Sunday, January 28, 2007

Riveting Readings

Yesterday's Readings at Seksan's went wonderfully well. My biggest thanks go Reza who took the time and trouble to go shopping for a portable sound system for me, and came up with the perfect solution. For the first time, we were amplified. And what a difference it made! No longer did we have to strain to hear. No longer did we have to much the words of the quietest writers.

It has to be said though that Seksan's doggy (recovering from distemper) decided that he had things of his own to say - though addressed to his friend over the back wall rather than to us. Fortunately, when Amir Muhammad stepped up to the microphone, he settled down to listen too.

Amir is of course a famous indie film-maker whose work has won international critical acclaim, although at home all he's won is controversy for The Last Communist. His next banned film is Apa Khabar Orang Kampong and is due to premier at the 57th Berlin Film Festival next month. Amir is also has a column in the New Straits Times on Thursdays. (You may not be speaking to the newspaper anymore, as indeed I am not, but Amir's column is a must-read.)

Amir read us some of the pieces that his editor thought unsuitable and very funny they were too. There was a spoof review of M - The Opera; a news item about folks who move into a house but find themselves under seige by the former occupant who constantly criticises what they are doing to the property; and also a piece entitled (topically enough!) Should I Sue for Defamation? Apparently, Amir keeps receiving letters from readers who are unclear on the concept of satire, and take his columns at face value. Duh!

I'm still practising saying Thaatchaayini Kanantu's full name! I met Thaatch at the launch party for Silverfish New Writing 6, and very much enjoyed the extract from her novel in progress. She had agreed to read In God's Belly later in the year, but when Hsiung Han See called at the last minute to say he wouldn't be able to come, I roped her in for this month ... and she sportingly agreed. Very many thanks, Thaatch!

I like what she wrote on her blog about writing:
I have 7-tonnes of memories resting in a million buckets and I have no idea how they got there, why they are there and what potential use they have.
Well we know now that sitting in those memory buckets is plenty of raw material for more evocative stories ...

Another writer from SNW6 - Peter Hassan Brown. I've known Peter for years, but as half of the singing duet Passion with his wife Markiza. Peter read from his short story Dysfunction, introducing it by saying he had been afraid of a negative reaction to his portayal of the family in the story (the girl lepaks* at the LRT station, her brother is a drug-addict who steals from the mother to finance his habit), but I think it's a very well-observed piece that really comes alive for me. I loved too his poem Fritters - about the food and about frittering one's life away in the most enjoyable way.

Peter is now working on a novel.

Yes, I know I shouldn't keep banging on about this guy being just 17. What does age have to do with anything? Least of all with the ability to write really well. kG's poems are honest, sexual, often deeply painful and beautifully crafted. He also read an extract from a "long short story".

Okay then, 17 going on 28.

It was great to finally meet Jordan MacVay, after months of reading each other's blogs and exchanging e-mails. Although he confessed to "sweating like a whore in church" with nervousness, he read really well, the piece beautifully chosen.

Jordan has been working with Rizal, an Achenese tsunami survivor, to tell his story. This extract was amusing in places - especially with the - almost surreal - incongruity of Rizal and his friend floating in the sea and encountering six naked girls floating on a tree. And also deeply moving. (Read Jordan's account of the afternoon here.)

Burhanuddin Baki has a place on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia for later in the year. And having heard him read his fiction - am not at all surprised that he was selected. What did surprise me was how funny his work is - I'd imagined he would write in a very literary, very serious way from his very learned comments on my blog and from his business card (he has first class degress in Maths and Philosophy! Scary!). The reference to "the giant millipede" (am sorry, won't explain the context for the more impressionable minds reading this blog) was unexpected - and hilarious! Well, Burhan, just hurry up and give us the whole novel!

What else? It was a very hot afternoon, and I think we were all melting. We had a larger than usual crowd there (around 30), and because of the sound system, they tended to spread out a bit more into all the arty nooks and crannies. The wine this month was rubbish because I bought el cheapo plonko myself (RM15 a bottle - doubles as drain cleaner) - the La Bodega sponsorship has to be renewed and I'm onto that ...

Thanks to all who read and all who came. (I'm sorry I did not have more time to chat.) Thanks to Seksan once again for the beautiful and inspiring space. Thanks again to Reza for his help. Thanks to Nic for letting himself be bullied into washing glasses and opening wine bottles ... and for keeping me calm ('cos as he noticed I have this tendency to panic and see in my mind's eye everything that could possibly go wrong ... but doesn't).


Just as well I escorted Lainie, and Danny off the premises! kG's thoughts.


*lepak = to hang out, but has a very negative connotation, especially in the Malaysian press


Secret History said...

Hi Sharon,
I am glad I came and watched these 6 wonderful writers do their readings. It was a lovely day and the sound system was great. I learned a lot of things and will see Jackson Pollock's art in new light.

bibliobibuli said...

haha yes ... burhan certainly changed our inner landscapes a bit!

Chet said...

