Welcoming Senior Project Manager - First Nations, Nicole Smede
We are absolutely delighted to introduce you to our newest member of the team, multi-disciplinary artist and absolute gem Nicole Smede, joining us as Senior Project Manager - First Nations.
Hi Nicole! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I am a musician, vocalist and poet of Worimi ancestry, living and working on Dharawal Country along the banks of bungali (Shoalhaven River) with my two children and our very energetic and affectionate kelpie.
How did you first encounter Red Room Poetry, and what drew you to working here?
I have worked with Red Room for a number of years in my previous role at Bundanon as Engagement Officer, supporting poetic learning programs with local schools and community members. However, it was the Poetry in First Languages program in 2018 that started my own poetic journey and profoundly changed my life, helping to strengthen my artistic and cultural identity. Having this first hand experience of the power of poetry as a conduit for story and connection drew me to working with Red Room - the desire to invite and hold space for those experiences for others and link opportunities for their creations to be celebrated.
You’re a poet and multi-disciplinary artist as well as an arts worker - what do you draw from in your work? Do you have any writing rituals?
I am hugely inspired by Country and ideas around connection. This is a major theme in my work. I write (poetry and music) that responds to the idea of ‘place’ a lot - external and internal places. I am a big fan of meditating in a place and/or on an idea and letting it permeate - letting it become a knowing of sorts, before setting out. I am also prone to procrastination - perhaps that’s why! Stream of consciousness writing exercises where I can come back and pick out the thread of something is usually how I roll in terms of writing rituals, and a poem or lyric will emerge from that. I firmly believe we are innately artistic creatures and am in awe of the creative responses of others. I have too many muses to name a few. All of you reading this!
You come to Red Room with a wealth of experience across the arts. What do you think is unique about the power of poetry as an art form?
Poetry today - the more free form, rule breaking contemporary approach - is a highly accessible form of reflection and creative expression. However I believe poetry is more than the written word, and is a powerful conduit for connection - sharing story, language, experience and understanding - which is exactly what the world needs right now, a means of expressing, sharing knowings and understandings, to create deeper connections - intellectual, emotional, physical and with the natural world.
What is something you are curious about at the moment?
Oooh I am curious at the moment about how internal and external places inform us - our internal stories and how they are informed by blood memory, experiences, external opinions, and environments. It's something I am exploring personally and so there is a hyper focus that is coming out in my work and drawing me to the work of others.
Where are you focusing your energies this year?
Expansion! Bravery and learning new things. New connections. I am keen to have a better work life balance too and make space for the creation and celebration of more poetry and music.
Do you have a favourite piece published by Red Room Poetry?
There are too many to choose from! I do really love Baladjarang by Ado Webster. It’s so beautiful to hear him read it in language and the poem is powerful in its “seeming” simplicity.
Do you have any reading or listening recommendations?
Read the poems on the Red Room website. Then go back through the archive and read the poems written by workshop participants. There is gold here.
After you have done that, I recommend going for a sound walk and listening to the sounds around you - the birds, the breeze whispering in leaves or calling down alleyways, your feet flapping on asphalt, shushing long grass and sand - always in acknowledgement of whose Country your footsteps fall, your breath heavy as you puff up an incline… there is music in life and the everyday - what a gift.
We'd also highly recommend checking out Nicole's incredible work on the Red Room Poetry website and on her website!