My unforgettable night – Melbourne book launch Just Give Me The Pills

I started writing this as a Facebook post and then I thought to myself that this deserves a blog post because last night, my Melbourne launch of Just Give Me The Pills, was just – wow. Probably in terms of my career, last night was one of the most powerful nights of my life. It was unexpected that it was so, it almost felt accidental, like all these things came together in this precise way to make it so, but I was the one who made the night happen, so I guess it was not.

I started with my best friend in the world Amy Bodossian hosting and being her beautiful, vulnerable, wacky self that I love and adore. Then Emilie Collyer launches my book with a speech that was also like a review of my book and all I kept thinking was “she gets it, she understands the book” and it got me thinking about how male reviewers and female reviewers are SO different in their interpretation of my work and it is the women who always just nail it. When she read my poem ‘backyard flood’, a reconciliation moment with my family (this is the first part of the poem…)

Backyard Flood
I have wanted the heaven to open all my life
and they did thirty-two years later
Christmas Day at Mum and Dad’s
Hail the size of lemons on the tree
Sheltered by the havoc we knew was due
We all stood on the veranda
Watched in amazement the desecration…

an image came to my mind of my family on the veranda, which happened many years ago, and I thought to myself that because I was brave enough to put my story to the page, my family and our moment, our image is going to remain timeliness, long after I too have passed, and it was in that moment that I felt the power of what I had done, the power of my book, Just Give Me The Pills, that not only will I help other women to be empowered, or people who are in marriages (or situations) where their self-worth is ten feet underground, but this image of my family will be immortal.

And then there was the women! The other performers! I wanted my book launch not to be just a celebration of my book, but I wanted to move the focus away from it being me performing my poetry but to bring poets and singers from migrant backgrounds (ones that inspired me) so together we could make a collective ‘sound’, a collective ‘call’, a collective ‘statement’, that we are women, our families migrated here, and we have a voice. I asked them all to interpret the metaphor ‘just give me the pills’ in any way they liked, and what they came up with was so powerful that by the end of the night when it was my turn to perform I struggled. I thought to myself I don’t know if I’m going to be able to perform! Many of these poets had written their pieces because I had invited them to be a part of my event and what they came up with blew my mind. And to think that I had inspired it! I had been the trigger! This is art.

Kylie Supski’s poem of dabbling outside the margins of normal, Tariro Movondo’s piece about her mother’s struggle as a single mother raising her children as a women of African diaspora, Pascal Latra (accompanied by Jacob Papadopoulos) interpreting the stories of my heritage through Greek blues music and transporting us all to Greece, Misbah Wolf (accompanied by Nick Wolf) and her song about depression called ‘the bell jar’, Angela Costi’s poem about her work as a front line worker helping women in abusive relationships and Amanda Anastasi’s poem about her memories of growing up in multicultural suburbia – all of this poetry together had me thinking beyond my book launch. There is an absence of this collective voice in the arts. Maybe my book launch has inspired me into a different kind of venture! All I could think was I need to bring these women together again, or this idea – women from migrant backgrounds.

Despite this I did perform, and my heart was so overfilled with respect, admiration, love, support, inspiration for not only these women but for the people who came to the event to make it the special and unforgettable night it was. Thank you to all who made it so. x

All images in this post Brendan Bonsack. Thank you to the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria for supporting the event. Thank you to my editors Les Zigomanis, Maurice Mcnamara and David Cameron. Thank you to Outside The Box Press.

Kylie Supski

Emilie Collyer

Emilie Collyer

Amanda Anastasi

Amanda Anastasi

Amy Bodossian

Amy Bodossian

Misbah Wolf and Nick Wolf

Misbah Wolf and Nick Wolf

Angela Costi

Angela Costi

Pascal Latra and Jacob Papadopoulos

Pascal Latra and Jacob Papadopoulos

My unforgettable night – Melbourne book launch Just Give Me The Pills2018-12-03T19:07:39+00:00

Statement regarding my poem ‘Indigenous woman’

I would like to apologise to any First Nation people for my poem ‘Indigenous Woman’ which was circulated on twitter today. I apologise if the poem hurt anyone. I didn’t mean to. My poetry is very much written in the moment and is a snapshot in time. Many people find my poetry challenging because of this and often my poems contradict each other. This is my poetry. It is my art. It is how I make sense of the world.

