Friday, 18 July 2014

Time Out Track - Elemental

Since moving back to Melbourne, 176 Little Lonsdale Street has become an office, a writing thinking and listening space, and tonight somewhere to hangout with friends.

Residents of the building are the people behind The Wheeler Centre, Writers Victoria, Emerging Writers' Festival, The Small Press Network, Express Media, Australian Poetry, and those slightly busy right now folk from Melbourne Writers' Festival.

What an incredible space.

And tonight, a few friends I used to work with, yikes must be nearly 10 years ago now, are catching up for a drink. I'd been saying how much I'm enjoying "discovering" Melbourne since moving back, so I was charged with sussing the coolest places to hang.

I was looking for somewhere we could sit down, drink and eat. Somewhere with a bar after work feeling that wouldn't make us feel too old, and offered real food (rather than go our old Friday night dinner of eating the olives in our Martinis).

Another friend said, "To access the 'coolest' places we either needed to book about 6 weeks ago or spend an hour in a winter's line. My main criterion was 'a place to sit' (perhaps a rug and a thermos)."

His suggestion, a brilliant one, was The Moat. So tonight I'm going back to 176 Little Lonsdale St.

The Wheeler Centre event upstairs, Press Freedom vs Political Power, will include discussion on important issues by intelligent writers and thinkers.

But another Wheeler Centre event, 'Elemental', is happening at The Bendigo Planterium, and inspired by this sold out session here's a Time Out Track from Rezonate.

On a Friday with dreadful international headlines, I hope you enjoy these few minutes of 'Elemental', and that you, too, are lucky enough to have a warm friendly space where you can spend time with people you care about.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

What I Loved: City of Bohane

I've just finished 'City of Bohane' and am full of expletives and remarkable wardrobing ideas. But I have no west coast future city of hoors and dream pipes near me, so the magic can't continue too long. And magic it is. Of the dark kind.

Last year I was lucky. I'd not read, or even heard of (why do I always feel like I'm confessing on here) Kevin Barry, but I went to a wordfactory 'Irish' event on a hot Saturday evening that happened to be during Pride in London, and Kevin Barry read. It was a brilliant short story and perhaps more importantly, his delivery is so animated and accented that once you've heard him, he's reading to you from the pages in your hands.

If you haven't read City of Bohane yet, let me pick a random page and sling you a sample…
"Mouth of teeth on him like a vandalised graveyard but we all have our crosses." (p. 4)
"See him back there:
A big unit with deep-set eyes and a squared-off chin. Dark-haired, and sallow, and wry. The kind of kid who whore his bruises nicely." (p. 53)
I want to go on, to get you a line that's setting, maybe about the Back Traces, de Valera Street or Big Nothin'. But instead I'll leave you with the thirst to read it yourself, and a little help from Kevin to get you started.

What I Loved - work I have read and must share

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Time out track with genres - She's The One

After enjoying a portugese tart with Alison Croggon's genre-bending feature in this month's 'The Victorian Writer' magazine, I sat back to do some work, after a quick Twitter check.

Thanks to Steve Palfreyman asking if anyone needed some entertaining, I listened to this song by Quintessential Doll, and discovered a new music genre that will now be one of my answers to the question, 'What music do you like?'


YouTube have again shown me that I am well behind the music, and genre times. But though the f-term was coined years ago, like finding Voodoo Jazz in August last year, it's an exciting discovery for me.

And then I find that I own quite a few artists who are classified here on various sites…well shame on you iTunes with your 'Electronic' tag.

Here's one from my vault.

Now, back to that work thing.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Sitting In…Indigenous Places with Tony Birch

Last Wednesday night I sat in the front row of the 176 Little Lonsdale St performance space. Evaluation sheets had been placed on each seat, and I realised that I didn't have any expectations.

Truth: I only heard of Tony Birch a few months ago. Nicole Hayes, my writing tutor, brought 'Ghost River' to our group to study, and that set off a series that seems to happen organically once you've noticed something. 'Blood' is in a collection I was reading to research Paddy O'Reilly, who is judging a competition I'd like to enter. A friend in London tweeted about the Frank O'Connor shortlist and I landed on the longlist, and there's Tony. He's the writer in residence on The Wheeler Centre's Weather Stations project, which is enjoying enormous publicity. And there he is on the Writers Victoria program - Author talk. Indigenous Places.

I had no expectations, I just wanted to see and hear him speak.

Because there was a sort of lectern, a Dr. on a stage and we were seated in straight rows, I felt like I was at the start of a lecture, and subsequently that I should take notes. But quickly that compulsion moved from obligation, because I was fascinated, and (importantly) prompted to think. Several times I wandered off from what was being presented because it sparked so much for me to look into later.

At one point I wrote in my notebook, "Awkward eye contact with TB. I think he thinks I'm a stalker starer. Should have sat further back."

