Monday, 22 April 2013

A book of her own

It was a series of coincidences that brought Mary Pomfret to Bendigo.
But once here, she found her writing voice.
Ms Pomfret will launch her first book this month, a small collection of linked prose pieces called Writing in Virginia’s Shadow.
Published by a little innovative company called Ginninderra Press, based in Adelaide, the collection came out of Ms Pomfret’s work as an honours student at La Trobe University.
Born in Manchester, schooled in Hobart then Melbourne, and with the experience of living in places as diverse as a mining town in Tasmania, Adelaide and Alice Springs, she says coming to Bendigo opened doors for her.
“Regional cities offer so many opportunities that don’t come your way in big cities,” Ms Pomfret says.
After achieving a diploma in creative writing from Bendigo TAFE, she then went on to university, and is now undertaking doctoral studies.
“Meeting (lecturer) Sue Gillett was so important, because she understood my view of the world, and encouraged me, and, above all else, inspired me with confidence,” she says.
The “Virginia” in the book’s title is Virginia Woolf, whose essay about how important it is for a woman writer to have a “room of her own” was so influential in changing perceptions.
Ms Pomfret’s grandmother, for most of her life, couldn’t read or write, a situation which was “commonplace” for many working-class women.
“I’m interested in the female perspective on the writing world,” she says.
“Basically, how you see the world depends on your class, your religion, your gender.”
Her first book is experimental in form, a collage that is like a short-story cycle.
“It’s not so difficult to get published in newspapers and magazines, but to be taken seriously, you do have to have some kind of book with your name on it,” she says.
“Publishers take you more seriously when you show you can go through the process.”
Mary Pomfret’s Writing in Virginia’s Shadow will be launched by Sue Gillett at La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre at 6pm on February 27.     – Rosemary Sorensen

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