The Header photo above was taken and printed by Lee Waddell, 1987.
Lots of stuff about my poetry, writing, published articles, and book reviewing can be found via the ‘Pages’ tab at right.
And if you’re here for the music, HERE IS THE LINK TO THE SWAMPFISH MUSIC PAGE:
Knock yourself out! Scroll down for my resume and my reasons for making this blog/website. But first, a quite flattering photo! ( Ah, youth! I remember it well!)
Below: Liz Hall-Downs at The Railway Friendly Bar, Byron Bay, 1992. Unpublished photo from shoot by The Northern Star.)
Welcome to my blog!
You can read about me in the ‘About’ section, and check out examples of my writing and musical activites on ‘pages’.
Here I am slowly uploading my archives to this site (over 25 years of ‘poeting’, including 6 out of print collections and oodles of photos, media, flyers, individually published pieces, and tour schedules), as well as previously published articles and short stories, and materials gathered from a decade playing folk music and singing with ‘Swampfish’ duo. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, I’ll be blogging here about anything and everything. I am primarily interested in conservation, sustainability, feminism, disability, social justice, parrot keeping, reading, and writing. Enjoy!
And if you have enjoyed what you have read here, please consider supporting a crip freelancer and buy me a coffee. My Paypal link is below:
One more thing:
I have had this domain for four years now, but somehow doing this feels a bit narcissistic – like ‘building a monument to oneself’. BUT, then I remembered my background.
When I had my first university experience, (and I’m showing my age here), THIS is how we found stuff out:
In fact, my only run in with The Law ever was at age 12 when I was busted stealing books. I had worked my way through the school library, there weren’t many books at home, and I was hungry! So, things have changed somewhat. Now everything is available to everyone, at the touch of a button. If anything, it is overinformation that now drives us mad, and a ‘search’ takes a few seconds.
When I first began publishing poetry in 1984 I went through the – at that time – usual process. Submit by mail with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, wait anything from six weeks to two years for acceptance or rejection (and not to more than one place at a time or editors would be annoyed with you), then wait for the publication to come out in print.
Usually there’d be a launch of some type, and a limited print run (500 was usual for magazines and poetry books in Australia) was sent out into the world. Sometimes the collection of poetry or a literary journal issue would be reviewed in other literary magazines, and sometimes an individual might even get a mention.
So, my decision to post my previously published works on this site stems from this process. OTHER people at some point thought the work was good, and the poems in the collections were mostly chosen from the previously published at the time of publication. All of my archives – books, posters, PR photos, set lists from shows, media clippings, tours, festivals, video and audio, etc – still exist in print or superceded formats – only.
These days young poets just post videos on youtube without any of this vetting process. Add to this the rise of Slam and HipHop and we are living in a very different landscape. I have 70 entries on the AustLit Database, and was pleased to see someone had added me to the Wikipedia list of Performance Poetry pioneers. But, as far as the public record goes, that’s it. Not much to show from 25 years of pretty full-on writing and performing activity.
So, here I am, in late 2017, living in a bushfire-prone part of the country, thinking that if I don’t publish my archives online, as far as OzLit is concerned, I never (or barely) existed. Add to that the disappearance of literary journals such as Thylazine, which therefore also ‘disappeared’ a lot of my writing from the noughties when it went offline, and a blog collection seems a good preservation option.
So, please excuse all the selfies and implied egotism. This is my world, my archive, and my blog.
Liz Hall-Downs (24 September 2017)
firstname.lastname@example.org (proud to still have a Netscape email address!)
Now here’s the formal Biography (in the third person, of course).
Liz Hall-Downs is an Australian writer, musician, feminist, conservationist, blogger, parrot lover and Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior.
Active in OzPoetry since the early 1980s, she was a regular performer at Melbourne performance poetry venues for a decade, before moving north and working with music and spoken word artists in northern New South Wales and Queensland.
Individual poems and stories were published, as Liz Hall, in literary journals throughout the 80s and 90s, as she studied for a Bachelor’s degree majoring in writing, editing and literature at Deakin University in Melbourne.
In 1994 she married and changed her surname to Hall-Downs.
She has since been awarded a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Queensland.
