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woman speaking feature

Women Armed With Words

Emily Allen

This Saturday night, Canberra literary collective Scissors Paper Pen, the ANU Women’s Department and the PARSA Women’s Office will be hosting the event Spoken: Women Armed with Words as part of ANU Arts Week.

The open mic event will see women-identifying and/or non-binary people given 3-5 minutes to speak their words, in whatever form they may take, in a celebration of feminism, gender empowerment, liberation, respect, affirmation and pride.

Scissors Paper Pen has been making lit happen in the Capital since 2011 through events, professional development and publishing opportunities. Last month the collective held a ‘Passing of the Pen’ event in partnership with Noted Festival to send off the old guard and welcome five new, fabulous women to the team.

I caught up with Co-Director Gabriela Falzon to chat about this Saturday’s event.

E: What was the initiative behind this event?

G: The initial idea behind this event was inspired by all the amazing women writers in Canberra. I regularly attend Canberra’s spoken word events and have come across so many passionate women performers. So I wanted to dedicate an event to their words, whatever form these words take.

E: What are you most looking forward to?

G: I think this event is unique because it is organised solely by women and will be a celebration of women’s stories. It is therefore a symbolic claiming of space, allowing us to create an autonomous environment for the voices of women-identifying and/or non-binary people.


E: What is the importance of an inclusive environment for women-identifying and/or non-binary people?

G: The ANU Women’s Department has a history of establishing autonomous spaces and I realised that this act is also crucial within the art community and that Scissors Paper Pen is perfectly placed to facilitate this, allowing politically, socially, and economically oppressed groups of people to express themselves in an environment that is solely dedicated to them.

E: What are you hoping audiences will take away?

G: I can’t wait to listen to the different writers on the night and I’m also looking forward to the constructive discussion we will have at our workshop!

In the lead-up to Saturday’s open mic, organisers are holding a writing workshop this evening so that interested participants can learn a thing or two from industry professionals on presenting words live to an active audience.

Miranda Lello has performed her own poetry for the last twelve years, mostly in Canberra but also as far afield as Texas. Once she was even in the National Poetry Slam which you can watch that here.

Hannah McCann is a lecturer in gender studies at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on femininity as explored in feminist writing and queer femme subculture. She has been published in Australian Feminist Studies and Australian Humanities Review, as well as The Conversation.

the essentials

What: Spoken: Women Armed with Words + Writing Workshop
When: Saturday April 30 (workshop tonight, Tuesday April 26)
Where: The Food Co-Op Shop and Café, 3 Kingsley Street Canberra City (tonight’s workshop held at Chifley Library room 3.19)

Image of ‘a woman singing…‘ via Shutterstock


Emily Allen

Emily has a BA in Journalism and Creative Writing and a subsequent Diploma of Music Industry (Business) after playing in a local orchestra for a number of years. Emily works at the ANU's School of Music and is currently the Communications Coordinator and Secretary for MusicACT and the Marketing and Publicity Coordinator for the Canberra Multicultural Fringe. These role sees her combine her passion for social media, writing, music and arts administration. More about the Author

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