Dog’s Tales @ The Toff

Lucky me has been sick lately, so I haven’t been able to partake in the writerly festivities.

Ohmidog, I just wrote ‘sicked lately’. Speaking of Dog, last Sunday’s Dog’s Tales was a superstar version of the weekly event with international writers like Elif Batuman, Tiffany Murray, and DBC Pierre spinning yarns for us for the MWF version of the night.

Dog’s Tales co-host Josephine Rowe opened with an off-the-cuff about father and daughter miscommunications, whilst Kalinda Ashton thought she’d forego the leather armchair for her performance. Elif Batuman cracked up at her own jokes, Dog’s Tales patron David Carruthers told a more formalised version of his bikie gang story, and DBC Pierre drawled about tequila and skin. I got to listen to Tiffany Murray a second time (I had seen her earlier at The Lifted Brow event) and was treated to Carmel Bird’s snack-sized piece about fun buns. FUN.

I’ve made some bootlegs of Dog’s Tales. (What kind of unofficial MWF blogger would I be without unofficial tubes/photoblogs?) Elif Batuman’s performance  seems to be the least shaky so far:

For those who enjoyed the night, Dog’s Tales happens at the Dog’s Bar every Thursday night. There’s talk about changing the event to Tuesday night, so check with the venue before you start your journey southside.

March 11: What’s happening, Melbourne?

What’s happening? Everything apparently.

Wednesday’s a big day with a book launch, a spoken word night, and a literary magazine event running concurrently. Affirm Press is launching Chris Parkinson’s Peace of Wall: Street Art from East Timor*, Sean M. Whelan’s Babble will have special guests Allison Browning and Anthony O’Sullivan, and RMIT’s Visible Ink is running a fundraiser gig with a mini-market and bands like East Brunswick All Girls Choir, Future Happiness and Owl+Moth.

On Thursday, 13 May, Willow Tales will be catering for the Northsiders and Storytelling, the Southsiders. There will also be the quasi-political intellectual discussion, The Great Firewall of China: Kaiser Kuo on Chinese Internet, Censorship and the West,  happening earlier in the evening at the Wheeler Centre.

rally for same-sex marriage rights is on at the front of the State Library on Saturday. Also, Small Room’s Bryan Whalen has organised a lit journal and art magazine schmooze-fest, A Bridge for Short Attention Spans, at the Brunswick Street Gallery. I’ll be performing alongside folk like Josephine Rowe, Emmett Stinson and Sean M Whelan. It’s gonna be fun in a queasy, butterflies in my stomach kind of way.

Oh, and for those of you who missed out on the Williamstown Literary Festival, you’ll be pleased to know that Duncan Felton is posting about the panels that he went to. His Let’s be frankie post is much more detailed than mine, so it’s worth checking out.

*Correction: Okay, that event was scheduled for Tuesday 11 March. Mega-fail. (Damn, I missed out.)

April 12: What’s happening, Melbourne?

According to my personal assistant, Facebook, there’s a poetry gig going down at Readings Carlton 6.30pm tonight. It’s free and it’s featuring Jodie Albiston, Jennifer Harrison, and Josephine Rowe.

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.

The leather armchair at Dog's Bar (courtesy of Storytelling).

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!

Storytelling No. 2 @ the Dog’s Bar

A couple of months ago, I happened upon the first of what hopefully will be many Storytelling events at Dog’s Bar. Storytelling is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of people telling stories. Storytelling II is on tonight, 8pm – 9.30pm, with MCs Chris Flynn and Josephine Rowe and guest storytellers Ronnie Scott and Micaela McGuire. There will be snippets of open mic as well; I’m not sure how people sign up for such, though Chris does say Facebook him (via). Hmmm. Cupcake/brooch bribes anyone?

Inaugural night of storytelling at Dog’s Bar

Were you at Dog’s Bar last night? Because I was. Imagine a stage curtained off from the noise and lights of Ackland Street, a spindly desk lamp, and Josephine Rowe draped over a leather armchair Dickens might have favoured, her pale feet dangling over the side. Or Chris Flynn, straight-backed, introducing guest readers with a Belfast lilt, needing a tweed suit to go with his cap. Delicately drawn characters from Steven Amsterdam and Luke May, conversations about boxing with Mischa Merz, and an impromptu travel story from Cate Kennedy that was so well-constructed, it was sleight of hand, the audience straining to spot the chicanery of wires and pulleys in the dark. And then wine after, and dinner, and conversation about books. ‘Twas good. You missed out.

