Friday, June 24, 2011

"youre carrying it inside you" - Riddley Walker

"The worl is ful of things waiting to happen. Thats the meat and boan of it right there. You myt think you can jus go here and there doing nothing. Happening nothing. You cant tho you bleeding cant. You put your self on any road and some thing wil show its self to you. Wanting to happen. Waiting to happen. You myt say, 'I dont want to know.' But 1ce its showt its self to you you wil know wont you. You cant not know no mor. There it is and working in you. You myt try to put a farness be twean you and it only you cant becaws youre carrying it inside you. The waiting to happen aint out there where it ben no mor its inside you."

I've just this minute finished reading Riddley Walker and it's astonishing (also, how did anyone read it before LOLspeak was invented?). It's perfect to read after reading Margo Lanagan, for some reason - she's like a mythological primer for Hoban's creation.

You don't read this book in the usual way (as you can probably tell from the quote above). You apprehend it, you hear it. It takes a degree of relaxation of your mind. It demands to be read for hours at a time, not pages. It's not a book you can read with your eye half on Twitter or your child or your lunch.

And it's completely worth the effort, the reservation of your hours, and the displacement of how you usually read.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Melbourne By Dusk

Melbourne By Dusk is an excellent project that was started by David Witteveen and Angelica East as part of the Emerging Writer's Festival this year.

"Melbourne by Dusk mixes photography and flash fiction to explore the overlap between our city and our imagination.

(Flash fiction is just a fancy term for really, really short stories.)

It is part of the 2011 Emerging Writer’s Festival.

Our core idea was to take a photo of something real in Melbourne, and then write an urban fantasy story that riffs off the picture.

Here’s what you can submit:

A PHOTO for David to write a story about.

A STORY. These can be inspired by the “seed” photos we put up. Or they can be your own stories that Angelica can then take photos for.

Stories should be 20-200 words, and urban fantasy/weird/surreal. (Include the Seed Number, if any, so we can match them up.)

YOUR OWN PHOTO/STORY combination. (Again, 20-200 word stories, urban fantasy, etc.)

SOMETHING ELSE that meets the theme - music, poetry, video, quotes, artwork…"

This was my effort - a flash poem (if that's a thing) about a photo of Flinders Street Station.

Go forth and submit your own!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The importance of tea (or; why I love McCall Smith's online novels)

“He had filled his days doing ordinary, unexceptional things and thought nothing of them. But they were far from nothing: even the act of making his morning cup of tea as he looked, bleary-eyed over the rooftops of Pimlico amounted to a small miracle: that there should, in this cold void of space, be a small blue planet on which he, a rather complex collection of cells, should be delighting in the dried black leaves of a plant that grew half a world away; that surely was astonishing and worthy of celebration and awe.”

- from A Conspiracy of Friends: A Corduroy Mansions Novel by Alexander McCall Smith

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"You speak the truth...You think it is easy?" Some thoughts on 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness

"The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth."

Like many people will, I read Patrick Ness' new book A Monster Calls in an afternoon and cried solidly for a few hours afterwards. It was sometimes so emotionally difficult to read, at several points I didn't know if I could finish it.

Initially, I couldn't quite find the words to say why this book hit me so hard, and all I could do was applaud its clarity of expression, honesty of emotion, delicacy of metaphor and the beautifully placed illustrations that gave me goosebumps especially the surprise of each full-page spread.

Aren't they stunning?

I think my reaction to this book is partly to do with an important idea to me: of children (and anyone, really) being allowed to be angry, and for that anger to be valid and true. An okay thing to feel. It's why I've always loved Where The Wild Things Are as well.

In A Monster Calls, Conor deals with his anger by trying to be invisible and capable. He hides his anger from everyone (including himself) until it bursts out of him as a (literally) destructive force. When he lets his monster out and lets himself be visible, then he has to face it and find ways to deal with it, and to deal with the truth of his anger.

There are truths we hide, from each other and from ourselves, because they feel like they hurt everyone too much. They're not fair.

