New Voices - Season 2

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Episode #7 Swaga and Bill Cope

Featuring a feast for the senses with Swaga Mahapatra, an Indian born software developer who delivers rolling chasms of poetry and crime. Swaga is critiqued by eminent literacy academic, Dr Bill Cope, now Professor of Education at the University of Illinois. And balancing out the heady liquor of academic analysis is our own Technical Manager at 2RPH, Peter Worthington and actress Caroline George.

Original broadcast date 28.06.2021

Episode #6: Shanti and The Governor

New Voices is produced, written and presented by Maria Issaris:

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Portrait of The Governor, by Adelaide artist Tsering Hannaford.

In this Episode we hear the Governor of NSW, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, critique a shy young writer Shanti, who, like many Australians, has travelled the world, explored several occupations and always come back home. Born in Australia of Tamil and Chinese parentage, and working in countries like Bangladesh and South Sudan, Shanti tells us a humble but wry story of working her way through university, highlighting a day in her life as a waitress in a gastro-pub in Perth! 

And the Governor, fresh from giving the closing speech at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, talks about what binds us as Australians with all our diversity and challenges of identity. The Governor concludes that we are a nation of storytellers, and it is this, storytelling - sharing our own stories and hearing others - that is the strength that binds us. As is the power and energy of our unique landscape, which, the Governor observes, whether you live in town or country, seeps into your being. Join me for this powerful episode of New Voices. And spare a thought for Shanti, who as is traditional in the New Voices program, had no idea who would be critiquing her work, let alone that it would be the Governor of NSW, (a patron of several select and worthy organisations, including Radio 2RPH!) 

Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC Governor of New South Wales Hi Res (3)
Critiquer: Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC

Day Job: the 39th Governor of New South Wales, commencing her five year tenure on 2 May 2019. 

Prior to her appointment as Governor, Her Excellency enjoyed a long and distinguished law career spanning 43 years, serving as a role model for women in law at both the State and national level. Appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1989, judge of the Federal Court of Australia in 1993, the first woman to sit exclusively in that Court. In 1996, was the first woman appointed to the New South Wales Court of Appeal and, subsequently, the first woman to be appointed as its President. Her Excellency was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours List on 26 January 2020 for "eminent service to the people of New South Wales, particularly through leadership roles in the judiciary, and as a mentor of young women lawyers". Her Excellency has three children - Erin, Lauren and Anthony Sullivan - and is married to Mr. Dennis Wilson, a barrister, mediator, accredited international arbitrator and Adjunct Professor of Law, at Notre Dame University, Sydney. Her Excellency brings her deep commitment to education, youth leadership, human rights and social justice to the role in service of the people of New South Wales. Both Mr Wilson and Her Excellency are patrons of Radio 2RPH. 

Shanti (2)

Writer: Shanti 

Day Job: Administrator 

Shanti has submitted this haiku in lieu of a bio: 

A reader of books 

Writes to understand the world 

Dreams of an ending

Episode #5: Helping Herself 

Kylie Atwell for inside
Many of us crave to write - but in this episode we talk to an author who was so reluctant that she dragged her story out of herself, as she describes it, ‘kicking and screaming’. All Kylie Attwell wanted to do was to write a manual to help people who like her, were suffering from chronic depression. But to make it come alive and make sense to the people she thought would benefit, Kylie had to make friends with words on the page - as well as spill out her own story. Not easy for someone who is an introvert and feels that writing is like having ‘a multitude of ants crawling in my head’. Over a hundred thousand words later, she now has a fully immersive website, and a series of guidebooks which she is turning into audio books - all based on her memoir-style narrative of alternative therapies.

Critiquing her is a man who is very much a friend of the word - written, spoken, documentary, fiction, broadcast. Author, journalist and radio producer, Adam Norris, can turn tricks in the writing world that novices only dream of. He has been a Sydney theatre critic and has interviewed hundreds of writers and luminaries from around the world - people like Peter Carey, Ben Elton, Kevin Rudd, Paul Kelly. He has written fiction and he's the organiser of the 2021 Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival in June - which has almost sold out already. What does he think of Kylie Attwell, our reluctant memoirist and self-help curator?

Writer: Kylie Attwell

Writing: a series called Build a Life You Love

Day Job: Facilitator of Self-Transformation

Kylie Attwell spent years yo-yoing between careers before discovering and finally living her purpose as a content curator and facilitator of self-transformation, which led to her to create the Build A Life You Love Workbook Series.

