Ash Taylor

The 2024 Student Anthology: An Interview with the Editor

In June, TuneFM proudly launched its new Student Anthology, inviting UNE students to showcase their creative talents across various forms and styles. This initiative marks a significant milestone in providing UNE’s budding writers and creatives a platform to share their work. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ash Taylor, the anthology’s editor and a UNE alumnus, about the importance and impact of this opportunity. Ash sheds light on the invaluable experience the anthology offers, the creative potential of its ‘Fusion’ theme, and the broader implications for students’ academic and professional journeys.

1. As a UNE alumnus, why do you believe a student anthology is an invaluable opportunity for budding writers and creatives at UNE?

Having a publication puts us in line with what other universities are doing for their students. Most universities have student-led publications, usually in the form of a student magazine. These are generally run by students, for students. Where we differ with the anthology is providing students with the opportunity to experience what the process for submitting a piece to a publication is like – including the editing and cover letter stages – and the content and layout we’re producing.

Student magazines absolutely have their place and I think they’re a wonderful initiative, this just isn’t that. Any student who intends to go forward in an academic sphere, or who is going to care about publications, needs to have experience in actually submitting things to publications – and for many students that won’t happen until post-grad. Having the student anthology gives them that opportunity. I imagine many of our HASSE and Writing students will be excited about this – but publications are important to every discipline.

This experience will be invaluable not just to people who aspire to write professionally, but also to scientists, lawyers, and researchers in just about every discipline who want to see a paper they’ve written published somewhere down the line.

2. What does the theme ‘Fusion’ mean to you personally, and how do you envision it being interpreted by students in their submissions?

The description of fusion we’re running with is the fusing of distinct elements to create a unified whole. For me, it’s the fusion of ideas and creativity. Baking in a way is fusion, writing a story is fusion, even the English language is a fusion.

We chose a theme that is intentionally broad so that it’s open to interpretation.

I’d hope that students interpret it creatively, and maybe even take a little bit of freedom with their idea of what fusion means.

3. You’ve had a short story published in an anthology before. Could you share how that experience influenced your career and creative journey, and how being published might benefit UNE students?

 Being published in an anthology myself really helped me to understand the background mechanisms of what goes into creating something like this, so having that understanding of what it’s going to be like for the students submitting allows me to give them a better experience. As for how being published is going to benefit students – that’s really going to depend entirely on their goals. For some it’s going to be something exciting that can boost their confidence and make them feel good about themselves, for others it’s going to be an important addition to their resume to point at later on when submitting to other publications.

But the predominant goal is to give students the experience of submitting to publications so that later down the line, when they’re submitting to scientific or literary journals or pitching nonfiction books to publishers, or a piece to The Conversation, they already have an understanding of what the process is like. So it’s that experience and confidence that we’re really aiming for here.

4. Can you tell us about the unique perspective offered by the UNE Student Anthology?

I think the unique perspective lies in the perspectives of our students. The anthology is really just a vessel – it’s a platform for student voices, student works, and student perspectives. So that uniqueness is really going to come from the incredibly diverse and varied perspectives of all our students. A student from Pakistan is going to have a very different idea of what fusion is to a student from Australia, or New Zealand, and it’s those different ideas that are really important.

5. The anthology strongly encourages submissions from First Nations students, LGBTQ+ students, and students from international backgrounds. Why is it important to highlight these voices, and what impact do you hope this inclusivity will have on the anthology?

People with diverse backgrounds often have their voices spoken over.

It’s important to me that with this, we are giving these students a platform to talk about the subjects that are important to them, and highlight their ideas and their stories.

I believe there’s some very relevant topics that could be discussed by students of these backgrounds, particularly in relation to the theme of fusion, and so I want students of all backgrounds to know that we do care about their voices, and what they have to say.

6. What types of submissions are you particularly excited to see for the 2024 Student Anthology? Are there any specific genres or styles that you think would stand out?

I really want to see unique takes on fusion, from a wide range of different disciplines and perspectives. I think there’s a lot that can be considered fusion in science, in law, in linguistics, in archaeology – there’s so many things that if we look at it outside of the box, it becomes apparent. Fusion at first might seem pretty cut and dry, but it’s actually a very dynamic and broad topic. I’d also really love to see some interesting art pieces – we want to see cover art submissions as well, and I think for art ‘fusion’ is a really interesting thing, because there’s so many different ways you can incorporate fusion into art. Double exposure, mixed media, different art styles merged together – there’s a lot there that can be played with.

7. How does the anthology serve as a platform for students to share elements of their chosen fields that might not be covered in their academic assessments?

Because assessments are largely predetermined, outside of very specific units and higher degree research, there’s not a lot of opportunities for students to talk about things that they learn in class that they might be very interested in but that an essay or exam might not cover. For example, in one of my units back at the very beginning of my degree, we learnt very briefly about semiotics. That was a really interesting topic to me, but it’s not one that we ever had an assessment on, not did it really come up in the exam for that unit. But it’s a topic that I found very interesting – and I’m sure there’s a lot of that in other degrees as well. So this is a chance for students to go ‘hang on, I learnt about this really cool thing in this unit – how can I make it fit the theme?’

8. Looking ahead, what are your goals for the future of the UNE Student Anthology? How do you hope it will evolve in the coming years?

The anthology will be coming back annually. The goal is for each year to have a different theme, so that there’s different perspectives coming through. I really want this to be something that endures, because I think it’s important for students to be able to look back on things and go ‘hey, this is a really great thing that I was a part of – here’s how you can be a part of it too.’ So I’m really hoping that we’re going to get a huge amount of submissions this year, and that people are excited and keen to submit next year as well.

9. Are there opportunities for students to work on the anthology from the editorial side of things, as TuneFM volunteers? If so, how can they sign up? 

Absolutely. Students who have passed the Editing Skills and Standards (WRIT313) unit offered through UNE and who are enrolled in WRIT300/500 can do the work placement component of that unit with us as student editors. That gives students the chance to develop their editorial skills, and at the end of it there’ll be a concrete example of their editing work that they can use to showcase what they’ve done. Plus by enrolling in a work integrated learning with us they’ll also get credit points! So it’s a win-win for everyone.

10. Do you have any advice for students who are considering submitting their work but might feel hesitant or unsure about sharing their creative pieces?

Just do it. It’s always going to be scary – it’s never not going to be scary – but you have to do it anyway.

The best way to develop confidence is by starting.

So, do the thing. Do it scared, but do it. Submitting the piece can be the hardest part, but it’s the most important step. So when it comes down to it, once all the information is in the form – take a deep breath, and hit ‘submit.’

For more details about the Student Anthology, and to submit, visit TuneFM’s website.

An honorarium of $500 will be awarded to the successful cover art entry and a $200 honorarium will be awarded to each successful writing submission.

Volunteer with TuneFM and become part of the legacy of Australia’s oldest university radio station.

Submissions close 31st July.