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.)


Review: Lost and Found: Visible Ink 21

Alrighty. I said that I’d review a journal per week and already I’ve started outsourcing on the second week (thank you Sam Cooney for your thoughtful words on Cutwater). It’d be poor form to outsource again on the third week, so I’m going to review Visible Ink’s latest publication, Lost and Found.

I met half of the 2009 Vis Ink crew, Allison Browning and Anthony Noack, at this year’s NYWF. When Allison and Anthony spoke of their desire to start up their own literary journal once they had finished Visible Ink, I professed some scepticism. Did Melbourne need another literary journal? Seriously. It was getting crowded down here.

It has been tradition for some time for creatives to flock to Melbourne, to take advantage of the scene. The problem we now face is there’s too many of us here and not enough people amongst the public interested in what we’re all doing. We are our own audience, and since we’re all broke, we can’t sustain each other. (Chris Flynn, 14/10/09)

But after attending a couple of Read You Bastards fundraiser nights, which have become established events in their own right, and the Lost and Found launch, I wouldn’t mind if these guys go all Harvest. Unlike 1908, Lost and Found is one good-looking journal with colour art and photography gracing its covers and pages. Paper is of the recycled kind, and the the text is easy on the eye. Looks like Lost and Found knows that it’s a literary journal; it’s ‘noice’ without being overly designed.

There seems to be a couple of odd editorial decisions. Moreno Giovannoni and Simon McInerney are published twice. One might indulge in a couple of poems from the same poet, but two short stories from the same contributor seems a little excessive, especially in a journal that spans a little more than a hundred pages. I found out at the launch, however, that pieces were selected blind; it is credit to Moreno Giovannoni’s versatility that both ‘The Percheron’ and ‘Sally’ made the final cut. Simply and carefully told, ‘The Percheron’ unfolds without embellishment or trickery:

The man knows that the only way to work with a horse is to use a psychological approach, because his strength cannot match that of the horse. He normally tries to anticipate the horse’s likely behaviour and gently encourages responses consistent with the needs of the work. So what happens that day is a shock to both the man and the horse.

‘Sally’, on the other hand, is colourful in its colloquialism:

On the oval he’d go nuts in the middle of a pack. Didn’t care who he hit or which part of him got whacked. He knew that he’d get the ball if the others sensed his blind desperation. Crazy-brave. The opposition could tell he was going nuts so they’d let him have the ball. You would’ve thought he was prepared to die in there and that was scary.

Other pieces that particularly stuck out for me were Susan Fox’s ‘Waiting Room’, Bernadette Zen’s ‘Tramjam’ with its sweet, youthful earnestness, and Emma Starr’s photo ‘Solitude’, but almost every contributor had something to offer, and because of this I’m peeved at the 2009 Vis Ink crew for their wasteful use of four pages on editorial. But still, great job guys. Hope to see you manning another literary ship some time soon.

To order Lost and Found, check out Visible Ink’s post here.

Lost and Found: Visible Ink 21. Courtesy of

Next week, I’ll be reviewing another journal (not sure which one yet) unless I find someone else to review for me of course. Do you want to review something? It’s fun. I know you want to.

Until then, New Zealand-styled beached whale and sea gull on YouTube:

Contributing to I op therefore I am

For all of those peeps who love secondhand finds, I’ve started contributing to the Melbourne op shop blog I Op Therefore I am. I’ve been mapping out bicycle routes to the neighbourhood’s various op shops; the RSPCA op shops are the closest by far. After picking up some Asian groceries, I bought an old Peter and Wendy book and a hand embroidered tea cosie. The white suitcase I found for my doctor friend was too big to carry on the bike but the lady at the counter was nice enough to put it aside for me. RSPCA op shop volunteers are tops. You can drool over my finds here.

On a more literary note, I’ve finished reading Visible Ink: Lost and Found. Expect a review in the next couple of days. And don’t forget to pen those race-related* poems for open mic at Caffe Sospeso on Friday.

*’Race’ as in racism and not that Queen song.

So what’s happening, Melbourne?

What have you got for me, Facebook/Melbourne/Melbook/Facebourne? Ah, I see that there is another Caffe Sospeso poetry reading on Friday, 6 November 2009. This month’s theme? Power Dynamics. Something to do with power tools; I’m sure that there’s a brand of electric appliances out there called ‘Dynamo’. Let’s google, shall we?

Day 5: Screwing Around by DDFic

Screwing Around (photo courtesy of DDFic)

Page Seventeen is launching their seventh issue on Saturday, 7 November 2009, and Visible Ink is launching their twenty-first on Monday, 9 November 2009. Voiceworks is also throwing a party on Thursday, 12 November 2009, celebrating twenty-one years of spectacular writing with The Words We Found anthology launch, which will probably clash with Wordplay Guantanovember (sans the Lemon). 

