Tag Archives: Melbourne Spoken Word

sip as you play along

beer: Bridge Road Brewers (Beechworth, VIC) ‘Magical Christmas Unicorn’ vanilla ice cream ale (330mL, 7% ABV)

zine: Widget: women in development, games + everything tech! by various contributors

I promised myself this year that I’d get better at self-promotion and to be honest, I’m doing a lot of cool shit, and I’m still struggling a lot with this. My mood disorder doesn’t help with this.

I submitted a proposal to be a speaker at this year’s Freeplay Festival, and as thrilled as I am to be taking part, there is a small voice at the back of everything in my head telling me that it’s a fluke, I’m not worth it, people won’t be interested etc. which is ridiculous because the organisers of the festival certainly wouldn’t feel that way – they’ve chosen the participants for a reason.

It could also be tied up in the fact that I’m not a professional in the games industry – never have been, never will be (unless I get a full-time job writing game narratives or game crit/reviews and such) – my chosen craft is writing, one I’m only starting to feel comfortable in.

I imagine impostor syndrome and its related iterations is one of the reasons zines like Widget exist: on the cover is a (white) woman with a rockabilly-50s-style scarf, holding up what looks like a Nintendo 64 control (what do Playstation controls look like? it’s definitely not an XBox one). The first few pages already – and rightfully – claim trans-inclusivity and the importance of women-only spaces…but so far, there’s nothing about women of colour. I don’t think this is deliberate, but ouch.

That’s pretty much been my life the last fortnight – wincing and second-guessing whether I’ve been oversensitive about the racial identity issues. But! there are the also those moments where meeting up with a mate who gets it at your fave nerd hangout and smashing dumplings next door then venturing to another craft beer hangout to make up intricate backstories for poop on the run emblazoning Omnipollo beer bottles! Chix-‘n’-beer is totally a thing!

Having lamented the lack of persons-of-colour direct rep in Widget, there’s some ace basic, super-useful info about looking after oneself, with or without a mood disorder – some super-compassionate stuff!

Of course it now makes sense why I chose a beer with ‘unicorn’ in the name, which incidentally is mentioned (just the unicorn bit, not the beer! though its consumption is generally perceived as masculine earlier in the zine). At first, there’s no vanilla creaminess at all…am starting to wonder if my seared salmon sushi bowl lunch thing has warped my palate. As the beer warms, it does get those teasing hints of vanilla! I remember when this was out in kegs and I chased a few beer places to try and snaffle a pint, but it was not to be – unicorns of any form don’t linger around long! I even drank it out of a schooner glass, rather than straight out of the bottle. I was briefly seeing a dudebro-in-disguise who tried to buy bottles of this particular beer for me, but they got smashed up in transit. It didn’t occur to him that I might have better supply network intel.

Thankfully, this female-identifying beer nerd is single and in possession of her/their own unicorns – yes, plural. I feel a bit weird drinking a not-dark beer when the nights are getting delightfully chilly, but it’s been a great, subtle dessertish beer.

Oh! Self-promo! If you’re in Melbourne, come on down to Freeplay! I’ll be chatting with Rory Green (like srsly they matched me with another poet who is writing poems to the first 151 glories on the Pokedex! and they’ve got a poem in Rabbit’s ‘Queer’ issue! it’s like I have a Sydney twin?!). We’re going to talk about our creative practice and the role playing games can have on one’s mental health and creativity generally. Teaser: it’s a win-win sitch!

I’ll also be leading a zine workshop a few days before the conference bit of the festival, and will be using boardgames and gamebooks for some inspiration as we get zine-making. I’m stoked because straight after, I get to go to Louis’ workshop on ‘bespoke’ controllers, then head to the Rabbit ‘Queer’ issue launch as part of the inaugural Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival.

 

***in case you need the reminder, my definition of ‘woman/women’ includes female-identifying humans of all types, colours, creeds. So should yours! <3

 

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midsummer productivity pride

This blog post, and entire website, has been produced on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. I pay my respect to elders past, present and future.  

