Blog hop hooray, ho, hey, ho

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Twitter friend and author Chris White has invited me to take part in the #MyWritingProcess blog hop. It’s kind of the blog equivalent of a chain letter, and I get to chat to myself about writing. How it works: you get an invitation from a writer-blogger to answer four questions about your writing process, then pass the torch along by asking other writer-bloggers to answer four questions about themselves. I’m looking forward to peeking into the lives of other writers and hopefully finding out that they, too, make death noises into the keyboard.

I’ve been given the chance to participate by Chris White, whose work spans, among others, two of my favourite genres: magical realism and science fiction. He blogs at chriswhitewrites, and you should definitely check out his tweets because he curates a pretty great Twitter feed. I always learn stuff.

OK. On to my answers to the blog hop questions:

1. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing my next solo show, the format of which is inspired by the lecture as performance. I’m a big fan of TED Talks and the like; I’ve seen a few comedy and poetry performances that used slides as props to great effect. I’m still in the early stages of the concept, but I’ve found that applying for grants to develop the show has really helped me focus my ideas. Limitations usually help me be more creative, so if I have to create the work by a deadline or fit it to specifications (i.e. touring on a budget, justifying it to funding panels) it is easier to put my head down and write.

2. How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?

Hmm, this is a tough question, mostly because I’m not sure what my genre is. I mostly write for performance, sometimes page poetry, and very infrequently opinion articles. I guess my work differs from that of other writers in my genre(s) because my collection of interests is going to be different to theirs. I admire the scientific process, reason, and logic; I try to employ them when I’m writing a poem. (I use my work to explore social and political issues; it’s my way of trying to figure out the world. It’s important to me that I can justify each choice I make in my poetry.) When I’m trying to put a feeling into words, I pretend I’m a forensic scientist looking for the most accurate words (I wanted to be a scientist or a poet when I grew up, so this is a nice compromise). I’ve definitely stopped performing some poems because new information showed me that their internal logic wasn’t sound. Got to make sure all the ideas add up.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Because I can’t write anything else? Haha. Through a process of elimination, I have found that writing poetry suits: (a) my perfectionist fear of lengthy projects (novels are my Everest); (b) my passion for language and aesthetics; and (c) my love for an audience. I’ve found that performing poetry suspends the audience’s reality for a while and they’ll let me get away with heaps more earnest flights of fancy than if I was telling a joke or a story.

I write opinion when I can, because getting paid for my opinions is pretty much 15-year-old-me’s dream job, and damn, I owe her a lot (she discovered Harry Potter for us).

4. What’s your writing process, and how does it work?

I’ve been writing and dating all my writing/ideas in journals since I was 10. I often write down ideas for conceits, or a few lines, to go back to them later. They usually marinate in my journal for a few months, maybe a couple years. Then I go back to them and smash out the rest. The super-personal stuff takes the longest to marinate. I get out all the self-indulgent, cliched stuff in my journal, then rewrite it with fresh eyes. Edit, edit, edit. When I think I’ve got the shape of the thing, it goes into a Word doc on my computer for more editing.

I started writing for theatre last year, and that process has required more formal organisation. I’ve started using Scrivener. After I’ve thought of a show idea, I spend a few months pumping research and thoughts into a Scriv doc, setting myself inquiry questions. I do a lot of background reading. I think of my solo shows as research projects, and the final work is my thesis … Except, the kind of thesis where I don’t have to show any of my research. And I can be totally subjective. And I can revise it every time I perform. OK so they’re the funnest research projects in the world.

 

That’s it for my blog post! Thanks for sitting through me nerding out about my own writing, haha. Next week, please check out the ruminations of these fine writer-bloggers …

1. Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson

kwpoet.blogspot.com.au

Kate Wilson lives in Bunbury, Western Australia, where she writes and performs poetry that’s designed to entertain and inspire. Kate started writing poetry at the age of 7 while sitting on her garage roof. At the end of her Speech and Drama studies in 2008, Kate entered and won her first poetry slam, and has kept writing and performing ever since. Kate has appeared at dozens of events and festivals in WA, sharing her words and teaching poetry, voice and performance workshops.

