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Federal Writers’ Festival, Australia

What an amazing experience to be invited as a guest speaker to the inaugural Federal Writers Festival amongst so many known published authors from around Australia, Asia, the Pacific, Canada and the U.S.

The opening speaker was Kerry O’Brien with his latest memoir. He is one of Australia’s most respected journalists, having been awarded six Walkley Awards during his career.

On stage I was able to talk about the different aspects of my life and my writing. I had free range to talk about my first book ‘The 5-Minute Guide to Emotional Intelligence’ (and then sold 10 copies), about my latest book ‘The Key’ on emotional intelligence for teenagers and my memoir ‘Hip Hop & Hope’ that I had just finished writing and handed over to my editor Laurel Cohn who was in the audience.

What a fantastic festival. The hall was packed, the people were friendly and interested and the ‘in betweens’ and ‘afters’ full of delicious food and wine. Thank you to Philip McLaren for the foresight to put this together in such a gorgeous location up in the hills.

 

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Indonesia.

On Tue 24th Oct at Ganesha University, a 3 hour (or more realistically, 4 or 5 hour) drive from Denpasar airport in Bali (through stunning mountains I might add), I was on a panel as part of the 3-day Asia Pacific Writers and Translators 10th anniversary conference.

This was my 5th one.

The topic of this 90 minute panel was:

Belonging and Writing:
Exile, Homecoming and Return Narratives.

Just a small topic!

I was one of three on the panel and last minute became the moderator also as ours had to head back home south to Sanur. I was worried that being both moderator and panelist would be a little tricky with Osamah Sami on the panel – an award-winning actor, writer, director and stand-up comedian, with a memoir Good Muslim Boy and movie Ali’s Wedding. A lively and confident personality as you might expect, but also a humble young man born in Iran to Iraqi parents who moved to Australia as a teenager. The panel was rounded off with writer and PhD candidate from Queensland Australia, Sophie MacNeill.

What unfolded quite naturally was a juicy discussion on ‘home’, ‘exile’, ‘belonging’ and ‘identity’ from a Muslim Iranian, Iraqi Aussie, a born and bred Australian Aussie of Irish decent, and a Jewish Australian expat living in Asia. As you can well imagine then, questions of belonging and identity were about as straight forward as our panel’s participant’s stories. ​The audience seemed to really enjoy the discussion and had plenty of questions for us. Thanks to everyone for coming down and thanks to the panel for their honesty and courage in their stories. The 3-day conference was as always, full of incredible authors, editors, translators and publishers. Northern Indonesia was such an incredible place to host such an event, most of us having never adventured to this area before. Here is (some of) the 200-strong gang from over 23 countries.

Every year I take a photo of me with the AP banner, so here is this year’s….

There are many workshops on offer throughout the conference. I feel so fortunate to be meeting with such experienced people in the industry. I went to ‘Editing: An Insider’s Guide’, hosted by Cate Blake from Penguin Random House and Ian See from University of Queensland Press in a small group where we had the opportunity to listen, learn, share and ask questions.

​Monash University, Australia.

The Monash University staff have been following my career since I graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor Social Work in their Caulfield Campus.

I also graduated from LaTrobe University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Social Science (Major: Law, and Minor: Sociology). Members of the Social Work department decided I would be a great mentor and invited me to speak to post grad students and final year students on the work I have done since university and the opportunities available.

Come and hear me talk about my experiences in working in homelessness, drug and alcohol and mental health in Australia, volunteer work in Vietnam and India, my life in Cambodia and my world now as an author, writing therapist and yes, still a social worker. The sky is the limit.

If you are a uni student and want to join, message me. It is almost at full capacity with over 30 signed up to date.

​Monash University, Social Work department, 24th May, 5pm 2017

 

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, China.

​This year’s Asia Pacific Writers conference was held across Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao at the end of November 2016.

Writers, translators, editors and agents from Australia, Asia and the Pacific meet annually to connect and share. On this night in Guangzhou after a full day of speakers, panels, workshops and discussions at the Sun Yat-Sen University, I read from my latest book ‘The 5-Minute Guide to Emotional Intelligence’ to a room full of colleagues and now friends.

‘A Perfect Statue’, Imprint14. Hong Kong

‘A Perfect Statue’ is a short story published in Imprint 14 Anthology, Hong Kong. It is a modified passage from Romi’s upcoming book: ‘Hip Hop & Hope, from the slums of Phnom Penh.’

A Perfect Statue  by Romi Grossberg

And some photos that go with the story. Below is Kha during his solo performance and right is the last scene from the story.

‘Healing through Hip Hop in the Slums of Phnom Penh,’ Rupkatha Journal

Healing through Hip Hop in the Slums of Phnom Penh’, Rupkatha Journal, Special issue on Performance Studies, 2013

​”Local non-government organisation ‘Tiny Toones’ is the first and only of its kind in Cambodia, to use hip hop to engage with, and empower the most disadvantaged children and youth in Phnom Penh. Working with young people from backgrounds of drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, gang life, family violence and extreme poverty, it offers creative arts alongside education and life skills….”

Read Article: Healing through Hip Hope in the Slums of Phnom Penh