Kylie has a Masters in life experience having done the hard yards to overcome her secret lifelong battle with depression and anxiety. She did it without medication, winning the lottery, or meeting a knight in shining armour. Instead, her inner landscape dramatically changed. Kylie learnt to release any obstacles - mostly fears, doubts and self-limiting beliefs - that were preventing her from expressing herself fully across all aspects of her life.

Discover the methodologies Kylie used to transform her life, with the first workbook, Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life. Go to her aguideforlife website to find out more about this vibrant Australian, meet the teachers featured in the workbook, access free empowering resources and start your journey of transformation. Also available on Amazon.

Adam Norris big

Critiquer: Adam Norris

Day Job: Journalist, author, radio producer, Organiser for Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival

Writing: Magic Realism novel

Adam Norris moonlights as a fiction author, and daylights as a professional interviewer. His journalism has been syndicated nationally, while the made-up stuff has been published internationally, which is nice. He has interviewed some 650 public figures, including authors such as Michael Chabon, Ben Elton, Bret Easton Ellis, as well as other curious personalities like Turner-winning artist Grayson Perry and ‘Captain’ David Hasselhoff. He profiled former Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz, spoke at length with Senator Kristina Keneally about politics and the Catholic Church, and interviewed Melissa Etheridge after winning her Oscar. A mixed bag, in other words. You may also have heard his ramblings on the weekly literary broadcast, ‘Quilling Me Softly’ on 2BBB FM. His most recent story, The Coastal Age, was shortlisted for the International Nature of Cities prize.

Episode #4: Alan Ventress Reviews Susan Mimram

The High Priest Does The Antipodes

Episode 4 of 2021’s New Voices showcases Susan Mimram, a writer of extraordinary ability crafting a story about a young New Zealand girl who is trying to piece together the mystery of why her mother ran away from her family when she was a small child. But maybe more extraordinary is the fact that Susan had failed English at school (still remembers her mark - 25%), and hadn’t seriously picked up a book to read until she was 25. So how did she get to write so beautifully? 

As is now customary on New Voices, I do issue a warning for sensitive listeners who might otherwise be alarmed; there will be New Zealand accents and attitudes expressed in this program. However we are a multicultural society after all, and I have not bleeped one word. Susan’s work reminds us that in fact NZ is part of our Antipodean identity, as her critiquer, Alan Ventress reminds us. And well should Alan know. For 8 years he was Mitchell Librarian, and I mean The Mitchell Librarian (a title) which, as he puts it, made him the High Priest of Australian History, presiding over the hallowed halls of that temple of books. 

So, how does Susan’s work fare under the keen analytical gaze of such a book aficionado? Alan loves Susan’s work, her capturing of our Antipodean yarning style, and its attendant irreverent humour. But something about her story hits a nerve. Susan’s burgeoning novel has a deep resonance for Alan, and he spins his own personal tale of adventure and misadventure, mining towns and army training, a winding path from a Yorkshire farming community that led to him striding the corridors of some of Australia’s most august institutions. 

If you are in the mood for being entertained, stimulated and flummoxed (left me wordless for a second or two!) then tune in to Episode 3 - Alan Ventress reviewing the lovely Susan Mimram, Monday 19 April at 5.30pm and repeated Sunday 25 April 1.30pm, plus on Spotify on this channel. Maria Issaris Writer: 

Susan Mimram Day Job: Graphic Designer Writing: Antipodean fiction

"Here I sit on my deck, racking brains to pen a few words about me. So let's start from the beginning. I’m a Kiwi by birth but an Aussie at heart with enough globe-trotting to realise I know very little about the world. I’ve dipped my toes in theatre, experienced the slick world of an advertising studio and later transitioned to the sensible, sturdy world of an engineering office. Though in between there was a slight deviation and for a little ‘je ne sais quoi...I tried my hand as a pastry chef, but the killer hours and sticky French custard was almost my undoing. Fly me to the present and I am back working in graphic design harbouring strong desires to be a writer and filmmaker. My motto... don’t die dreaming about it. Die knowing you gave it a ‘red hot go’."

Here is the link to my first book written for my father - chapter by chapter, as he lay in hospital.

Ventriss (3)

Critiquer: Alan Ventress

Day Job - see below!

