New Voices

New Voices is about the art of storytelling, featuring the work of new writers (most of whom are yet to be published); they provide listeners with writing tips, read a sample of their work, and are critiqued by a complete stranger. Tune in to New Voices to find your way back to why we all want to read and write stories to begin with - sharing experiences, making sense of the world, and creating worlds with words.

New Voices #15

The Sacred and Profane .... and a few Profanities: Joseph Tawadros critiques Loretta Jessop

In this episode, we cover the steep sides and deep ravines of the sacred and the profane, as that stunning virtuoso of the oud, Joseph Tawadros, critiques newcomer literary talent, Lorretta Jessop. Yes, there are some swear words in this episode, so cover your ears now if you are faint of heart, or frail of spirit. Both Jospeh and Lorretta are rule-breakers, but not in that traditional Bad Boy or Bad Girl type of way - nope - it’s just that they ignore the traditional rules to follow the strong force of their creativity.

Lorretta is just brimming with originality. She has a quicksilver mind and makes razor sharp observations, and she targets society’s most sacred institutions; motherhood, government departments, politicians, and that most sacred institution of all....Sydney’s cafe society.  Loretta’s unfinished novel is sweet, its slicing, and takes her key character through the highs and lows of Sydney life, in the three days before the Martin Place siege in 2014.

It is a wonderful exposition of modern life seen with clarity and curiosity, and a little bit of yearning for something better. It is inspired, she says, by that classic piece of literature, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. And talking of turning the classics on their head, we have as our critiquer, Joseph Tawadros. If you have ever heard of the oud, then you have definitely heard of Joseph, who is a master of this instrument. And if you have ever heard him play, well it is not something you would easily forget. He spreads himself around, playing throughout country areas, at the Opera House, and in dark bars at Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west. 

In between sets he engages his audience in banter that is, well, sweet and slicing and very funny. I knew that Joseph would cross that ravine between literature and music with one pluck of the string on his oud, the perfect person to critique an original talent such as Lorretta. His bio is daunting; Aria awards, performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, global acclaim. So how did he end up on this program? He’s a man of the people, says Joseph, he grew up in Redfern, and is about gathering experiences to enrich his music. 

Well, we are officially enriched, especially so since he agreed to be interviewed from London. And Joseph, Iike all Australians, claims his right to a unique expression of himself without fear or favour. I dress in colour, he says, shrugging nonchalantly about his bright tapestried blazers, his fez, and full-on, put-hipsters-to-shame beard. Well, he dresses in colour, he plays in colour and he critiques in colour. 

Welcome to Episode 15 of New Voices, and prepare as always (just as I do), for the surprises at hand.

Original broadcast date: 19 October 2020

New Voices #14

In episode #14, poet and writer Roger Patulny (a lecturer at Wollongong University by day) takes us through three poems, each telling a story: isolation in Covid, being a single parent, and, of course, the sheer romping boy-like enthusiasm of a spaceman orbiting the earth, reciting a poem of love and longing.

Highly respected Australian performer Paul also muses on the time of COVID, and the artful, textured and visceral way that Roger Patulny captures the small moments that make up this big event. Certainly big for Paul, who as part of the arts and culture fraternity, was deemed a ‘non-essential’ worker by the government. What does this say about our society, he muses.

Paul Capsis relishes all three poems! But is thoroughly celebratory of Roger’s incursion into the writing world, and the small introspective vision of major publishers which excludes new and ‘grass-roots’ talent. Roger has brought a team together to create a new online literary magazine Authora Australis, which uses a blind review process for selecting works submitted for publication. That way, he says, it’s not who you know, nor what your reputation is, but the talent and appeal of your work alone that gets credit.

Tune in to this wonderful episode with two essential workers in the arts, who will take centre stage and on a journey into the world of words. Just don’t get too dizzy taking a ride on that spinning orbital poem.

Original broadcast date: 5 October 2020

New Voices #13

In this week's episode of New Voices, Kellie Edwards showcases her beautiful unfinished novel. No Farewell is set in the 15th century about a female poet and musician who often lives as a man to pursue her passions and avoid the penury and boredom of female life. The writing - its cadences and tones is very much like the music she is inspired by - the contemporaneous troubadour music and lyrics with their heavy reliance on strings and harps and the single voice echoing in large stone halls.

And all this from an industrial law and anti-discrimination barrister who was born by the sea, but went to six different schools around country NSW. She knows what it is like to be an outsider. Not much has changed, she reckons from those times.

