I think many songwriters want their audience to understand their music, and strange as it may sound, this is not necessary. Interpretation is important. Your listener will always apply the music to their life in the way they need. It is vital for a writer to understand when their music is for the people, because at that moment it no longer belongs to you.

How does writing a song differ from writing a short story, or a poem?

It doesn’t. I write short stories and poems all the time. In fact, I am thinking of publishing my own poetry book in 2017 since I have so much material. All the rules apply. That’s why some short stories sound great with a soundtrack in the background.

What might a budding writer of other styles take from your creative process to make their own stories more readable?

Trust. I never appreciated how lucky I have been as an artist to be raised by a community that always allowed me to be myself. My mother never punished me for my grades, but would ask what I needed to do better with my studies. My dance teacher never told me to lose weight, so I happily twirled through numerous dance competitions through my youth winning awards with thick thighs and a big smile. Because I never had to conform, I never did. Working with me means I’m working with you. My style is mindful and always based on what my student needs and who they are. I mean, it’s their life, right? Why would I ask them to write MY story?

You’re sitting in a bar alone after a gig. A young woman sits down next to you, orders a drink and tells you she’s about to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. What should she do – and what should she be sure not to do?

I would laugh and say, “Do it! The world needs music! They need love and most importantly, the world needs you. Oh, and I’m teaching a workshop with Write Now you need to attend.”

On the second point: I never tell people not to do anything. Our journeys are important to travel alone. I provide resources, not advice. In fact, I tell people to trust their bad decisions because you can write about those as well.

What should people expect to take away with them from Beyond the Basics of Songwriting?

I want my writers to leave after two days feeling like they have begun a song they have been trying to write all of their lives. This time, they will think about what the band plays, where they want the song to be heard (venue, radio, recording), and whether they want to perform it themselves or have another singer do so. Most importantly, I want my writers to let their music live on its own (without judgements or emotional ties).

Inspiration should be the big take away. The inspiration to do what you have to to have your music heard or just complete the song (because we all have different goals and intentions when we write).


Renee Benson, aka Raie, is a singer, songwriter, emcee, writer, educator and arts education advocate.  Her voice has taken her to Eurovision, PopFest, FM4 and to headline at events throughout Europe. She is the lead singer of No Home for Johnny, an experimental jazz and hip hop collective and a member of Freudian cabaret duo Cheating on New York.  She has taught for GirlsRock, What’sYourStory, InMyWords and of course Write Now, and run workshops for a wide range of universities, charities and other organisations. 

https://www.facebook.com/reneebensonmusic/?ref=hl

To find out more about joining Renee’s workshop, Beyond the Basics of Songwriting, just go to www.writenow.at now!

 

2016—Your Year of Amazing Writing Achievements!

imagesWith the year before us and all the opportunities that lay in wait, there is no better time to plan your writing activities. And what better way to crystallise your best intentions then in the fine company of fellow writers.

Facilitated by Kirsten Donaghey and Paul Malone, Write Now invites you to our very first (and perhaps most important!) event of the year:

2016—Your Year of Amazing Writing Achievements!

Wherever your writing endeavours may lead you, we’d love to help you on your journey. On the evening we’ll guide you through your own personal planning process—setting meaningful, measurable, and achievable goals that will progressively elevate and energise your writing.

So, if you’re up for an amazing year of writing achievements, take your boldest marker and emblazon your calendar with the following date:

Thursday 21st January

Palais Palffy- Josefsplatz 6 (enter the main door and we are the first door on the left)

Please drop us a line at office.writenow@gmail.com if you are coming and if you will bring along a guest.

We look forward to seeing you on the night.

What a Workshop!

A few weeks ago Write Now hosted an amazing two-day workshop at the WUK with Irish writer Julian Gough. One of the attendees enjoyed it so much he wrote a post on his own blog site. It is a three-part post so be sure to check out each one.

And here are a few photos from Julian’s reading at the Lane and Merriman Pub. What an evening!

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Christmas Party

Christmas dog

Join Us at the

Write Now Christmas Party

Thursday, December 10, 2015
7pm at the Palais Palffy
Josefsplatz 6, 1010

Come out for a relaxed evening including free food and drink, and everyone’s Christmas dream – an art gallery full of creative types eager to talk about their work, and an open bar! Ben will be on the guitar, there’ll be prizes on the door, and no speeches whatsoever – just great conversation about what’s been a great year for the group.

Free to members
€ 6.00 on door to non-members

So bring yourself, as many friends as you can muster, a much-loved but much-read book to swap at the book table, and any sweet nibbles you maybe fancy sharing too!

RSVP at office.writenow@gmail.com  to give us a rough idea of how many revellers to expect.

We wish you all a great start to the holiday season, and look forward to seeing you at the party!

Warm wishes from Tim, Tamara and Kirsten

Literary Reading- Julian Gough

Julian Gough with coffee in Library Bar credit Solana JoyCome to a reading on November 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Julian Gough, award winning author of “The Orphan and the Mob”, the “iHole”, Jude in Ireland, Jude in London, and the UK number one Kindle Single “CRASH!” will be reading from his work. He is contemporary, creative and entertaining. So please do come out for a listen, ask some questions, meet some people and have a drink. This event is co-hosted by Write Now and the Irish Embassy. And it’s FREE.

Where: Lane and Merriman’s Irish Pub, Spitalgasse 3, 1090

Registration is not required but we always appreciate a quick email to let us know you are coming. tamara.writenow@gmail.com

And don’t miss out on Julian’s spectacular Short Story workshop on November 14/15! More information here.