 

2. Zenobia Frost

zenobiafrost.wordpress.com

Zenobia FrostZenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based writer and editor whose debut poetry collection, The Voyage, was released in 2009. Her work has been published in The Guardian Australia, Southerly, The Lifted Brow, Overland, Going Down Swinging, Voiceworks and QWeekend Magazine. She is fond of graveyards, incisive verse, theatre and tea.

Week 2 of Fringe World!

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Well it’s the second week of Fringe World and this is my busy week. Not Much To Tell You opens tomorrow night – woop! I’m doing a five-show run from Tuesday to Saturday. Pretty pumped to get in the theatre and meet some new audiences.

First week of Fringe was pretty hectic, too. Almost as soon as I landed in Perth I was off to PICA to watch Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd’s lo-fi puppetry spectacular, BRUCE. It was pure entertainment, all managed with one bit of sponge for a puppet and some homespun genius. I took one of my besties with me, and it is always a joy to introduce another person to Watts’ plays. We both bought our own little Brucies to take home with us: Little Bruce sleeps in my socks.

I also caught the puzzlingly obscure What A Joy To Be Alive at The Blue Room Theatre. I won’t pretend to know what it was about, but sometimes I like to see a show I don’t understand. Gets the ol’ mind grapes going. My friend and I had a great time sharing our notes afterwards and finding out we’d both guessed completely differently about the show’s meaning. There were some haunting uses of lighting and performer Tom Davies’ physicality that will stay with me.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of watching old mate Ella Bennett and her partner in comedy Marnie Allen (both ex-Pelican crew) present their “balls-out” adventure through time and space, Slumber Party Time TravelI think Bennett is one of the most promising new comedy writers coming up at the moment, and in combination with Allen she is just ridiculous. The one-liners kept coming, as sharp as the flick-knives they casually pulled from their bras. When Allen donned a beard and wig and became the future, rat-burger-selling version of Bennett’s high school crush, I nearly busted a rib. Bennett and Allen form Slow Loris Productions, and I very much hope to see more from them in the future (even at the risk of my ribs).

Another highlight of last weekend was going down to Cottesloe Beach to protest WA’s shark cull. Seven people have been killed by sharks in Western Australia in the last three years (which I would argue is a pretty slim number considering the thousands of people who enter the water every year), and the Barnett government has responded with a bait-and-kill policy. Sharks are now being caught and shot in the head, without having attacked a human. Around 6,000 people turned out on Saturday to protest the policy. It was a pretty impressive sight (see gallery below).

On to more frivolous news – my Twitter account reach 600 followers yesterday. I am continuing my tradition of recording a special message for each hundredth follower. This time it was Sarah Breheny, for whom I will be singing a special poem from an undisclosed Fringe World location. I’ll be recording it tomorrow, so check my Twitter feed if you like watching me embarrass myself (apparently the prospect was quite popular with my existing followers … thanks fronds).

EDIT: Here be a link to the video! For @ladybface, my 600th Twitter follower.

Some take up knitting … I took up feminism

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This year, I took up feminism. You gotta have a hobby, right? I almost took up knitting, but it seemed too complicated.

I never did an Honours year at the end of my Bachelor’s degree, and I’ve often regretted it. The rigour of immersing yourself in and thoroughly researching a single topic appeals to me. I like the idea of becoming an expert in something. Anything. Like the year I got into twentieth-century dystopic fiction and found a way to turn any conversation into a song of praise for Margaret Atwood. That passion reached its fever pitch when I was retweeted by Atwood herself. But after reading my fourth Atwood novel in a row, I needed a break. I needed to think about something else for a while. I love diving headfirst into a subject, but eventually you have to surface (usually with a stack of library books and mild insomnia).

