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.

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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.

EWF 2010 Photo blog

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.

2010 Page Parlour punters pick up The Lifted Brow No.5 at Federation Square. (23/5/10)

Storytime with Lucienne Noontil (centre) and Rusty the Possum (right). Estelle Tang (left) tries to keep mum about the 'happy ending'. (24/5/10).

Homemade 'I Heart Jeremy Balius' tees that failed to dry in time for The Last Hurrah. Boo. (26/5/10)

A.S. Patric reads from his chapbook, 'Music For Broken Instruments', at The Last Hurrah. (26/5/10)

After the gig, the bf made the observation that many of us Black Riders were not looking up from the page, his hero Eric Dando included. Oops. (26/5/10)

Lunchbox/Soapbox: Chris Flynn knows how to entertain with quirky tales about heroic hounds from film and literature. (27/5/10)

You Want Me To Do What? panellists (left to right): Declan Fay, Katherine Charles, Sean M. Whelan, Natasha Campo, and Kelly Gardiner. (30/5/10)

Kirk Marshall (left) and Jeremy Balius (right) discuss the two modes of literary translation at From Here to There: The Adventures of Kaisu and Kalle. (30/5/10)

The Melbourne crew chillax at the end of the festival with Islet editor Anica at the Horse Bazaar. No underaged bar-children working today! (30/5/10)

EWF Panel: You Want Me to Do What?

Some of you might be thinking, ‘Ten zillion EWF events have happened since Monday’s 15 Minutes of Fame and The Last Hurrah…This blog’s looking old lately.’

Well, so’s your face and your mum.

My face is looking a little haggard also. It happens after too many ten-hour shifts and intense looks of concentration from listening to various EWF panels/sessions and the stress caused by scraping the side of my car in a claustrophobic inner-city car park which charges $5/hour on weekends…Don’t ask, and I’ll try to reconstruct the better parts of the week, while forgetting the rest.

Sunday, 30 May. I woke up late. I ate at Jungle Juice for the first time. The guy at the counter was making a batch of chocolate, ginger, and beetroot cupcakes. Crazy. (Yeah, my mum’s crazy too, I know.)

After Jungle Juice, I headed down to the Melbourne Town Hall, where the EWF weekend program was in full swing. Hosted by Dan Ducrou, You Want Me To Do What? was the first panel I attended, with speakers like Dr Natasha Campo (from Monash University), Katherine Charles (Hollywood Ending novellist), Declan Fay (Jack of all trades) and Sean M. Whelan (poet and spoken word veteran).

Natasha Campo was first on the floor. She found the transition from solitary and dishevelled postgraduate to polished public speaker extremely difficult. Most academics have issues with self-promotion and yet they are often expected to write their own press releases and discuss their work. Her tips were 1) keep it simple with three key points 2) don’t be afraid of repeating yourself, and 3) memorise some sound bites, fifty-word descriptions on what the work is about.*

Sean M. Whelan thought ‘reading and writing are two very very different skills…[but] being an engaging reader is really not that hard, even for a shy person’. He noted that while good writers can really mutilate their work, mediocre writers can seduce you with their mad oratory skills. He had a list of don’ts, which I have paraphrased.

Don’t…

1) Apologise for your work before you read a single word. Once onstage, you are instantly imbued with authority. If you say your work is shit, then your audience will believe your lack of belief.

2) Shuffle through your pages or flick through your chapbook. Plan your setlist

3) Say, ‘I’m not sure what I’m going to read.’ Don’t fluff about and waste our time. Have an introduction ready.

4) Barrel on through your pieces without pause between each.

5) Believe that microphones are made of magic. It’s not rocket science, speak into it. (Oh, and respect the microphone: don’t throw it about.)

6) Go over the time limit. Always go under; leave them wanting more.

In addition, he spoke about dealing with nerves, ‘Don’t fight it, accept it’, and suggested using a book instead of paper if your hands tend to shake. ‘Generosity of spirit’ was Whelan’s final catchcry. Read to an audience rather than at them. If you’re a closed shell, not looking up, mumbling your words, those listening aren’t going to warm to you.

