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.


Literary Cabaret with Angela Meyer

I should never eat tiramisu at ten in the evening. Sleep eluded me until 2.30 am, and then I was up again at 6 am. I am not a happy bunny. Thankfully, I have Literary Cabaret reportage to keep me busy until my brain decides to take a nap again.

For the last few nights, Literary Cabaret with Angela Meyer has been the hap at the MWF Festival Club. Each night, Meyer interviewed a selection of SPUNC members. For those of you who don’t know what SPUNC is, the acronym stands for ‘Small Press Underground Networking Community’, and has nothing to do with Samantha Jones from Sex and the City

Last night, Angela Meyer interviewed founders and editors of Page Seventeen, Vignette Press, Sketch, Tactile Books, and Ford Street Publishing. It was an informative session for emerging writers, a kind of ‘first date’ with SPUNC members. Each publisher/journal briefly explained what their journal was about, where they were going, and some basic tips for unsolicited writers, and I’ve typed up my notes below:

Page Seventeen

Page Seventeen is an annual journal of stories and poetry, and its seventh issue will be launched in early November. The name of the journal, coincidentally, was coined by co-founder Kathryn Duncan’s four-year-old daughter. Its editor Tiggy Johnson is interested in publishing new (as well as established) writers. She finds much satisfaction in ‘discovering’ new writers such as David McLaren, and loves their enthusiasm: ‘one guy…his email came back [after getting accepted]…you could just read the excitement in it.’ Tips for aspiring writers? READ THE GUIDELINES. If the work falls outside of the guidelines, please send a querying email before submitting the MS.

Vignette Press

Vignette Press publishes Mooks, which are book-magazine hybrids with content that is a little bit more varied than one’s average literary magazine. It also publishes Minishots, which contain one short story. Mooks so far include the Sex Mook and the Death Mook. Death Mook editor Dion Kagan has had freelance work published in various places; the Mook has been his first editorial stint. Of the seventy pitches that Vignette Press receive, around twenty pitches are accepted, and of the hundred creative submissions received, about forty get published.  


Sketch is an annual literary and art journal. Its inaugural issue was published last year. With a strong web presence, it draws international, as well as local, submissions. Favourite journals of literary editor Nicole Taylor include Overland and Granta. Plans for the future? Nicole Taylor hopes to publish a couple of themed once-off anthologies and turn Sketch into a quarterly journal.

Tactile Books

Tactile Books aim to ‘capture the senses’ with quality content, and quality print and design. For instance, its YA fantasy novel, The Whorl and the Pallin by Ian Nichols, is a hardback with a cover that unfolds into a colour map. Tactile Books also publishes literary journal Indigo

Ford Street Publishing 

Ford Street Publishing is a children’s book publisher with national distribution and publishes writers such as Dianne Bates, Justin D’Ath, etc. Why should writers support small press publishers? Ford Street Publishing give all of its authors A-list treatment, and takes risks on good manuscripts that are not always easily marketable.

15 Minutes of Fame

I was supposed to go to yoga and pilates tonight but ended up at the Emerging Writers’ Festival’s ’15 Minutes of Fame’ instead. Hosted by Angela Meyer from Literary Minded, ’15 Minutes of Fame’ has been running for the last few nights, introducing various local emerging writers and publications. Tonight’s lineup included Tiggy Johnson (editor of Page Seventeen), Hoa Pham (editor of Peril), children’s writer Helen Ross, and Jenny Blackford (one of the judges for the World Fantasy Awards).

After grabbing a glass of wine ($5/glass? why not?), I sat down and listened to these writers talk about their inspirations and motivations. Helen Ross was also feeling flushed from her wine, but it was interesting to hear her speak about her decision to self-publish children’s poems. Jenny Blackford was much more authoritative, talking about her love of Ancient Greek history and her work as a judge for Aurealis and the World Fantasy Awards. Tiggy Johnson seemed a bit nervous, and so was Hoa Pham, her gaze downcast for most of her interview.

What was great to know was that writing short stories does pay off: Blackford was approached by Hadley Rille Books after getting one of her pieces accepted for their anthology.

However, the best part of the night for me was talking to other emerging writers. As well as catching up with the very busy Angela Meyer, I finally got to meet Hoa Pham. Issue Seven of her journal, Peril, has just gone up on the web and I’ve managed to read most of it. There’s a higher quality of articles this issue round, probably due in part to recent art funding—the magazine is able to pay for contributions now—and I was particularly drawn to Komi Sellathurai’s ‘Skin’, which discusses the skin-bleeching ‘Fair & Lovely’. (After reading ‘Skin’, I noticed my Chinese flatmate has a tube of ‘Olay Milky Fair’; I suspect it’s used for the same reasons.

15 Minutes of Fame has finished for 2009, but the Emerging Writers’ Festival is still on until 31 May 2009. I might see you peeps there.

Angela Meyer interviews Hoa Pham about her magazine

Angela Meyer interviews Hoa Pham about her magazine