Great to see so many friends turn up to support the readings at 67, Jalan Tempinis 1 yesterday. Seksen's place looked a little different with some very interesting installation art including a mobile of glass bottles stuffed with various colourful objects.
It was an afternoon of "wimmin" writers, readdressing the gender balance after the past few months when male writers tended to feature rather more. (Too many Kutus!)
In the end there were five of us reading. Sharanya Manivannan went first reading a beautiful poem about her relationship with her mother tongue, and a longer excerpt from "a novel in progress". Her writing is so sensual and languid and I'm glad that she's chosen for herself the larger framework of the novel. Have to pinch myself to remind myself how young she still is. (Yesterday was her 20th birthday!).
I read next. In the end I chose a piece I'd begun as a short story but plan to work into my own "novel-in-progress". Reading it aloud was an extremely useful experience - could hear how the audience collectively reacted to the words. And I was so pleased that they laughed in the parts where I had laughed when writing it.
Bernice then read a piece about a woman being physically assaulted by her lover. She used repetition and short sentences to skilfully control the emotional impact. Hope it grows into a longer piece.
It was Eileen Lui's first reading. (Bar of course for the launch of my anthology Collateral Damage.) As I've said before, I think she is a very good short story writer. Her two published stories are set in Vietnam, where she was working for some time. At The Gates, the story she read out, has a local setting and features two very elderly Chinese men reflecting on their pasts and worrying about their children. As with her earlier stories, characters emerge sharply from the dialogue, and background detail is worked in very carefully.
The final reader of the afternoon was Jac SM Kee who has recently completed Beth Yahp's creative writing course. She read several short pieces and an extract from a very quirky children's story Sammy and Me.
The only think that might have made me a little happier yesterday was some ice to put in my coca-cola ... it was a really hot afternoon with some serious sweating going on!