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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 focuses on sources of meaning.
Although I’ve worked as a teacher of English, both in Australia and overseas – where my clients included young French barons and members of the Russian mafia – I’ve done a variety of jobs, including camera operator, grape-picker, theatre director, editor and translator. I’m also the editor and co-initiator of the Moving Galleries project, an art and poetry project on Melbourne’s trains.
I’m 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.
So far, my best experiences have included going to Paris to meet a writer I was translating and researching my new book there, and the letters and emails I’ve received from people who have read and loved my work. I also love being able to get up in the morning to write – it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and sometimes I still find it difficult to believe that this is what I do.
I am passionate about encouraging young people to explore ‘big ideas’, and to accept that here is no age to begin or end such investigations. Also, I believe that literature remains a vital and important means of delving into what it means to be human, and that language is an integral part of this investigation.
In addition to various Australian festivals, I’ve also appeared at the Auckland Readers’ and Writers’ festival, and had my work reviewed and featured in magazines and journals, including The Age, Best Australian Poems, The Australian, Viewpoint, and on radio programmes such as Aural Text.
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.