Oh no, no more Sospeso

I caught up with Laura Smith a week or two ago and found out that this Friday will be the last Sospeso Reading:

The readings have run for over a year, which I reckon is a pretty good run given that it was originallly conceived as just one or two events at the end of a Cafe Poet residency. Now I’d like to move on to other projects. (22 June 2010)

I asked Laura why she hadn’t brought in someone to replace her. When it comes to organising your own poetry night, most people want to start from scratch; apparently secondhand poetry nights aren’t as appealing as secondhand tea cosies.

So, if you haven’t been to a Sospeso Reading, this is your last chance. Seat yourself at one of the tables at Caffe Sospeso around seven this Friday for a quick meal and get treated to a ‘first taste’ of Tiggy Johnson’s latest poetry collection as well as spoken word from Anna Fern.

For those who wish to reminisce, here’s some thoughts on Healing (February’s Sospeso night) and a video of Michael Reynolds’ performance.

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March 1: What’s happening, Melbourne?

I told somebody I was Tom Cho-ing the other day; they laughed and said Tom would be pleased to find out that he’s now a verb. (Tom Cho-ing – v. 1. going out to see Tom Cho at the Wheeler Centre on 1 March 2010 for Debut Mondays.) Other writers who might also be turned into verbs today will be Lisa Dempster, Andrew Croome, and LK Holt.

Read You Bastards is getting Lifted this Wednesday at the Empress. (Lifted – adj. 1. Lifted Brow-ified and therefore awesome.) Guest readers will be contributors from The Lifted Brow’s Atlas issue, including Nicolas Low, Angela Meyer, and Lorelei Vashti. No Atlases on sale this Wednesday (sold out), but there’ll probably be some back issues available at the door or you can preorder an Atlas reprint at www.theliftedbrow.com. I will also attempt to encourage/bully open mic newbie Christine Priestly into doing another reading.

Sketch is launching their second issue on Thursday night at Chaise Lounge. After hearing them talk about their lack of (wo)manpower at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, I volunteered to help proofread their second issue. I haven’t seen the final proofs yet, but hopefully Sketch 2 will be good. There’s this amazing story by new writer Clare Kitada in it and I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

Friday will be Domestic Rock ‘n’ Roll night for Sospeso Readings. Derek Motion and Nathan Curnow will be performing, along with a whole lot of open mic peeps. I won’t be able to make it because OHMIDOG I AM SEEING RICHARD DAWKINS, but I really really liked the last Sospeso and I think you should like totally go to this one, like yeah.

Signing off for now, lots of photos soon,

TL.

More goodies from Sospeso’s ‘Healing’

Michael Reynolds has been nice enough at letting me post up this video of him performing his Dylan Thomas paradelle. For those of you not in the know, a paradelle is a parody of the villanelle, a highly structured poem. Read the Wikipedia article on paradelles here.

Oh and don’t mind the shaking too much in the video. That’s me trying not to laugh.

Some thoughts on healing from the Sospeso Readings

Due to staffing issues, this month’s Sospeso had to relocate to the Town Hall Gallery and consequently things felt a little more formal. I didn’t read last Friday, but a couple of regulars did, and I wonder if they felt intimidated by the art on the walls, the rows of seats, and the prohibition of food.

Artwork by Andrea Kaltwasser @ the Town Hall Gallery.

Wagga’s David Gilbey recited poetry inspired by his sojourn in Japan. The pieces were mostly personal observations of a westerner, though ‘Proctor’, a poem about a Japanese examination room, managed to transcend its geographical and cultural boundaries.

Blurry photo of David Gilbey as he performs at Sospeso's 'Healing' Reading (5/2/10).

Following Gilbey were a series of healing-themed open mics. Lovemaking was likened to swimming, and men were praised by Catherine Bateson, and Initially No vented about psychosomatic guitar strings; Jennifer Compton instructed us on open mic etiquette; there was talk about connecting the dots, and mushroom clouds when one opens one’s mouth; and Fiona shared her personal experience with cancer.