Review: Harvest Issue 3

Last week, I promised that I would start doing a 3000 Books with literary journals. For those of you who haven’t come across her blog, Textual Fantasies’ Estelle Tang endeavours to read 50 books per year: ‘…when I started this blog I was 23 years old. The life expectancy for an Australian female is 83 years. 60 reading years left x 50 books = 3000 books. Why yes, it is very literal. Some might also say it is numerical.’

Knowing me, it is unlikely that I will be able to match Estelle’s reading voracity/velocity, but I will try my darnest to get through my metastatic pile of literary journals. This week’s sacrificial maiden was Harvest Issue 3.

 

Harvest Issue 3 with random sweet potato (19/11/09). Sweet potato courtesy of housemate.

I’m a big fan of Harvest. Not only does it publish meaty literary pieces, it is also beautifully presented, attracting readers outside the usual literary circle. Sarah, my doctor friend, picked up Issue 2 at Readings and gave it to me as a gift. She didn’t recognise any of the contributors; she probably purchased the journal on aesthetic merit alone.

Issue 3 is of similar attractiveness with the front cover designed by Allison Colpoys. Fiction tended towards lyrical, somewhat traditional, not as punchy as I would have liked, though there was masterful use of language in many stories. Jessica Au’s ‘Old Man River’ is almost poetic, her flourishes are something I could never possibly emulate. Paul Dee’s ‘Murder in the Snow’ focuses on the mundane with microscopic detail, and is appropriately accompanied by Stella Kalaw’s  photos of shower taps and rusty oil fin heaters. Borrowing stories from How a Moth Becomes a Boat, Josephine Rowe tapers off sections elegantly with paragraphs like the following from ‘Hole’:

She’s out west now, you heard. Someplace like Yarraville. You kick soft dirt into the hole. See her sitting out there, nights, looking up at the lights along the West Gate. Making different escape plans. Small cat winding round her thin legs.

In regards to poetry, I particularly enjoyed the play of Michelle O. Bama’s ‘Can I Call You Barack?’ and Simon Cox’s ‘Fragments in Defence of The Latter Halves of Half-Truths’*; feature poet Kylie Rose also had some startling imagery: ‘…Mum resumes her pop-dance / over the stuck bubbles, / their ink tails scribbling back to the surf.’ 

Non-fiction had a couple of strong pieces like Greg Foyster’s ‘The New Generation of Readers’ and Lisa Mamone’s ‘In Defence of Wodehouse’, though I was disappointed with finishing on Belle Taylor’s ‘Even Serious Books Have Kissing in Them’, a two-page personal narrative which felt lightweight when read alongside the journal’s lengthier works.

While content was lyrical, entertaining, evocative, thought-provoking, and inspiring, Issue 3’s layout was a bit of a letdown. I got confused with the split in Foyster’s piece: I thought the article ended oddly after reading the first two pages, later realising that it continued on page 49. Admittedly I was tipsy and on a tram at the time of reading, but it would have been nice to have ‘Continued on page 49’ tacked on, in brackets, to the end of page 2’s last paragraph. Marc Martin’s artwork, ‘Bookplates’, might have been more well-placed near Belle Taylor’s personal narrative on book clubs. And Belle Taylor, why is your piece sandwiched between a Harvest advert and the contributor bios? Nobody’s going to read it there.

It’s a small criticism (okay, it’s a big criticism…biggish…) and I’m sure the Harvest team had good reason for making the layout choices that they did. There are only so many ways you can arrange the order of a journal, and sometimes all of your options suck. And bad layout rarely detracts from quality content. So no biggie, Harvest. There’s always next time. Thanks for publishing my poem by the way. It looks very pretty next to Irana Douer’s work. 🙂

Next review will be Lost and Found: Visible Ink 21. Expect it some time next week/month/year. 

*Cox also managed to sneak ‘Fragments’ into the October ’09 issue of The Diamond & the Thief. You can read it online here.

You will submit to Small Room

 

Image courtesy of smallroom.com.au

Launching its first issue next week at Avid Reader in Brisbane, Small Room is proof that things do get published outside of Melbourne. (Thank dog!) Content will be from writers I heart like Josephine Rowe, Christopher Currie, and Chris Somerville, and will be presented on a fold-up poster.

