In 2019, the Centre for Stories selected a number of emerging writers to be involved in a 12-month mentoring program. The Inclusion Matters Mentoring Program, funded by the Copyright Agency and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, allows writers to improve their craft, to work in a supportive community, and to be paired with a well-established mentor. Both programs are designed for people living in Western Australia who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse.
Nisha D’cruz is a poet and storyteller. In late 2018, Nisha participated in the Centre for Stories’ Saga Sisterhood project where she developed a story called ‘You Have Always Been Loved’ and performed this story at the Centre for Stories and in Melbourne at the Mapping Melbourne Festival. In mid-2019, Nisha was accepted into the Inclusion Matters Mentoring Program. Get to know Nisha below.
Please introduce yourself.
I am Malaysian by birth, Indian by blood and have spent over half my life in Australia now, first in the Goldfields and then over the last six years in Perth. I’m the middle child in a family of overly talented, high achievers—someone is always working on something, or else they’re whole heartedly supporting whatever someone else is working on. I’ve been taken with language and writing for as long as I can remember—making up stories as a kid (some might call it lying), ferociously devouring books as soon as I could read, doing storytelling and public speaking in primary school, and writing angsty poetry as a teenager. I did some creative writing units during my undergrad, and even as I went through my postgrad in secondary teaching, I held on to my lifelong dream of being a published writer and poet.
What have you been working on during the Mentoring Program?
During the program, I have been working with the amazing Josephine Clarke on putting together a cohesive collection of poetry. My writing explores womanhood and themes of sexuality, romance, family—especially how these intersect in the identities of women, with a focus on South Asian women. We have been editing poems as well as implementing good writing habits to aid in the creation of new—with the goal of publishing.
What has it been like working with your mentor, Josephine Clarke?
Working with Josephine has been so refreshing and enjoyable. She is always introducing me to new and interesting poets, as well as opportunities for networking and publishing—both locally, in the form of poetry readings in Perth, as well as on a more global scale such as poetry journals and competitions.
Has your writing style, practice, or vocation changed since the beginning of your Mentorship?
Josephine has widened and improved my reading practices, which has greatly improved my writing. She also gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me–“Expect life to be ordinary.” She encouraged me to stop waiting for inspiration to strike, but rather make writing a habit, even if I didn’t think what I was putting on the page was good enough. I have found that embracing the mundane in my writing has opened my eyes to the poetry in the everyday happenings of life, and that has led to some interesting work in the end. I’ve realised that poetry doesn’t have to be about telling a story, it can be about sharing a feeling, no matter how unremarkable I might think that feeling is.
When you’re not writing, what are you doing?
I’m taking naps, procrastinating assignments, doing assignments last minute, binging reality TV shows, listening to true crime podcasts, lying around with my dog, catching as many sunsets as I can, drinking wine by the river with my friends, reading other people’s writing and recently I’ve been doing some yoga.
What have you been doing to get involved with the writing community?
I love to go to poetry readings and listen to other people’s work. I’ve been subscribing to some journals and magazines to stay up to date, and of course I rely on the Centre for Stories and the myriad of events they host!
What are your goals for 2020?
To write more consistently, even if it’s just for myself! To get published! And to get comfortable with getting rejected sometimes too!