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Plumwood Mountain: review of ‘Mirror Sydney’ by Vanessa Berry

Just click on the URL below, and it’ll open in another tab/window in your browser.

When the review opens, you can click and choose what sections to read. If you wish to go back to a previous section you’ve just read, at the top left-hand-side there is a ‘U-turn’ arrow. You can click on that and it will send you back.

Compass Points- a blueprint for an ecopoetic review of Vanessa Berry’s ‘Mirror Sydney’ as a disabled narrative – reading process by Gemma Mahadeo

Plumwood Mountain: an Australian journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics is founded and run by poet Anne Elvey.

This book review was written using Twine. I used the Harlow 2.1.0 format by Leon Arnott (the default format in Twine 2)

Compass Points – Parramatta Road snippet

This ‘Parramatta Road’ snippet will eventually be integrated into the bigger beast that is Compass Points.

For ‘Twine Hang’ with Imogen Baker, myself (Gemma Mahadeo) & Tegan Elizabeth Webb, for Freeplay 2019

Because I used Sugarcube 2.28.2 for Parramatta Road, and Harlowe 2.1 when I started Compass Points (which is still a work-in-progress by the way!), it’ll be a while before I integrate them, as well as finish ‘reviewing’ Vanessa Berry’s Mirror Sydney: An Atlas of Reflections (which I highly recommend reading!).

define ‘mission’

zine: Plant Witch (666 Apartment on Lygon St / The Altona Oil Refinery Warehouse) by Alison Evans and Tegan Webb

drink: Mission Gose (4% ABV, 12 fl. oz.) brewed by Westbrook Brewing Co (Mount Pleasant, SC) for Evil Twin Brewing (Brooklyn, NY), USA

music: Late Night Tales: Franz Ferdinand compilation

I’m still in the process of having to wait a few months for various treatments for various chronic illnesses to start working, so I haven’t been doing much writing, because ‘existing’ has been taking up most of my time.

I did recently start trying to read Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal in its original French, and learnt the word ‘le jumeau‘, which kind of translates to ‘twin’ or ‘double’ depending on context. I’m going to finish the bloody book or I’ll die first, dammit!

A few weeks ago, I also watched a film about Serge Gainsbourg called Gainsbourg: La vie héroïque where as a child, he imagines he has this grotesque, enlarged, exaggerated version of himself (no doubt fuelled by the time’s anti-Semitism post-WWII; he was originally a visual artist and later became a singer-songwriter). That’s why I chose the beer I’m drinking now…evil twin, it’s freaking hot for autumn, so thought a refreshing gose would go well with a zine about plants…

(Patreon-only photo here…)

What the heck is a gose (go-suh)? Briefly, it’s a salty-sour beer style, usually pretty low in alcohol content, and very thirst-quenching when the weather is disgustingly hot. It’s the kind of beer you have more than 3 cans of and not too feel too shabby after a session, even if they are some weird boozy version of electrolyte-laden beverages! This one is very sour at first, then coats your mouth in salt, and has a hint of coriander in its taste (don’t worry, none of that soapy business, it’s suuuuuuuper subtle, promise), and smells more of promised eucalyptus than tastes of it.

(Patreons get my awful handwritten not-so-eloquent this time around beer tasting notes here)

Though there’s eucalyptus in the States, I often associate it as a very Australian thing. I guess I didn’t really know about eucalypts existing till my family moved here. It’s got a pretty distinctive smell, no? Lots of native Australian flora does. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate that, but there’s also probably a lot of not-great reasons for that too.

(Patreons get my better handwritten notes copied straight off the beer can here)

I should probably also disclose that I do know Alison and Tegan in real life, and consider them both friends and writing colleagues. That’s why I bought the zine in the first place: to support their work.

How fitting that the narrative should start with a description of wattle flowers (the true enemy of anyone with hayfever!). Each section has two distinct narratives or seems to be told from different points of view, which conveniently is typed up in differing fonts.

The first narrative seems to describe a walking figure and the flora around them. The second narrative is at the apartment, and its resident seems to be preparing to ‘cleanse’ it. There’s lots of talk about plants, suburbs in Melbourne, and alien/ation.

Reading the zine reminds me of an old housemate I miss very much who was really good with plants, and gardening. Before meeting him, I’d always thought I was pretty shit with plants, but he taught me that you only really have to care, and observe, perhaps similarly to the way you can read your cat familiar, if you’re lucky enough to have one. My cat is next to me right now, as I read, as I type. She follows me out to the tiny backyard in the house I’m in now, where today I’ve got my hands filthy from pulling out tenacious ivy growing between concrete and slate cobblestones delineating where the garden beds technically start. It feels good to have hands filthy, not from blood, or from fountain pens’ inks gone rogue (like what happened on the weekend!), but from a plant, an intrusive one.

I know it’ll survive and start sprouting up from somewhere else. Winding plants are stubborn that way. Another good friend today told me I had my first non-PTSD dream, and I wouldn’t have known otherwise if they hadn’t pointed it out. The living can be really, really resilient, and good at being stubborn and surviving: alone, or with help.

(Patreons get a bonus photo of me, zine & kitty here! look, she’s my mascot, okay?)

distinctly not sunshine & lollipops atm

zine: Chips III: A Tale of Lust (creator not specified) $3 AUD from Sticky Institute

drink: Sunshine & Rainbows Tahitian Lime (3.8%, 375mL can) by Boatrocker Brewing Co. (Braeside, VIC)

music: The Prepared Piano by Hauschka (it’ll become obvious why I chose this…)

This might be the first time I’ve posted since the new year, which is BAD. I’ve deliberately set myself the goal of only doing these once a fortnight, but I got a lot of work over the 2018-9 festive season, and moved house, and seem to constantly be plagued by panic attacks…it’s been happening for the last month or so. When driving, when practising piano, when waking up, when showering. There doesn’t seem to be much behind why. I got desperate enough that not only have I been on my psych’s waiting list for a month (earliest appointment was early March), I actually called my parents to ask for their advice (which didn’t really help, sigh).

But focus on today, the now. It was the first time in a while where I cooked (had a panic attack while doing it), read heaps (forced my brain to comprehend words), tried to work on a bunch of overdue reviews (that hasn’t been happening thanks to the awful stuff in the media at the moment in which we learn that Catholicism is indeed evil, no surprise there). And yes, I’ve cheated for this and am reviewing a super-short zine.

Chips III: A Tale of Lust is most definitely not safe for work, but it is hilarious (coincidentally, at work this week, I set a writing exercise where we wrote about birds arguing over a chip in the park! It sounds like something they’d do!). Two bird-men sit on a couch and eat chips and lust after pictures of women or something (token ‘straight people are weird’ comment: here). I think if I were a bird, I’d be most likely lusting after chips? They’re pretty bloody delicious.

If you’re reading this on Patreon, then you should be viewing a photo of my beer notes in a Field Notes notebook, with a handmade beer reviewing stamp (decorated with a Pilot Frixion beer stein one!) right about now.

So…the beer, it is like drinking fizzy, wonderfully flavoured water. I picked this one to drink tonight purely on its cheer-up can graphics. The lime is really lovely; it really does smell like the kind of lime note you’d expect in a bespoke or niche fragrance – super-floral for lime or citrus, rather than zesty or tart as the can notes say.

The piano belongs to the old housemate whose room I took, and I’ve been practising on it while waiting for tea to brew or for the kettle to boil! It’s kind of hilarious when you’re playing beautiful Bach chord progressions on a horrendously out-of-tune piano, but beggars…choosers etc.