Were the readings taped, and are you now ready for the podcasting world?

bibliobibuli said...

nope. anyone who wants to record them is welcome to come along and do so. i have my hands full with everything else.

and if you are sorry that you missed it ... come along next time.

lil ms d said...

i missed it. i had to sort out work and book. by the time it was all over, the readings were too!

see your thur.

Madcap Machinist said...

Thank you Sharon! Though I'm ruing the sudden loss of anonymity, I'm happy to help, and had a good time at the reading.

Got a copy of Elarti too and enjoyed it very much. (kalian rok!)

Anyway, some people at the reading mentioned some interest to do substantial writing online (beyond blogging) i.e. electronic or new media literature. I'd like to hear more from you as I'd like to return to practice (5 years astray with only dead links and now-broken software to show) and am seeking community. My background:

dreamer idiot said...

Wonderful to read how this independent writing platform is growing and developing... It's definitely good for the soul of the nation. (keep updating)

PS> Why no picture of Reza??? Hahaha..

I'm happy that Reza has found the perfect space and scene to extend the enormity of his Borgesian creative prowess (in multiple fields and medium)! :)

BP said...

There were six? I didn't keep count. And who cares, when the entertainment's good 8-)

BTW, something's wrong with the link to Jordan's post.

debbie said...

Is it okay if i asked when and where this reading is? Might be interested to come once in a while. :)

bibliobibuli said...

machinist - so glad you managed to network a bit and find folks with similar interests ...

dreamer idiot - yeah, should have snapped reza ... well, another day!

bp - thanks - keep accidentally leaving a space when i put in the code. ought to check more carefully ...

debbie - it's always on a saturday afternoon at the end of the month. watch my blog for details (next one should be sat 24th but i need to confirm). or just email me sbakar at streamyx dor com and i will put you on the mailing list. there's also an event on 7th feb which i will be confirming details of today

Leon Wing said...

Great readings. And also, the puisipoesy group finally met each other, Reza with me and Sharanya. D.I., you shd make it for the next reading! And, sorry, Sharon, if I was a little loud discussing something with Reza while you were at the mike. I only realised this when I heard you call out Reza, to thank him for setting up the mike.

bibliobibuli said...

yeah leon ... next time string you up from the rafters and use you as an art piece

Leon Wing said...

Me, as an art piece? Well, that's better than a piece of something other. Heh heh!

vovin said...

wow, seems like this reading session very very interesting.

Sorry for didn't show up. Went for a vacation.

Maybe next time.

Madcap Machinist said...

hahaha DI, thanks for the buff but I haven't actually done anything yet! Nice to get PP together too. Leon is full of intriguing information ;)

Burhan said...

i had great fun at the event. met some kewl people.

meanwhile, conscious of the fact that i was the only one reading who didn't have a blog, i've decided to start one (again). everyone else's doing it. i just want to be popular.

bibliobibuli said...

burhan - yes, please blog

we bloggers will take over the world

(btw am i kewl? i suspect not)

dreamer idiot said...

Burhan, I bet, is also among the 'kwel-est' people. He is probably among the few Malaysians who reads philosophers like Derrida, Heiddeger, Blanchot for fun.

Burhan, do start your blog again, even if it were on random things and updated infrequently... and please let us know when it's up. I think many pp will read it, albeit quietly, because few of us dare to engage your philosophical mind.

Wah... so many kewl pp I want to meet and so much to talk and learn. Well, at least I met one really 'kewl' and 'rocking' lady here *winks at Bibliobibuli* :)

bibliobibuli said...

haha thanks DI

burhan is blogging again but his print is so small i have to go and get my reading glasses ... have pity on an old lady

Burhan said...

thank you for the comments about the readability of the blog.

dreamer idiot -- No lah. I know a lot more people. And i think a lot of the stuff done in sastera departments in malaysia is very difficult and intricate --- although the focus is more on 'social science' than on the 'humanities' and on 'theory'.

Natasya said...

You mean the Machinist came out of his shell and finally made an appearance at Seksan?!? *giggles*

(please coax Reza to read his poems next time)

kG said...

I had a mad time at sek san's on Saturday (though I was scared sh*tless). I feel this is the better reading at Seksan's so far! The crowd was good, and the line up was interesting.

And I also think Amir's cute. hehe.

As for readings on the 7th, what are the details, Sharon?

bibliobibuli said...

natasya - yes i have mr. machinist in my mind to read poetry one day soon

kG - you looked v. confident

info coming about the 7th very very soon (am waiting for my friend ruhayat x to get back to me with a cool flier i can put on the blog and send out)

nic said...

hello sharon, heh.

you did well kG! keep up the good work.

machinist, would love to hear you one day, you write good stuff.

XMOCHA! said...

ARRHH, sounds like I have missed a fabulous session..hugs, will try for the next one.. take care.

lost in translation said...

Hi Sharon,
I am rather new at this blog/comment thing so hope this works... I am having an interview at UEA for the MA in prose in a couple of weeks and am petrified! I was wondering if anyone on the blog has had a similar experience and can share some pearls of wisdom? Thanks for maintaining such a great blog - I read it religiously (over breakfast coffee :))