Alan was Mitchell Librarian 1993-2001, Associate Director State Records NSW 2001-2008 and Director State Records NSW 2008-2012). He was born into a long established Yorkshire farming family in the North East of Yorkshire. Poverty and family circumstances meant that he left school at 15 years of age and ended up in the British Army as a boy soldier. After 6 years in the British Army having being trained in the infantry and the Royal Military Police, he purchased a discharge and travelled overland to Australia through Africa and worked in a variety of jobs ranging from kitchen hand, fork lift truck driver, security guard and hardware store salesman. He studied in Australia and was instrumental in developing the Australian Dictionary of Biography, mapping the lives of people who are critical to the history of Australia.

Episode #3: Artist Joel Dickens Reviews Bondi Novel by Robyn Edwards

Surfing the Dark Arts, produced by Maria Issaris

New Voices 3 (2)

Robyn Edwards is a social worker who took a year off to ‘explore her creative side’ and ended up writing a magic-realism novel set in Bondi - luxuriating in descriptions of bright sun, glinting sands, and surf. Joel Dickens is an established artist born in Britain who explores the darker equation of the human condition in his startling abstract works. Is there common ground between these two creative strangers? You bet.

As it turned out, Joel isn’t a beach person at all. “I like it, for... about 15 minutes,” he said. He grew up in the south of England with grey stretched out coastlines and wavelets lapping on pebbly beaches - which reduced his new Australian bride - distressed that such a thing could be called a beach - to tears.

Was Joe going to appreciate a novel which was a tribute to the Aussie beach scene? Hell, yes. Joel finds much to soothe his soul in Robyn’s work. He catches Robyn bringing the deeper and more disturbing elements of Bondi culture right out into the bright Australian sun - homelessness, domestic violence, and social inequity. His own mother was a social worker, and he knows full well it’s not the type of job you leave at the office – but it can certainly make its way into your creative zone. Then he admits to his own secret project - a work-in-progress novel that he has not shown a soul.

Join these two diverse characters as they find challenge and social solace in our fair sunshine. But due caution listeners: slap on your 50+ before slipping into…. this Episode.

The Author: Robyn Edwards

Day Job: Social Worker

Writing: Magic realism novels set in Bondi

Robyn (2)
Bondi Beach local, Robyn Edwards, lives to face the breaking waves each day. In her debut novel, ‘Blue Wave Bondi’, she plunges into deep waters to write a story of love to the ocean, the people living on its edge and our shared futures. As an advocate for social justice and equality all her long working life, Robyn has written a novel with lots of heart, reflected in the young activists Anu and Jai. The social crime of homelessness, belonging to community and friendship with First Nations people are themes woven into the narrative.

She is now writing a sequel, another novel set in Bondi, but this time during the time of the virus lockdown.

The Critiquer: Joel Dickens

Day Job: Abstract Artist

Writing: secret novel

Joel (2)
Joel Dickens was born in London, grew up in Essex and studied Fine Art in the Lake District, moving to Sydney in 2003. Whilst in London Joel exhibited consistently, mostly around Shoreditch and London's East End. At that time Joel's raw and childlike paintings were admired by members of the Stuckist movement and he exhibited alongside them in a number of shows at Gallery 108 and Compton Gallery. In 2005 Joel was picked up by Arthouse Gallery in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, where he enjoyed considerable success. He also took part in the Curwoods residency which led to an exhibition in Australia Square. His work was also exhibited and sold through Branco Gallery in Buenos Aires.

Episode #2: Stephen O’Doherty reviews Lara Harriman

Depression gets kicked to the floor! Two word-crafters show how creativity wins out every time, and how the dark side gives them an edge.

Welcome to Season 2 of New Voices, and be prepared for an Episode stacked with surprises. Of course the main topic is writing, and what a writer we have! Young Lara Harriman, at 23, is our youngest writer so far, and she writes like a dream - plunging us into her soft-science-fiction, young-adult novel. Think supernatural powers, mystery murders and a heroic police duo patrolling the night...

And she is critiqued by Stephen O’Doherty, a man who has a stellar career in journalism and parliament, and crosses so many creative and professional boundaries it is hard to put a fix on him. He is an ex-ABC journalist and MP, a TV and radio commentator, the director/conductor of an orchestra, the chair of no less than 3 radio stations, and also heads the Christian Media and Arts Association (CMAA). But his real creative space? Well, says Stephen O’ Doherty, of all these things it is his role as a leader this is his most potent creative cauldron. It’s about conjuring a vision for the future, he says, just like a creative writer conjures a world for a listener and reader.