Her published collections (re-released for free download on this site) are:
My Arthritic Heart, PostPressed, Brisbane, 2006
Girl With Green Hair, Papyrus, Melbourne, 2000
Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands (Audio CD, with B.R. Dionysius and Samuel Wagan Watson), Brisbane City Council and Boondall Wetlands Environment Centre, 2000.
Mountains to Mangroves, commissioned by Brisbane City Council and Downfall Creek Bushland Centre, published online 1998. (Some of her text from this project appears on a ceramic mural at DCBC.)
Fit of Passion (with Kim Downs), Fit of Passion/Arts Queensland, 1997.
People of the Wetlands (1996) commissioned by Brisbane City Council and published online on the Brisbane Stories website, 1996.
Writers of the Storm, 5 East Coast Poets, Tyagarah Consultants, NSW, 1993
Conscious Razing: Combustible Poems, self-published 1986
Under Her Eyes, self-published 1984.
Liz has had over 100 poems published in literary journals, and has performed her poetry all over Australia, at venues such as LaMama Poetica, the Dan O’Connell Hotel, The Tasmanian poetry festival, Woodford, ConFest, Brisbane Writers’ festival, the First Sydney International Poetry Festival, Adelaide Festival, and the Brisbane Poetry Festival.
She won the inaugural St Kilda festival Slam in the early 90s, then worked with Nimbin’s StandUp Poets, and coordinated and toured the ‘Ozpoets’ troupe across the American midwest, taking out the Poetry Slam at the Austin International Poetry Festival in 1994. Slam has since grown into an extraordinary monolith! But Liz, despite identifying for many years as a ‘performance poet’, didn’t really feel comfortable with the competitive ethos of Slam, so much of which seemed to rely on quick laughs and crowd pleasing in order to ‘win’, and oftentimes highly politically-charged but with little real poetic structure structure or underlying craft.
Her largest collection, ‘Girl With Green Hair’ was launched at the 2000 Brisbane Writers’ Festival. Her poetry collection about her lifelong struggle with chronic rheumatoid disease, ‘My Arthritic Heart’, was derived from her University of Queensland Master’s thesis and published in Brisbane by PostPressed in 2007.
For the past decade she has taken a break from writing and has been singing and playing the autoharp in the alt-country duo, Swampfish, with her partner Kim Downs (guitar, banjo), gigging at local venues. They released a CD, ‘Homeward Dove’ in late 2014, and several of the tracks have featured on community radio across Australia.
As well as poetry she has published articles in the UK via Enabler Press on building sustainable eco-dwellings, and her experiences on the alternative literary scene in Australia through the 80s and 90s; book reviews for publications such as Thylazine and The Compulsive Reader; short stories in The Journal of Australian Studies and Verandah; and for ten years from 2000 assessed manuscripts for the Driftwood Agency in Adelaide.
As a writer with disability (severe Rheumatoid Arthritis since age 20), the internet is finally allowing her to more fully participate in the writing world, despite living a semi-rural lifestyle on acreage in southeast Queensland, where she and her partner attempt to live more sustainably. (The home they built using recycled and upcycled materials together recently saw them awarded the 2017 Logan City Council EcoChampion Award.)
At present, (2017), she is working on a memoir and blogging at lizhalldowns.com
AND BELOW is a more detailed Professional Resume, current as at 2010. Been building a house so it is what it is, sorry! (But it will give a general idea of the kinds of work I have done, and still do. Just in case someone wants to hire me! email@example.com)
Resume for Liz Hall-Downs
Community Artsworker, Freelance Writer & Editor,
Manuscript Assessor, Workshop Leader, Performer and Poet
M.Phil.(Creative Writing), University of Queensland, 2002
B.A. (Multidiscipline – Professional Writing and Literature), Deakin University (Vic), 1992
Certificate of Radio Production, BayFM, Byron Bay, 1993
Certificate of Sound Recording, AFTRS, Melbourne, 1990
State Enrolled Nurse certificate (now lapsed), 1980
Poetry collection, My Arthritic Heart, PostPressed, Brisbane, 2006
Essay, co-written with Kim Downs, ‘Who Needs Cows When You Can Have Koalas?’ published in book form – Alan Dearling (Ed), Another kind of space: creating eco-dwellings and environments (Enabler, 2002).
