A large, cheerful group of OOTA members gathered in the Pavillion in the grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre for the annual OOTA Christmas party on Friday 8 December.

Sharing an eclectic selection of dishes, each prepared by the members themselves, accompanied by sparkling, and red and white wines, members enjoyed several hours of convivial, stimulating conversation and good company.

The celebrations were punctuated by several acts of recognition together with prose and poetry readings.

Jan Napier paid tribute to the work of poetry tutor Shane McCauley, who recently presented his 300th poetry class for OOTA and whose tutoring and encouragement have resulted in many members successfully obtaining the publication of their poems.

Following Jan, Liz Hearnden paid similar tribute to prose tutor Helen Hagemann, whose workshops and critiquing classes have been an invaluable source of information and inspiration to OOTA’s prose writers.

Maureen Gibbons then spoke in recognition of the support and encouragement provided to OOTA by Catherine Noske, the General Editor of Westerly, in whose pages many OOTA members have enjoyed seeing their works published. Catherine is soon to be married and Maureen presented her with a gift on behalf of the Committee, together with their very best wishes for her future happiness.

The afternoon was completed by a series of member readings. Rachael Petridis and Gael Williams treated members to selections of their poetry, while Jo Clarke, Rose van Son and Leanne Searle read three very different, but equally entertaining short stories.

The OOTA Committee wishes members and their families all the very best for the festive season, and looks forward to another productive and stimulating year of prose and poetry in 2018.


Poet Jackson.jpg

Poet, editor and OOTA member Jackson has secured the publication of her third poetry collection. The new volume, entitled A coat of ashes, will be published in 2019 by Canberra publisher Recent Work Press.

Jackson’s previous collections include Coracle published in 2009 and Lemon oil published by Mulla Mulla Press in 2013.

Poet and editor Jackson was born in Cumbria, England, and lives in Fremantle, Western Australia. She is currently working toward her PhD at Edith Cowan University. Her journal and anthology publications include Westerly, Plumwood Mountain, the Australian Poetry Journal, and the Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry. Jackson has published two books, a chapbook, seven zines and a CD. She won the 2014 Ethel Webb Bundell Poetry Prize. Jackson's many guest appearances include the Queensland and Tasmanian Poetry Festivals. She is the founding editor of online poetry journal Uneven Floor, unevenfloorpoetry.blogspot.com. The National Library of Australia archives her collected works.

You can read some of Jackson’s works on her website thepoetjackson.com.



A large gathering of OOTA writers and friends squeezed into the Pavlich Room at the Fremantle Arts Centre on Saturday 21st October to attend the group’s Annual General Meeting and 20th Anniversary celebrations.

With the formal part of the agenda completed by noon, members and guests enjoyed an informal lunch before Simone McGurk MLA opened the anniversary celebrations. Simone paid tribute to the custodians of the land past and present, and to the creativity and energy of local groups of writers, poets and artists, challenging us to use our writings to speak for those who, for whatever reason, find it hard to make their own voices heard.

Simone was followed by the 11 shantymen of The Lost Quays, who entertained us with a selection of traditional shanties, including the beautiful and haunting “Shallow Brown”, which tells of a slave, jumping ship to escape being sold, lamenting his lost love Julianna.

After the music, OOTA Secretary Liz Hearnden awarded Honorary Life Memberships to Mary Jarzabkowski and Helen Hagemann. At 91, Mary is our oldest member but she is an active and dedicated writer who has self-published her autobiography and regularly entrains us with her short stories, most of which are drawn from her own varied and extensive experience. Helen is a former committee member and President, and is our prose tutor, conducting fortnightly workshops and critiquing classes, which, over the past ten years, have helped dozens of our members hone their prose writing skills.

Following the awards we were treated to readings of prose and poetry by Mary Jarzabkowski, Carolyn Abbs, Helen Hagemann, Shane McCauley (who recently celebrated his 300th poetry class for OOTA) and Julie Watts, who read the beautiful and moving “The story of Julian who will never knew we loved him”, the winner of this year’s Blake Poetry Prize.

The afternoon was completed by three readings by OOTA mentees Kate Bennett, Jayden O’Neil and Shamina Rozario. The readings, including both prose and poetry, were insightful, thought-provoking and humorous, and affirmed the young writers as being an integral part of a writing community prepared to share their passion, skills and knowledge. You can read some of Shamina's work here. OOTA mentee Maddie Godfrey was unable to join us but you can read her poem "Three Winters" here. "Three Winters"was highly commended in the 2017 Queensland Poetry Festival's PHILIP BACON EKPHRASIS AWARD. You can read  more of Maddie's work here at https://www.scum-mag.com/porcelain/ and on her website www.maddiegodfrey.com. Maddie's first poetry collection, “How To Be Held" will be published by Burning Eye Books in May 2018.