Aiyo, Facespam. It’s gonna be a couple of crazy weeks.

Read You Bastards 3

On Thursday, I finished my random pharmacy shift and headed down to The Empress for some Bastards action of the non-Tarantino kind.  I was bummed for missing out on the first set, which included a reading from Lisa Dempster, but I did get to see (and record) Allison Browning’s performance of an untitled piece. 

The sound quality isn’t great, so you might want to read the written version here

Spoken word nights are a bit hit and miss. Read You Bastards 3 isn’t an exception to the rule, though I do enjoy the mash of curated/non-curated prose/poetry and the ambience of The Empress, but Ozlem Baro’s ‘Hotel’ was the highlight of the second set, its vulnerability silencing the crowded room.

I also performed my piece, ‘Patrick Bateman’, a homage to American Psycho. I had consumed American Psycho during my Deakin years; the novel is a fascinating study technique-wise and I had wanted to reconstruct its style and write about the act of. Anyway, I performed the first half of ‘Patrick Bateman’, got feedback from Lisa (yay!) and ate some of her vegan birthday cake before trundling home. Lisa, I owe you a birthday drink…possibly two.

Reading 'Patrick Bateman' @ Read You Bastards 3 (photo courtesy of Read You Bastards peeps)

Reading 'Patrick Bateman' @ Read You Bastards 3 (photo courtesy of Read You Bastards peeps)

No. 3 was the last Read You Bastards for Visible Ink, but the 2009 editorial team may continue the Bastards tradition in 2010. Meanwhile, Lost and Found: Visible Ink 21 is launching on Monday, 9 November 2009. The cover’s beautiful; lets hope that the words are equally gorgeous.

Lost and Found: Visible Ink 21 (image courtesy of

Lost and Found: Visible Ink 21 (image courtesy of

Getting Friendly with Read You Bastards

In August, intrepid me decided to check out the inaugural Read You Bastards night at The Empress Hotel, and despite the lack of entourage, I got up on stage to read my one and only poem, ‘Red Den Beauty’. Fast forward a couple of months: I still only have one poem worth reading, but at least I won’t be reading to strangers. Ohmidog, I have friends who are word nerds and not doctors, pharmacists, or salsa dancers.

Yep, Lisa Dempster will be there, reading from her latest book, Neon Pilgrim, as well as Allison Browning and Anthony Noack (those cool Vis Ink kids from NYWF), and a dog and a cat and possibly a horse and some baked goods. I wish I wasn’t working but I am, so I will be late but hopefully I’ll be right to read. Time for some Patrick Bateman, perhaps?

Suit A has a theory about emergency departments after seeing his share of waiting rooms, those beige-coloured boxes filled with beige-coloured plastic chairs full of ‘medical emergencies’ who get up and jingle about on their two legs (or maybe a wheelchair)…

Who knows? Come see. Read You Bastards 3 happens this Thursday. Words start flying at 8pm.

Writers Festival Withdrawal

There’s a lot of WFW going around at the moment. The Melbourne Writers Festival is over for 2009, and everyone has been posting about their feelings of dejection (as opposed to the usual feelings of rejection), which is crazy since Overload and TINA (This Is Not Art) are coming up. Overload starts this Friday, but if you need a writerly fix before then, there’s a couple of gigs happening on Thursday: Angela Meyer’s launching Kathy Charles’ Hollywood Ending at Readings Carlton, and Visible Ink is hosting another Read You Bastards open mic at the Empress. If you haven’t been to a Read You Bastards night, read my post about it. I recommend giving open mic a go, though I suggest bringing your own groupies: they’re so hot right now.

You will submit to Visible Ink

I can’t believe it. The boyfriend had netball. Sarah had a night shift. Everyone else…what was everyone else’s excuse? I’ve just been sitting in the Empress Hotel for the last three hours, randomly chatting to strangers and listening to more strangers read their stuff. Grr. NOT HAPPY. But I had promised to read tonight, so I did, performing my one and only good poem, ‘Red Den Beauty’, which will be appearing in the upcoming issue of Harvest.

Apart from the lack of friends, it was a good night. I got to chat to Tom Conyers about his book Morse Code for Cats, a contemporary novel about sex and drugs and a guy who tries to live his life like a book, and the friendly crew from Visible Ink 2009 happily answered all of my questions. I also scored a weird Greek pastry thingamybob and a copy of the Sleepers Almanac 2007. There were a lot of readings (some too soft for my underachieving ears), as well as some ’em & em dash’ beatboxing. 

Visible Ink is publishing its 21st bumper issue this year. There will be text, there will be artwork, and there will be funcakes at the November launch. The submission date is drawing near so do submit soon. I’m not sure what the editors are looking for, but have a read of the magazine’s older issues. If you’re still in doubt and are feeling charitable (there’s a $5 submission fee), send in your stuff anyway before 15 August 2009.