Yep, Small Room is resurrecting the poster format that was the trademark of Is Not Magazine, a now defunct Melbourne institution (may it rest in peace). According to Small Room editor Bryan Whalen, the Gold Coast team independently came up with the idea; once they realised it had been done before, they caught up with Is Not’s Penny Modra for an interstate exchange. ‘Turns out the projects are similar, but different,’ Bryan explained. ‘Both poster mags, just different ways of going about distribution, folding, execution.’

Out to prove that big is not always better, Small Room publishes small fiction, poetry, and art: fiction under 1000 words, poetry under 1000 stanzas*, and artwork under 100 dpi. I had submitted one of my shorter pieces, and got promptly rejected, but turned the rejection into an information-gathering exercise. I sent the magazine questions like ‘Hey, why do you not like my work?’ and ‘How can you not see the beautiful genius of my words…?’ No, I didn’t ask anything obnoxious like that, but I did ask what they were looking for and whether there were any other literary journals that they dug. 

Bryan sent me a lengthy reply:

…we’re not really a literary journal. We never want to be a journal. We like being a poster. Art is integral to Small Room, as is literature. Thus, each issue will have a new guest designer who, after receiving the stories, will design the issue with in any medium they choose (as long as it remains poster sized). 

He gave a detailed explanation of the selection process. Three editors go through the submissions pile, then ‘Maybes’ are sent out to a circle of acquaintances for extra feedback. 

I suppose what we’re looking for is what we believe is “quality writing;” however, “quality” is obviously subjective. What makes good writing? I’m not certain. Every argument I could put forth, I could just as easily argue against. Perhaps good writing is rife with paradox. I have no idea…

So, what did SR hope to achieve? 

Small Room would like to expose up-and-coming writers to the masses, while also featuring respected talents. Issue One will be sold in art galleries, bookshops and coffee bistros around Brisbane, Gold Coast and Byron Bay. We’d like to grow into Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and overseas, but this takes time. Small Room will always be a poster, because the format can vary: eventually we’ll play with themes, folds, designs, etc. Also, we’d like to remain relatively inexpensive, so as to get more posters into more hands.

The next submission deadline will be late March 2010—plenty of time to nab a copy of the first issue, read it, and create an appropriate submission, unless you’re lit-journal rich and reading-time poor like me. Ergh.

*Hang on, that’s not small at all. Crazy kids.

NYWF 2009: Goodbye NC

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,

TL

Because I failed to bring home the Deakin bacon

I lied. Things don’t happen in Burwood (except for op shops—the Burwood East RSPCA op shop is the best). 

Since I am unable to report back on Words@Deakin, I thought I’d link to Stop Drop and Roll’s article on royal-family inbreeding, ‘Hapsburg Cubed: How to get a severe disfigurement named after your family’.

I’ve also finally uploaded Josephine Rowe’s performance of ‘Fast’ from The Lifted Brow Issue Five launch for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

A dash of poetry, a splash of sin (syn)

I thought I’d listen to SYN’s Textual Fantasies before writing up today’s post, and was pleased to discover that the subject of my post, Harvest Poetry Editor Josephine Rowe, was on the program. 

Estelle and Maddie were interviewing the editors from Harvest and Stop, Drop, and Roll, and it was cool hearing how other literary journals do the ‘boring stuff’ i.e. distribution, and promotion. Harvest has started using Selectair as a distributor, while Stop, Drop, and Roll are still pretty much sending out stuff themselves. In terms of promotion, both magazines agreed on the importance of online presence: ‘Most of our promotion is all online’ (SDR); ‘You just can’t underestimate it [the internet] any more’ (Harvest). They also do promotional activities such as leaving free copies of their publication at cafes, and dropping positive comments about the magazine within earshot of prospective buyers.

But back to Josephine Rowe and poetry. The Overload Poetry Festival is happening this week, and Josephine will be performing tomorrow for ‘Dreaming Highways‘, alongside Andy Jackson, Laura Smith, Gemma White, and Jessica Raschke. (‘Dreaming Highways‘ is not part of the official Overload program, but it is poetry; I still think it’s reasonable to mention both in the same sentence.)

There’s also another poetry gig on at La Mama on Monday night, showcasing the likes of Sean M. Whelan, Ben Pobjie, Briohny Doyle, Angela Meyer, and Barry Dickins (this one’s officially part of Overload, I promise). I hear it will be Angela’s first foray into the spoken word poetry scene, so come along and show her some support. 🙂

Anyway, that’s all from me. Thumbs up to Textual Fantasies, Harvest and Stop, Drop, and Roll. They love The Lifted Brow. Ballast-bless their welcome mats.