Initially No talks about the guitar string in her foot (5/2/10).

Katherine Phelps makes a heart-shaped balloon for Sospeso's open mic (5/2/10).

Jennifer Compton knits while listening to some kick-arse open mic poetry (5/2/10).

Randall Stephens capped off the night with his collection of ‘Plan Be’ poems. Poetic in parts, Stephens’ monologue is conversational, narratively driven, and earnestly delivered. He’s a seasoned spoken word performer, comfortable onstage (unlike the rest of us). His first poem was my favourite with its nervous optimism towards new love, mirroring my own fluttery state of mind.

Randall Stephens speaks of new love at Sospeso (5/2/10).

Overall, it was a great turnout. Congrats to Laura for organising things at such short notice (and for making corny jokes about being wounded by Caffe Sospeso). Laura Smith, you should MC more often.

Meanwhile, thanks to Zoe Renee for her awesome teacup badge, and her Man in a Shark Suit. Nabbed them off her while I was at Sospeso/Camby Market. They’re the best.

Zoe Renee and Man in a Shark Suit (5/2/10).

Me and my new teacup badge. Thanks Zoe! (5/2/10)

February 1: What’s happening, Melbourne?

Catherine Deveny will be talking about freelancing at the annual National Editors Workshop and Skill-Share Conference this Wednesday (3 February 2010) at the new Wheeler Centre. Deveny starts at 6pm, followed by a performance from my favourite musical philosopher, Justin Heazlewood. 🙂

Read You Bastards No. 4* is the hap afterwards (from 7.45pm) at the Empress with special guests Shane Jesse Christmass and Andrew Croome. For those of you who have not ventured out to a Bastards night and sampled Bastards cake, you can read my posts on previous RYBs (No. 1, No. 3). Get in early before the cool kids from Three Thousand steal all the seats.

Caffe Sospeso’s February event has temporarily relocated to the Town Hall Gallery up the road. Otherwise, it’s the usual deal: starts at sevenish on the first Friday of the month with guest poets (David Gilbey and Randall Stephens) and a prize for the best themed open mic poetry (a copy of The Lifted Brow’s latest issue).

The Etchings Indigenous launch is also scheduled for Friday. Like the title suggests, all of the journal’s content is by indigenous artists, so if you’re in the St Kilda area, head down to Readings from 6.30pm-8.30pm. (Thanks Ilura Press for the thumbs up.)

Now if only I could teleport from one Melbournian suburb to another, life would be pink alligators.

*Bastards, you need a website and not just a Facebook fan page. 😛

Faking ‘Fresh off the boat’

FOB. Fresh off the boat. The worst kind of insult you can give an ABC (Australian Born Chinese) or any other ethnic minority equivalent. For Caffe Sospeso’s Racism poetry readings, I tried on a fobby Vietnamese accent, hoping to parody my own ethnicity; nobody laughed: they were either too polite or my attempts were really bad.

Tom Cho (via), on the other hand, does an awesome Singlish/Chinese Malaysian accent for ‘Aiyo!!! An Evil Group of Ninjas is Enterting and Destroying a Call Centre!!!’

The story itself is a colourful read with its ‘lah’ and ‘alamak’  and extra exclamation marks, and I’ve always wanted to do a Vietnamese equivalent, so I’ve been reading over essays written by Vietnamese Deakin students, trying to get a feel on how Vinglish works. One kid has this penchant for leaving out ‘the’ in some sentences, overcompensating in others. He also avoids using apostrophes or turning nouns into adjectives, preferring to use ‘of’ instead. I don’t blame him, apostrophes are more often abused than used correctly. (DVD’s from JB-HiFi, anyone?) My favourite sentence of his illustrates both of these quirks as well as the incorrect use of tenses: ‘The problem of corruption cannot solve in the short time, but the solution can affect in long time.’

