Why was Writing Through Fences founded?

Writing Through Fences grew out of my experience of using writing and art making to counter the destructive effects of trauma and to create a self.

One day a few lines appeared on my Facebook timeline. I read these lines and was moved by them.  I did not know the writer.  I sent a message saying: ‘Are you a poet?’  The writer replied saying: ‘If only you knew!’  She was a poet incarcerated in immigration detention in Australia.  She had not been able to write for a long time.  Being in detention her words had frozen as had her body.  We began by sending one word to each other – back and forth.  Then a sentence.  Slowly she found words again and we made poems together.

Others within the network of detention centres found out about our sharing of words and wanted to join in and so Writing Through Fences was born.

The group has moved through many stages in the 3 years it has been going.  However, it remains based around writing, relationship and creation within a safe community of fellow creators who continue to breach the fences that would attempt to control, define and silence them.

Who are the members?

Members are primarily writers. Over the years visual artists have also become part of the group.

Some of the members of Writing Through Fences are journalists and writers who fled their country because of their writing.  Others came across the group and started writing poetry for the first time.  

Still others had been writing and making art themselves within detention and became part of the group so to join a community.

What do people write about?

People often write or make art work in order to survive – creating against the destruction they are forced to endure.

People write articles, commentary, poetry, prose, fiction, romance, stories of survival, letters, novels, petitions – all manner of genres and forms are explored amongst the writers involved.

Artists paint, draw, create collage, photograph and create installations.  Artists and writers sometimes collaborate.

One element seems to recur in almost everyones work:  ‘Someone may start writing, just describing something like a flower, but it always comes back to the longing for freedom,’ says Janet Galbraith

Is Writing Through Fences a non-profit organisation?

Writing Through Fences is a non-incorporated group at the moment. Any support we receive goes into running the group, i.e. running writing workshops in detention centres, providing writers and artists with materials and supporting writers to read at public events.

– Janet Galbraith