Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Arnold Zable

from w
Yesterday morning Peceli and I were at Donation in Kind sorting books as well as picking up donated furniture in a trailer, when a librarian arrived with boxes of very new looking 2007 Encyclopaedias. During morning tea I asked her about the Arnold Zable workshop which was booked out, and she said, there was a cancellation. Hoorah, I could go after all! I needed the impetus to start writing again as I have barely written a story or poem in the past three years. I took some notes and here are a few things I wrote, perhaps for the next Geelong Writer's bulletin.

Arnold Zable on Life Writing

Yesterday a fine writer from Melbourne, Arnold Zable, visited Geelong to lead a writing workshop at Belmont Library, and to deliver an address in the evening. He started the workshop by describing ways to tell a story – anecdote, journal (foundation of other work), a story for family, a memoir which is a specific slice of life, autobiography - a personal life story, biography, another person’s life story. However it is not as simple as that – some writers mix fiction with biography such as Drusilla Modjeska’s Poppy, and others such as in Athena and her Daughters, there’s a mix of viewpoints and even 3rd and 1st person. So imagination is part of writing, which does not mean making it up but ‘seeing’ Imagination is connected with the word ‘image’. Writers create scenes and a novel or story is a scene by scene construction, not a history of events. How do you construct a scene powerfully – see it, hear it, smell it. Kate Grenfell in her book on writing said a story fails if you can’t see the scene.

Arnold talked about his book entitled Scraps of Heaven on his childhood in Carlton, and the process of writing it.
I.Draw upon memory.
2. Return to the scene and walk around the place which will trigger memory, the smell of flowers, the same buildings and trees and back lanes.
3. Talk to people who were around at the time. This will broaden your vision and trigger memory.
4. Time frame. Look at newspapers and magazines of the time, radio of the time, dresses, music, obsessions in the news.
5. Find memoirs, letters, diaries of the time which are probably in the manuscript section of the State Library. Find out the way people talked then, what they talked about. Look out for incidental sayings or worlds. Text needs texture to come alive, the details but not the usual ones. For example at Gallipoli ‘men wept because they couldn’t keep clean’ is better than all the raging of guns. Find out how people spoke at that time, dances and songs of the time.

And so on….
bio from a website - jewishaustralia.
Arnold Zable is a dynamic and highly acclaimed storyteller. His books include the award winning Jewels and Ashes (1992), The Fig Tree (2002) and the novels Café Scheherazade (2001) and Scraps of Heaven (2004). He is president of the International PEN, Melbourne.

Zable was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1947, and grew up in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton. He attended Melbourne University and Columbia University. He has travelled and lived in the USA, India, Papua New Guinea, Europe, Southeast Asia and China.

Zable speaks with passion about memory and history, displacement and community, the experience of the Jewish diaspora, aboriginal issues and indigenous education, and the multiplicity of cultures within Australia. He has run workshops for migrants and refugees, and has recently spent considerable time with refugees held in Australian detention centres. Arnold Zable lives in Melbourne with his wife and son.

For more information visit:
‘Arnold Zable is a storyteller, one of the best I’ve heard. He tells his stories, which could be described as Yiddish Australian folk tales, with humour and quiet dignity…This is truly a man who believes in the power of stories.’
Martin Flanagan
‘The ability to see the beauty in the ordinary in a world obsessed with the extraordinary informs every aspect of Zable’s writing.’

Labels: ,


Blogger Geelong Libraries Blog said...

You can watch Arnold Zable presenting a lecture that very evening @

3:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home