Poetry collection, Girl With Green Hair, Papyrus, Melbourne, 2000
Essay, ‘The Alternative Movement and the Australian Literary Scene’ published in book form: Alan Dearling(Ed), Alternative Australia: celebrating cultural diversity (Enabler, UK), 2000
Historical/environmental poetry CD Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands (Liz Hall-Downs with B.R. Dionysius and Samuel Wagan Watson) produced by Brisbane City Council and Boondall Wetlands Environment Centre, 2000.
Poetry collection, Mountains to Mangroves’ commissioned by Brisbane City Council and Downfall Creek Bushland Centre, published online 1998.
Performance Poetry Collection and cassette of poems and original songs, Fit of Passion (with Kim Downs), published by Fit of Passion Collective with Assistance from Arts Queensland, 1997.
Poetry collection, People of the Wetlands (1996) commissioned by Brisbane City Council and published online on the Brisbane Stories website, 1996.
Poetry, stories and essays have appeared in publications including fourWtwelve, Coppertales, The Melbourne Age, Reveille disability Issues Magazine, Verandah, small packages, Journal of Australian Studies, Slam the Body Politic (CD – Synaptic Graffiti Collective), In Our Own Words Anthology (Ed Marlow Peerse Weaver, NC, USA, 2006), The Famous Reporter, QWC News and Subversions: generations of contemporary poetry (papertigermedia 2001), as well as in the online journals DIVAN, mangrove, Thylazine and The Drunken Boat.
Previous work areas:
2000-1010: Freelance Manuscript Assessor for Driftwood Manuscripts (South Australia). I mostly read literary fiction, and some crime, poetry and health titles.
2000s: Proofreader, Poetry Editor and Reviewer, for the Australian poetry e-zine, Thylazine (thylazine.org). Also a regular contributor of essays to Thylazine. Liz has written on such diverse topics as the history of Literary Cabaret, wild bird rehabilitation, the emergence of Street Poetry in the 1970s-1980s, and writing creatively about disability. Book reviewer for Sydney-based webzine The Compulsive Reader
2005-2012: Twice-yearly 2 day workshops in poetry and performance with Year 11 students at Brisbane Grammar School. With my partner I teach writing, staging, performance, and running a sound system, culminating in a dinner performance for students, their families and staff on the second evening.
One-off freelance writing jobs
2004 Employed as a writer and researcher for Brisbane City Council’s ‘Creative Democracy: Homelessness’ Project
2001-3 ‘Contributing Editor’ for the American poetry e-zine, The Drunken Boat (thedrunkenboat.com). Wrote ‘e-chapbook’ on disability, and articles on contemporary Queensland poetry, and performing the poetry of gender. Conducted, compiled and edited a feature on 12 outstanding Queensland poets, and interviews with two working Australian writers who have based themselves overseas.
Reviewer of poetry titles for ‘Australian Womens’ Book Review’ online, 2003-5.
2002 Writing PR blurbs for Melbourne band, ‘Whatever’
2000 Commissioned by Brisbane City Council & Boondall Wetlands Management Committee to write text for the CD cover of the ‘Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands’ Project.
1999 With partner Kim Downs was employed on a casual (3 month) basis to run a series of creative writing for performance workshops with clients of the Prince Charles Hospital Mental Health Unit. The resultant group went on to form a performance group and publish several anthologies. We facilitated their first publishing effort and their appearances at the Queensland Poetry Festival.
1998 Commissioned by Brisbane City Council and Downfall Creek Bushland Centre to run a series of community writing workshops, edit produced by community members a collection (which was published online), and coordinate a public performance showcasing the work at the ‘Mountains to Mangroves’ Festival. Also commissioned to write a poem for a community-produced ceramic art installation on a wildlife theme that is now on permanent display at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre.
1993-4 Radio presenter and producer of literary programme, ‘The Spoken Word’ on BayFM, Byron Bay.
1994-95 – With my partner, Kim, coordinated a number of Performance Poetry and Jazz Music nights as part of the annual Brunswick Heads Riverfestival.