But I was in the front row, and I was writing ideas about how to explore issues in my writing; how to explore my place through not just my own, but others' experience of it. I caught myself eye-locked, mouth pursed and nodding thoughtfully, and thought I must look like a complete wanker, but really I felt awake in the way only intelligent, provocative, considered and interesting conversation creates. I felt as though I'd been taken as a plus one to a dinner party and fortuitously sat beside a compelling and sociable guest, and I didn't want to be interrupted.

The overwhelming message I left with was the value of telling stories. That everyone and everywhere (even Glen Waverley) has a story, and we have a responsibility to pass these stories on. Many of the things that connect us to place, and each other, may be small but they are significant. So my notebooks and collages of observations - a man reading a Feng Shui detective novel on the tube to Arsenal; the French girls playing Trivial Pursuit at my local, certain that the English word 'seal' was the correct answer to the question, "What kind of animals are the main characters in Watership Down?" - I felt a validation for continually noting these sorts of things, and my efforts to construct stories around them.

My notes from the session appear as a random set of unrelated topics - from Hiroshima to ACMI and digital storytelling - but they all have hours of meaning for me to rummage in.

At 6.30pm Tony had spoken of Tanderrum, a Wurundjeri practice where the host has to give their guest something of great value. In a sense, participants at Wednesday night's session should leave feeling they had got more than their ticket price's worth. At 9.00pm I sat on my tram, writing, and drew a box around: Tony Birch is an extremely generous host. I knew I'd wake up feeling as though I had more than "got my money's worth". And I missed my stop.

* * *
Sitting In is a series I've started of my experiences at writing, and potentially other, related events. Like my Time Out tracks and Book Comments, these are not meant to be reviews, but reflections.

I'm always interested in feedback or suggestions.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Hiatus is over - new releases on their way

A couple of weeks ago I got excited at the news of Favel Parrett's new book, 'When The Night Comes', hitting the shelves soon. I'm remaining calm as it's not due to happen until 26th August.
But it's not easy.

If you haven't read 'Past The Shallows', well I've given it to some very different people and all have loved it. My dad loved it. My EastEnders-Coronation Street watching English friend loved it. My dearest Melbourne best friend loved it. Okay that one didn't surprise me so much, but it was good to know.
And then on Monday morning Augie March tweeted, and rrr breakfasters told me, 'Yes, hiatus is over. Music made.'

It's been five years since they released 'Watch Me Disappear' and the new album is due to arrive "later this year".

I remember giving 'Moo, You Bloody Choir' to one of my nieces, opening up a dialogue about music that is still going. She's currently into Violent Soho, so we've diverged a little, but at least we still talk, and share, music.

Will I ever grow out of waiting for new release dates like waiting for Christmas Day?
There Is No Such…There Is No Way.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Time Out Track: "What The Heck Was That"

A Finger, Two Dots Then Me

Lately I've been listening to podcasts more than music. I'm in the final editing stages of a few stories, and need silence for that. But the new pieces I'm writing, which I'm trying to build from one line or an old woman I saw in the street…wherever they're from they're very very early, and need careful coaxing. So I've been writing while writers read to me. Sometimes it's their work in their voice, and sometimes they're reading stories of other writers.

My track history is dominated by:
- James Salter reading 'Break It Down' (Lorrie Moore) from The Guardian, and
- Colm Tóibín reading 'The Children's Grandmother' (Sylvia Townsend Warner) thanks to The New Yorker Fiction

And my latest addition, thanks to Going Down Swinging, is this clip from Derrick Brown, scored by Mogwai.

It might help you if you're flagging on a Friday afternoon, or give you words to reflect on, or prompt you to book a ticket to one of his upcoming (Australian) shows.

Or just fill the next 7 minutes and 40 seconds.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Time Out Track: What I'm Doing Here

This morning I read a 4.5* review of Lake Street Dive's recent release, Bad Self Portraits. It's their 3rd album but [confession] I hadn't heard of them before.

They've been compared to an impressive line up - ABBA, Mamas and Papas, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin - and then there's the breakthrough video of LSD funking up "I Want You Back" (Jackson 5) that has been watched more than 1.8m times. As well as crafting a cool rendition on a Boston sidewalk, they even make double denim work.

Looking at video clips available I saw "What Am I Doing Here?" and thought of Radiohead's "Creep" and it all seemed to fit with the piles of ideas I have strewn around my room at the moment.

It may not be the latest or best track from LSD, but this studio recording is a pretty sweet introduction to a band cracking big success after 10 years touring in vans. If you live in Europe or USA, you can catch them on their extensive 2014 tour. Us Antipodeans might have to canvas lead singer Rachel Price to drop in to the country where she was born, but in the meantime, the album's a pearler.