A poet on a very big adventure

Career Fund

Indigenous poet Samuel Wagan Watson believes it’s his job to entertain his audience and this is just one part of his “great adventure” of being a writer.

The Brisbane poet has recently received funding from Copyright Agency’s Career Fund, which he is using to attend the 24th Medellin International Poetry Festival in Colombia in July.

“It is the biggest poetry festival in the world,” Samuel says. “Being able to present a session at the festival will open more doors for me and my colleagues.”

The author of five poetry anthologies, Samuel is a multi-award winning poet who mentors other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers.

“Through writing, I have developed correspondence, friendship and relationships with writers and writing groups around the world,” says Samuel.

“If you act professionally and courteously, it leads on to another job. I’m an ambassador for Australia and my aim is to be diplomatic and show a foreign audience what we, from ‘down under’, can offer.

“But whether I am reading at the Berlin poetry festival or at the Sydney Poetry Festival, my job is to entertain.”

Samuel has been earning a living as a writer for 22 years and says the 2014 poetry festival will be particularly significant for him.

“It’s very special that this year the festival has an Indigenous theme,” Samuel says.

The festival is held in an auditorium with an audience of around 5,000 people for each session. Samuel says that he’s somewhat daunted by the audience size, which he describes as “extreme”, yet he believes the festival will bring “great opportunities.”

“I’m privileged that my writing has allowed me to expand my horizons and open foreign markets and foreign audiences. There is something magic about working overseas; working with other writers and other audiences.”

He has been a mentor to a number of Indigenous writers and he hopes to undertake further capacity building while in Colombia. His general advice to aspiring writers is, “Just work at it every day; don’t treat it like a hobby.”

“It’s a life path that you want to explore. Read other writers and accept help and give help back,” he says.

Samuel is “absolutely thankful for the good work that Copyright Agency does” and grateful that the Agency can provide assistance to writers and artists.

The Career Fund, an arm of Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, supports writers, publishers and artists to further their skills and careers. Copyright Agency’s Board is authorised to allocate 1.5% of its income to development projects that will support the Australian publishing and visual arts industries. Through the Cultural Fund, Copyright Agency members have supported projects such as festivals, residencies, symposiums, prizes and publications.