Filed under: Literary Events, Writers' Festivals | Tags: Ben Jenkins, Benjamin Law, Geoff Lemon, limericks, Mandy Beaumont, Mechelle B, Michaela McGuire, National Young Writers' Festival, Newcastle, Patric O'Neil, Poetry, shopping, spelling, This Is Not Art, Thomas Benjamin Guerney, Voiceworks, Will Kostakis, writing techniques, zines
In a town far, far away, my boyfriend and I are walking down the street, holding hands. Heading in the other direction, an old Asian man sees us and shouts, ‘Hey!’ He glares at our smallish public display of affection with a mixture of disgust and incredulity, and continues to do for the next three hundred metres.
The moral of the story: interracial dating is not the done thing in Asia Newcastle.
Racism aside, Newcastle CBD is a Gothic town. Its streets are a mixture of Georgian, Victorian, and Art Deco. There’s a sense of decay. In every strip of shops, there’s a building that has been abandoned. Some advertise rental reductions, whilst others are unsalvagable husks—windows boarded up, ceilings blackened with soot, walls vandalised.
Naturally, there’s signs of revival. New apartments have popped up along the foreshore. Darby Street is a collection of trendy cafes and kitsch boutiques. But this is only a veneer of gentrification. The town and its inhabitants still seem rough and unpredictable, and I never feel safe. In some ways, it’s a bit like St Kilda…
There once was a lass from St Kilda
Who went by the name of Brunhilda
Of the gentlemen there
She had nary a care
As they tried with small cocks to fulfill her.
And that’s a craicin’ limerick about St Kilda. Okay, so that wasn’t my best segeway, but that was my partner’s best (and possibly only) limerick, which was the result of Thomas Benjamin Guerney’s ‘How to Write a Craicin’ Limerick’ session at TINA 2010.
During the session, Guerney spoke about form. Limericks use the following meter:
- – / – - / – - /
- – / – - / – - /
- – / – - /
- – / – -/
- – / – - / – - /
This meter is to be strictly adhered to, though there are exceptions to the rule (wtf). Limericks also follow A, A, B, B, A rhyming and their content should be witty and bawdy.
He then followed up with a limerick workshop in which we came up with folks from Helsinki being flexible like slinkies and losing their primary/secondary pinkies. It was a fun session, but perhaps it was not as fun as ‘Lit Journal Survivor’, where windows were broken and genital-constricting shorts were worn.
‘Writing About Place’ was a more serious workshop. Run by Voiceworks, it consisted of various writing exercises. For instance, we had to think of the worst place we had ever been to and write an advertisement for it. Another exercise required us to use industrial-sounding modifiers to describe natural settings and vice-versa. The exercises were great but the size of the workshop was intimidating. I don’t know about everyone else but my responses to such prompts tend to be shit, and I’d rather not share them with a score of strangers.
Socialising has been less fun. This year, Newcastle has been invaded by packs of writerly hipsters and the occasional lone wolf. It feels like my pack of two is having a bit of a standoff with the other packs. Or maybe we’re just standoffish. Who knows?
‘The American Gothic Ball’ was less crazy compared to last year’s Great Gatsby, while the Zine Fair was again full of pretty things. I picked up a Lets Learn Lao with Mechelle B zine, which teaches one how to say important things like ‘your undies smell’ (‘salip-jow-men’) and a pair of awesome scarves from her sister.
Hosted by Benjamin Law and Michaela McGuire, this year’s ‘Spelling Bee’ featured ‘Who am I’ dinosaurs, and ‘Televangelist or Dental Product?’ It also challenged contestants with words such as ‘jurisprudent’, and ‘verisimillitude’. I managed to fluke my way through ‘gleet’, but not ‘ukulele’. Anyway, reigning champ Geoff Lemon was deposed by the word ‘beryllium’, and Garth, last year’s runner-up, took home the trophy.
I was wondering whether it was time to go home yet when we decided to try the Royal Exchange reading. Thank dog we did. Guest speakers Rochelle Jackson, Will Kostakis, Mandy Beaumont, and Patrick O’Neil entertained their mellowing crowd with tales of crims, inappropriate jokes, Brisbane’s West End, and supposed human rights abuses. But the best tale of the night and the highlight of my festival was open mic’s Ben Jenkins who spun us a story about fearlessness, cat poo parasites, and ice addicts. While his reading was perhaps overly long, he captivated his audience until the end with his manner of speaking and his factual asides, and won a standing ovation from Mister Geoff Lemon. Thanks Ben Jenkins for putting my faith back into the open mic section.
And that’s it folks. I’ll be attending a couple more events, and hopefully finding some prompt tucker in this dogforsaken place. Bloody public holidays. Grrr.
Filed under: Literary Events, Photoblog, Writers' Festivals | Tags: Angela Meyer, Anthony Noack, Burn Collective, Chris Somerville, Christopher Currie, Daniel Evans, Estelle Tang, Geoff Lemon, Josephine Rowe, Krissy Kneen, Lisa Dempster, Maddie Crofts, National Young Writers' Festival, Patrick O'Neil, Ronnie Scott, Sarah Howell, Spoken Word, This Is Not Art, Thomas Benjamin Guerney, Tom Cho, writers
Newcastle. Unreliable taxi services. Drunk youths. Cheap retro. Love it, hate it, can’t stand the sight of it. Home of TINA (This Is Not Art Festival) and, consequently, the National Young Writers’ Festival.
Over the last four days, I’ve hugged Lawrence Leung, discovered Chris Somerville and Michaela McGuire’s work, hung out at a Lucky Seven with Angela Meyer, and learnt swing-dancing from Visible Ink’s Anthony Noack. I’ve chatted to distro owners, potential subscribers and contributors, and random punters at the zine fair, and compared Buffy notes with Thomas Benjamin Guerney. Oh yeah, and I started crying during the Artistic Resilience Intensive’s meditation exercise (which wasn’t very resilient of me). I’ve drunk, and danced, and done the meet and greet. It’s been fun, but I’m glad to be home and finally catch up on some sleep.
Thank you Amy Ingram, Daniel Evans, Sarah Howell and Ronnie Scott for a wicked festival, and thank you everyone else for being the cool cats that you are.
Until next year,
Filed under: Launches, Photoblog | Tags: Chris Flynn, Josephine Rowe, literary magazines, Sean M. Whelan, The Lifted Brow, Thomas Benjamin Guerney
My highlights included
- seeing the Hogwort’s team at their finest;
- hearing Chris Flynn’s piece, ‘Falcon Vs. Monkey (Falcon Wins)’, at Josephine’s launch;
- For those of you who don’t know who Chris Flynn is, he runs a small publishing company called Falcon Vs. Monkey (Falcon Wins). Apparently a lot of people ask him how the name came about, so he decided to write an origins story which featured pilgrims, bandits, falcons, and (naturally) monkeys.
- listening to Thomas Benjamin Guerney’s epic rhyming sci-fi audio drama on the way to work; and
- convincing a girl who had bought a stack of Voiceworks magazines to part with ten more dollars for some awesome Brow action.
Speaking of Brow action, I had better put up some photos of the July 17th launch while I still have reliable internet. Hopefully, this week will be equally thrilling (and internet friendly).