I felt honoured to be invited to put together a few words for the 95th Anniversary of the Society of Women Writers .
It is said, You have to know the past, to understand the present, and to informs the future
The milestone of our 95th Anniversary as a Society of Women Writers, is a good moment to pause, acknowledge where we have come from , to reflect on our present and be encouraged to walk forwards.
We are proud of our story from when a small group of pioneer women journalists banded together – united, to support and encourage each other and we can only imagine the journey to now from 1925 .
We are at an impasse with the pandemic that exacerbates the reduction in funding for the Arts. This enables us to appreciate even more the line of Presidents and the women who believed in our Society and have kept the flame burning through depressions, wars, vacillation of funding and many internal struggles. Pressing forward is a woman’s way.
We are proud to say we are about lifting each other up. Writing is a lonesome vocation and fraught with internal demons. Meeting monthly for lunch in the State Library, the heart of Sydney’s writing and research world, with workshops, guest speakers and sharing with like minded people encourages us with new incentives on our writing journey .
Then our writing competitions, our Book Awards, our journal Women’s Ink, our retreats, the annual Abbie Clancy award for the encouragement of young writers, our annual Di Yerbury residency in England award for a member, outreach promotion of writer festivals and functions to encourage writers. Seeing opportunities to promote our story eg working to bring Eleanor Darks oeuvre together, giving Dorothea Mackellar’s grave, the status she deserved – we women always look forward to be the best.
Our past Presidents have picked up the baton selflessly and guided the SWW thru many stormy seas. and now with the vibrancy of Jan Conway at the helm taking us into 2021 we are here today through the technology of zoom in celebration.
It is good to remind ourselves we are standing on a mountain from which we can say we are standing on the shoulders of the women who have gone before thru all the struggles every decade, every age, brings up.
Let it be known proudly we mark this occasion on Zoom
All i am saying here reminds me of the words in Josh Gobans song,
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
In the years to come may our future members look back, grateful for us here on our 95th anniversary in 2020.
Colleen Keating, September 2020
Some of the women of the Society on Retreat in 2017
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I hope you’re getting the time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. We are in the final stages of planning for the 95th and I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s ’birthday’ Zoom event.
Best wishes messages – from invited guests and members – will be read during the programme by an SWW member. Colleen, I’d be delighted if you are able to offer a few sentences (in text or poetry) about the Society. If you are happy to do so, I’d appreciate you letting me know. I would need the message to be received by the evening of Monday 14. Late notice I know – Sorry!