3 March 2021
Get to Know You: Left to Write Facilitator, Maddie Godfrey!
Meet Maddie Godfrey, our Poetry Community Facilitator for Left to Write!
Maddie Godfrey is a Perth-bred writer, poet, editor, educator and emotional feminist, who uses storytelling to facilitate compassionate conversations about social issues. At 25, they have performed poetry at The Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall, TedXWomen, St Paul’s Cathedral and Glastonbury Festival (2017). Their debut collection ‘How To Be Held’ (Burning Eye Books, 2018) is a manifesto to tenderness. In 2018-2019, Maddie worked with Propel Youth Arts WA as the Creative Coordinator of Youth Week WA. In 2019 they were an Associate Producer for Express Media’s ‘Making Tracks’ program. In late 2020, Maddie was awarded a writer-in-residence position by The National Trust of Western Australia.
We had a quick chat with Maddie about their creative process, community and what they’re up to outside of facilitating Left to Write this year!
How has digital spaces and social media impacted your own creative process and sense of community?
I am in an online writing group for Trans and Gender Diverse young writers, which is run by Alison Evans and Nevo Zisin, and being there has taught me so much about community. Spending time online with such a close-knit group is super regenerative. As someone who is usually leading/running workshops, being a participant is humbling and reminds me how valuable inclusive spaces are for my wellbeing.
How important is a sense of community and connection to your work as a creative? And what are some ways you have assured this (or not!) throughout your life?
As a writer and educator based in Perth, sometimes this interstate isolation can feel a little difficult, as I don’t get to walk into The Wheeler Centre or go for coffee dates with some of the awesome organisations I work with. However, the benefit of being somewhere isolated like Perth is that our community is so intimate that it feels like a family. As a queer person, I am grateful for the ways that LGBTQIA+ communities have embraced me throughout my creative career and allowed me to be every version of myself. Sometimes when I write, I feel like I’m writing alongside all the creatives who I love, because of the ways we support each other.
What have you been working on recently?
Lately I’ve been working hard on my PhD and finishing up the 2020 Kat Muscat Fellowship that I was awarded last year! I also just completed a writer-in-residency position with the National Trust of Western Australia which was surreal. It’s been a busy time but I feel like I’ve found a new level of clarity in my writing practice, which is really exciting.
What literary piece has inspired you and your work?
Ohhhhh! So many!!! Okay so the first book I ever read that made me want to be a writer was Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, which someone lent me in Year 12. It was the first time I ever realised how powerful writing could be. Recently, I purchased an extra copy of Crush by Richard Siken so that there’s always a copy on my bookshelf, even when I keep loaning it to friends. Last year when Blueberries by Ellena Savage was released by Text Publishing I really resonated with it, and her pieces ignited a new passion for personal essays that has proven to be a formative inspiration over my writing practice. And also!! I love Carmen Machado. She’s such an evocative and important storyteller, I’ll read all her books for the rest of my life.
On a slightly different note, I grew up as an obsessive music fan. There’s a band called La Dispute from Grand Rapids, Michigan and I memorised all of their albums and followed their tours when I was a teenager (this has continued into my 20s, no shame here). I included La Dispute in the acknowledgments of my first book How To Be Held, because I believe that formative experience of memorising and yelling lyrics explains a lot about my love of performance poetry. A few years ago I gave the band members copies of my book and it was a very wholesome experience. I’ve got all their CDs in my car and the rhythm, texture and lyrical density is still so inspiring. Fandom is probably what made me a poet.
If you could time-travel, what tips would you give yourself at the very start of your career?
If I could go back, I would tell my younger writer self to be nicer to themselves! Even in those early days, I was such a perfectionist and although this was a strength in some ways, I was so focused on my faults that I often didn’t let myself enjoy the process. These days I still struggle with perfectionism, but I prioritise self-care and am much nicer to myself.
Our new 2021 initiative, Left to Write, is an online 6 week writing group, workshop and community program that aims to connect writers and encourage accountability.