A black and white image of two people sitting in a 1920s style aeroplane while grounded.

Join Dr Jo Langdon as she presents a lecture on her 2024 Creative Arts Fellowship research into the lives and records of Australian women pilots. She will also discuss how she will re-present this in new works of poetry, exploring hidden aspects of women’s experiences through poetic forms.

Entry is free to this event but bookings are essential.

The talk will be available to view live online via the Library's Facebook and YouTube pages. You do not need to book a ticket to watch the event online.

Dr Jo Langdon is a 2024 Creative Arts Fellow in Australian Writing, supported by the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.

About Dr Jo Langdon's Fellowship research

Delving deep into the National Library’s rich archival collection on aeronautics and Australian aviatrixes, Dr Langdon has examined the historical and biographical records of women pilots such as Millicent Bryant, Maude ‘Lores’ Bonney, Freda Thompson, Nancy Bird-Walton and Robin Miller Dicks (aka 'The Sugarbird Lady’), as inspiration for new poems.

These poems will create a textual 'mosaic' of voices and histories, and complete a new poetry manuscript that in part re-imagines the lives of American aeronaut sisters Millie and Essie Viola, who toured Australasian colonies during the 1890s (and who were possibly a number of different women using these names as pseudonyms). Millie and Essie were ballooning pioneers but their roles in local and world history have been largely forgotten; as historical figures they remain enigmatic and compelling. Apparently teenagers at the time of their tour, they survived numerous feats and accidents, with their balloons frequently incinerating mid-flight or sweeping into deep water.

The opportunity to explore the Library’s collections has allowed Dr Langdon to place Millie and Essie’s striking feats alongside those of the aforementioned Australian women pilots, creating surprising connections, dialogues, contrasts and/or resonances, and allows her to further understand the balloonists’ and pilots’ respective context more vividly.

About Dr Jo Langdon

Dr Jo Langdon is the author of two poetry collections: a chapbook, Snowline (Whitmore Press, 2012), which was co-winner of the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize, and Glass Life (Five Islands Press, 2018). Her recent poetry, fiction and essays also appear in literary journals including Antipodes, Australian Book Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Griffith Review, Island, Mascara Literary Review, Meanjin, Overland, Rabbit, Southerly, Sydney Review of Books and Westerly, in addition to anthologies such as Best Australian Poems (Black Inc.), Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (Hunter), RESILIENCE (Mascara and Ultimo Press), and What We Carry (Recent Work Press).

In 2020 her short fiction was shortlisted in the Newcastle and Olga Masters short story awards, and she was the inaugural winner of the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction. In 2018 Dr Langdon was one of 5 English-language writers awarded a Sozopol Fiction Seminars Fellowship by the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation in Bulgaria. She has served as an editor for the journal Mascara Literary Review – in creative non-fiction, poetry, and special projects – and in 2022 she was guest co-editor of an edition of Cordite Poetry Review themed 'Open'. Dr Langdon currently lives and writes on unceded Wadawurrung land, where she also teaches writing and literature as a sessional academic.

About National Library of Australia Creative Arts Fellowships

The National Library of Australia Creative Arts Fellowship program offers writers and artists an opportunity to undertake a 4-week residency at the Library. This program is supported by generous donors and bequests.

Image credit: Pioneer aviator Amy Johnson, 1929, nla.obj-150938035

Type Fellowship presentation