Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Boo! A Halloween Podcast for some creepy listening

The multi-talented and decidedly awesome Tim Howard (aka @timsterne) has put together a Halloween podcast with lots of different contributors: "Fifty minutes of gothic tales, ghostly anecdotes, urban legends, nursery rhymes and appropriately spooky tunes."

Should your 31st of October need some creepy listening (and honestly, whose doesn't?), I highly recommend you download or stream it here!

(Also, two of the recordings on it are by me, so you really really should download it. And not just because I end up sounding a bit like Drusilla on one of them.)

For your amusement, here I am recording, about to engage my home-made sound effect.

"The Funny Old Box" by Christopher Miles
"Halloween: Some Prefatory Remarks" by Tim Howard
"Meeting Mum" by Jon Buckingham
"You Can Never Leave" by Alice Cannon
"The Green" by Mat Larkin
"The Stables" by ernmalleyscat
"A Gap in the Shadow" by Anna Ryan-Punch
"Snapshots" by Tim Howard
"Zaldock the Dread" by Timothy Train
"Passing Notes" by Anna Ryan-Punch
"End of Messages" by Sean M. Elliott

Happy Halloween! Enjoy! Or die...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Poems in the wild #31

Poem #31 (Jack of spades) was released in the Rowden White Library, in a Sylvia Plath book. (Lazy release I know - I meant to release this in Flinders on the weekend, but between fish n chips and playing with crabs at the beach I darn well forgot.)

I used to think if I went blind
in just one eye I would only see
one side of every thing: 
dogs propped steady on two legs;
a half-loop of my mother’s smile.
At night in bed I tested divisions:
pressed each palm to a nervous eye.
The night stayed whole
but I slept uneasy.
I am wary of the waxing
and the waning moon,
fear is half a star.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Poems in the wild #30

Poem #30 (8 of clubs) was released in the poetry section of Alice's Bookshop on Rathdowne St, North Carlton

all voices blur and beat
Georgian crystal;
audible sugar cubes.
eardrums touch in the middle:
press, and are pierced.

padded speakers draw
out poison, decibels
rip chaos into choirs, one
phrase resolves to a
single note; discordant.

Poems in the wild #29

Poem #29 (4 of diamonds) was released outside the shop in Carlton on Drummond Street where the guy makes all sorts of stuff out of short lengths of wood.

morning rains grind
early half-dark
truths in a waterfall.
shouts peel out blinding
bass tenor alto soprano:
tears like cataracts.

caffeine not fast enough
no smash of tea leaves
quick against china.
the kettle waits
for me to look away.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

From the favourer: "This collection of reimagined fairy tales has stuck with me because of their dark, visceral, beautiful, comical and subversive qualities. It stands out as my favourite of her works. I discovered Angela Carter as an impressionable Arts undergraduate, and devoured the majority of her oeuvre in a matter of weeks."

Somehow, I managed to do an entire Arts degree without ever reading or studying The Bloody Chamber. (I also managed to never go to Goo on Thursdays at the Metro, but that's something I believe works in my favour.) As such, my post here is going to attempt to avoid all forms of undergraduate-essay-style-analysis - I'm sure there's enough of that out there if you want more information on role-reversal of 'the hero' and symbolic reinforcement of oppressive social mechanics. In fact, if you just read the marginalia in the copy I got from the library (with its somewhat unsubtle cover), it's pretty much all there for you in pink pencil*.

My vague (and largely incorrect) notion of The Bloody Chamber was that it was a collection of feminist re-writings of traditional fairy tales. You know: girl escapes wolf, the end. The stories are in fact much more varied and amorphous than that - they pick up undercurrents in the original tales, what Carter calls the "latent content", and use them as a jumping-off place for stories that are sometimes reworkings, sometimes diversions, and sometimes only have a vague family resemblance to the tale that gave birth to them. It can be like looking at a long lost cousin who you only know is related to you because of the unfortunate genetic dominance of Uncle Barry's nose.

The title story is the longest and probably the most recognisable as a fairy tale (Bluebeard) treatment. Now that we've mentioned the title 'The Bloody Chamber', let's just all say it loudly: VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA. There. Can we move on now? The young bride is brought to her new husband's house, given the keys to the castle and told to explore while he is away - except, of course, for That One Room. We all know what's in that room, but Carter gives it a lush, torturous treatment that is far more interesting than some decapitated lasses who could have used a haircut. The story isn't left there, however, and in an abrupt (possibly too abrupt) turn of events, the new bride's mother steams in on a horse to take on the brutish husband.

In some cases, such as Little Red Riding Hood, there are multiple stories that spring from the one tale. In 'The Werewolf', the girl defeats the wolf but discovers her enemy is not who she thinks it is, and in 'The Company of Wolves' the girl faces down the Granny-imposter with an animal sexuality that matches his own: "The girl burst out laughing: she knew she was nobody's meat. She laughed at him full in the face, she ripped off his shirt for him and flung it into the fire".

The stories range from humorously farcical ('Puss-in-Boots') to stark and shocking: 'The Snow Child' inherits its colouring from Snow White but in two short pages fills it with incestuous necrophiliac grief.

