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Lia Hills is a poet, novelist and translator. Her work has been published, performed, and translated both locally and internationally, and nominated for numerous awards, including the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Like many writers, I’ve done a variety of jobs over the years, both in Australia and overseas, including university lecturer, translator, English secondary teacher, journalist, theatre director, tutor to young French barons, camera operator and grape-picker. I was also the editor for a number of years of the Moving Galleries project, an art and poetry project on Melbourne’s trains.
I have a deep commitment to exploring Australia’s fraught past and speaking to the silences that continue to shape this country. I continue to explore these key issues through poetry and fiction. I’m also interested in the way people’s belief systems hold up in the face of tragedy, and where our sense of meaning comes from – the historical, psychological, and physiological influences that affect what we believe in. How we articulate our most profound experiences in a world where old paradigms have lost their significance for so many.
During the writing of The Crying Place, I visited desert communities and began learning the Pitjantjatjara language. This direct engagement with Indigenous Australia was life changing. In 2017 I spent an extraordinary year travelling around the country speaking to audiences about the experience of researching my novel and discussing ways in which this country might begin to heal. The letters and emails I’ve received over the years from people who have felt a deep connection to my work have also been a major highlight.
Helping this country move towards a more honest and mature conversation about its past, towards a place where the healing can begin. I am also passionate about encouraging people to explore ideas and understand that there is no age to begin or end such investigations. I believe that literature remains a vital and important means of delving into what it means to be human, and that it has the power to change hearts and minds.
My books have been nominated for a number of awards including the Miles Franklin Literary Award and various premiers’ literary awards. In addition to appearing regularly at writers’ festivals around the country, my work has been reviewed and featured in magazines and journals, including The Age, Best Australian Poems and Australian Book Review, and on radio programmes such as Books and Arts Daily. Regular updates of my appearances and new work can be found on my website
Lia has been involved in our English in the City program for a number of years. The students and staff always enjoy her ideas and enthusiasm, she makes poetry exciting and accessible. A particular strength is her ability to cater for the differing needs and interests of our students. Lia is flexible in her approach and has had a significant impact on the development of our program. I have enjoyed the deep knowledge, creativity and imagination she brings. Lia inspires confidence and empowers students to write well. Many students identify working with Lia as a highlight of the program.
Our teachers were very tired from parent teacher nights however, they all commented on Lia’s soothing presence and her hypnotic voice, which immediately relaxed us. This opened our minds to new possibilities for teaching poetry; which Lia provided. The handout was very useful and full of ideas that can be immediately implemented in classrooms. One of our English teachers, who is also a musician, is now going to step into the ‘word world’ of music and begin to write lyrics after attending the workshop. Our Head of English wrote that she “can’t wait to write the next poetry unit” and we are going to begin discussions about the possibility of a Writer in Residence program. Many of the English teachers who attended the workshop are very experienced, it is Lia’s unique and unexpected angles on writing that that ‘fed our souls’ and reminded us of the importance of the concise and accurate use of language to convey feelings and ideas. Where the concrete meets the abstract, as Lia explained to us. Of course listening to a poet read her own published work added to Lia’s credibility as a teacher of the painted image through words.