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. 😛

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January 18: What’s happening, Melbourne?

Tickets for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival event ‘Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show On Earth’ (5 March 2010) were supposed go on sale today, except the event has sold out during prelease sales. Sneaky. However, I have managed to nab some tickets during the last buying frenzy. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Richard Dawkins is an evolutionist and a hardcore atheist who has written titles such as The God Delusion, and The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. He rants a lot, but The God Delusion was a helpful resource when I started questioning my agnosticism: it verbalised much of my frustration towards religion. In particular, I remember reading an example of how religion permits all sorts of intolerance:

The Los Angeles Times (10 April 2006) reported that numerous Christian groups on campuses around the United States were suing their universities for enforcing anti-discrimination rules, including prohibitions against harassing or abusing homosexuals. As a typical example, in 2004 James Nixon, a twelve-year-old boy in Ohio, won the right in court to wear a T-shirt to school bearing the words ‘Homosexuality is a sin, Islam is a lie, abortion is murder. Some issues are just black and white!’ The school told him not to wear the T-shirt–and the boy’s parents sued the school. The parents might have had a conscionable case if they had based it on the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. But they didn’t: indeed, they couldn’t because free speech is deemed not to include ‘hate speech’. But hate only has to prove it is religious, and it no longer counts as hate. So, instead of freedom of speech, the Nixons’ lawyers appealed to the constitutional right to freedom of religion. Their victorious lawsuit was supported by the Alliance Defense Fund of Arizona, whose business it is to ‘press the legal battle for religious freedom’. (Dawkins 2006, p 23)

Suffice to say, after reading The God Delusion and a couple of other texts, I felt more at ease with my lack of faith. I have yet to read The Greatest Show on Earth but I hope I shall get round to it before Dawkins’ Melbourne appearance.

March is still more than a month away though. What’s on now?

For all you Brow fans, the sixth issue of The Lifted Brow (aka ‘Atlas’) has already hit the shelves, and the Melbourne launch is happening this Friday at Bella Union Bar. Performers include Clue to Kalo, Guy Blackman, Rat vs. Possum, and Absolute Boys. It’s going to be a big night with some cultural action. Check out the Facebook Event page for more details.

Speaking of cultural, Lunar New Year (Tet) falls on Valentine’s Day this year. Melbourne’s Vietnamese diaspora isn’t as centralised as the Chinese one, so there will be a Tet street festival held in various Vietnamese locales each weekend over the next few weeks.This Sunday (24 Jan), I’ll be going to the Victoria Street event for some much needed hawker food.

And finalement, my favourite philosopher of the bedroom variety, Justin Heazlewood, has released the erotically charged ‘Tram Inspector’ on iTunes and now he’s on repeat in my head:

…baby, I’m a tram inspector,
my heart is a lie detector,
bad ticket I will respect you,
fare evade and I will eject you…(loop)

Spruiking and self-loathing in Melbourne

For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to make a recording of my story, ‘The Beast’, for Jeremy Balieus from Black Rider Press. I hate the sound of my voice. At work, I always get comments like, ‘Oh you sound dreadful. Are you sick?’ Or, ‘You should do phone sex.’ My piece is also lengthy for a spoken word reading; I can’t read the piece without stumbling over something.

On the other hand, I’ve had a win with DUSA Bookshops, convincing them to stock a whole bunch of Brows, so the citizens of Burwood, Warrnambool, and Geelong will no longer have to travel to Melbourne’s inner ‘burbs for a copy.

Speaking of Melbourne’s inner ‘burbs, the shit’s going down over the next couple of days. Geoff Lemon’s leaving us for South America, and tonight’s Wordplay will be his last one for a mesozoic era. If you haven’t been to Wordplay, it’s one of Melbourne’s best poetry, hip-hop, and spoken mic gigs. I went to Wordplay’s MWF gig and it showcased the likes of Nathan Curnow, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Chloe Jackson, and Ben Ezra. The gig lives at the Dan O’Connell Hotel, so head down there around eight for a night of poetry action.

On Friday, Laura Smith’s poetry gig is happening at Caffe Sospeso and will feature Fiona Stuart, Susan Fealy and MC Deborah Vanderwerp. I saw Laura perform a couple of weeks ago at Dreaming Highways and liked her poetry, so I’ll try to swing by on my way home from The Bedroom Philosopher.

Yep, I am going to another Bedroom Philosopher giglet. Like that Spiderbait song, Justin Heazlewood is ‘fucken awesome’. I’ve been listening to his latest album, Brown & Orange; its seventh track has lines like ‘Jesus was an intruder on Big Brother’ and ‘Church attendances doubled, then tripled. People brought in signs like John 3:16 and “Jesus is emo”…’ Heazlewood’s performing nightly for Melbourne Fringe Festival until 10 October 2009. Catch him while you can.

I’m also looking forward to Attract/Repel, which is also a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Written and directed by Ming-Zhu Hii, Attract/Repel examines race, identity, similarity and difference. Thanks Estelle for telling me about it. 

One more plug and I swear I am done. EWF’s Reader is launching on Monday 12 October. For those of you who haven’t witnessed Dion Kagan’s spruiking, the Reader is a how-to for emerging writers (or at least that’s what I think it is):

The Reader is Steven Amsterdam on writers’ workshops, Clem Bastow on freelancing, Jen Breach on writing comics, Mel Campbell on pitching to editors, Kathy Charles on shameless self-promotion, Stephanie Convery on writing Black Saturday, Olivia Davis on fear and writing practices, Lisa Dempster on how much writers earn, Koraly Dimitriadis talks to Christos Tsiolkas, Caroline Hamilton compares writers’ festivals and music festivals, Stu Hatton on his mentorship with Dorothy Porter, Jane Hawtin discusses publishing academic research for a general audience, Andrew Hutchinson recalls the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Tiggy Johnson on parenthood and writing, Krissy Kneen on not writing about sex, Benjamin Law on failure, Angela Meyer reviews books for writers, Jennifer Mills on the politics of publishing and engaging with readers, Anthony Noack on good grammar, John Pace on re-drafting your screenplay, Ryan Paine on the role of the critic, Ben Pobjie on writing comedy, Robert Reid on the role of the contemporary playwright, Aden Rolfe on the emergentsia, Jenny Sinclair on the landscape of her book research, Chris Summers talks to Lally Katz about theatre writing, Mia Timpano on how to cultivate the ultimate author profile photo, Estelle Tang on Christopher Currie and blogging fiction, Simmone Michelle-Wells pens a letter to her younger self, Cameron White reviews alternatives to Microsoft Word. (Estelle Tang, 7 October 2009)

At sevenish, I’ll be heading down to get my copy at Bertha Brown. You go get your copy too. 

Okay, back to hating the sound of my voice.