Well, you would think we have enough there for any writer’s program to feel full. But as it turns out, Stephen and Lara (complete strangers to each other) have more than word-craft in common. Both have struggled with severe depression from a very young age - a condition that has beset and coloured their lives.

No one could have been more surprised than me - the words that I would have used to describe them? Prodigiously intelligent, enthusiastic, energetic and outgoing. But each has dealt positively with their condition - Lara goes so far as to say it gives her an edge as a writer - allows her to see the world and people in a slightly different way, and sparking in her a desire to connect more deeply with others. Stephen heartily agrees. It seems they have not only learned to tame the beast, they have integrated it, and not just integrated it, but let it roar as a unique expression of who they are. Inspiring is a pretty small word for such big acts.

Get set for this remarkable Episode, ponder some tricks of the writer’s trade, and learn a whole lot more about Dr Who than you might care to (thanks to Lara’s obsession). And of course a customary Caution to Listeners: there is a shameless abuse of the Tardis as a metaphoric device - a remorseless thrashing - and I am sad to report that Stephen although the main culprit, was not alone.

Step this way into this innocent looking red phone-booth, my friend, and should you find yourself in a surprisingly large space twinkling with panels, and glowing lights, and strange whooshing noises, strap yourselves in - Stephen O’ Doherty and Lara Harriman will show you the way - just follow the line of lights.....

Writer: Lara Harriman

Lara Harriman

Day-Job: Communications graduate, undertaking Honours degree.

Writing: Soft Science Fiction novel- Antiqua Mysteria

Lara Harriman was born and raised in a single-parent family in Canberra and then the Central Coast and is currently studying her Honours year of a Bachelor of Communications at UTS in Sydney, majoring in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Sydney.

She was always an avid reader as a kid, once reading 70 books in a month to raise money for the MS Readathon. But she was most drawn to writing through her obsession with shows such as Doctor Who as a kid. By the age of ten, she declared she either wanted to be an author or a screenwriter on the show. Lara made her mother send a six-page Doctor Who fan letter (with two pages of drawings) to BBC Cardiff, proclaiming her undying love.

Before attending university, she did a Diploma in Screen and Media at an acting and filmmaking school, Sydney Actors School. She loved the whole experience but could not do further studies due to funding cuts to arts schools from the government. Her other interests include singing an endless stream of Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand, drawing graphite portraits of her favourite female characters and over-dissecting films and shows for her long-suffering friends and family.

Her dream for the future is an eclectic career between publishing, writing, acting, and film making.


Stephen O'Doherty

Day Job - journalist by trade - Polymath by inclination. everything from music to leading organisations.

Writes: Visions for his organisations.

Stephen O’Doherty has an extensive background in media, public policy, education and the arts.

In the 1980s Stephen was a radio and TV journalist with commercial stations and the ABC.

From 1992 – 2002 he was a Member of the NSW Parliament. From 1995 he served in the Shadow Cabinet in the portfolios of Education, Disability and Community Services and Treasury.

Stephen was the inaugural CEO of Christian Schools Australia from 2002 – 2017.

Stephen’s time is now heavily invested in community media and the arts.

He chairs three community Christian stations including Sydney’s Hope 103.2 (from 2005). As a Director of Christian Media and Arts Australia (CMAA) he represents the Christian sector on the Community Broadcasting Roundtable.

An active musician Stephen is Music Director of the Golden Kangaroos Hornsby Concert Band. He writes original works for concert band.

As the facilitator of the Roundtable of Instrumental, Vocal and Music Education Organisations he is an advocate for the NSW performing arts community.

Episode #1: Peter Fray and Tim O’Hare

Original broadcast date 08.03.2021

Editor in Chief of, Peter Fray, reviews our first playwright, Tim O’Hare

Welcome to New Voices, Season 2, and in this very first Episode we heard the work of young playwright Tim O’Hare who fearlessly explores violence, truth, power-play and politics, all in the context of one of those darker ironies of life, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Is Tim’s play Tarantino-esque or is it a hypnotically twisted version of Australian life?

Critiquing him is a man who is no stranger to fearless writing. Power, Politics and Truth-seeking? He probably stirs them in his morning coffee to add flavour. Peter Fray is Editor-in Chief of, but has presided over most of the major news publication in this fair land. And was also Professor of Journalism at UTS. He knows a thing or two about writing.