1994-95 – Again with partner, Kim, supplied and ran PA, did PR, and MC’d and performed at regular (monthly) poetry and music nights at The Pink Dot, Brunswick Heads.
1994 Coordinated, wrote and distributed PR, and organised bookings and accommodation and travel for the ‘Ozpoets’ Australian poetry troupe on a 6 week tour of the United States’ midwest.
1989-90 Production Assistant for documentaries for Richmond Access Television, (now part of Channel 31) in Melbourne. Complete 3 month intensive course in ‘Multi-camera Production for Public Broadcast Groups’ at the Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS).
1986 Coordinated staging and PR for the ‘Poets for Peace’ event at Richmond’s Carringbush Library (Melbourne) to celebrate the International Year of Peace.
1983-90 Long involvement with the poetry and performance movement in Melbourne, occasionally running cafe and pub venues and one-off poetry events.
I have taught creative writing workshops since 1984 in schools, universities, CAE’s, prisons, mental health facilities, and community arts settings.
Late 1983 A-Z Music magazine, Melbourne: music and band reviews, gig guide coordinator, front desk reception
Early 1983 Reception, secretarial, occasional writer with Small Business Reporter, Melbourne
1979-81 Nursing Training at Alfred Hospital, Melbourne. Working as a nurse in both public adult and private (child disability) hospital settings.
Awards & Grants
Beaudesert Shire Council/RADF Grant to launch and promote My Arthritic Heart in Melbourne in February 2007.
The University of Queensland’s A.E.E. Pearse Prize for an English Postgraduate Essay, 2001
Awarded a writers’ fellowship at Booranga Writers’ Centre, Wagga Wagga, to work on the ‘illness narrative’, My Arthritic Heart, 2001
Arts Queensland grant to tour the collaborative poetry and music show, Fit of Passion, through regional Queensland, to conduct community writing workshops, and to produce a book and recording of the material, 1997.
1997 – Postgraduate scholarship from University of Qld to undertake a Research Master’s degree in Creative Writing.
First Place in the Texas Grand Slam performance poetry events at the Austin International Poetry Festival, USA, 1994.
1993 – First prize in the short story section, Northern Rivers Writers’ centre Annual Literary Awards.
1990 – Scholarship to undertake 3 month intensive television production course at AFTRS, Melbourne
1978 – Dux of Humanities, St Leonard’s College, Melbourne
As a poet, performer and singer, Liz has appeared at countless venues over many years, as well as the well-known La Mama Poetica (Melbourne), Woodford Folk Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Sydney International Poetry Festival, Overload Poetry Festival (Melbourne), and the Austin International Poetry Festival (Texas, USA).
Since the early 1980’s she has been reciting and singing in public as well as publishing on paper, and her work has been broadcast on radio and on ABC TV. She has worked with various poetry and music groups, including ‘The Word Warriors’ (1990-1), ‘Stand-Up Poets’ (1992-4), and ‘Ozpoets’ (USA tour 1994).
In recent years her performance work has largely been either solo or in collaboration with partner Kim in the music/poetry duo, ‘Fit of Passion’. They have also worked together as community artists on a variety of freelance or contract-based projects aver the past 14 years.
In 1996 she began working with blues/roots trio, ‘Cathouse Creek’, singing and playing bush bass. Later, she began playing the Autoharp and gigging with her partner Kim as a roots-blues-alternative country duo, ‘Swampfish’. They released a self-titled CD in late 2014 comprising 9 original and 5 cover songs, which was well-received by community radio and the local folkie scene. (For more information, look under the ‘Music’ tab.)
Work in progress: a realist novel, working title, The Death of Jimi Hendrix. Archiving physical books, videos, audio cassettes, PR posters, poetry books, published poetry, stories and articles, and media to this site for preservation. Blogging on whatever suits her.
She lives on a 9 acre Land for Wildlife property in Southeast Queensand with her partner and an assortment of intelligent, cheeky parrots.
Swampfish – a duo consisting of Liz Hall-Downs and Kim Downs, playing roots-blues-alt country originals and covers. See ‘Pages’ for more info, videos and audio links, and to check out pur 2014 CD ‘Homeward Dove’.