Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Mystery, Magic, Durians, Clouds and Zambia

This Saturday's Readings@Seksan turned out to be a female affair though not by design. Although a couple of folks I'd hoped to have event couldn't make it (Marina Mahathir had her own book launch at Megamall but will be with us next time; and Avanti Kumar was whisked off somewhere else by his publishers to promote his book.)

As always we managed to have one little disaster this Saturday (the usual anything that can go wrong manages to) , the microphone packed up but thankfully everyone read extra loudly and the audience huddled in close to listen.


Lawyer-by-day Jade-Yi Lo had the unenviable task of reading first. Jade attended my creative writing class and is a new writer absolutely hungry to write and very hard working. The story she'd shared with us on the last night of the class, The Girl with Red Ruby Shoes, was such so magical, I invited her to read in front of the crowd at Seksan's. She'd reworked the story, and even though I knew the ending, it still kicked me in the stomach.

Adeline Loh read the first hilarious chapter of her book Peeing in the Bush about what drove her to leap into the unknown, the reactions of nearest and dearest, and the search for a travelling companion ...


Lee Eeleen's story Scenes From The Shopping Complex appears in the Urban Odysseys collection. It is a beautifully observed piece about the nightmare of a weekend family trip to the shopping mall and the politics of family life. Much of it is written like a film script, and I particualrly love the delicious counterpoint between the supermarket soundtrack of James Dobson's Focus on the Family (which yes, for some reason really does get played ad nauseam in supermarkets here) and the reality of shopping with kids. Great comedy.

I was so grateful when Bernice agreed (the night before!) to come and read for us. And she had new material - autobiographical pieces for the new autobiography she is writing, Growing Up With Ghosts, as part of her M.A. course in creative writing at Universiti Malaya. I loved the portrait of the whole family feasting on durian - you could smell and taste the fruit. Yum!


Shih-Li Kow read her shortest story Let the Bird Sing from her new collection Ripples. A small bird sits on the windowsill of a dying man and the two are locked into one final adversarial battle. It's one of the more surreal pieces in the book - an excellent piece of micro-fiction.

Sheena Baharudin is a poet, spoken word artist, and lecturer at the International Islamic University. (It was nice to see that she had brought along some of her students!) She has performed her work alongside leading poets at various venues around the city. I am impressed by how she has grown as a poet, and how much more assured her voice has becom both live and on the page. Just take a look at the poems she read - Monologue 1.01.001 and and Cloudy Conversations.

Thanks to all who came (including quite a number of new people who I hope will find their way again), to all who read, to Shahril Nizam for the blog poster, to Seksan for his inspiring space, to the guys from MPH in Bangsar Village for bringing over books to sell, to Eugene and friends who cleared up, and to Reza in advance for fixing the microphone ...

See you all later in the month. I've fixed readings for March 28th (provided Seksan will have us) and have a great line-up already worked out. More about it later.

Sorry I'm late posting this - my photos weren't so good so I was waiting for someone to come up with some better ones and Tan May Lee came to my rescue! (The first three nice pics are hers, the last three not so nice pics are mine.)

9 comments:

Drachen said...

I heard James "Hobson". :-)

bibliobibuli said...

maybe ... would need to check with her story. but hobson or dobson we know what she means, right?

thanks very much for coming

Amir said...

Just started Adeline's book; it's a hoot!

She reminds me of a Malaysian writer with the same initials, Adele Lim, who used to write a column in The Star and is now a Hollywood scriptwriter/producer.

Damyanti said...

I'm half way through the book, and I really love Adeline's voice :)

gnute said...

Ehhh... what's the punchline on Sheena's t-shirt?

Anonymous said...

The fourth one isn't bad.

Anonymous said...

But she doesn't seem to have teeth.

Anonymous said...

"The fourth one" is Bernice Chauly. I have no idea why she has such a magnetic presence, everyone says that.

She does have teeth, she reads the way everyone should read. Some people here prefer to be ventriloquists instead, and speak with their mouths almost closed. You never see their lips move, and you have to listen very hard to hear anything.

bibliobibuli said...

gnute - it says "racist" with just a very tiny brain!