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On the table

Rushil D’cruz

"The trip to Melbourne for the Digital Writers’ Festival was rewarding in so many ways. Being able to witness local artists and their arts scene both encouraged me to keep honing my creative practice while also giving me the confidence that my work had a place in the broader community."

On The Table is an interview series with emerging writers from the 2019 Centre for Stories Inclusion Matters Hot Desk Fellowship. Here, writers reflect on their Hot Desk experience, the changes to their practice, and the connections they made.

Rushil D’cruz is a 21-year-old student, musician, writer, and immigrant from Malaysia. Attempting everything from short stories and poetry to hypertext writing and micro fiction, Rushil’s work attends to the idiosyncrasies of Australian society and how individuals are programmed to ignore systems of oppression. He also studies Medicine at the University of Western Australia, works in video art, and is slowly infiltrating the punk rap scene.

Can you tell us about your writing practice?

I write poetry and as much as possible try to be outdoors while writing. I always keep a Moleskine notepad and pens with me so if a thought strikes me I can jot it down. In general, I find that I return to two general practices in writing. First, I may be struck by an idea I hadn’t thought about or see something I hadn’t noticed before and write on the implications of what I’m thinking about/looking at (this practice tends to be more culturally and politically critical, an example of this being the piece ‘#PerthIsOkay). Secondly, in a more meditative sense, I sit somewhere in public and try to capture the atmosphere of the setting. I try not to have any expectations of myself when I write, allowing the thoughts and emotions to come and go freely. At the end of a week or two, I look over the pages I’ve written and pick out the lines or poems that still resonate with me and tease out the main emotions. I’ll do this a couple of times—sometimes taking months and other times having a complete poem in fifteen minutes.

Where did you start at the beginning of the Hot Desk Fellowship? What changed in your work and what did the Fellowship allow you to do?

When I began the Hot Desk Fellowship I was writing short stories. Over the course of the Fellowship, I found my stories getting increasingly shorter and more abstract and feeling more freedom in the form of poetry. Even within the form, my first works were responses to other pieces of writing, music and art, before eventually developing into both critical and personal pieces. Being in the space of the Centre also gave me access to resources which furthered my understanding of concepts such as rhythm and flow.

I’ve submitted my work to a few publications and aim to submit to more before the year’s end. Mainly, however, I’m trying to get my writing off the page and into other forms such as video or visual art. I’ve been in conversation with a few illustrators around Perth about having an illustrated poetry collaboration which I’m really looking forward to. Most importantly, however, I’m trying to write for myself and not think about publication as I’ve found that this has been a weight over my head in the past.

How does the Centre for Stories compare to your workplace, social space, and so on? 

The culture of the Centre for Stories is always warm, welcoming and nurturing. Everyone working at the Centre is friendly and takes the time to have a conversation with you. This all sounds very cliche but I attribute much of my progress in artistic practice (extending to that outside of writing) to the atmosphere at the Centre. There is both an understanding of you as a person and what you’re hoping to achieve, and everyone at the Centre is there to help you get where you need to go.

Rushil D'cruz standing laughing with his hands over his face. He is standing before an orange wall and he is wearing a pink t-shirt

We ran a series of workshops around reading, editing, and publishing. How did you find these workshops and how will you apply what you learned? 

Robert Wood was excellent at running the workshops, being inclusive of everyone’s viewpoints while offering a different perspective of our practices to push us further. Next to this, it was also beneficial to hear from such a wide range of people on the way they write and try out their styles, if nothing but for the exercise. Robbie’s knowledge about the industry was also valuable given that the group was comprised of emerging writers.

As part of the Inclusion Matters Project, we took five Hot Desk Fellows to Melbourne for the Digital Writers’ Festival. Can you tell us of your experience?

The trip to Melbourne for the Digital Writers’ Festival was rewarding in so many ways. Being able to witness local artists and their arts scene both encouraged me to keep honing my creative practice while also giving me the confidence that my work had a place in the broader community. As the youngest person on the trip and in a city as isolated as Perth, it can sometimes be discouraging when friends do not read or engage with the literary world. The team that met us on the other side was incredibly kind and the other artists presenting at our event (Ghosts of The Digital Age) were friendly and supportive of us. Aside from the Digital Writers’ Festival itself, the highlight of my trip was definitely chancing upon the National Gallery which happened to be exhibiting works by artists KAWS and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçon, both of whose work I admire.

Can you briefly describe the piece of writing you submitted to the Centre for Stories at the conclusion of your Hot Desk Fellowship? 

My submission contains works which address religion and colonialism, with an emphasis on the casual violence and injustice so ingrained in Australian society they may be considered mundane. They are heavily influenced by the style of writing used in Psalms and Proverbs in the Bible. Throughout these works is also a consideration of space and how the placement of words on a page guide the reader’s eye by creating visual rhythm.

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