Maria Zajkowski is a poet and lyricist. Her first collection of poetry, The Ascendant, was published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2015 and two suites from this collection won the prestigious Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize. Poems from The Ascendant feature on the album Render by US ensemble Roomful of Teeth.
Maria was awarded a $6,350 Career Development grant in 2016 by the Literature assessment panel.
She applied for funds to develop her skills and a profile with collaborators in the United States. She completed a residency intensive in the Catskills with composer Wally Gunn, participated in a performer/composer panel with Roomful of Teeth at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, and attended a Roomful of Teeth performance and reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.
Maria Zajkowski and Eric Shuster of Steady State. Photo: Wally Gunn.
This wasn’t Maria’s first time applying for Australia Council funding, so she knew it was a good idea to discuss her application with a Grants Officer. ‘It really helps to talk to someone. It means you spend less time worrying and more time writing a great application, and it feels good to have that support and encouragement.’
Maria says that writing her grant application helped to refine the ideas and framework behind her project, too. ‘My application was always at the forefront of my mind throughout the many and varied challenging situations I experienced. Once the official timeframe of my project had ended, the application helped me to understand what I’d learned and how valuable and unique the opportunity had been.’
Maria felt that the timing of her application was a contributing factor in its success. ‘It is so important to keep the ball rolling once you begin to make some progress. Also I have a record of success over a period of time that shows my perseverance, skill development, depth of engagement and dedication to my work. This project involved working closely with successful, professional, contemporary creators and performers. I think all of this made my application well rounded and successful.’
The project is still paying off, says Maria. ‘I have been in contact with some very high profile American composers and writers about my next project tour to the United States. The work from the residency intensive with Wally Gunn is currently being composed for performance by Steady State, and we’re working together on other large-scale works for multiple performance groups. I’m very much looking forward to the release of an EP by New Amsterdam Records (US) titled The Ascendant.’