Iconic Australian actor Lex Marinos agrees. He knows what it is like to be an outsider - the wog from Wagga he jokes. But he is also a keen activist who believes in equity on all levels and he is a proud union member.

So a story of a woman disguised in order to fulfil a passion in the performing arts? A match made in heaven. 

Original broadcast date: 21 September 2020

New Voices #12

This episode is entirely about misbehaviour and rebellion and people who won’t be told what to do or how to classify their work. Our writer, Julie-Ann Wrightson, is a bit of a rebel herself - she was expelled from high school in Newcastle (mind boggles). However she had her own rebellion at hand when her body started to become intolerant of a wide range of chemicals, natural and unnatural in her everyday food. Her book is a wonderful mixture of journaling, storytelling, facts and figures, education and cookbook where she gives recipes for her favourite foods, but recreated to take into consideration a wide range of food intolerances.

Her critiquer is a health professional with a doctorate, whose initial reaction is admiration and excitement. This is something she believes can help others by making the information accessible and entertaining without taking away the seriousness of the issues. But who is she? Dr X has taken on the nom de plume of K.C. Cox, chosen because it is a ‘C’ and will sit in the middle of a bookshop shelf at eye level. And what is she writing? Why CrimeAnce of course - the genre that is a melding of crime and romance. She is crafting a flawed female lead character who is setting out to investigate internet dating scammers. 

Original broadcast date: 7 September 2020

New Voices #11

New Voices episode #11 poet Laila Nawsheen critiqued by greeting card founder Fiona Kay. How many words does it take to hit home truths? Not many at all. Poetry like Laila’s - it ambushes you. Laila takes little everyday events - like leaving the iron on by mistake - and with a few harmless twists of words, spills out a story of motherhood and death and love and lust and alarming abuse. Yet where are the words - where is the plot - whoosh it melts - as if each word is one of those huge coloured soap bubbles that float arrhythmically before you, and then burst, leaving sprinkles of dew all over you, and the shine of the rainbow colours imprinted in your eyes.

Is vulnerability a strength? Is admitting your weaknesses a way of scaffolding them and creating something for you to build on? This is the discussion that Laila’s critiquer, Fiona Kay, engages in. Fiona is a woman who has tried in every way possible to disengage herself from her artistic nature and the world of the arts. She was a child actor, plucked from a schoolroom in Auckland, who thereafter, and with great determination, made every attempt to quash her creative instincts by becoming a high end administrator.

So, vulnerability, it can be strong, and it can be beautiful. Listen on to these two wonderful women laying it on the line for us.

Original broadcast date: 24 August 2020

New Voices #10

Catcher in the Rye meets Blade Runner with full Monty angst. Strap yourself in for episode #10 of New Voices featuring Dr Mark Braidwood and Lorretta Jessop. Our next writer, Mark, is a speculative fiction writer who also happens to be an Australian GP, and has dedicated years to fighting climate change in his spare time. He moved to Canada earlier this year with his young family just before COVID hit (what timing...) and while home-schooling his kids, he practices medicine in Australia via a text messaging service. He also writes. Writing, he confesses, gives him a creative outlet and a great deal of joy, including the opportunity to wallow in a large amount of Writers’ Angst. 

His critiquer is Lorretta Jessop, a young writer who delivers clever, witty, darkly sweet and edgy stories. She is writing a book inspired by the classic misfit novel, Catcher in the Rye, except the protagonist is female and the time is very presently now. Her observational eye is impeccable... and wry. She too has a mission to change the world, unsettle people and inspire them to change their habits. Both faced great frustration in trying to influence changes in consciousness through their ‘day jobs’ - one via medicine and the other via Canberran bureaucracy. Ironically they both decided that it was through fiction that they could more effectively get people to imbibe truths.

Original broadcast date: 10 August 2020

New Voices #9

This episode of New Voices takes you on a gender quest, sign-posted by Scottish immigrant disturbia, and travelling in a ‘60s Ford Zephyr. Destination? Wisdom! Our writer for episode 9 drawls his way into your heart as only a down-to-earth Ocker bloke can; spinning yarn after yarn in a Henry Lawson meets Banjo Patterson way, fondly recalling his Scottish immigrant parents. And that’s the end of normality as we know it. We are placed in the backseat of an old Zephyr, and, with three brothers all cramped beside you, mum out front, follow dad’s journey throughout Queensland and NSW, trekking from town to town, and escaping from not sure what and heading towards not sure where.

