Sorry for the late posting of the pictures from last Saturday's Readings@Seksan's - silly me lost the wire that connects my camera to my laptop and I didn't make it out to the shops to replace it till today.
It was a quieter affair than usual - the fact that it was the same day as Cheng Beng when the Chinese traditionally go to tend to the graves of ancestors and the terrible traffic jam in town probably deterred a few from coming.
Our first reader was Yvonne Foong who read a short piece from her book I'm Not Sick, Just a Bit Unwell, about her battle with neurofibromatosis. She'd chosen a passage about how it felt, after one of her many operations to remove tumours, to lose the ability to smile. In the face of the life and death struggle she constantly faces, a smile seems a small thing to lose - but then you think how devastating that must be for a normal teen-age girl, and how much we all take this ability for granted.
I was a bit worried about Yvonne reading - she is deaf, and now partially sighted - but she was an absolute star and read her words extremely well. She is now raising funds to remove a 5cm tumour at the base of her brain which threatens her remaining eyesight.
She asked me if I would post a link to this video in which she is talking about her condition, so here 'tis :
Here's Lydia Teh hamming it up with Azwan Ismail as they perform an extract from Do You Wear Suspenders? : The Wordy Tales of Eh Poh Nim ... great fun!
and Rafil Elyas, "a carbon-based bipedal host to various entities". Usually he's a chemical engineer who likes to burn things. But here he's in the guise of The Senior Demon Mephistopheles of Perditia delivering his progress report on The State of Chaos. This piece appeared in the Merdeka edition of Off the Edge and is another wonderful piece of satire. Really I want more from this guy!
Ika Vanderkoeck leads a double life as a corporate writer by day, and a fantasy writer at night! She's just sold one of her short stories to an anthology, Ages of Wonder, published by Daw Books (an imprint of Penguin) in the US. She also received an honourable mention for a story published in another anthology, Polaris, published by Star books Inc.. She has one fantasy novel finished already, and is currently completing her second, which she hopes will be bought. Believe me this young lady is going places!
Gwen Smith was born in Britain, but came to live here after she married. She was a pediatrician for 40 years (Rafil at one point pointed at her and exclaimed "That woman's seen me naked!".) She is now Granny in Residence to twins of 4 and a brother aged 2, and helps in the Playcentre Library in PJ one morning a week.. She is writing books for children (and I really hope she can find an illustrator and a publisher soon - this is work that deserves to be out in the world). She has already published books on Child Care and Food for Children. And if you thought Malaysia's oldest blogger was Che Det, you need to reconsider!
Today she read a piece that she wrote in my writing class about a place from a childhood which was very special to her - a wonderfully evocative piece about a patch of land near her home, which has long since disappeared. She also read a funny rhyme, a child's eye view of Granny's bedroom.
And then these two crazy fellows, Rafil (the Lord Panda) and his sidekick Ben Liew (a.k.a General Panda (The))known collectively as The Panda Head Curry?* closed the proceedings. They had sent around a form earlier telling the audience it was from the WWF, and asking them to nomiate the wild animal they most wanted to be conserved. In the spirit of political incorrectness and utter bad taste, - they then launched in to their song Gator Farm, which was all about eating those endangered species ("Looks like chicken, tastes like chicken ..."). they followed this with a song about a certain politician and how he has nothing, no, absolutely nothing to do with Mongolia. He's never been to Ulan Batur. He doesn't eat Mongolian hotpot. Hasn't even heard of Ghengis Khan.
I tell you, the tone of this literary event was lowered to a depth from which we may never be able to recover it.
My thanks as always go to our brave readers, our lovely audience, Seksan for letting us use his lovely space, Shahril Nizam for designing our blog poster, and all those who helped out in some way.
I'm not sure if i will have time or energy to organise and April Readings - will let you know soon. Coming up though is a super-duper Readings@No Black Tie on June 7th ... and we have managed to snag ourselves ... Tash Aw!
(*Pronunciation note - the ? is silent)