We consider ourselves very lucky to collaborate with and work alongside talented and dynamic interns at the Centre for Stories. In 2021 we’ll be welcoming several interns through our doors who will each, in their own way, make their mark at the Centre and we, in turn, will celebrate them!
So, meet Lauren Pratt. Lauren is a student of English and Creative Writing who has been coming in twice a week to help out with Portside Review — which we’re very grateful for! Lauren has roots in Australia, England and Scotland and is a voracious reader of local literature. For the past few months, she has been lending her editorial experience with Underground Writers to what we do here at the Centre for Stories. Read on to learn more about Lauren.
Tell us a bit about yourself! Where have you come from, where are you going, and which people and what experiences have shaped you in between?
My name is Lauren, I am a 21-year-old student, and I am finishing up my undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing at Murdoch University. I was born right here in Boorloo/Perth and come from a White Australian/English/Scottish background. I don’t have a strong connection to place, and I think that is because I have spent my childhood in Perth and in Yorkshire. I feel most connected to the people I know and my belongings. The things I own, for example books, clothes, photographs, and artworks that I create, really reflect who I am as a person and what I like to do. So, if I am dressed comfortably and have a book or two with me, I can feel at home anywhere.
I’m not really going anywhere at the moment with the current pandemic, but I am quite content staying here in Boorloo/Perth and exploring the creative arts community more in the coming years. I think that it is becoming a really great community and there is a lot of wonderful work being produced.
The people who have shaped me along the way would be my friends. Some of my best friends I have known since I was twelve years old (nearly a decade!) and they’ve seen me grow up and become the person I am now. They’re really wonderful women and I can’t wait to grow and change with them in the years to come. We are all so different and have different interests and different career prospects and come from different cultural backgrounds, but we are so close (like sisters but with less arguing) and always want the best for each other. And to answer which experiences have shaped me, I think that my education, my work, and my travels, among many other things, have impacted me and allowed me to grow as a person.
So what brought you to Portside Review at the Centre for Stories?
I first heard of the Centre for Stories back in 2018 and then soon after I attended the ‘So, You Want To Be An Editor’ event by Camha Pham and Linda Martin in early 2019. It was such a great experience and really helped me in deciding what I want to do with my degree. From 2019 onwards I’ve been closely following the Centre for Stories on social media and have been in awe of the work that they do. So, when I saw that they were looking for interns for Portside Review (PR) I immediately started working on my application. It’s such a dream come true for me, and it’s been so amazing learning hands-on and in-person at the Centre for Stories!
You’ve been coming in twice a week to work on many aspects of Portside Review, including editing and copywriting. How have you found it so far? Has anything surprised you?
It’s been amazing so far! Sometimes I have to just take a moment to let it all sink in because I still can’t believe I get to work in such a wholesome, safe, and inspiring environment. It’s been really wonderful learning from Logan and Robbie, and being able to bounce ideas off of Sachini and learn from her as well. What has been surprising is the number of programs I haven’t used before that seem to be second nature to a lot of people. But they’re quite easy programs to learn and I found that taking the time to fiddle around with different things is the best way to go. What has also surprised me is how much work goes into making an email! It’s a lot harder than it looks!
We know it’s hard to pick favourites, but what is one of your favourite pieces from Portside Review?
One of my favourite pieces to read was The Child Within: a conversation with Alf Taylor and Dennis Haskell. Taylor talks about his new book God, the Devil and Me published by Magabala Books in March 2021 but what I think makes the piece special is that Taylor has such a distinctive and captivating voice. I really enjoyed reading it. Another one of my favourites from Issue One of PR is Thôi bọn mình chia tay, thôi bọn mình… chia tay (Let us part ways, let us… part ways) by Frances An. It’s a piece with really evocative imagery and language. It was such a delight to read!
What can readers expect from Issue Two?
I think readers will really enjoy what Issue Two has to offer. PR receives a wide range of work from people all over the Indian Ocean. If you want to be reading from distinguished, authentic and real voices, you want to be subscribed to PR. Readers can definitely look forward to a whole new selection of poetry, prose, and conversational pieces that you’ll want to share with every person you meet!
Like most young people making their way in the world, you’ve got a lot of interesting commitments on your plate. Can you tell us more about your writing/editing practice?
Even though my degree is in English and Creative Writing I don’t do a lot of creative writing. Not because I don’t have the time but mainly because I don’t enjoy it at the moment. I also find that I don’t really have a story to share with the world which is why editing is so rewarding for me. I love helping people refine their work ready for publication so that their story is out there for people to read. I am currently an editor for Underground Writers (UW) where I write book reviews, edit other team member’s work, and work with authors to edit their piece ready for our quarterly issues. I love the work I do for UW and our focus is creating a space for emerging writers and authors, both in the work we publish and in the books we review. I find that the work I am doing at PR complements my UW work because I am being exposed to a whole different world of writers.
Here at the Centre for Stories, we love sharing stories (I know, weird right?). Can you share a brief story about an experience that has stayed with you?
I’m not a great storyteller but I’ll tell you a short story from my recent trip to Mandurah. When I was down there, there was a fair and these little foil balloons were being sold. They were in the shape of little dogs with springy paper legs so it looks like you are walking them. And later that night I was walking to dinner with my boyfriend without my glasses on and a kid had one of those dog balloons and I got the biggest fright of my life because I thought it was a real dog! The family walking the balloon dog found it really funny so I’m glad that they had a good laugh. It’s a happy memory for me because I think that it’s a nice feeling when strangers can share a laugh about something silly and light-hearted.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading two books at the moment. One is a review copy of Twice not shy: one hundred short short stories edited by Laura Keenan and Linda Martin published by Night Parrot Press. If you like flash fiction and supporting local authors (established and emerging) this is a great book to go for. I am also reading Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe, published by University of Queensland Press in 2020. It’s a work of historical fiction and was recently shortlisted for the 2021 Stella Prize!
What are you listening to?
I don’t listen to a lot of music, to be honest. But when I do I listen to music it’s usually artists such as Molly Drake, Connie Converse, and Sibylle Baier.
What’re you looking forward to in the coming months, or in 2022?
I look forward to graduating with my degree. I’ve had a great time studying but I am really looking forward to having a break. I’m hoping to do a little bit of travelling down south and relaxing. I’m not sure what I will be doing after that but I know I’ll most likely looking for more work experience within the publishing industry, and working hard towards my future goals in 2022.
Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
If you want to follow me on Instagram, you can find me here: @laurenprattediting. I share pictures of books that I am currently reading and any book reviews or interviews I do.