This poem was written in response to an incident on October 19th 2017 where I was thrown out of the Australian Women Writers Binders Group which was a group created to support Australian women writers. I had asked a question in the group questioning how the media and how media commentators were handling a particular issue involving an indigenous writer and high school students which I felt would be better handled by the department of education. This question offended some women in the group including a few of the indigenous women in the group which called for my banning from the group. They also referenced how I had questioned the bullying of Mia Freedman in the group in the past as I do not condone bullying of any kind.

Even after repeatedly apologising for offending any indigenous women in the group, I was thrown out and subsequently ignored by the admins even after repeated messaging. I was extremely distressed as they had messaged me to tell me that a post had been put up on the wall of the group saying that I had been banned from the group for repeated racism against First Nation people.

I wrote the poem after this incident and posted it on my social media channels but took it down half an hour later as I realised that within my angst, I may have not been seeing the situation clearly and I have not published or performed the poem since and I do not intend to. However someone screen shot the poem and it has been shared on social media today. I am sorry for any First Nation people who read this poem and were distressed by it or hurt by it. I am truly sorry. There is a line referencing Uluru which I am aware now is very problematic and I want to apologise for this line particularly.

None of the above is an excuse. It is just me adding some context to my poem as my poetry is very much in the moment and sometimes required context to avoid the hurt of others. Thank you.

Statement regarding my poem ‘Indigenous woman’2018-06-18T22:43:21+00:00

Tell it like it is: Is it more than creative energy that draws us to other creatives?

Last night, I attended the reunion show for local Melbourne band Trial Kennedy. The band, headed by Tim Morrison, who was on The Voice AU in 2013, broke up the year prior to this, amicably, after many years of touring and recording. On stage last night, guitarist Stacey Gray said they had their first gig together when they were just seventeen and that he was now thirty-eight.

When I first saw Trial Kennedy play at The Corner in Richmond, it would have been around 2009. I was around twenty-nine and it was my first ever live music gig. At the time, I was married and was living a life I was very unhappy with. A friend I was studying with at RMIT took me to the gig and I immediately connected to not only their music, but their creative energy. At the time, I was researching my first novel, and my mentor, Christos Tsiolkas, suggested I research bands some more as there is an Aussie rock band in my book. I remember that it felt like singer Tim Morrison was screaming out my rage for me. The creative energy was palpable and I was taking notes right there in front of them, my mind overflowing with possible scenes for my novel.

There were many factors at play that led to my emancipation, but the creative dynamic I shared with Trial Kennedy inspired my direction. My friend introduced me to Stacey and I told him how blown away I was and could I study them for my novel. Tim and particularly Stacey, were happy to be studied as a basis for the band in my novel, and there were several meetings where I asked them all about what it’s like being in a band. I also wrote poetry about them and even had a major crush on Stacey. When I finally left my marriage and my life was in turmoil, the boys handled the situation gentlemanly, and I went to many of their gigs and became a Trial Kennedy groupie!

Looking back now, ten years later, I think about how uncanny creative energy can sometimes be. Is it just our art that other artists can inspire, or is it more than that? It seems in this case their inspiration went beyond my art. They were like a door to a world I had been sheltered from because of my conservative upbringing. So in that way, they illuminated a path I was needing to walk down. Their art inspired not only my art but my life.

Even in other creative relationships I have had, it always comes down to the person and what they stand for. I have learnt from experience that if the person doesn’t like me as I am – flaws and all – it never works out. I sometimes get involved in dynamics where the person has more clout than me and I think it will help but it always makes things worse. You got to work with people who you think are amazing, both as people and creatives. Great art and successful creative relationships happen, I believe, when you really like the person and who they are because who they are matches up with who you are.

Me and Tim at the reunion gig last night

I had the most amazing time at the gig last night. Their music was just perfect. They sound so good live. I went with my friend who took me to the first gig and it was like re-living the night again with the benefit of ten years of wisdom and experience. It was mind-blowing! It is a shame they broke up because I have always believed they all have strong potential as musicians and I would love to hear more music from them. Tim and Stacey were happy to see me, and the boys are still really keen on my novel being published. They were encouraging and it was extremely beneficial watching them perform again at this point in time where I am finishing up with the manuscript for my debut novel, Divided Island and getting closer to being ready to submit to a publisher.

 

Tell it like it is: Is it more than creative energy that draws us to other creatives?2018-05-31T14:56:10+00:00