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Poet invites Hillites to tell their stories

Friday, 4th September, 2009

Les Wicks, the city's poet in residence and author of eight books, is delighted to be back in Broken Hill.

On his fourth visit, Mr Wicks' mission is two-fold: to attend the sixth annual poetry festival, which begins today; and to promote a new anthology on the city, entitled 'From This Broken Hill'. Mr Wicks will open the poetry festival at lunchtime with a reading before holding workshops and other readings throughout the weekend. But he will also be drumming up interest for his e-anthology, a gathering of poetry, prose and photography celebrating everything that is Broken Hill. The idea was formed when local writer Barbara De Franceschi noticed Mr Wicks was putting together an e-anthology on Sydney's beaches. "I said 'why not do one on deserts?'," Mrs De Franceschi said. "It was his idea, I just planted the seed in his head. "But I think it's a great idea." Mr Wicks will co-edit 'From The Broken Hill' with Mrs De Franceschi and fellow local author, Marvis Sofield.

"I'm really excited to be working with them," he said. "They are really professional, are great mates and really do represent the life and vibrancy of Broken Hill to me." Mr Wicks was calling on all those with an interest in the city to submit works, but is particularly hoping locals will submit works, as they could afford the most important offerings. "The backbone of the anthology has to be the locals," Mr Wicks said. "We're looking for local writers but also from people who've visited here over the years, writers who grew up here and have moved on, like former locals Rae Desmond Jones, one of the leading poets of the last 40 years and author of the novel The Lemon Tree, which is about his experience growing up in Broken Hill, and Tom Thompson, a former Barrier Daily Truth paper delivery boy - there was a portrait of him in this year's Archibald prize. He's a publisher and probably Australia's expert on cricket collectibles, particularly Don Bradman. "These are people who have gone on to make a real difference in Australian culture. "But the seed was planted here and that's another thing we want to celebrate with this very strange and fascinating city."

Mr Wicks said he wanted to give the city something it could cherish for years to come.

"I am really grateful to this city and really fascinated by it and I wanted to give it something that was really lasting," he said. "It's for the enjoyment of people who live to read literature and people who are researching Broken Hill will come across it." Mr Wicks said people could submit their works to his email address at leswicks@hotmail.com but he said that submission did not guarantee publication. The poetry festival starts with a lunch at the Legion Club at noon today. Other events include Get Off Your Arts Poetry readings tonight at Dee's Studio Gallery at 6.30pm (34 Williams Street), followed by a reading atBush 'N Beyond Gallery, 4 Argent Street, at 7.30pm. Tomorrow Mr Wicks will hold a poetry workshop, including practical hints on how to get published and writing about the landscape in which you live. Bookings are essential. On Sunday he and a variety of local poets will hold an open reading at Bell's Milk Bar in Patton Street at 11am.

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