“In Tongan we say mālie when we are incredibly proud..” | Winnie Dunn on Sweatshop Women: Volume One - Information & Cultural Exchange

“In Tongan we say mālie when we are incredibly proud..” | Winnie Dunn on Sweatshop Women: Volume One

Winnie Dunn is the General Manager of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement and she’s been leading the charge compiling and editing Sweatshop Women: Volume Onewhich launches officially on Friday 03 May as part of Sydney Writers’ Festival. We had a chat to Winnie about the anthology, the launch and what’s coming up next for Sweatshop.
Hi Winnie! Please tell us a little about who you are and what you do.
I am a Tongan-Australian writer, editor and arts worker from Mt Druitt. I am the General Manager of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement, which is a literary organisation that is set up to empower, train and employ writers from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Sweatshop Women is the first Sweatshop anthology created entirely by women of colour! What has it been like to see this publication become a reality?
I don’t know if it’s the first ever one, but it’s definitely one of the very few anthologies that is entirely created and self-determined by women of colour. In Tongan we say mālie when we are incredibly proud. So mālie to all the writers, editors, photographers, designers and artists who worked on Sweatshop Women: Volume One, which is an incredibly empowering original contribution to knowledge.
Are there any particular special moments that you had while working on Sweatshop Women: Volume One?
There were two very distinctive special moments I can remember. The first, was the first ever workshop of the Sweatshop Women’s Collective. Sweatshop had such a large amount of interest that almost every participant was a new woman of colour writer from incredibly diverse backgrounds, ages and suburbs. It was so exciting and liberating to see new women of colour coming together to create a new space within Sweatshop. The second was to see all the guest facilitators come to lead the workshops such as Michelle Law, Roanna Gonsalves, Maryam Azam, Sarah Ayoub, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Michelle de Kretser. Seeing such important women of colour writers and authors give their time, advice and expertise to the next generation of women of colour writers was incredibly empowering.
Were there challenges along the way? If so, what kind of challenges?
I think the challenges came more from myself. As an emerging editor of colour, I had a lot of training and learning to undertake in order to feel confident about such a large and important project. However, I had so much support from my mentors and other women of colour that I became a stronger editor and writer from the experience.
How does it feel to see the publication in hardcopy?
Very strange and exciting! I think seeing the writing in hardcopy, as a real book, is the most significant act because the majority of writers haven’t seen their own communities represented by people from their communities.
What can attendees expect at the launch at the Sydney Writers’ Festival this Friday 03 May?
They can expect an opening with both myself and Dr Roanna Gonsalves and an incredibly diverse, strong and creative set of readings from our talented writers, Phoebe Grainer, Monikka Eliah, Ferdous Bahar and Shirley Le. They can also buy the book on the day for $20, which is a little bit cheaper than buying it online at sweatshop.ws. So definitely an incentive to come along and check us out!
(Details here: https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2019/sweatshop-women/)
What is coming up next for you and Sweatshop?
Sweatshop has a number of upcoming events and publications. Sweatshop will be heading to Melbourne next month for the Emerging Writers’ Festival from 21-23 June. We are also working on another publication to complete The Big Black Thing collection and we are working closely with Diversity Arts on a speculative fiction anthology.
Any special mentions you’d like to make?
I would like to thank all our supporters: Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement, I.C.E, Create NSW, Australia Council, Diversity Arts, Red Room Poetry Company, Crown Resorts Foundation, Packer Family Foundation and Western Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre.
Words by Winnie Dun.
Photo courtesy of Sweatshop
Keep up with Sweatshop online via: http://sweatshop.ws/
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