Here’s a more substantial chunk of Vinglish from binhthuan.gov.vn:

A clod morning, from the Nguyen Tat Thanh avenue taking a look on the city center’s direction, one has the impression that huge changes have taken in a short time. To the people who live every day with and for Phan Thiet it is a surprise. The changes of their beloved homeland, to me, a native coming from far it is much more. Chatting with me, most people confirmed that the city had made achievements that were expected to be done in 5, 10 or more years. I remember when the city decided to carry out the Phan Thiet socio-economic development plan for the 1996 – 2010 period, a lot of people were worried and doubtful. Now what seemingly impossible became possible just in the first 6 months of 2002: the liberation of land for the Phan Thiet industrial zone has been successfully done. It was just one among thousand jobs the city finished. It was a proof of the determination and unanimity of the leaders and people of Phan Thiet, more vivid than whatever figures and nice words.

There’s some wonderful phrases here: ‘the liberation of the land’, ‘more vivid than whatever figures and nice words’, and ‘native’. It makes me realise how expressions often fail to translate from one language to another, and how difficult it is to actually create Vinglish. Not only does one have to mimic the grammatical idiosyncrasies, but one also has to think in Vietnamese, using a dictionary to churn out the supposed English equivalent. (Or chuck a whole heap of text into Babel Fish and see what one ends up with.)

Nevertheless, it seems like a fun exercise. I’m going to collect a couple more examples of Vinglish over the next couple of months, and get back to you on that story idea. Meanwhile, you can be a fob too*. Try saying, ‘Hai, mai name y <insert name here>. Sauree, I am unavailable. Plee lea a message after the tone…’ It’s fun.

*This only works if you’re Viet. Otherwise, you’re just being plain racist.

Epic Bike Fail

Dear Blog,

Sorry for not posting on you earlier. I had hoped to write some reportage on Friday night’s Caffe Sospeso happenings but never got round to it on the weekend. Work, you know, and socialising…that kind of thing.

Caffe Sospeso was fun though. I got to dress up in an ao dai that shed gold glitter on floors, car seats, and restaurants. I listened to poems from Lian Low, Raina Peterson, and Maxine Clarke who discussed issues that I related to, such as being asked ‘where do you come from? No, where do you really come from?’ (To which, one of the guest poets concisely replied, ‘I come from my mother’s c#@$.’)

But back to why I haven’t written on you earlier, Blog. I had hoped to fit you in some time after a Lifted Brow meeting and some catch-up naps, but got waylaid by my epic bike fails for there were several of which I shall enlighten you.

The first epic bike fail happened when I left my bike in Ronnie Scott’s hallway. It did not like being abandoned. It fell over and punched a hole in Ronnie’s wall. Mortification.

The second epic bike fail happened close to the Abbotsford Lentil As Anything. I braked too hard, causing my bike to flip and me to dive into the pavement, face and hands first. There was a nursing home nearby, so a couple of onlookers took me in, and got me semi-washed up, and the nurse inside told me to see a doctor and get some stitches.

The third epic bike fail (which isn’t really bike-related but is still fail) was when a bird shat on me while I wheeled my bike back to Lentil As Anything in my blood-drenched shirt, looking like a freshly-made zombie. It was a subtle sign from the PTB that Monday was a write-off and that I should not attempt anything else that may potentially cause more embarrassment.

I ignored this, and the fourth fail of the day happened a couple of hours later when I decided to public back home from the parentals’ place. It was late on a Monday night. I was in trackies and a blood-stained T-shirt that said ‘Princess’ across my boobs, my hair was unkempt, and I had just got stitches on my chin: I looked like a Burwood bogan. To my misfortune, Estelle Tang happened to be on the same tram, all groomed and sleek-looking, and she recognised me. Oh. My. Dog.

So Blog, I hope you forgive me for being neglectful. I really have been very busy as you can see. I’ll try to post on the latest issues of Peril and The Diamond & the Thief, sometime later in the week.

Until next time,

TL.

