NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Writing Life: reflections on parenting, poetry and practice-based research

BY ISABELLA G. MEAD – This creative response to ‘How Life Gets In’ details my experience maintaining a creative practice while also being a PhD candidate and a parent to young children.

I explore some of  the benefits that writing while caregiving engenders, particularly around focus, attention, and  the drafting/editing process, and discuss how this connects to research. In my PhD, I draw on  practice-based research methods and the digital humanities to examine the process of writing  ekphrastic poetry in response to digitised images and born-digital artwork. In the same way that poetry illuminates and draws from life, and vice versa, my creative practice informs my  research and my research provides new directions and avenues of inquiry for my creative  practice. Allowing ‘life’ into both my poetic practice and my research enables these activities  to be both sustainable and sustaining, particularly in the context of parenting/caregiving. 

Read the poems + essay


Isabella G. Mead is a poet from Melbourne whose work has appeared in journals such as Meanjin, Island, Westerly, Cordite Poetry Review and Rabbit. She is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Monash University and her debut poetry collection, The Infant Vine, will be published by UWAP in 2024. 

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Palimpsest Series

BY PATRICIA AMORIM — In my Palimpsest Series, I explore cultural identity from a feminist perspective through self-portraiture, drawing inspiration

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Practice.

BY EMILY WOTHERSPOON – This piece is a reflection on how life, research, and creative practice become blurred and intertwined

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A Gathering.

BY DANI NETHERCLIFT – This work, in alignment with the topic of my creative arts PhD regarding the elegiac lyric

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Insanity Helps

BY INDYANA HOROBIN – This is a short experimental article that engages with how life subsists within PhD study. It

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Literally In

BY KENDREA RHODES – This work is an audiovisual expression of the messiness of being me. A visual artist, a

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BY Carina Böhm, Didem Caia, Clare Carlin, Emilie Collyer, Ruth Fogarty
BY JOSHUA IP – The interrogation of practice is a common task faced by practice-based researchers. As a PhD candidate the Practice Research Symposium programme in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT, focusing on the discipline of Creative Writing, I have attempted to interrogate my wide-ranging practice as poet, editor and literary organiser for the past six years.
BY ANNE M. CARSON – Disrupting, interrupting and sometimes derailing study in both welcome and unwelcome ways; life gets into PhD projects in a plethora of ways, so much so that there often seems to be no hard boundary between them. This essay uses the example of synchronicity as one way that ‘life gets in’.
BY PATRICIA AMORIM — In my Palimpsest Series, I explore cultural identity from a feminist perspective through self-portraiture, drawing inspiration from the concept of a palimpsest and the work of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta.
BY JENNY HEDLEY – In this reflective essay, a time-poor single mother and PhD candidate accidentally takes on the role of basketball coach as she seeks to achieve balance between scholastics and life.
BY MICHAEL DONEMAN – Between is a reflection on loss and renewal. It interweaves personal, cultural, and environmental stories near the country where I live, by a waterway at the edge of the Boondall Wetlands called Cabbage Tree Creek.
BY CLAIRE WELLESLEY-SMITH – The use of textile as a creative recording method alongside my PhD (2023, The Open University) extended a practice I began in 2013. Stitch Journal is a long length of linen cloth, pieces added in sections.
BY SUSIE CAMPBELL – Before an unexpected brush with serious illness, the journey of my PhD research project seemed clear. I set out to engage with the avant-garde Modernist poetry of Gertrude Stein in order to draw on her experimental approach to language for my own processual model of poetic practice.
BY EMILY WOTHERSPOON – This piece is a reflection on how life, research, and creative practice become blurred and intertwined through the process of undertaking PhD creative writing practice research.
BY DANI NETHERCLIFT – This work, in alignment with the topic of my creative arts PhD regarding the elegiac lyric essay, is written with the conventions of the lyric essay, utilising white space, non-linearity, image, archive, fragment, association and braiding.
BY INDYANA HOROBIN – This is a short experimental article that engages with how life subsists within PhD study. It is styled as an interview with the self and is punctuated by interactions between the interviewers which descend into hostile conversations.
BY JENNY HICKINBOTHAM – Life didn’t GET IN to my PhD research, my life IS my PhD research.
BY KENDREA RHODES – This work is an audiovisual expression of the messiness of being me. A visual artist, a writer, doctoral researcher, and a psychiatric survivor.
BY LAINIE ANDERSON – Life didn’t get in the way of my PhD. Death did. Or more specifically, it was South Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (2020).
BY DANTE DeBONO – ‘Degrees of separation’ is a reflective consideration of the ways in which creators navigate the complexity of their internal writing processes as unique configurations of their lived experiences.