A Bouquet for a Writing Workshop


I facilitated a writing workshop for the Biennial 2015 at a local City Council.  It was my brain child: born when their Curator and Visual Arts Co-ordinator asked me to help her plan an event that would include the ethnic communities in their municipality.  I’d met V a couple of years before, when she curated a students’ exhibition which included works from my Chinese Calligraphy class.


I told her that I’m a writer, not an artist and suggested the workshop.  So they invited local citizens from twelve different ethnic backgrounds to write their stories with reference to ‘Imagining Place’, the theme of the Biennial.

It was a humbling experience.  I’d planned a program to guide the writers through the process of storytelling but was forced to abort it.

Some of the participants arrived with their stories already written and refused to work on them further.  One sixteen year old boy bolted.  Two announced that they had prior appointments and must leave early.

Yet, two hours before the workshop was to end, I had eleven stories – six on a USB memory stick (from those who wrote on laptops that Council provided), two on emails (from writers who brought their own laptops) and three on paper.

It took me hours to decipher and edit those stories, preparing them for publication.  There was a book launch; the booklet displayed and made available as part of the Biennial.

Although nothing went as planned at the workshop, the book is a moving tribute to the experiences of migrants who now call Australia home.

One of the authors who sent me his story by email wrote to me in reply to my acknowledgement (he was one of those who had to leave early):

This post is an updated version previously published in 2015

About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
This entry was posted in Memoir, Volunteering, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to A Bouquet for a Writing Workshop

  1. taphian says:

    That was a really interesting project to write stories. I wonder why it was so difficult. The flowers are really beautiful, dear Mary. You do a lot of wonderful things, kind regards Mitza


    • Mary Tang says:

      Thank you for this comment, Mitza. for some reason it was sent to the Spam file. The participant were over briefed by council’s recruitment staff so some of them wrote what they thought they were told to write. Too many cooks…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. arlingwoman says:

    What a great thing to help people tell their stories. Isn’t it funny how workshops so rarely follow the way you planned, but somehow turn out?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. robert okaji says:

    Sounds like a wonderful experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice initiative, Mary

    Liked by 2 people

  5. mattb325 says:

    Wow. This will be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Lets hope it’s not too much effort to get the book published – I imagine there are a few other hurdles with council involved!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Glad you did that. Hope the book turns out well!

    Liked by 1 person

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