The International Literature Showcase (ILS) was a four day gathering of writers and professionals from around the world held in Norwich, UK, in June 2017. 

A partnership between Writers Centre Norwich, British Council and Arts Council England, the event presented the best of contemporary UK literature, and brought together an online community of literature professionals from around the world to share best practice, form partnerships and create new projects.

Lefa Singleton Norton, who is the Founder of Women in Literary Arts Australia (WILLA), was one of the international delegates who joined the four day gathering. We caught up with her to find out more about her experience...

Interview with Lefa Singleton Norton

Q.Tell us about your experience at ILS, including some of your highlights?

The International Literature Showcase was my last stop on a tour of the mainland UK’s UNESCO Cities of Literature. I came hoping to learn about what challenges women in literature face all over the world; were they the same as Australian writers? Were there significant differences? What were different communities doing about these issues? 

With such a diverse group of participants it was impossible to speak with everyone, but the ILS gave me an invaluable view into the experience of women writers in many different contexts. From Northern Ireland to Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Ukraine I learned just how much we have in common. Vitally, I also learned what different communities of women are doing to overcome these challenges in their local contexts. What is possible in one may require a different approach in another. 

Perhaps my highlight is the movement towards creating a global network of women writers to continue these discussions. Also meeting women such as Kerry Hudson who are not only accomplished artists writing achingly great books, but running projects such as her WoMentoring initiative. It never fails to amaze me how much unselfish, unpaid work women do all over the world to uplift each other.

Then there is the excitement I have returning home with a notebook full of people I want to connect: Australian writers whose work speaks directly to those of an artist I met from Glasgow, or the Caribbean. Artists from the United Kingdom and Ireland I would like to see collaborate with antipodean counterparts. Connections I want to keep growing myself, and create anew for others.

Q: Have you discovered any new writers at the Showcase?

Given the need to purchase an extra bag prior to heading home to Australia, I think it’s safe to say I discovered many new writers and am eager to read more of their work. The ILS was particularly good at introducing me to artists outside my usual reading habits; I have a great deal of poetry to add to my collection, which I didn’t expect.

Q: Are you hoping to see new collaborations formed or work created as a result of your experience at ILS?

I very much hope so. There are so many wonderful writers that I can imagine having exciting collaborations with Australian counterparts, and I will be seeking funding to get these happening as soon as possible. Australia is a long way away, but so many of the issues and concerns facing women writers in the UK and beyond are similar. We have a lot to offer each other.

About Lefa Singleton Norton

Lefa is a writer and creative producer from Melbourne, Australia. Her work is informed by her experiences as a person with a disability and a feminist.

After getting a start as the editor of a university newspaper and in street press, Lefa went on to start publications The Pun and The Pundit, which published news and reviews of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival in print and online. She writes about comedy, literature and feminism and has produced events for comedy, fringe and literature festivals all over Australia. In 2015 she founded Women in Literary Arts Australia.