Monday, November 02, 2009

Readings at a New Seksan's

Our Saturday's Readings@Seksan was quite a different event because of the location - Seksan's beautiful new place 48, Jalan Tenggirri - part personal gallery, part guesthouse ... and completed only the day before, so our event was its christening.

Seksan's spaces are magical, and all the more so for their apparent simplicity and use of recycled and salvaged materials. We were gawping at the distressed wooden doors (from an old school building?), the bare brickwork, the lampshade made of cat food tins (and the others of yoghurt bottles and plastic cake trays), the landscaping with wild plants, and marvelling at how relaxed and happy and creative the place makes you feel.

The guesthouse will be open soon for bookings, and I reckon it would be a perfect place for a writing retreat.

I was a bit worried about our audience finding us, but we really did have a bumper crowd on Saturday. If I had any problem at all it was in trying to decide how we should use the space around the pool - terraces, patios and dining area. Which way should we face, where should the audience be? There was sun and rain to factor in too, because we got extremes of both that afternoon. I'm not sure I got it right.

Anyway, here are the stars of the afternoon :

Seksan himself requested that Tan May Lee read first, because he so wanted to hear the story about the Muslim lesbian women. The piece which appears in the Body2Body collection is sizzling hot and beautifully written and she read a very moving passage from it.

May Lee, incidentally, works for MPH and is the editor of Quill magazine, and she was kind enough to bring along some free copies for us.

Ellen Whyte read us an extract from her new book Katz Tales : Living Under the Velvet Paw - a great story which very nicely illustrates the duplicitous ways of cats. I think all cat lovers in the audience could really relate to it. (More about Ellen coming up in another post!)

I've blogged about Haslina Usman's mission to make sure that the works of her late father, former laureate Usman Awang, are not forgotten and I was so happy to have her at Readings. she roped me into reading the English version of a poem of his very powerful poem (Bunga Popi) about poppies :
From blood, from pus that
rots in the soil
from skeletons that have lost
their lives
the result of war maniacs
who kill love,
the red flowers bloom beautifully,
requesting to be adored.
(More about the poem here.) I also read an extract from the very dramatic last chapter of Scattered Bones (the English translation of Tulang2 Berserahkan) while Haslina read a piece from Turunnya Sebuah Bendera (The Flag Comes Down?).

Next year Haslina is organising a restaging of her father's classic play Uda dan Dara (described as the Malay Romeo and Juliet) and I hope to invite her back then.

This young lady is Afi Momo - a science student by day and a poet every other minute. She made her debut at the 4th KL Poetry Slam and has performed in various events around KL and also in Singapore at the Lit Up Festival. She has published her own chapbook Paper Raper, and read us five poems from it. my favourite was entitled how to be A Pair of High Heels.

Her friends came along to support her and to pass out some copies of a group poetry zine. I was most impressed by their work and plan to invite the other members of Kata.Mata to appear next month.

Here's children's author Rebecca Loke with her son Ethan, who inspired her new book Great-Grandma's Hair Loss Remedy. Ethan read for his mum and was quite superb. (And hair or no hair, I reckon this young man is going to be breaking some hearts before long!)

Julya Oui is a freelance scriptwriter who also writes short stories, novels and poetry. she's been publsihed in various anthologies and magazines, and has a short horror story collection out soon. She also blogs here.

She read us a short horror story and the weather decided to provide the sound effects, giving us peels of thunder and flashes of lightning to accompany the words. (This of course gave new meaning to the expression, flash fiction!).

She also read us a piece from her story Friends Of Everyone which is in the Body2Body collection.

Finally, Moja Amin and Izza Izelan (both education students at University Teknologi MARA) took to the mic to give us a taste of a play that the group they belong to (Ethos! Society) have in production. It was a short dialogue debating the nature of love.

You can read more about the play here, and I was quite amazed to discover that one of my beautiful nieces, Wan Nadrah Yusoff, plays one of the leads. Small world. (And I have no excuse not to go to see it now!)

Before and after the event and during the break there was a lot of selling going on - we had a veritable arty pasar malam.

Yvonne Foong had recruited a whole team of young friends to help her sell tee-shirts, Steven V-L Lee's beautiful photographic books which he had donated, tee -shirts, her own book, and cupcakes. All to raise funds for the operation to save her sight.

Umapagan Ampikaipakan donated a whole pile of new books that people could help themselves to for free.

Thanks a lot to everyone who came and everyone who read. Biggest thanks too to Seksan for letting us launch the wonderful space. Thanks to Haslina for baking us a very special kueh lapis! Thanks too to Saras for helping to clear up. And again to Shahril Nizam for the blog poster.

I thank Tommy Ng for all the photos above except for the one of Haslina and myself which I stole from Azwan's Facebook page. (Do check out the rest here.) There are more lovely photos of the event showing more of the audience and the venue on on Leon Wing's and Yvonne's Foong's Facebook pages too.


lyna ua said...

Thanks Sharon for the invite. I had fun and it was a wonderful read!
p.s. please keep my cake knife, k!

bibliobibuli said...

i didn't see your cake knife. maybe it got washed up and put with the rest. i'll see if i can get it back ...

Azwar said...

The cake was awesome :)

Anonymous said...

Oh hello Ms. Sharon :).

Baronhawk said...

Dear Sharon,

This would be another in a long line of Readings that I have missed. I do miss those Saturday evenings basking in such literary magnificence.

There's something to be said about pursuing your dream and passion. They don't really tell you in detail about the sacrifices that you have to make.

My jaunt in journalism upon the Mkini playground takes a lot out of personal time, plus I am learning to wield the microphone and camera as well as the pen. A choice which pretty much kills my weekends.

But truth comes in many forms. While I fought tooth and nail for it in its poetic and creative versions, I am now making a stand for it upon another field. If I can unashamedly claim it as such anyway.

Readings seem to be getting better and better though. The new Seksan's must be spectacular. I'll take your word for it.

At least there's young bloods a plenty to the scene, as opposed to one guy you wrote about last time who claimed that there is a severe deficiency in the Malaysian writers-in-English scene.

Here's to better times ahead, for Readings, Seksan's and all the rest that goes with it.

Now I need to get some sleep.

Adieu and adieu.

Yvonne Foong said...


Nice to read what happened that day on your blog. Although I was physically present, I could not hear the stories or knew much of what was going on. There were so many young and new faces that day. What happened to the regulars? Were they on strike because they prefer the old place? Hehehehe

Grace Chin said...

sorry i had to rush off after the first half, but congrats on the new place and the lineup :)

Jordan said...

I think the boy deserves extra points just for wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs cap.