Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pneumatic Drills, Talking Books, and Subversive Chocolate Brownies

For last month's Readings@Seksan's we had the gentle accompaniment of the cutting of tree branches, this month we had the sound of the delightful melody of pneumatic drills as the pavement down below was torn up. Is there a conspiracy?

Then we couldn't open the wine bottle and had to send out an emergency call to the guy who sold them to us to come with a better bottle opener.

Then the microphone was giving grief, screeching away and soundman Reza, who has no idea of priorities, was away at his sister's wedding. I shudder to think how we will be jinxed next month.

Still, once we got going things began to go well. We kicked off with Dr Shih Toong Siong was first talked very interestingly for a few minutes about his his book Foochows : A Historical Perspective and told us plenty we didn't know about this community which settled Sitiawan in Perak. Want to know how Sitiawan got its name, or how its most infamous son Chin Peng became a communist? Buy me a coffee and I'll tell you (and probably more besides because I bought the book!)

Robert Raymer read from his beautifully observed short story Transactions in Thai which is included in the new edition of Lovers and Strangers Revisited and also appears in Silverfish New Writing 7. Torn between desire and conscience, expat men negotiate with a hotel owner for women to take with them to Pucket.

Kathleen Choo, a young poet who is working so hard at her craft and mobilising other versifiers through Poetry Underground read us a series of poems, moving between very lively pieces like her excellent slam poem about dead white males, and Jesus was a Black Man (a piece about skin colour and prejudice) to quieter more sensual pieces like the one about the "serpentine" sea.

This is Zain who is trying to rope us all in to take part in his wacky Read While Waiting project. I have a feeling we might just succumb to his charm!

Someone snuck in and left a plate of delicious brownies. Someone told me that they were from Amir Muhammad. Subversive brownies then, although fortunately not banned.

After the break Sheena Baharudin read a poem Keling about being taken for an Indian. Will give her a longer slot further down the lien because the poetry is bursting out of her and I am afraid she will explode if I don't. I am sorry I don't have a decent picture of her. She always turns out blurry in my photos!

Jason Leong was almost the one who got away. Advice to self when you invite someone to appear at an event make doubly sure you actually have invited them and then confirm it! Luckily his other appointment for the afternoon was a reading at MPH Megahell so I was able to persuade him to come along afterwards and read to us from his new book The Twisted Stethoscope about his experiences as a first year medical student in Dublin.

Young Nic Wong, on holiday at the moment from Columbia University has added another poetry award to his list - the 2008 American Poets award. His poems are complex and you sense layers and currents underneath the surface images.The first was Takemitsu's Kitchen, named for the composer, then Wu Gui ("after Kungfu Panda"), then The Arsonists and a new four page poem about the wonderful sex-changing clownfish.


Singer-songwriter Azmyl Yunor and actor (and much more besides) Fahmi Fadzil gave us their Wayang Buku performance (which I first saw at an event organised by KLue). It's a quirky sequence of sketches which begins with a version of the traditional puppet play with books as the protagonists, then has Fahmi as a talk show host interviewing celebrities represented by books (How do you concoct the Malaysian recipe for harmony?) and then has a hilarious dialogue in which Azmyl tries to persuade Fahmi to buy a thick book which can be used for every reason it seems ... apart from reading. Their performance ended up with a very laid back piece of A4 paper getting interviewed!

So, it was a very varied afternoon in all. My thanks to all who read and all who came and supported. Thanks Shahril Nizam for making the poster. Biggest thanks are due to Sek San for the use, once again, of this beautiful space.

I hope to organise readings next month for August 30th and already have a very strong list.

More pictures on Readings' Facebook page.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yay for Nic! (And the others too, but I don't know them.) I predict Very Great Things in his future. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does :-) . Wish I could've been there to hear him read in person. From the little I've seen of his work, I'm already blown away by his gale-force talent.

PS

Amir said...

Hope you enjoyed the herbs in the brownies ;-)

dreamer idiot said...

Sharon, I think you accidentally misspelled Megamall to Megahell, as well as mis-phrased Reza's absence... he got the priorities right...we definitely miss him.

(Oh oh, looks like I accidentally picked up on Amir's habit of checking on spelling and grammar)

It was another good reading, a little mixed bag, mainly because of the 'sound effects'. Definitely agree with Preeta about Nic. Thanks again for dinner and everything, Sharon.

bibliobibuli said...

nope, dreamer idiot, that is what i meant to type i both instances. the problem is with the reader who takes me seriously! don't you think megahell is a much better name for that place?

amir - yes actually i WAS wondering ...

PS - yay for Nic indeed.

Gette said...

Hah, Robert's having a busy couple of weeks. He's reading for us over in Kuching this coming Sunday. :-D

dreamer idiot said...

Yeah... come to think of it... Megamall with its messy, labyrinthine layout could be a 'Dantean' hell

bibliobibuli said...

exactly. it's my idea of hell ... too many people, much too big, endless car park, noisy, an assault on the senses ...

Burhan said...

'herbs' huh? i've heard about that recipe before in college...

meanwhile, i see mr. wong has chopped off his long boho hair.

Anonymous said...

Friends call it MadValley. Hate the place.

Madcap Machinist said...

no no, i' ve got my priorities right! they had to drag me to the wedding...

bibliobibuli said...

just pulling your leg machinist. hope you had a good time. but we really missed you! there was a lot of squeaky feedback ... but you know that wasn't the only reason we missed you.

Madcap Machinist said...

The writing and reading regime came useful when I was told two hours before the ceremony that I was expected to give a speech. I wrote two drafts while dressing, and the piece made her cry. Since finding ways to make little sis cry is a duty I take very seriously, naturally I'm chuffed. ;-)

Madcap Machinist said...

Oh, I was actually on the way to drop by Readings when I had to turn back to write the speech. See, priorities! :D

bibliobibuli said...

i'm sure the speech was beautiful. well done getting it finished so quickly.

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Thanks, yeah, I will be reading in Kuching. Anybody out there? Just hope there's no jackhammers and talented slam poets to compete with! Ah, writers love a challenge (no one mentioned about the rubber corks that were nearly impossible to take out), and the great atmosphere, too. Seksan, a feast for the eyes, the imagination, and our ears, too. Just sit back and listen and do take part, too. I need to come back to KL more often!

Thanks Eric for suggesting it and Sharon for having me and for finally finding how in the hell to get me back to Mega -- what do you call it? (Megamadness sounds better) -- where the hotel was located. She persevered and we made it and I slept blissfully.
Robert