Georgia Behrens is overawed by the next star of “The Short Story” panel, Pip Smith.
When she first decided to host a story-telling night in the front room of her Newtown flat, I can’t really imagine that Pip Smith thought she was going to land herself a small literary empire. With the aims of a) providing a literary night out for Sydney booklovers sick of browsing Better Read Than Dead to the wee hours of the morning, and b) establishing a refuge for Sydney writers generally perceived as “wankers who should just move to Melbourne”, Pip stocked up on cask wine, flung open her front door, and ushered in a herd of story-lovers to sit cross-legged on her living room floor. Attendees were treated to a series of writers reading short stories, novel extracts and play scenes from a velvet chair atop a coffee table. Neither Pip, nor the event’s audience, have looked back.
3 years later, the event- now known as Penguin Plays Rough- is one of the most talked-about events on Sydney’s indie calendar, and has been called “Sydney’s number one night for the unpublished and aspiring” (Time Out). Meanwhile, Pip- still the event’s “organisational lady” and 500-horsepower driving force- has found herself and Penguin Plays Rough with a book, a vodcast, a fledgling radio program and an iPhone app. If that doesn’t sound like enough to leave anyone flat on their back with exhaustion, she is also the co-director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, gets her work published in an astounding array of literary magazines, and is studying for a Doctor of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney. And she’s hoping to release a second edition of The Penguin Plays Rough Book of Short Stories.
So why, we may ask, does she do it? What keeps her running at so very many miles an hour? Pip, it seems, simply loves literature, and is passionate about the positive role it plays in our day to day lives. “Imaginative fiction, poetry and all the other forms of writing can help us see what’s real, but invisible, and humming between the objects of our world…They encourage us to not just “write what we know”- but stretch ourselves out of ourselves, exercise our empathy, muscles and be braver in what feels true and vital right now.”
Pip Smith will be appearing in our upcoming panel, “The Short Story”, part of the new series, The Library of Unwritten Stories. If you, like Pip, are passionate about literature and short stories, check out the Eventbrite page for details and to book. And, if you’re interested, the next Penguin Plays Rough night is coming up this Thursday the 6th of September, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Library of Unwritten Stories is an eight week program which alternates between panels and writing group meetings.
The NSW Writers’ Centre and the City of Sydney Libraries are teaming up to present The Library of Unwritten Stories, a dynamic new program for young writers aged under 30 with a chance to establish a new writers’ group. The importance of Writers’ Groups – small meetings where writers can read and comment on each other’s work – is often underestimated. This will be a chance for young writers to meet each other, explore the potential for collaborative projects, be mentored by industry professionals and develop their own work.
The Library of Unwritten Stories will alternate weekly between talks from industry guests and the writing group meetings. Talks will focus on the short story and each guest will set a writing challenge for the next week’s meeting.
When: Wednesday evenings: September 5, 19 & 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31, 6-7pm