So as usual lah, I report on Readings at 67 Jalan Tempinis 1.
Kam Raslan was first up and read two pieces: the first about Tunku Abdul Rahman, and the second another extract from his work-in-progress (linked short stories I think rather than a novel). Very nicely written and witty. A line that made everyone laugh "He's so cultured, it's as if he's a Singaporean." I loved the image of the "army of goats" on the road, and a tear hissing as it hit the tip of a cigarette. Also his line about the Malays being better than the Chinese because whereas the Chinese take three generations to lose money (the saying goes something like the first generation makes the money, the second hoards it and the third manages to blow it all), the Malays manage it in two - and sometimes even one.
Kam has almost finished his book and is now seeking a publisher. Can't wait to read it in its entirety.
Dina Zaman said she was nervous, but read very well. First a little taste of her "long short story" Road to Elvis, set in Terengganu in 1984. A very entertaining story set against a period of religious and political change in the region. Her second piece was a short story called How To Stay Married about a couple whose sex life was going down the tubes, espcially as the husband was addicted to prostitutes. Nicely told, and I could see the audience totally caught up in the tale.
The dreadlocked Ramat ("Writer, actor and occasional nudist," said Bernice by way of introduction) read some of his poetry. At first he was a little chaotic, rummaging through his notebook looking for his poems. He read, a little too quietly and turned sideways to the audience, with a cigarette burning between his fingers. But then suddenly, he sprang to life with a poem called Keranamu Malaysia about sloganeering. Very effective and brilliantly performed with changes in pace and rhythm and pitch. (How very far away from a polite deklamasi puisi!)
After the break Maggie Tan read. Maggie was one of Bernice's creative writing students at CENFAD and I remember her telling me some time back that this girl has talent. She read a fable-like story and then Bernice read her macabre story Theatre des Marionettes that was recently published in Silverfish New Writing 5. She writes very well for one so young (she's 18), and later on with maturity on her side could be a name to watch.
Our dear friend Leon read several very short pieces (the guy is a minaturist!) including his poem Is It Okay for Me to Rhyme? and his short shorts Look Who Stepped in When the Train Stopped at the Station and While He Lay Downstairs and She Upstairs. Yes, as he feared, his voice was a bit lost in the space. (At least he didn't have the call to prayers from the mosque to contend with as Kam did!)
Pang, Kakiseni editor and photographer ("We are what we pose") read a piece about taking photographs in a gay club. This being Pang there was much exchange of body fluids in the piece. But there were interesting reflections on identity and how it shifts in the darkness of the club. And a nice turn of phrase has our Pang: one fat guy had "enough body mass to keep a cannibal village alive for months", whilst another "spent more time pumping deltoids than cerebral coretex". I laughed at the line about a blind masseur carressing his testicles as if reading braille!
A good afternoon, yes. At the end of the session as we stand around chatting and finishing the last La Bodega sponsored wine, it feels as if something very positive has been achieved. As indeed it has.
If you are interested in local writing or write yourself, do come along to the next one. (I'll post details here or you can contact Bernice (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ask to be on the mailing list. There is no cliquiness or snobbery about the readings (believe me, I'd be the first to run if there were!) and there is no better way to find encouragment for your craft.
See you there!
Read Leon's version of the afternoon, and then move on to read of Little Miss D's ordeal.