Diary of an Inmate by Kelly Soderstrom

An audio recording of an original story, with downloadable text transcript.

About this project: "I originally wrote this short story for a spoken word performance in January 2020. I didn't really look at it again until the pandemic hit in March. I was trying to think of a way to entertain and engage with my grandmother who is stuck in isolation thousands of kilometres away in the United States. Story telling and short story writing seemed like a great way to connect with my grandmother, spark her creativity, and hear more about her life. We began writing stories together over Skype every day, and I began reading her some of the stories that I had written. "Diary of an Inmate" was one of the first stories I told her. The minute I started telling her the story, I felt like I had made a huge mistake. The story touches on themes of confinement and isolation -- themes that I thought might hit too close to home for someone who wasn't allowed to leave her small apartment. By the end of the story, I was mentally prepared to have a long discussion with her about the story's themes in a way that would highlight the story's humour rather than the isolation. Turns out I had nothing to fear since my grandmother had fallen asleep halfway though the story. I have included a recording of me telling the story in the same way that I told it to my grandmother, mistakes and all. I also include a written copy of the story for the purposes of increased accessibility."

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Student Programs · Soderstrom

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About the artist: "Kelly Soderstrom is an American/German PhD researcher in International Relations in the School of Social and Political Sciences. Her research analyses how prioritisation of responsibility shaped Germany's governance response to the 2015/2016 refugee crisis. Her research interests include immigration and asylum policies, European Union politics, identity, and governance. Since beginning her studies, Kelly has published multiple articles for the Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies (CONREP), Pursuit, Election Watch, and The Conversation, as well as in various academic journals. Kelly was also a guest on the Young Diplomats Society podcast Global Questions. Outside of academia, Kelly enjoys writing short stories, cooking, and playing music. Her award-winning short stories have been featured by Passionate Tongues Poetry in Melbourne and Radio Cavolo in Florence, Italy. Her adorable greyhound Hermes also keeps her busy with his endless shenanigans."

We asked, our artists answered: why does creativity matter now? "I think creativity is such an important part of our fight against the effects of COVID-19. It has provided a much-needed emotional outlet and helped us discover novel ways to maintain the social glue that binds society together. Emotions are so raw and intense right now, and creativity provides the space to communicate those emotions in a cathartic way. Creativity has also facilitated incredible innovations in running our daily lives, from attending university lectures to enjoying a Zoom wine with friends, that help us stay socially distant but still socially connected."