Perhaps my favourite tale is 'The Erl-King', which is inspired by a German mythical creature (not a commonly known tale - which explains why I couldn't see Uncle Barry's nose anywhere in it at all). Of all the stories this one is the most uncanny and abstract. It feels like the ancestor of a fairy tale, a primal gestation among dirt, beasts and spirits of what will grow into a linear tale as it is passed along through centuries of mouths. It's an odd comparison to make, but it reminded me of how Robert Holdstock treats fairy tale characters in books such as Mythago Wood and Lavondyss - the wild, undependable creatures who bear only a vague resemblance to their later incarnations (and that's even without mentioning Disney).

The tales are often intensely sexual and richly described, but as these are still 'tales', as opposed to what we think of in terms of 'short stories', the language is more dry and formalised (you won't find any references to Cinderella's or Dev's 'slippery cave', thank Christ). I think this is why while I appreciate these tales and find them vastly interesting and accomplished, I don't find myself immersed in them in the way I prefer. As readers, Carter's choice of 'tale' format doesn't so much give us characters, it gives us figures. As the favourer notes, I think it would be a hugely formative book to read or study in undergrad, perhaps before you have experienced parallel newer treatments (Jeanette Winterson springs to mind) or research. The book's huge reception when it was first published (especially compared to Carter's previous work) probably has a lot to do with this too - this sort of revisioning hadn't been read before. As a feminist way of reclaiming traditional tales, they work beautifully, and it's no wonder they caused a stir. I was a little surprised at the heterosexuality of Carter's imaginings - there's all manner of sexual encounters from consensual to bestial to incestuous to rape, but Red Riding Hood is never going to jump into bed and ravish Grandma. But this is also to do with when the book was written, I think. Probably lucky for Grandma, too.

Favourite books are often ones that come to us at the right time and the right place in our lives (I know mine have). Sometimes it's childhood, adolescence, undergrad study, or when something is happening in our lives that just makes a book click into Favourites Territory. Sometimes we don't re-read them because we don't want to spoil the memory of the feeling they created, and I think that's fair enough. But sometimes we re-read them over and over, and the way they make us feel never changes. I think The Bloody Chamber is definitely one of the latter sorts, for people who strike it at just the right time in their lives. Which is pretty damn brilliant, really.

*It's occurred to me later this might sound facetious, but my copy actually was annotated in pink pencil.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Poems in the wild #28

Poem #28 (3 of hearts) was released in Markov Place (going over old release territory there, I know, but I was there, and there were drinks. Nuff said.)

Breathe through my mouth for weeks
Cutting off one sense too many
I draw the smell back into a grey
faecal fug. Predictively habit-forming
This chopping back wires into the world
No one lands in hospital
I prefer to disappear, block off 
nostrils with the back of my tongue
My jawline alters a split
You wouldn’t notice.
I smile as air whistles
through my teeth.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Poems in the wild goes collaborative

The very talented musician (and all around stellar gal) Nat Bartsch has used Poem #21 and set it to music for part of a VCA concert series. I am very honoured, and having heard a rehearsal version and been rather moved, I think you all should go and hear the performance for yourself. It's free!

The collaborative piece will be performed on Thurs 4th October (that's this Thursday!) at 6pm.

Deets below. 

University Melbourne LogoVCA logoheaderheader right
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Twilight Concert Series: Inspiring Performance
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Curated by Natalie Bartsch
(Winner of the 2010 Melbourne Prize for Music Development Award and Artist Residency and 2012 BMP Honours student)
This concert series was produced with the generous support of the University of Melbourne (Faculty of VCA & MCM) and the Melbourne Prize Trust
  Repertoire, improvisation, composition and collaboration from the 2012 Bachelor of Music Performance Honours cohort

Wednesday 3 October, 6:00pm
Musique Sans Frontieres

Music without borders showcasing musicians from all corners of the VCA and MCM. Includes experimental electronics, new music, improvisation and works by JS Bach and Benjamin Britten.

Thursday 4 October, 6:00pm
“Poetry can communicate before it is understood” T.S. Eliot

VCA and MCM singers and instrumentalists who have been influenced by the written word. Includes new music, free improvisations, works by Xenakis and Liddiard.

Friday 5 October, 6:00pm
“Art is the most intense form of individualism the world has known” (Oscar Wilde)

Written and improvised music filled with personality, from the past and present. Includes works by Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Fukushi and Monk.

Venue: Federation Hall, Victorian College of the Arts, Grant Street, Southbank

Admission: Free, no bookings required

Enquiries: mcm-concerts@unimelb.edu.au

Monday, October 1, 2012

Poems in the wild #27

Poem #27 (10 of clubs) was released at Pound Bend in Warrandyte, on the Informative Sign. Then we watched a bunch of kids throw branches into the river and nearly fall in after them.

Scheming on the bed
pants in a heap of ink stains
stains the air into arousal.
Your arms are all undone for me
you rolled out the red carpet
carpet under my hips
rug burn on your knees.
I won’t fire till I can
kiss the whites of your eggs
eggs set aside for
first these years of
hungry appetites to fry.