Negotiating The Other Side of Me

About the Seminar

The practice-led research project, ‘When Words Fail Us, Expressing the Unspeakable: The Other Side of Me’ explores ways to communicate a story of personal trauma that sits at the limits of linguistic expression. It examines the conflicts of an individual trying to come to terms with two very different cultures, and how having to fit into white English society created a deep sense of dislocation around the identity of a young Indigenous Australian man who was one of the Stolen Generations.

Specifically, the project explores questions around the tensions and conflicts arising from the limitations of the English language and the ethics of unspeakability - what remains unspeakable and/or unspoken. Whether written words alone can adequately communicate a story of emotional trauma.

The research addresses five underlying conceptual challenges:

  • why the English language and written words might be problematic mediums for telling this story
  • how the story might be told in ways which respect its fragmentary, affective and historically complex nature 
  • how adaptation through an affective medium such as dance could be appropriate for expressing a story whose truest and most reliable element is its emotional content 
  • how the poetics of versing emotions through the language of the body might express the ineffable 
  • how different dance languages, including traditional Indigenous Australian dance, might combine to offer an opportunity for singing his spirit home

The research also engages with questions about how a practice-led cross-art form project can: recognise, respect and be informed by contrasting perceptions of the spiritual; decentre the author’s voice as the determiner of the narrative; and incorporate multiple perspectives and voices to create a process of iterative adaptation.

About the Speaker

Dr Laura Fish is a Visiting Fellow at the ANU Australian Studies Institute, and an award-winning author. She is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing Programme at the University of East Anglia (UEA 2002), and was awarded a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing (UEA 2007). Laura is a Fellow of the Iowa International Writers' Programme. She has held posts as a Creative Writing tutor at the University of St Andrews, University of Western Cape, UEA, and Newcastle University, where she was the Research Council (RCUK) Academic Fellow in Creative Writing 2007–2013. She is currently Assistant Professor in Creative Writing, Northumbria University. U.K University of the Year 2022 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards. Laura trained in Stage Management at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She has over 10 years’ experience with BBC in broadcast television and radio in news.

Selected Publications

Lying Perfectly Still, third novel, won the S I Leeds Reader's Choice Award 2022 and took third place in the S I Leeds Judges’ Award Lying Perfectly Still by Laura Fish | flyonthewallpress

“The Other Side of Me: Moving Words into Motion,” Fish, L. (lead author) and Pavey, L., 1 Mar 2021, Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, 14, 1, p. 109-123

Angry Black Birds short story (Kwani? Kenya 2015)

Strange Music, second novel (Jonathan Cape 2008; Vintage, 2009) was Orange Prize Listed 2009; International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominated, 2009; selected for Pearson Edexcel's Black British Writing A level reading guide 2017/18; and is taught on university courses internationally Strange Music (

Flight of Black Swans (London: Duckworth 1995) is set in Aboriginal Australia and received very favourable reviews in The Guardian, Evening Standard, and Times Literary Supplement.


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