His critiquer is one of the most august of our interviewers here at our radio station, Barbara Sullivan. She was in the publishing industry for most of her career, spending most of her time in the US, and now runs one of the most highly regarded disability programs in community radio, Ablequest, interviewing politicians, heads of disability organisations and the list goes on. She calls Craigs’ journey into his identity as a gender quest, and nails his storytelling style, valuing the way in which he celebrates the laconic nature of Australian-ness. 

So dive down this rabbit hole with presenter and producer Maria Issaris. 

Original broadcast date: 27 July 2020

New Voices #8

Do you consider yourself a literary heavyweight - someone who believes that the key components of great literature are about baring the human soul, weaving it with beautiful words, threading it with the great philosophies of all time? Well, get ready to have your world turned upside down. Welcome to episode 8 of New Voices where I interview Cat Davey - a writer who uses a blend of wit, wisdom and hard-earned journalistic rigour to deliver stories.

She seduces you with humour and leads you down a flower-strewn path to gaze in the well of societal norms. Will her book - Stupefaction - about the obituary column (and its writers) of a New York newspaper - be translated into a TV series?

Enter her critiquer Arek Sinanian - an engineer and climate change expert — who is still wiping the sweat from his brow from having written a tome on climate change. But nothing beats the challenge and angst, he says, of embarking on his first novel, a mystery thriller which is steeped in classical music, art and philosophy. What does he think of Cat’s work? Well, Arek is the kind of chap who is not all that familiar with women’s fiction, let alone the fashion magazine industry. But he was mesmerised by Cat’s process, her courage, and her assiduous, almost scientific process for energising her talent in writing. 

What both have in common is that, despite all their considerable achievements in the real worlds of engineering and journalism, what has been held closest to their hearts has been to take their creative work out of the closet.

Original broadcast date: 13 July 2020

New Voices #7

Diary of a mail order bride, or electro-shock therapy for cultural stereotyping? In episode #7 of New Voices, Olga Ivanova is critiqued by Lisa Creffield. Olga Ivanova (pseudonym for Olena Chambers) is the mail order bride from Ukraine who has lived in New Zealand and Australia. Olga’s marital hopes were thwarted by the clean-up of the Chernobyl disaster, and the Afghanistan war, which, combined, had decimated the young men of her generation. More than 20 years after she first financed her own trip to meet her wool-buyer fiancé in NZ, she has started to record her story and those of women in Australia who are in similar situations. But it isn’t a tale of woe, it is a tale of adventure and finding sisterhood in strange places.

Critiquing her is business writer and video journalist Lisa Creffield, a British migrant who also married an Aussie at about the same time Olga arrived to our fair shores. Lisa is a superb writer, the mistress of syntax, I call her, an English rose type whose own excursions into creative writing leans more towards period romantic novels - which she does just for fun really despite her prodigious talent. What will she think of Olga’s Eastern European pragmatic approach to romance? Prepare yourself for that British sense of putting things in perspective that startled my own Greek-Australian, drama-laden sensibilities. In a strange twist of events, Lisa finds kinship with Olga.

Original broadcast date: 29 June 2020

New Voices #6

What could be more innocent than considering writing a little memoir? You carry out a bit of research, rock up to the Mitchell Library, and ask questions of your family members... Why, it’s virtually an Australian pastime. But for Therese Warfield it became a thin taper that lit a very large creative fire. Using skill and precision as tinder, and a whole tank of passion as lighting fluid, Therese casts into relief the inner workings of an Australian regional country town. Class, race, gender. More tinder. Suddenly a memoir isn’t a memoir anymore, but a full-blown novel.

Racism is not unfamiliar to Sarjeet Arkan who grew up as an Australian-Sikh in Woolgoolga, NSW. She critiques Therese’s work and gives such rich and textured insights into the yearning for belonging, and the sense of being an outcast that Therese portrays so well.

Original broadcast date: 15 June 2020

New Voices #5

When Peter Stankovic retired from the finance industry he instantly turned his energies to writing crime novels where ‘the bad guy never gets away.’ Critiquer Joseph Furolo is an extremely well-read person, rippling with literary muscle. What does he think of Peter’s detective stories which proliferate a ‘Mad Men’ sociology? Loved it. As we all have who have listened to Peter’s work.

Listen in to this fascinating episode where Peter describes his writing process and what impact the women in his life have had on his writing. And then listen to how Joseph, whose social conscience is up, front and centre, deals with Peter’s rollicking tales.