What does he think of Tim’s work? Well, confessions, revelations and plot twists abound in this Episode. Including Tim’s angst about being raised in a middle class family with loving parents who supported his ambitions and dreams. Poor Tim. What kind of background is that he laments, for a writer determined to explore the dark shadows of nefarious criminal minds. Nevertheless, he courageously forges on, and we hear excerpts from his play, in which, Peter Fray points out, Tim dissects capitalism with a very sharp comedic carving knife.

Due caution to listeners - there are drug references and swear words in this content. Naturally, I’ve blanked most out so as not to offend tender sensibilities. I’ll leave that to Tim.

Don’t miss out on this episode, and interviews with two exceptional men who share their gusto for life and writing.

By Maria Issaris, producer and presenter, New Voices

Tim O'Hare

Tim O’Hare - Playwright and Noir Novelist

Day job: Teacher

Bio: Tim O’Hare is a Sydney-based writer, originally from Brisbane. He has always written (writing his first noir novel in primary school) but only tried his hand at playwrighting recently. In particular, Tim is attracted to the dynamic nature of playwrighting which allows texts to be constantly interpreted and reinvented by actors and directors. He has written two full-length plays and a short play ‘When’s Jimmy Gettin’ Back?’ and looks to have them performed (although he admits to being ignorant of the process of bringing a play to stage). Tim’s influences are eclectic and include Woody Allen, Samuel Beckett, the Coen Brothers, Don DeLillo, Andrew Dominik, Bret Easton Ellis, Martin McDonagh, Peter Morgan, Martin Scorsese, Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino and David Foster Wallace. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma in Education (Secondary) from the University of Queensland.

Of New Voices Experience:

Being on New Voices meant reading my work to an audience of strangers and receiving feedback from a critiquer unknown to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Maria (who made me sound articulate and affable thanks to the editing room) and Peter Fray’s feedback was very kind (he has interpreted intellectual elements in my play of which I was somewhat unaware but which I have now readily claim as my original intention). Writing is, by its nature, an introverted pursuit and the tendency for writers is to labour over their masterpiece in the dark. But I strongly encourage all aspiring writers to seek out other writers and have the courage to submit their work to criticism from strangers. The opportunities for feedback which were afforded to me through my two writers’ groups and New Voices have been crucial to my development as a writer.

Peter Fray

Day job: Managing Editor, Private Media and Editor-in-Chief, Crikey

Bio: Peter Fray is one of Australia’s most respected, innovative and experienced journalists and editors. He has been deputy editor of The Australian, is the founder of fact-checking website, PolitiFact Australia, the former publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald and the former editor of The Canberra Times and The Sunday Age. He held the position of Professor of Journalism Practice and Head of Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney before taking charge of the independent online news publication

As a reporter, Fray has covered politics, national affairs, religion and agriculture and been a foreign correspondent, features writer and gossip columnist. Aside from his masthead editorships, he has been a contributor to Channel 7, the ABC, the BBC and Al-Jazeera. He has also been a consultant to or founder of several digital media start-ups and is a regular commentator on TV and a sought after public speaker.


Season One

New Voices #19

    Of madness and method... the compulsion to write.

    In this episode, Jesse Hawley, young scientist-turned-writer, admits he fits into the ‘mad scientist’ category.... but it wasn’t his intensive research into the eating habits of spiders and flies that drove him crazy - but the long travail of writing a novel. Compelled, obsessed, and driven by a desire to express what ‘being a human being is all about’, he breaks every code of decency by asking strangers in cafes what they think of his writing (a good hypothesis he says, but ultimately not a good method for feedback).

    His critiquer is the powerful writer Joanne Fedler, an author of 13 books and a writing mentor with a legal background in trauma, domestic abuse and human rights advocacy. Would she find much to engage her in a strange young man’s work. O yes, she did. And she found much in common with Jesse. Well could she relate to the compulsive insanity to write. Ah yes, she says, writing is a madness, but there is a method to it - and she loves Jesse’s method. Join me in this episode of New Voices to learn some subtle arts about writing, and listen in to a couple fo writers who are revelling in the craziness of trying to craft out life, and hope, and healing in words.

    Original broadcast date: 14 December 2020

    New Voices #18

    A poetic, moving episode with two very different women with Indigenous backgrounds.