Deadset ledge.

Margaret Atwood. Deadset ledge.

My enthusiasm for Atwood and dystopic novels has not lessened (the third book in the MaddAddam trilogy is next on my reading list, squee!), but my focus did shift. I stopped making lists of academic essays to read on the topic of “environmentalism and dystopia”. I now only rave about Oryx and Crake if someone else brings up the topic first. (Usually.) I think of my head as being like a stirred-up fishbowl, and these passions and interests eventually settle into the sediment, like a silty silvery lining on my brain. But the achievement-oriented part of me wanted to do something productive with all this research and analysis; an equivalent of the Honours project I’d never attempted. I wanted to produce a longform work. I decided to write a stage show.

I had a vague idea of the themes I wanted to tackle in this show. One of those themes was the way women talk about their own experiences. This interest came out of many revealing conversations with women who privately shared their stories with me, who had suffered trauma and yet stayed silent about it. Their stories had a common thread: They had stayed silent for so long because they didn’t know how to talk about it. They’d had no framework within which to articulate their experience, even to themselves. It made me wonder how many women were not sharing their stories; how many were still silent; and why we have trouble talking about surviving abuse.

This line of inquiry led me to the subject in which I have immersed myself this year: Feminism. Learning feminism became my Research Project of ’13. I had always resonated with the women’s rights movement and supported the movement to close the gender gap. As a woman myself, I couldn’t help but appreciate the rights afforded to me by first- and second-wave feminism. But my knowledge of the movement was pretty patchy. I’d always considered myself a feminist, but now I was concerned that I’d been using that word without really understanding it. And so, the great Research Project began.

For months, I’ve been nerding hard on all things gender politics, and it has been a wild ride. The countless books and articles and blog posts, read and re-read and hashed out with friends. I’ve attended feminist panels and performed at a poetry night about gender. I wrote a blog post about women in comedy that briefly went viral. I even joined a feminist radio show, wandering in as an intrigued guest and staying on as an intrigued co-host. For an hour every Sunday I talk about sexism, which means for many hours each week I have to think about sexism, in preparation for Sunday. It isn’t easy. Sexism is not a fun topic. I’ve had weeks where I just couldn’t read another article about spousal abuse or rape culture. There has been many a daytime weep. I can’t be the repository for all knowledge on the topic of oppressive patriarchal structures and be a happy person. For my own wellbeing, I’ve had to limit my research reading in this area.

As uncomfortable as it’s been, all of this inquiry has fed into my creative practice, helping me process the complex issues I wanted to address in my stage show. Another silty layer of knowledge has been stirred into my brainbowl. And now that the sediment is settling, I feel less flurried about feminism. I absolutely still feel strongly that there is much to do before we reach gender equality; now that I’ve clearly seen the prevalence of casual and structural sexism in our culture, I don’t think I can un-see it. But I’m reaching that point in my Research Project arc when the book titles on my bedroom floor start to change – less Is There Anything Good About Men? (spoiler alert: there is!) and more Holiday in Cambodia. I’ll be taking refuge in travel memoirs and short story collections for a while, recovering from this intense period of learning.

Now is the “synthesising phase”, as they say in education. Now I take all of the higher-order processing I’ve been doing around feminism and spit out something productive. Or at least, that’s the idea. My project is culminating in this stage show, which is nearing completion. All of my research and personal journey from the past year won’t necessarily be explicitly included in the show, but it has informed the shape it’s taking. I think my writing is richer for it. I’ve added as much nutritional sediment as I can to my internal environment – now it’s time to chuck a fish in and see if it lives.

Not Much To Tell You. (Photo by Erica Wheadon.)

Not Much To Tell You. (Photo by Erica Wheadon.)

If you’re in Brisbane and you’d like to see what I’ve come up with, I’ll be mounting an experimental version of my stage show at Metro Arts’ Friday Night: November (1 November 2013). Would love to see you there!

