Word Juggling @ the State Library

Word Juggling happened last Thursday night at the State Library, and featured performances from Mihirangi, Myron Lysenko, Josephine Rowe, Si, Miss EZB, and Tjimba and the Yung Warriors.

Josephine Rowe drifted through ‘Red Lights’ with her trademark savouring of words. Later on in conversation with Steve Grimwade, she revealed that she had to memorise her work because her hands shook when she tried reading anything off the page.

Word Juggling 1

Steve Grimwade in conversation with Josephine Rowe and Myron Lysenko (4/6/09)

Going down swinging cofounder Myron Lysenko was much more boisterous in his performance and interview. He spoke about how he evolved into a professional poet, and it was interesting to learn that he used language-based strategies to produce his work as was evident in his poems ‘Rehab’, which plays with simile, and ‘Combine’, an absurd rhyming exercise.

Word Juggling 2

Si’s energy seemed at odds with the sedate opulence surrounding him, Miss EZB messed around with Aussie sports celebrities and colloquialisms, while Tjimba and the Yung Warriors (above) performed their song ‘Warrior for life’. (4/6/09)

Mihirangi was my highlight for the evening however. A Maori solo artist, Mihirangi creates, synchronises, and juggles her loops with the help of a loop pedal. Performing ‘No War’ live at Word Juggling, she produced what seemed like a flawless multilayered track. Since I never learnt how to keep time or coordinate a drum kit, I am still unable to accept that she did this in one go in front of a room full of people. Amazing.

Below: ‘No War’ YouTube clip


The bf was wilting by eight o’ clock, so we headed down to Chinatown for some dumplings. He had the chilli oil vegetarian. I had the chicken and prawn, steamed. He asked me why there was a giant red tassel on the wall of the restaurant. While watching him smother extra spoonfuls of chilli over his dumplings, I tried to explain why red was a lucky colour, but failed inarticulately.


The Pitch

Fact: prior to this week, I was a writers’ festival virgin. There have been flirtations—a magazine launch here, some voluntary cyberspace work there—but nothing concrete. No, ah, entry of any sort. Angela Meyer’s ’15 Minutes of Fame’ was my first taste of a real writers’ festival event (for more on ’15 Minutes’, click here); I liked it so much, I decided to come back for more.

So, after work today, I drove down to the Melbourne Town Hall where the Emerging Writers’ Festival was being held. I managed to attend two panel sessions: ‘Truth and honesty in writing’ and ‘The revolution will be downloaded’. I also managed to make two somewhat transient friends, Stuart and Tamara, who offered to buy me a drink initially, then ditched me to chase after some writerly celebrity residing in a corner of the Portico Balcony.

I also managed to sit in for ‘The Pitch’, where editors from various print and online magazines gave helpful tips about pitching and submitting one’s work. Torpedo’s Chris Flynn was particularly useful, giving a succinct list of submission dos and don’ts:

  1. Do read the submission guidelines
  2. Do read the publication. It quickly becomes apparent to the editor when a writer hasn’t read the publication at all.
  3. Don’t submit your old work. Not only is it a poor reflection of where a writer is at the moment, it also encourages laziness and ‘laurels-resting’.
  4. Do submit one story at a time.
  5. Do submit the right genre. If the guidelines say ‘fiction’, it means exactly that.
  6. Don’t frontload. Keep your cover letter/email short and sweet. (Apparently someone once sent Chris Flynn a fifteen-hundred-word email for a twelve-hundred-word piece. He was not impressed.)
  7. Do keep formatting to a minimum. The editor’s going to have to remove it anyway, and he or she won’t thank you for the extra work.
  8. Do be nice. It. Gets. You. Places.

In regards to manuscript pitches, Aduki Independent Press’ Emily Clark gave the following advice:

  1. Know the publisher: how does your work fit within their vision?
  2. Know your market: who’s going to buy your book?
  3. Don’t burn any bridges: just because they didn’t love your first idea, doesn’t mean they’ll hate all of your future ones.

It was great hearing from heavyweights such as Meanjin, Going Down Swinging, The Big Issue, and Overland, as well as less well-known publications like Stop Drop and Roll and Tango. I also practise my pitching skills on Emily Clark afterwards: ‘Hi, I’m from The Lifted Brow…’ But more on that some other day.


The deadlines for the following journals are coming up soon:

1) Stop Drop and Roll (31 May 2009): Stop Drop and Roll is a brand spanking new Melbourne journal run by Sean Wilson (of Cottonmouth-ness) and Liz Seymour. It’s a very slim journal where non-fiction (commentary, profiles, reviews) are allocated the same or more amount of pages as fiction and poetry. It’s also beautifully designed; it even has embossing (who has that kind of money?)

2) Going Down Swinging (31 May 2009): Going Down Swinging has been around since Kevin Brophy.

3) Verandah 24 (1 June 2009): Verandah has also been around probably for as long as Kevin Brophy. Put together by a different set of Deakin University writing students each year, it’s hard to predict what kind of stuff we’ll get each issue. I suppose you could stalk them on Facebook to find out.

4) Offset (12 June 2009): Offset is Victoria University’s literary journal.

5) Page Seventeen (30 June 2009): According to SnUfft (7 April 2009), this year’s Page Seventeen has a ‘great line-up for the editorial committee’.

So what are you waiting for? SUBMIT.

Collecting rejection letters is fun! If you’re not in it for the rejection letters, then why are you a writer?