I have been carrying a camera around with me for the last ten or so days, but have been unable to post them up until now, so I thought I’d do a pictorial recap of my experience of the EWF 2010 festival. Some of the shots are unsalvageable, so please forgive me if your photos aren’t here.
You’re all probably psyching up for Thursday’s Wordstock or pints at tonight’s In the Pub, but in the spirit of all things EWF, Black Rider Press has put together its own emerging writer lineup for its gig, tonight at The Willow Bar.
Officially, it’s A.S. Patric’s eBook launch, but it’s also The Last Hurrah: there will be MC-ing by Lifted Brow editor Ronnie Scott, support acts from Allison Browning, Eric Dando, Kirk Marshall, myself, plus others, and an appearance from Black Rider Press’ founder Jeremy Balius*.
Words will start flowing after eight. Entry is free, but as Allison likes to say ‘your sweetheart donations help us print books’.
When I ran out of fresh literary journals to munch on, A.S. Patric was kind enough to give me a review copy of [untitled]’s second issue. [untitled] is a new Melbourne literary journal headed by Blaise van Hecke and Les Zigomanis from Busybird Publishing & Design.
The cover is stylistically similar to the previous issue’s, again using work from Busybird’s inhouse illustrator, Kev Howlett. The cartoon figure reminds me of Principal Skinner for some reason, and I think this has coloured my expectations of the stories inside. For instance, I couldn’t switch into a serious enough mood to take in Bella Ellwood-Clayton’s earnestly penned relationship-dance, especially after reading the journal’s tongue-in-cheek editorial. And again, Camilla Nurka’s delicate rendering of white man’s guilt and Indigenous Dreaming in ‘The Beach House’ felt more Etchings than [untitled]. I would have preferred more light, humour, and suspense, and a little less shade.
Thankfully, the second half of the issue felt more [untitled] and less [insert random literary magazine here]. The stories did manage to ‘take you away in the reading, …engross you, maybe even make you forget the world around you…’ They had ‘no pretensions’ and were ‘not on a mission to enrich the literary community’; instead, Therese Mobayad’s ‘Blonde Appetit’ made me laugh, van Hecke’s ‘An Unfortunate Series of Redheads’ and Hilaire’s ‘Out of Kilter’ kept me entertained, while Lee D Gordon’s ‘Coffins’ punched in the gut.
So what’s my verdict on [untitled], the Second? A mixed bag of short stories and poetry that might read better out of order. There are some great pieces that don’t belong in this publication, and some great pieces that definitely do. This is something that will undoubtedly be rectified in future issues once the editors and contributors finish nutting out a distinct voice for the journal.
Usually I approach journals by letting the pages fall open, meandering to whatever tugs and pulls. After devouring Ilura Press’s Etchings 7: Chameleons this way, I set out to experience Etchings 8: Dusk Till Dawn in its entirety and in order, like listening to new LP. No skipping to the singles, but absorbing the shape, the flavour, letting the theme emerge—even if I had the urge to skip a track or two.
First I took in the equivalent of the album artwork: the journal’s overall look and feel. I was drawn to its size and shape, the appropriately varied type face, which accentuates without jarring. I was left thinking, I’d like my work to appear in something this sexy.
Next, the small print: who featured, and where are they from, are there any hidden tracks, emergers, nobodies like me, alongside seasoned writers, offering something edgy, raw even, a thing I savoured in Etchings 7? Dusk Till Dawn offered a surprising number of international contributors and a notable scarcity of unknowns.
Then the composition—was there a good balance of fiction, poetry, artwork and essays? Predominantly traditional fiction and poetry, interspersed with artwork and essays. Only a few experimental pieces made the cut, including Christopher Linforth’s essay (really a list): ‘Stalking Woody Allen: Your Guide in 54 Parts’ and Warwick Sprawson’s satirical and bitter insight into the rivalry between emerging writers, ‘_iH_ttocS_’ a piece layered with kooky formatting and typeface (check out p.133 – I nearly missed the bold letters A – R – S – E – H – O – L – E embedded across the page).
As to the theme, there was a refreshing scarcity of vampires and creatures of the night, but the selected pieces didn’t seem altogether cohesive—more like a best-of compilation than an album.
The tracks I would come back to:
- Ben Goldsworthy’s peculiar narrative confession of unreliability and dishonesty, ‘Movements and Calculations’;
- A.S. Patric’s ‘The Wife’ whose narrator has no identity and possibly no reality: ‘Was he mad before, or is he mad now? The thing is to go along with whatever the reality is. He has to work out what that is, and then stick to it.’ (p. 154);
- William McCormick’s darkly haunting artwork, ‘Masks’;
- Kate Murfett’s tantalising poem, ‘The Red Queen’;
- Poet Benjamin Dodd’s slightly paranoid, ‘Remnant;’
- Maria Pavlova’s sensual ‘The Touch’, translated from the Bulgarian, which captures the consuming intensity of love, lust and loss;
- Anthony Kane Evans’ murder mystery ‘The Problem With Castles’;
- Scathing rants like the aforementioned ‘_iH_ttocS_’ by Warwick Sprawson: ‘You use words like pellucid and roil and exculpate without the faintest awkwardness that comes from a lexicon source book… Your level of control throttles the life out of words, leaving pages littered with lines like mangled ants.’ (p. 132)
- The cruel variation in interpretation and intention between a husband and wife, in Ashley Cowger’s ‘Interpretations of Aurora’;
- Alysse Near’s ‘caustic’ (p. 188) ‘Venus in the Twelve House’;
- An unfortunate misconception of beliefs and human responses in Georgina Luck’s ‘The Butterfly Shawl’; and
- An exploration of genocide in Rwanda in Ryan O’Neill’s, ‘The Cockroach’.
Dusk Till Dawn offered variety in length, flavour and colour, a definite must-read, if not quite as can’t-put-down as its predecessor.
Copies of Etchings 8: Dusk Till Dawn and its predecessors are available online from http://www.ilurapress.com, plus check out the ‘Submissions’ page for details on submitting to the upcoming issue, Etchings 10: The Feminine – La Femme.
Christine Priestly is currently studying for her Master of Arts in Writing and Literature at Deakin University. She writes fiction and creative non-fiction and knows you can never own too many pairs of stilettos or love enough cats.
The launch for Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing # 1 will also be held at Readings Carlton. Miscellaneous Voices # 1 showcases writing from writer bloggers such as Angela Meyer, Lisa Dempster, and A.S. Patric. Things start happening at 6pm on Wednesday, 14 March.
Storytelling @ Dog’s Bar is now free and we like free things. We also like the starving artist’s specials in the restaurant next door. The likes of Angela Meyer (Literary Minded) and George Dunford (Lonely Planet) will be in the comfy armchair this Thursday, so have your $16 meal+wine and listen to some quality rambling.
For all of those people who prefer swimming to jogging, drinking to eating, and drowning to spontaneous combustion, Waterproof’s performers will be splashing about in the Melbourne City Baths, starting Friday 16 March. Prose is by Read You Bastards’ Bastard Simon McInerney, aka ‘that guy who reads about murderers disposing body parts in Williamstown and the Maribynong River’, so it should be dark, fascinating stuff.
And, for those in a monogamous relationship with their computers and aren’t allowed to see other people, Elena Gomez has reviewed Issue One of Kill Your Darlings. It’s interesting comparing other people’s reviews with mine. Ditto in regards to Gideon Haigh, girl!