Mid-week is the new weekend – tell your friends

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Hey internet peeps,

So, my posts have been a bit sporadic lately. I think that’s mainly because I had set myself the task of posting every weekend, and weekends have become my busiest time of the week. (Such is the life on a non-nine-to-fiver! Your “weekend” is whenever you get a couple days off.) SO, I will try to post mid-week from now on, and keep this blog dynamic. Dynamic. That’s a good word. It’s my favourite term to invoke when someone corrects my grammar. “LANGUAGE IS DYNAMIC!!” I wasn’t wrong – I just wasn’t your kind of right. Wink.

My weekends are happily busy with the best kind of things – projects! Gigs! People! Working, meeting, and talking. I co-host a radio show every Sunday lunchtime (Megaherzzz on 4ZZZ), so I spend a bit of Saturday preparing interview questions and discussion topics and practising my “radio voice”. (Insider fact: It’s my normal voice. There’s a reason I didn’t get into NIDA.) There are also usually a few music/arts gigs to attend, which are mega-fun.   poetsdressedas_poster

I am going to be in one of these gigs this weekend – a really cool event put together by ubiquitous Brisbane poet, Darkwing Dubs. (Darkwing actually just won the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup yesterday, so if you see that guy around, BUY HIM A DRINK.) He is curating a two-part series of performances that centre around gender in art and society. The first part in the series is called Poets Dressed As … Women! and all of the performers are – you guessed it – women! I be one of those such lady women. Also performing are Lucy Fox, Merlynn Tong, and Sydney’s Candy Royalle. I’m excited for this event as it promises to be entertaining and thought-provoking. I’ve been writing new material, and planning some tricks to put up my sleeve (or to tuck into my bra, if I’m wearing a sleeveless top).

The male part (teehee) of the series will be held the weekend after, and I look forward to that event also! It features a couple of poets I haven’t seen before, and a couple I’m keen to see again – Simon Kindt, Robin “Archie” Archbold, Martin Ingle, and self-confessed poetic lunatic Randall Stephens. I did a couple of poetry gigs with Randall years ago in Perth and Fremantle, and I tell you this guy is high energy. Should be another entertaining evening.

LONG LIVE POETRY!

Not Much To Tell You (Photo credit: Jonathon Hancock)

Developing my first show – and Pozible campaign!

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Well, this is pretty exciting. This year, a pretty big dream of mine is coming true …

I’m putting on my own show!

The Show

I’m creating a full-length stage show – a one-person performance, written and performed and produced by “this guy”. It’s a fusion of poetry, storytelling and stand up, and it’s called Not Much To Tell You. Thanks to the lovely folk at Metro Arts, who are including me in their 2013 Jul-Dec program, I’ll be putting on a public performance of NMTTY in their main theatre this October!

The Campaign

In order to do this, I have to raise some funds to cover production costs. I just today launched a Pozible campaign to crowdfund the costs of developing the show and putting on its first public performance.

Here’s my Pozible video (which was somewhat stolen by a visiting neighbourhood cat):

 

The Stakes

In case you’re not familiar with crowdfunding – you can go and pledge an amount of money (say, $20) to my campaign, and the money won’t get taken out of your account unless I reach my target amount of $700. So, it’s all or nothing. I either raise the full amount by the deadline (the 18th of July), or I get zero funding. High stakes! But there’s something in it for the pledgers – each pledge receives a reward from me (from poetry zines to a personal performance in your living room). Also, you get the warm fuzzy feeling of being part of my show’s journey.

The Place To Pledge: http://pozible.com/kaitlynsfirstshow

Thank you to all the people who have been supporting me – whether it was by reading my blog, or coming to my gigs, or urging me on with my creative practice. You are all wonderful! Creating this show marks a new chapter in my creative career, and having your support behind me makes it possible. And fun!