Original broadcast date: 1 June 2020

New Voices #4

In this episode of New Voices, we explore the intricate pathways to the art of writing as a mode of tribal story-telling. For sure, writing is creative self-expression and catharsis; no doubt at all. But some of us go beyond secret journals and diaries, and start developing a form of writing that begs to be shared - and it is not always a matter of choice or design!

Part-time parent and single dad, David Benn, is interviewed about unexpectedly finding a treasure trove of writing plots - all surrounding his experience of bringing up two boys. Astute and focused professional writer, Bronwyn Birdsall, critiques his piece. Without knowing him, nor being a parent herself, she immediately related to the poignancy of David's stories and storytelling style. The theme they share in the interviews is finding your “writers voice”, which according to both is the result of unstinting self-examination. 

Original broadcast date: 18 May 2020

New Voices #3

In this episode of New Voices we introduce our first poet Jasmine Monk. Now, before you rear back in horror at the idea of poetry, take a listen to Jasmine’s work. She writes for music which has not yet been composed! Mental health is something we all brush up against, and Jasmine dealt with it by using poetry as a therapy - but she is superlative in her simplicity. Picked up early as a bright new talent, she bucked the system with a heroic gesture.

The ‘stranger’ who critiques her is Josh Whitkin, a self-confessed ‘Techie’ by trade, writing a dystopian novel about vegans taking over the world. You wouldn’t think these two have much in common, but you would be wrong. Josh finds Jasmine's poetry spellbinding. Of all the interviews in this series, none surprised me as much as this one. And none was quite as difficult to keep under control! Listen to this intriguing episode which is full of surprises, and quiet howls of triumph! Well, maybe not so quiet.

Original broadcast date: 4 May 2020

New Voices #2

In Episode 2 of New Voices, presenter Maria Issaris interviews emerging writer, Helena Ameisen who discusses her writing journey. Her resulting narrative non-fiction manuscript is a feast of visual images and sumptuous memories (as the excerpt she reads out on the program will demonstrate). Helena is then critiqued by Alan Weinstein, a complete stranger who recorded his reactions and analysis with Maria at the 2RPH studios earlier this year (before the current virus situation!).

Listen to hear these two fascinating characters share their writers tips, and how they manage their creative life. For more on these two writers, head to the news story here.

Original broadcast date: 20 April 2020

New Voices #1

In this first episode, presenter Maria Issaris Walsh features the work of writer and Lifeline counsellor Wil Roach, who is critiqued by fellow writer and barrister, Kellie Edwards. 

Wil Roach is a proud Londoner born of Trinidadian parents now living in Sydney, Australia. He found his calling in community activism and has a heartfelt involvement in the mental health system. Wil is a writer of essays and currently working on a memoirs project covering the period of the mid 1960s to early 1980s, as well as a performer of his own poems and short stories.

Kellie Edwards, a Barrister in the areas of Administration, Commercial, Discrimination, Employment and Industrial Law. She is also an avid reader, painter and writer. Kellie majored in writing at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) many years ago and is working on two books: one about a cross-dressing woman in 1400s, and the other about Henry Helleyer, architect, surveyor and artistic soul who was the first white man to survey and map North-Western Tasmania for the Van Dieman’s Land Company (and happens to be a great-great-great-uncle).

Original broadcast date: 6 April 2020

New program: New Voices

Two people sitting in the studio.

New program New Voices broadcast its first episode on Monday 6 April at 5.30pm AEST. The show airs fortnightly on Mondays at 5.30pm and Sundays at 1.30pm.

The program revolves around the art of storytelling, featuring the work of new writers (most of whom are yet to be published), providing them with writing tips and methods, reading a sample of their work, and then having another person critique it. It's an opportunity for listeners to get a glimpse inside the creative writing process, as well as a very personal exploration of having one's work critiqued.

The program has been produced and presented by 2RPH Deputy Chair Maria Issaris Walsh, who has been flat-chat learning the ropes of producing a radio program and getting the interviews together. She hopes 2RPH listeners come to understand the beauty of writing: "Writing is an art form that can be practised at any level, just like painting. Not everyone is going to be hung in the national gallery (most now-famous artists never were in their own lifetime), but their work will give many people joy and connection. These days, publishing has become a very streamlined. and quite profit-centred business. This program is about getting back to why we all want to read and write stories to begin with - to share experiences, make sense of the world, and to create worlds with words," she said.

Image: Presenter Maria Issaris Walsh interviewing Wil Roach, Writer, for the new program in one of the 2RPH studios.