For a long time I didn’t like Superman. He was just too powerful, too perfect. Then I saw him alongside the rest of the Justice League and thought, ‘what issues could possibly require the combined might of Superman, Wonder Woman and a bunch of other heroes?’ I’ve read a bit more DC now. Their characters are a lot more fallible, more troubled, than they were in the early 90s. Regardless, if Superman needs help from time to time, I’m guessing so do the rest of us.
Our sports reflect this. Beyond the court or the pitch there are huge off-field teams now. Take Australian Rules Football, where there was once a single Senior Coach there are now coaches for every section of the oval as well as some with specific responsibilities. It’s now a professional business too so each team has its board and a number of departments that work together to make a whole.
Most important to both of these situations is the team dynamic. Whether you’re reading Marvel, DC or another distributor, your superhero teams feature characters with different skill sets and abilities. Each hero offers something unique that compliments the abilities of the others. This is probably most obvious in the way Marvel talks about The Avengers, often presenting them not by name but according to their role: “The Soldier, the God, the Knight, the Spy, the Giant, the King, the Pixie, the Ghost, and the Archer.” When read like this it sounds like a roll call (or role call in this instance) for a Tolkein quest. Likewise, sporting teams recruit people to fill positions. When Hawthorn defeated Geelong in the 2008 Grand Final they’d done so on the back of a recruiting drive that favoured player type over any other factor. Plainly stated, they built a champion team rather than a team of champions.
Where am I going with this?
In 2013 I was approached by Paul Papalia (member for Warnbro) at the launch of my first book. He wanted to know if I was interested in running a writers’ festival. He said politicians have a budget for community groups and he’s always aiding sporting teams. He was concerned that a number of youth in the area where not supported in their interests because they were not sporty. He wanted something for the creative types.
I’ve run two festivals so far. Both times they ran during school hours and then continued on for at least an hour and a half. I won’t lie, I’m disappointed in the numbers we’ve had after 3pm. But… this is when the magic happens. Once the students start dispersing the participating authors begin mingling, often sitting in on the others’ workshops. This is what I think The Arts needs; a sense of community and collaboration, people working together to improve each other.
Perth poet, Jackson, runs a workshop called ‘Poetry Kitchen’. She provides the snacks, the poets in attendance bring some verse to share. Jackson ensures that the atmosphere stays positive and the criticism stays constructive. Each poet leaves with a page full of notes or a brain full of ideas on how they might tweak their piece to make it better. But it’s more than that. I am at my most inspired when I’ve been exposed to the creativity of others. The last time I saw Perth band, The Woods, I went home and wrote two poems. There was no connection between their lyrics and my verse, I just wanted to write. Furthermore, I recently participated in two of the Australian Writers’ Centre‘s online courses. What I loved about this was the engagement between writers, people reading each other’s posts and adding feedback.
This is what I want more of, creative communities of writers helping writers. Make it happen.