You’ll be hearing a lot more about this campaign as I flog it over the next three weeks … I’ll post another video soon as I work on writing the show, keeping you updated on my progress. (I’ll try to find a few more interesting hats, to keep the vlog fresh.)

Much love,

KP

 

Live from the Denmark Festival of Voice: bucket list TICKED.

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This weekend I am writing to you from the Festival of Voice in Denmark (not the country). Denmark is a lovely little town tucked away in the south-west of Western Australia, nestled amongst forests – the perfect place to wander around listening to choirs, bands and singers (and even a poet or two).

Down by the river in Denmark, WA.

Down by the river in Denmark, WA.

I’m here with my friend and fellow poet Kate Wilson; we are both performing in the festival, so I am very lucky to get to share my first solo-festival-show experience with a close friend. I also get to emcee her show tonight, which is a pretty great honour!

This weekend I have ticked two major things off my bucket list: I performed my first solo show in a festival (at the Denmark RSL Hall, rock ‘n’ roll). Secondly – and more terrifyingly – I sang. A song I wrote. In public. For actual people. And I survived, hurrah!

I’m selling merch here at the fest – it’s a little zine of one of my more popular poems, ‘What Is She’ (pictured below). I’ve hand-written each stanza of the poem in typography, inspired by kinetic poems. They’re also available for sale online – DM me on Twitter (@kplyley) or leave a message on here if you would like to buy a copy. They’re only $4 each! (Free postage within Australia. International peeps – message me and we can work something out.)

Festival program and merch.

Festival program and merch.

That’s all I have time to write, as there are still more shows to see, gigs to emcee, and deadlines for more future projects coming up … Exciting things! See you back in Brisbane, blogosphere.

Hey! I’m on the radio this weekend

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Photo credit: AleBonvini on Flickr.

Internet peeps! I’m being interviewed on a local radio program this Sunday afternoon (7th April 2013). I’ll be a guest on the Megaherzzz show on 4ZZZ (102.1fm). If you’re near a radio in Brisbane between 12.30 and 1pm this Sunday, tune in! Or, if you’re like me and haven’t owned a radio since that Ghetto Blaster you had in high school, you can stream it live online right herrrre: http://www.4zzzfm.org.au/listen-online

I’ll be talking about being a poet and being a female and anything else they ask me about. I may even do a couple of poems on air if they give me the slightest encouragement. It doesn’t take much!

Much thanks to 4ZZZ for inviting me on for a chat!

A crazy couple of weeks

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There was no blog post last Sunday, and I’m very sorry about that. Between study, travel, and illness, I haven’t had any space in my head for this ol’ bloggy blog.

Blog posts are probably going to be a little sporadic for a while – I’ve just started a very intense Graduate course, and it’s kicking my arse. It’s made me its punching bag and is throwing right hooks like it’s mad at me. So, it’s a shame but, when everything gets mental, the blog is the first to suffer. (Actually, that’s a lie – the hygiene of my flat is the first to suffer. The blog comes a close second.)

However, I WILL be posting a new story here this Sunday, I promise! Photo courtesy of Yarn

And, if you’re in the Brisbane area, you can come and see me perform a story, live! I’ll be one of the storytellers at Yarn: stories spun in Brisbane on Thursday 16th August. 6:30pm @ Dowse Bar, Paddington. The theme of the night is ‘In Transit: Stories of Going Nowhere’. Gee, I think I can relate!

Right. Back to study …

 

I’ve uploaded another video from my Voicebox gig back in July. It’s a short hip hop-style poem I wrote called ‘Think About What You’re Saying’, decrying the misuse of language. At the beginning of the vid, I’m having a little chat with the audience. They were great that night; I even had a couple of hecklers. I was telling the crowd that I’ve been writing poetry for 20 years, and some wag called out “How old are you?” Whoever that was, thank you for participating in the banter. I very much enjoyed it.

 

 

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