Monday, February 19, 2007

Lit Where You Least Expect It

What's the perfect venue for a live lit performance? While we've been holing up for readings in galleries and begging an audience to come to us, elsewhere organisers have been taking the live word out into public spaces and reaching a new audience.

Francesca Beard of Apples and Snakes told me about the perils of taking performance poetry onto London buses, when I interviewed her some time back, and how one of her co-poets (is there such a word?) almost got into a punchup with an inspector because he didn't have a valid ticket! Francesca also took poetry to the "creepy crawly gallery" of London's Natural History Museum.

I picked up this story of live lit in the laudromat* from Raman's website and went for a fast spin (geddit?) around the Dirty Laundry website where I found photos of performances, press clippings, an audio recording ... and helpful laundry tips.

The co-founder of the series is Emily Rubin, and the audience bring along their washing, and receive free boxes of detergent. According to Time Out New York:
The evenings are usually broken up into “wash” and “dry” segments, with music in between; the first reading lasts 26 minutes, or the duration of a normal wash. Occasionally, listeners become so engaged, they forget to add Downy to the rinse. Raffles are held at the end, with the winner receiving a laundry bag autographed by the authors. And yes, books are available for purchase.
Now laundromats (laundrettes in British English) are not a phonomena we have here at all in Malaysia where we simply send clothes to the dobi and get them back all nicely washed and ironed. But I'm sure that there ought to be some simularly crazy venues for live lit events in KL ... can you think of any?


Chet said...

How about open-air readings? A favourite mamak stall, or even set up a poetry stall at the pasar malam. That's our equivalent of the British laundrette, I humbly suggest.

bibliobibuli said...

yes. except that in launderettes people have nothing else to do but wash clothes. in the market most folks are passing through and there's a lot of noise.

sympozium said...

Good point.
Where people are trapped: NRIC centre where people are waiting for their MyKads, passport offices, basically any government department :-))))

bibliobibuli said...

y'know, i was thinking about the immigration department! (abandon all hope all ye who enter within)

forgot to mention, francesca said they also took poetry into supermarkets but i bet people here would just think anyone walking up to them spouting verse was nuts!

the eternal wanderer said...

Govt depts are best! How about the Parliament lobby?? That'll be cool don't you think?

For sci-fi writers, the best place to do their readings would be at places like Low Yat Plaza!

I fancy doing readings at mamak stalls as well, that would be really cool!

Children's readings are best done in toy stores and the children's sections of bookstores.

Other crazy venues I could think of would be at playgrounds, shopping malls, kopitiams, LRT stations (!) and maybe, just maybe wet/dry markets.

bibliobibuli said...

parliament??? that would be fun

lrt stations - yes love that. wonder if it's possible.

mamak stalls gets a seconding ... hmmm ...

a shopping mall is very big and words might get lost. we did organise something at klcc during the first lit fest and i don't think it worked v. well

thing is laundrettes are nice - warm and cosy and smell nicely of fabric softner and people are pretty bored watching their washing go round ... a very condusive atmosphere

Chet said...

I think the lrt thing has been done in Singapore before, altho not actually inside the trains but at specific stations.

Actually, we forgot the one obvious place to hold readings - bookstores. Bookstores now have reading areas - comfy (or not so comfy) chairs - so why not public reading areas?

Also, when bookstores organise sales, whether on their own premises or a designated space at the shopping mall where they are located, readings can be held there, too. I know Popular Bookstore often holds sales on the ground floor of IKANO. Hey, they even have a stage and events, so why not have readings on the schedule?

Sorry for rambling ...

Anonymous said...

I realize that as a lady of leisure you've probably not set foot in something as common as a LRT train (just kidding, don't hit me :) ) but in the STAR LRT trains there are (or were) poems. That's where I got acquainted with Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night" while I was pondering why old people have so much to say about things, and why they try so hard to be anti-establishment :)

bibliobibuli said...

chet - good idea ... but shopping complexes and big open spaces don't lend themselves to readings. you need somewhere comfortable and intimate ...

anon - yeah i'll hit you! "lady of leisure" fat chance! and i do take the lrt several times a week tho' didn't see the poems on STAR