"Many things that are true feel like a cheat. Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers' daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving."

Truths make you angry as hell, they make you beat up the bathroom. As Conor's mum says, everyone should be allowed to be "as angry as you need to be...And if you need to break things, then by God, you break them good and hard." But once you've broken things, you own the destruction. And you have to acknowledge what you've let out, and believe it.

"Belief is half of all healing."

Belief hurts, truth hurts, healing hurts. Which is all very unfair, but as the monster simply puts it: "humans are complicated beasts." Our minds are much happier believing "comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both."

Truth sucks. It just happens, unfortunately, to be necessary.

These thoughts are confused in my head, but I thought I'd write them down anyway, before I lose them or doubt them any further. You know, the "maybe I've got this all completely wrong and I'm the only one who thinks this and anyway this is far too dramatic to be posting" feeling you get when you write blog entries sometimes? That.

One thing I'm sure of is that I want to thank Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd for the gift of their story, and Jim Kay for his amazing illustrations.

"Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Luka is nearly 2 and a half now. When did that happen? I must have been asleep. Oh wait, no I wasn't most of the time.

His book-reading methods are *somewhat* different from the first time I posted a photo, and the last time I posted a video, so I thought it was time for an update:

Discovering which songs Luka knows from daycare has been really cute. Yesterday's discovery was Baa Baa Black Sheep, via a new book of nursery rhymes.

I can't wait til he's old enough to make up stories, so I can steal all his ideas.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reading Matters 2011

There've been lots of wrap posts about the Reading Matters conference (a biennial YA literature conference run by the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria) written over the last few days, and I felt like I should do one too.

Mine's a bit different, though. Throughout the conference, lots of people were tweeting about the conference under the hastag #RM11. So I've collected a bunch of those tweets, and chopped them about to make a poem.

Tweets used are from @msmisrule, @twitofalili, @SLVLearn, @annaryanpunch (yeah that's me), @bookboy, @Zoe_Walton, @mike_sh, @timpegler.



I love the smell of librarians in the morning.

rival gangs of verbose bookish miscreants roaming

Police should be alert for the inner city landscape

not so much black tie as black cardi.

How to tell if you are a writer:

Do you have a set of bizarre interests?

Are you bisexual? Can I have some of your blood?

Are you interested in planking?

Superheroes wrote their own comic books,

seeing what we take for granted

anew like childhood views of power stations

beautiful by night, straightforward and utterly baffling.

Everything relates to Buffy, this is clear.

Girls write themselves, damsels need

discussion that involves the phrase "sausage-fest"

not princess fairy kitten and the glitter horse stickers.

Every family has their own terminology

how they respond is what’s important.

I've heard the term 'cultural melting-pot' a lot

it’s natural to want to see outside that.

Readers will never come last in the race,

never quite know the extraordinary journey.

We owe everything to a roomful of books:

strong, flawed and not having to be rescued.

Mascara Literary Review

I'm very pleased to have a couple of poems and a review published in the new issue of Mascara Literary Review. It's my first try at reviewing a poetry collection, so I spent far too much time on it. Hopefully my careful reading and re-reading has done it and the poet justice!

I rather like having things published in online journals (especially online journals who pay you in cold hard cash. Well, glowing electronic cash, actually, but you get the point).

Joining me in issue 8 are poets Anthony Lawrence, Michele Leggott, Andy Kissane, Marlene Marburg, Ashley Capes, Ali Jane Smith, Nicholas YB Wong, Mal McKimmie, Margaret Bradstock, rob walker, Jennifer Compton, Judith Beveridge, Sue Lockwood, Anis Shivani, Brook Emery, Philip Hammial, Aidan Coleman, Sam Byfield, Tricia Dearborn, Peter Lach-Newinsky, Desh Balasubramaniam, Michael Sharkey, Alan Pejković, Jo Langdon and Sridala Swami.

Submissions to Mascara's special poetry issue are now open until September - prose poets, sharpen your pens!