Peak humidity in outer north Melbourne at the moment. I’ve accidentally slept through most of the afternoon after reading the first half of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication on the Rights of Man, and woken up in time to head to a fab spoken word workshop that Benjamin Solah and Melbourne Spoken Word run in Brunswick called ‘We Work This Shop’. I’m not happy with the draft of a poem I wanted to bring, so decide not to read – till I realise I’ve got my script from last night’s Quippings ‘Not Normcore’ show in my bag (fluke!). I try to replicate as best as I can last night’s rendition of ‘Stain, guilt‘ and am completely ignoring that it’s a page poem, not a spoken word/performance one. Ack. I also don’t have any of my props, and forget to mimic the Psycho murder theme violin glissando screeching.

Danny, one of the regular workshop attendees, is facilitating and reads out four lines from Robert Frost’s poem ‘Birches’ as a prompt. We then get to ‘free write’ anything inspired by the lines he’s read out. I totally cheat and have one really, really, reeeeeeeeeeeally long line scribbled out in my trusty Field Notes notebook. We all seem to rush home – either because of the heat, or to keep carving away at works-in-progress after all the generous feedback?

I make a stop at my fave sort-of local bottleshop (Audacious Monk Cellars, the staff are lovely generally, and lovely to me <3) and pick up two more cans of Stomping Ground’s Pridelweiss. I’ve left my weekly zine review till the very end of this week, and decide that tonight I’ll finish reading Rabbit Poetry Journal’s issue 21, subtitled ‘Indigenous’.

Anyone with a quarter of a functioning heart in Australia understands the need for dialogue surrounding change of Australia Day (a day that is understandably traumatic to its first peoples). In Melbourne (Naarm), people gathered to make this known on the 26th. I’m a five-foot-nothing female-identifying sack of a human, and for mental health reasons, am pretty awful with marching in crowds. It isn’t that I don’t want to, it’s just depression-draining and social-anxiety-central for me.

So I read. I wish there was a way I could unite others by gathering to read and learn more about indigenous literature (there’s a lot of mind-blowingly good examples about too – am thinking of compiling a list specifically of poets and writers) as a form of silent protest. Rabbit’s ‘Indigenous’ issue is an excellent hop as an intro – though there are a few international authors.

Halfway through and poets whose work has really stood out have been Evelyn Araluen, Hannah Donnelly’s ‘black ducks’, Matthew Walsh’s ‘What they wore at the races today’, Paul Collis’ poem inspired by a street fight, Mitch Tomas Cave’s ‘skin’, and Craig Santos Perez’s gently didactic poems of ‘chamorros‘ which I found oddly echoed some of my feelings as a Filipino mestiza. Damien Chen’s artwork is breathtakingly detailed and nuanced – these blog posts were always supposed to be about paying tribute for no gain whatsoever to the named creatives, and I feel like that too means I can get away with revealing more about the emotional impact the works I encounter have on me. Looking at his sketches…there’s a familial warmth, and a tempered rage regarding the xenophobia people of colour unfortunately do experience living here under Anglo-Australian ‘majority’.

I haven’t yet finished this mag – I’ve been savouring it when I have uninterrupted blocks of quiet time. I chose to drink Stomping Ground’s ‘Pridelweiss’ as I wrote this because, it’s Midsumma in Melbourne, and back to the workshop I attended just before – I have the beginnings of a poem, in which I ask, question, explore in a very roundabout, swirly-path way the gradual and sometimes curved meanderings of what a queer image or queer identity might be. I’d like to think that it always has a space for me – even if that space is as small as a sub-atomic particle! – it exists there if I want it, and it means nothing to others, but not out of exclusion – merely out of uniqueness. Sometimes it’s lonely belonging to pockets of different communities, but it’s also really cool. Our identities don’t have to be fixed, unless we want them to be.

I’ve finished my tinnie, and my cat beckons. Time to snuggle and keep reading beautiful, world-expanding literature from the hundreds of nations that make up Australia. The interviews and poems that follow are excellent, and will provoke thought long after you’ve read them. And of course, my list of books to read has ever multiplied…oh well, life is short. Read hard, read often.

 

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