OOTA expresses its thanks to Simone McGurk, “The Lost Quays” and the Fremantle Arts Centre, and to all the readers and participants who helped ensure the success of our anniversary celebrations.



The Hon. Simone McGurk MLA BA is the WA State Member for Fremantle and Minister for Child Protection; Women's Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services.

“The Lost Quays” is a Fremantle based 11-voice male choir dedicated to singing shanties and other songs of the sea. A sea shanty (or “chantey”) was traditionally sung by sailors while labouring together aboard sailing ships. These songs are rhythmic and energetic, but are simple and easy to learn, making them ideal for audience participation. They can reveal interesting insights into seafaring history.

While many of their songs are traditional, they also embrace more contemporary folk songs where appropriate. They mostly perform a cappella (unaccompanied), but do sometimes include instruments such as guitar, mandolin and accordion. Their repertoire is presented with gusto, good humour, and occasional mischief! http://www.thelostquays.com/

Photography courtesy of Renee Pettitt-Schipp



West Australian writer, and Out Of The Asylum (OOTA) President, Julie Watts is the 2017 winner of the prestigious Blake Poetry Prize with her poem entitled 'The Story of Julian who will never know we loved him'.

Announced on 29 September 2017 at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the $5,000 Blake Poetry Prize is awarded biannually by Liverpool City Library in partnership with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

Taking its name from William Blake, a mystical and artistic Romantic era poet, the Blake Poetry Prize challenges modern poets to examine spirituality, humanity and social justice in works of 100 lines or less.

The award was judged by three high-profile writers, including award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke; Ali Cobby Eckermann, winner of the prestigious 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize, and Mark Tredinnick, winner of the inaugural Blake Poetry Prize. Of Julie’s winning entry they said “In The Story of Julian who will never know we loved him, the hierarchy of society is untangled in a moment allowing a glimpse into compassion and thought; a sliver of the everyday dialogue, rewritten as a reminder to us all.”

Announcing the award, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Director Craig Donarski said “Julie Watts’ poem is nothing short of brilliant. The religious and spiritual integrity that shines through her writing is exemplary of what the Blake Poetry Prize is all about, and we couldn’t be more excited to co-present this incredible achievement. Bravo!”

Apart from being our President, Julie Watts has been published in various journals and anthologies including Westerly, Australian Poetry Anthology and Australian Love Poems 2013. Her first collection of poetry, Honey & Hemlock, was published by Sunline Press in 2013.

Congratulations and well done Julie, from all your friends and colleagues at OOTA.

The winning entry, the highly commended entry, and all of the shortlisted poems, together with all of the judges' commentary can be read here httphttp://www.casulapowerhouse.com/get-involved/prizes/prizes/blake-poetry-prize

.Photograph by Andrew Burns



A number of OOTA poets and writers have recently been recognised in local poetry and prose writing competitions. The successful writers are:



Highly Commended: Jackson, "Dadda"

                                  Jan Napier, “Silkie”

Commended: Rita Tognini, “Louch Sonnett”


First Prize: Jan Napier

Poems and Haiku can be read at https://wapoets.wordpress.com/creatrix-2/creatrix-prize-winners/2017-creatrix-prize-winners/


Winner: Julie Watts, “Earthquake”

Commended:    Renee Pettitt-Schipp, “After Your Mother’s Fall”

                          Rose van Son, “At Ellensbrook

Poems can be read at https://wapoets.wordpress.com/2017-ros-spencer-poetry-prize-winners/



Second Place: Richard Regan, “Café Canvas

Third Place: Aileen Hawkes, “Out of the Window

Commendation: Leanne Searle, “Lunch at the Arts Centre Café”

Congratulations to all of the winners. A complete list of the winners of all categories and the judge's report can be found here.

Perth Poetry Week

Josephine Clarke reads at OOTA's poetry afternoon.

Josephine Clarke reads at OOTA's poetry afternoon.

OOTA Writers support Perth Poetry Festival, Sunday 13 August.

The wet blustery weather of Sunday 13 August did not deter the full house of poetry lovers who attended the OOTA Writer’s (Out of the Asylum) afternoon poetry reading at Mattie Furphy House in Swanbourne.