PS – speaking of The Diamond & the Thief, Black Rider Press have posted up mp3 readings of stories/poetry from the last issue, including my reading of ‘The Beast’. Yay. Check it out here.

Contributing to I op therefore I am

For all of those peeps who love secondhand finds, I’ve started contributing to the Melbourne op shop blog I Op Therefore I am. I’ve been mapping out bicycle routes to the neighbourhood’s various op shops; the RSPCA op shops are the closest by far. After picking up some Asian groceries, I bought an old Peter and Wendy book and a hand embroidered tea cosie. The white suitcase I found for my doctor friend was too big to carry on the bike but the lady at the counter was nice enough to put it aside for me. RSPCA op shop volunteers are tops. You can drool over my finds here.

On a more literary note, I’ve finished reading Visible Ink: Lost and Found. Expect a review in the next couple of days. And don’t forget to pen those race-related* poems for open mic at Caffe Sospeso on Friday.

*’Race’ as in racism and not that Queen song.

So what’s happening, Melbourne? Racism apparently

According to Spambook, Peril’s Issue Eight will be launching Thursday, 3 December, at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre. I’ll be stuck at an end of year work function, missing out on the likes of Tom Cho, Ladies of Colour Agency, Maxine Clarke, Angela Costi, and Diana Nguyen. I really want to meet Diana after reading her Growing Up Asian in Australia piece, ‘Five Ways to Disappoint Your Vietnamese Mother’, and I enjoy Maxine Clarke’s performances; I’m kinda bummed that I can’t make it. Somebody should go on my behalf and tell me about it (or, even better, record and post stuff up on YouTube).

My one consolation is that I’ll be MC-ing December’s Caffe Sospeso gig on Friday, 4 December. Racism will be the night’s theme, and there will be performances from Maxine Clarke, Lian Low, and Raina Peterson. It will be like totally PC and high brow: I’ll be putting on my best  ‘Sittingvale’ accent and my new ao dai. Come along and laugh and then feel awful about it. Things start happening around sevenish. 

 

Poetry Fridays: Racism with Maxine Clarke, Lian Low, and Raina Peterson

 

Poetry Fridays: Power Dynamics

No power drills in sight last night, but I did get to dine on performance poetry and spaghetti at Hawthorn’s Caffe Sospeso. As mentioned in an earlier post, Laura Smith organises monthly poetry nights at Sospeso, and it’s a chillaxing way to cap off the working week. This month was MC-ed by Melissa Delaney and featured guest readings from Vera Di Campli San Vito and Melbourne Cafe Poet Andy Jackson.

Vera pioneered ‘pick a poem out of the magic vessel/hat/thing’, where the audience would pick out titles from a red hat and the performer would read the corresponding poem, and during the second half of the evening, Andy continued with her Dadaist arrangement.

Open mic was short and sweet. My favourites included Michael Reynolds’ tautologist poem, and a narrative detailing the intimacies of the dental chair from a poet whose name I failed to catch*. There was a particularly memorable performance from an older lady called Josephine: she read a beautiful piece inspired by All Souls Day and then sang a capella. A couple of pedestrians walked past during her stint and stared at her back, probably wondering what this woman in canary yellow was doing; they missed out on the opportunity to marvel at the way her lips wrapped around the foreign phonetics of her song ‘Mamma Blues’. 

I also read ‘Husband and Wife Before Dinner’, something I wrote a few years back. Being the first time I had performed anything from memory, I blanked halfway through the piece but still managed to score a Readings gift voucher, which will be put to good use. I also met some artistic types from TINA ’09. who READ MY BLOG and consequently deserve an exclamation party!!!!! Here’s a doodle they left on a napkin:

Napkin doodles left behind @ Power Dynamics (6/11/09)

Napkin doodles @ Power Dynamics (6/11/09)

I’m not sure when the next Caffe Sospeso night will be, but details will be posted by yours truly some time in late November/early December.

*UPDATE: Since writing this post, I’ve been informed that his name is Maurice Mcnamara. 🙂