Katherine Charles worked as a publicist before publishing her novel. For the panel, she focused on handling interviews. But first, how to secure a media interview? ‘Give them an angle,’ she suggested, something ‘compelling and intriguing’, something ‘sexy’. With Hollywood Ending, Charles used her grandfather’s unsolved murder case as hers.

She then spoke about preparing a key messaging document prior to an interview. What three key messages did you want to impress upon the journalist? Charles’ were 1) the name of her book (‘STATE THIS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE…’), 2) a once-sentence description of the publication, and 3) the intended audience or release date of said publication.

Also, ‘know what you don’t want to say.’  Beware of ‘throwaway remarks’.

Later on, during Q & A, she suggested hiring a freelance publicist who has been recommended by another writer. In many cases, a book will only be the publisher’s publicist’s top priority for one week. Freelance publicists are expensive but they’re worth it, especially if their contract stipulates payment after results.

Declan Fay had done a lot of public speaking at schools and he shared several anecdotes. He spoke about finding ways to ‘enter the room’. At one school, a beekeeper went on before him. Singling out the resident tough kid, he told the boy to stick his hand into a hive. By making the tough kid look vulnerable, he captured everyone else’s attention.

While a lot of You Want Me to Do What? discussed the promotion of the finished product and wasn’t directly relevant to my situation, it was still an interesting how-to session on an often challenging aspect of an emerging writer’s career.

I’ll be posting other bits and bobs from EWF over the next couple of days. Stay tuned for more festival gossip news, media, advice, and bad mum jokes.

*And look la! She practises what she preaches.

Hurrah, it’s The Last Hurrah

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’.

*Yes, the wonderful JB will be gracing us with his presence. I had hoped to make Kirk and myself ‘I Heart Jeremy Balius’ T-shirts for the night, but I’ve been too busy working. *sigh*

30 x 1 minute pieces = 3 hours

…only adds up with much schmoozing and boozing, and Small Room’s A Bridge for Short Attention Spans had plenty of that. It also had plenty of zines and literary magazines on sale, raffle prizes, and free Small Room Issue Ones at the door.

I bought a copy of Ampersand (which I’ll be reviewing soonish), and won a copy of Tristan Clark’s Stick This in Your Memory Hole (Aduki Press). Someone also handed me Windmills, a Deakin uni zine, and ‘Red Den Beauty’ was ftw*; I managed to recite without forgetting/stumbling over/slurring my lines, though standing on a soap box is intimidating when one is in heels, the audience is visible, and there’s no A4 sheet to hide behind.

The rest of the night was readings, readings, readings. One minute was very little time to impress upon an audience, and pieces that succeeded were usually humourous and or well-performed. I say ‘well-performed’ because there was a difference between those who read their writing and those who engaged with both writing and audience. Allison Browning’s piece was not funny at all and rather late in the night, but her acting background helped her work every word.

Thanks to Bryan Whalen for organising a jam-packed**, super fun night. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Small Room No. Two some time soon.

*Red wine, however, was fail; I got red wine down the front of my shirt and had to liberally dab myself with white wine to erase the evidence.

**Why is it packed with jam? This is the weirdest phrase ever.

I want to ride my bicycle

I finally got my bike back from the old man who fixes bikes down the road. It’s been three months or more since I last saw it, and more than three months since I last rode it. I nearly cried as I clambered over the skeletons of less fortunate bikes: it had been so long and over the phone, it sounded like he wasn’t sure what had happened to it exactly, and ‘no, it hasn’t been fixed, yet’. I should have harrassed him to fix it earlier but he looked like an old man who might visit my pharmacy, and I hate conflict; I just couldn’t bring myself to throw a long overdue ‘I want my bike back’ tanty, after having been on the receiving end of many a ‘I want this medicine without a script, and I want it now’ tanty.

But the bike is back, and it’s time to celebrate with some Queen:

Anyway, Storytelling is on again tonight at Dog’s Bar in St Kilda. I went along to last week’s gig and was surprised by the small turnout. It seems that not many people know of it. Well, I’m telling you about it now: this week’s tales will be provided to you by Lisa Dempster, EWF director and blogger extraordinaire, and Kalinda Ashton, The Danger Game novellist and associate editor of Overland. The stories start at 8pm and there will be a couple of open mic spots for anyone who wants to sit on stage in the comfy leather airchair.

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?

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.