Introduced by OOTA Vice President Renee Pettitt-Schipp, a panel of OOTA’s richly talented poets read a selection of their works at a free event arranged as part of the 2017 Perth Poetry Festival. The readers included Josephine Clarke, Chris Konrad, Rose van Son, Kevin Gillam, Shane McCauley, Maureen Gibbons and Ross Jackson.

OOTA committee members Jan Napier organised the event, assisted by Liz Hearnden, Maureen Gibbons and Renee Pettitt-Schipp, and thanks are extended to Mattie Furphy House for providing the venue and to FAWWA (Fellowship of Australian Writers WA) for providing refreshments.

Trouble Is Our Business

Crime writing workshop by acclaimed WA author Guy Salvidge.

The wet and windy afternoon of Saturday, 1 July, saw a group of OOTA members and friends attend our latest writers’ workshop at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

Highly appropriate in view of the conditions, the workshop, entitled Trouble Is Our Business, featured Crime Writing, and was hosted by acclaimed local author Guy Salvidge.

Over the course of three hours Guy explained why Crime was such a popular genre, differentiated nine examples of the most popular sub-genres in crime fiction, dissected a number of successful crime writers and their works and hosted a lively discussion on the building blocks of tone, atmosphere, language, characterization, police and forensic procedures and plotting. He stressed the importance of writers reading widely within their selected genre and provided a comprehensive reading list. Finally, he shared his experiences in getting his own works published, stressing the importance of building a reputation through short story competitions, and persistence in the face of the inevitable demands on the attention of busy publishers.

It was an inspiring, informative and entertaining afternoon for which all who attended were very grateful. Thanks also to Marlish Glorie for organising the workshop.

About Guy Salvidge

Guy was born in England in 1981 and moved to Western Australia in 1990. He studied English at Curtin University, graduating in 2002 with Honours. Completing a Graduate Diploma in Education in 2005, Guy embarked on a career as a high-school English teacher. He lives in the Avon Valley.

Guy's novel Yellowcake Springs won the 2011 IP Picks Best Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2012 Norma K Hemming Award. The sequelYellowcake Summer was published in 2013. His short fiction has been published in Award Winning Australian Writers 2016, Westerly: New Creative, Tincture Journal and The Great Unknown.  He has twice been Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Perth Writers' Centres and his story 'Frank' won the 2015 City of Rockingham Short Fiction Award.


What Publishers Look For

Friday, 26 May 2017

Twenty-two OOTA Members and friends attended a workshop at the Fremantle Arts Centre with Georgia Richter, fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry publisher at Fremantle Press.

In an hour-long talk and discussion, award-winning author Georgia shared her insights into what Fremantle Press, and publishers in general, look for when considering new manuscripts for publication, as well as offering valuable advice and encouragement to those seeking a publisher.

With a mission to nurture new and emerging Western Australian writers, not-for-profit publisher Fremantle Press, publishes about 25 books per year ranging from crime and general fiction, young adult and junior fiction, to picture books, poetry and non-fiction. Fremantle Press accepts unsolicited manuscripts from authors of Western Australian origin or whose main place of residence is Western Australia, and their submission guidelines are available on their website at www.fremantlepress.com.au.

The Banana Monster - Virginia Sloan's First Children's Book

Banana Monster.jpg

OOTA member Victoria Sloan has published her first book for children.

The Banana Monster tells the story of Billy, a boy who, despite the encouragement of his family, hates bananas.

That is until the Banana Monster pays him a visit!

With amusing illustrations by Elizabeth Clough – including a debonair Banana Monster - the book is available from Amazon Australia.

Well done Victoria, and we look forward to news of more publications in the future.


2017 Mentorships for Young Writers

To Celebrate 20 years of creativity, OOTA (Out of the Asylum) Writers Group is offering mentorships to poetry and prose writers, aged 18 - 25 years.

The three-month mentorships, which commence on 1 June 2107, will offer young writers a chance to develop their craft through conversation and email communication with a published author.

The writing that emerges through the mentoring relationship will be published on the OOTA website. Writers will also be invited to read their work on Saturday 21 October at OOTA's 20th anniversary celebration at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

Applications should emailed to maun.gibbons@gmail.com, including the applicant's name, phone details and the title of the work together with an unpublished poem (30 lines max) or short prose piece (500 words max) as a PDF attachment.

Applications close on 10 May 2017 and successful applicants will be notified by 26 May 2017.

OOTA members Maureen Gibbons, Marlish Glorie, Rae Hillhorst and Zan Ross have volunteered as Mentors and are to be congratulated for donating their time and skills to this very worthwhile project.