    Presenter Maria Issaris talks with Vanessa Lee-AhMat and Aurora Liddle-Christie about the past and the present, of poetry and policy. And then, with passionate generosity share their fierce pride and optimism for a healed future. So, get ready to be transformed and broken open in the best possible way, by poetry and passion.

    Vanessa Lee-AhMat is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman born on Thursday island, who grew up to become a highly respected epidemiologist. She has appeared on news programs The Point and The Drum, and is, she says, someone who can translate data and graphs into policy - can see the stories they tell.

    But there came a point where the stories needed to be expressed in different ways - and she broke out into poetry - and break out she did! Her poems are vivid stories wrapped in the natural and the supernatural, doling out compassion and culture.

    Her critiquer is Arrernte woman Aurora Liddle-Christie, an established Brisbane poet and theatre maker, who is immersed in exploring her own background which includes Jamaica, Ireland, Scotland and the Northern Territory (where her Arrernte grandfather comes from). It is the Indigenous and coloured parts of her history which form the basis of her own beautiful poetry and theatre. This is where this episode becomes transformational - it deals with the haunting aspects of the past - and shows us how delicately these two women hold the present in their hands; that under their gaze the future is infused with hope, optimism, and healing.

    Original broadcast date: 30 November 2020

    Listen now

    New Voices #17

    CEO of Brisbane Writers Festival critiques the Philosophy Blogger in episode #17 of New Voices.

    This episode takes a young philosophy blogger, Sashin of - hell bent on making a living out of translating and reinterpreting the great thinkers of the world - and places his interview under the gaze of that highly esteemed publishing world luminary, Sarah Runcie, who recently was appointed as CEO of the Brisbane Writers Festival. He starts off with a treatise on Lying by Sam Harris, then wades into deeper waters by looking at Alan Watts’ the meaning of work, dumps us into the deep end by looking at the dark and light sides of Stephen Pinker’s the Negativity Bias - before finally letting us splash around in the shallows with The Fun Criterion by David Deutsche. Or is it shallow? Sarah Runcie doesn’t even blink - and as it turns out is a bit of a philosophy nerd herself, referencing Plato and Heraclitus, and surmising that blogging is really an extension of the philosophical tradition of refining thought through dialogue. 

    The problem of running a festival during COVID? No problem says Sarah. It expands the audience participation, and opens new possibilities. Sashin would quote Marie Kondo’s philosophy - concluding that Sarah is doing what sparks her joy. Or Karl Popper on problem solving. ‘Birds fly, fish swim, humans solve problems,’ says Sashin. Listen in to this surprisingly fun episode which sees Sashin share his fascination with the human mind and its propensity for compassion; and the wonderful Sarah Runcie whose Fun Criterion is well in place when she gives access to storytelling - including the great oral traditions of our indigenous people.

    Original broadcast date: 16 November 2020

    New Voices #16

    Dating and writing - snap! Episode #16 of New Voices featuring Joanna Trilivas and Wil Roach.

    In this episode Maria Issaris interviews Joanna Trilivas - a smart, savvy writer who packs a whole story into a single page of wit and wisdom. Her delivery is deliciously deadpan and in this series of stories she targets dating and relationships. Now, Joanna to use her own words, looks like a very straight, conventional and stitched up person. Her stories? None of those words fit. She is a woman untethered.

    Critiquing her is Wil Roach: poet, performative artist, author, and Lifeline counsellor. He hails from the Caribbean and is a staunch member of the Queer community. His book, ‘Gay, Black and Underage’ tracks his journey into his identity. What will he think of Joanne’s little blisters of social critique? Well, they definitely triggered Wil into making quite a few confessions. About dating, about love and about COVID. Joanna and Wil have both been substantially affected as writers by COVID. For Wil, his creative life has been restructured, but for Joanna, it allowed her to ‘look inside’. And we are all glad she did!

    Listen in as Maria supports these wonderful writers to talk about their creative process, and their ambitions for their story-telling. 

    Original broadcast date: 2 November 2020

    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.

    Joseph and Loretta

    [Images: Joseph Tawadros and Loretta Jessop.]

    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 Voices and How to Listen

    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 now airs the repeat program on Week 1, and new episodes in Week 3.

    Produced and presented by Maria Issaris,

    Listen on the broadcast, On Demand or via all major podcast platforms. Subscribe to hear all the latest episodes!

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    New Voices was originally inspired by the camaraderie of the Inner West Writers’ Group (fondly referred to as The Write Club by its members) which meets in the Marrickville Library every Saturday. To find out more click here