Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Choppers chopping over Writers’ Tears - Speakeasy at the Wheatsheaf 22 June 2016

Were you there? Were you there when we assembled in the entertainment area of the Wheatsheaf Hotel on that cold and wintry Wednesday evening? A crowd of Speakeasy enthusiasts came together to hear the latest freshly-baked offerings of a bunch of Flinders’ best and brightest under-grad writers plus extra special guest star Cameron Raynes.

In a major break with tradition, the usual phone out for pizzas was replaced with a moderate rush on the food truck outside, supplying Ecuadorian cuisine.  Another discernible change was the absence of mascot, muse, and semi-deity Gnomewald – away on hols with Lauren, sunning himself on a Cambodian beach.

Rock star, stand-up comedian and PhD candidate Piri Eddy was the MC for the evening and after a nod and a wink from President Jess he stepped up to the microphone.  After opening remarks, inflight safety demonstration and a joke or three, Piri called forth the first reader.

Ceri Glenie rallied herself from feline induced sleep deprivation to kick off with an engaging and heartfelt reading of Tommy Mason, a tender New York city love story from yesteryear with an unexpected ending.  ‘Sometimes secrets don’t need to be revealed.’

Self-confessed food network devotee and admirer of her own work, Caitlin Westphal presented Digital Stockholm, a thought provoking monologue which activated our conspiracy radars as she highlighted our addictive need for seducing pixel technology, to the sweet threatening whop-whop of Blackhawk helicopters passing over the Wheatsheaf (for our safety and protection of course). ‘Increasingly hectic world, me, myself and iPhone.’

Leaving her procrastination at the door, Jasmine Koop kept her promise to read an excerpt from her young-adult novel, Racing the Sun. Jasmine reconfirmed the value and majesty of the spoken word with her smooth consideration of ancient languages amidst a fantasy setting of souls, oracles and dragons blood. ‘The soul is complex. ‘One day to find their body. Three days to find her before she dies permanently.’

After a lengthy confessional of an introduction (revealing addictions to Criminal Minds and Jurassic Park, and woofing down Mexican cuisine), Caitlin Lang confronted us with the memories and challenges of being raised as a first born child, the innocent insecurities of childhood as parents divert their attention and affections to a newborn sibling before the ultimate collapse of the family unit. ‘Toothbrushes, shower curtains and teddy bears. The princes in Disney cartoons didn’t have multiple brides.’

Piri blew the whistle for the end of the first set and the Speakies dispersed to the food truck or the bar.  Was it at this point that the editors of Empire Times commemorated the parting of their ways with craft beer and snifters of Writers’ Tears?

The second set was begun by resident Speakeasy poet and time-fighter Kayla Gaskell. With a brash refusal to submit to the conventional boundaries of iambic pentameter, Kayla spun the warp and weft of her lyrical net over the audience in a sequence of moving personal poems. ‘Why would I want to be like you? You failed. I’ve locked away your memory only to get it out when things go wrong.’

After providing a bio heavy on bullshit and light on reality, Richard Falkner treated us to a moving exploration of damaged family relationships through an outback Australian road trip to Brisbane. Richard played beat homage to Jack Kerouac's On the Road with typical Australian larrikinism and touched us with the character's childhood memories amidst scenes of endless Mallee scrub plains. 

Marina Deller-Evans suppressed addiction to Earl Grey tea and terrible memes to inspire a joy for the colloquial as her lush story explored the transmission of serious personal news, impacting us through the impersonal modern digital technology of mobile phones with a tone of urban chatter rippling between her characters. ‘People our age shouldn’t die. Maybe life’s like that, skips, jumps and ripples.’

Emerging from the cloudy confusion of her academic life (which degree am I doing?), Lisandra Linde entranced the audience with an old English style poem on the high seas reminiscent of a Shakespearean soliloquy, with heroic captains and honourable ships and blades finding their marks. ‘From my post at the helm I hear them every night. Oh how my captain fails me now.’

A second set break was called and the remaining food was purchased from the delighted purveyor of Ecuadorian delights whilst an enthusiastic run was made on the Wheaty’s bar.  This joint really rocks beer, cider and whiskey!

After the wonderful diverse display of home-spun Flinders’ talent, the time had come for Piri to call published author, and Ulrick Prize winner, Cameron Raynes to the stage. Cameron eloquently read a number of poignant excerpts from his novel First Person Shooter as he revealed the torture and torment of the young character's childhood and adolescence coping with a humiliating stutter - a biographic similarity with Cameron's own life. ‘Barbed wire covered in molasses.’

The readings complete, it was times for raffle prizes and thankyous.  After a gustation of readings for the soul and food and fluids for the waistline, the Speakies exchanged fond farewells and dispersed into the cold of a night now stilled by the absence of military hardware.

Words by Richard Falkner and Tom Burghardt

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Speakeasy on Campus: aka The Day we had Ten out of Sixteen Readers Debuting and Everyone was Marvellous

What do you get when you put writers and lovers of stories in a room with snacks and wine?

You get an explosion of talking and creativity known as Speakeasy; an event where writers perform creative readings to an audience hungry for stories.

Taeghan Buggy opened the first set by giving us poetry with some skin crawling bodily descriptions. Caitlin Westphal continued the poetry tour with an entertaining piece criticising materialism. Lisandra Linde then brought us into the world of her novel by reading a segment; Ceri Glenie proved herself a dazzling first-time reader with a hilarious story about a girl being a ghost. Aidan Peckham brought us back to the world of poetry with some lines about a separated family. Cameron Lowe closed the first set with a tale set in post-apocalyptic outback Australia.

After a brief break, Amelia Hughes opened the second set by bringing us into her novella world; Marina Deller-Evans followed next with an emotional autobiographical piece about her mother, whilst Stuart Jefferies took us on a masterfully-crafted literary ride with references to The Smiths. Jasmine Koop delivered us a tale of chaos and people being slaughtered like animals. Richard Falkner closed the second set with an entertaining mix of reading and singing, an homage to Shane McGowan and The Pogues.

Sean Stockham began the third set with ‘I Love the Smell of my Quilt’; a piece he’d written in second year. Caitlin Lang gave us a tale about relationships and a man who used to carry a picture of Johnny Cash in his wallet. Ebony Leverington followed up with a light-hearted flash fiction story that featured dogs from the perspective of a statue. Nicole Sleep sang us a song about life at Flinders; a first for Speakeasy to feature music as a way of telling a story. Kayla Gaskell completed our final set with a pro-vegetarian piece inspired by a conversation she once had.

Although the April Speakeasy is over, and the Multimedia Lounge is now quiet, the conversations and new friendships formed will continue on. However, Speakeasy will return again at the end of the semester for its public event at the Wheatsheaf. If you want fun intellectual talks, or wish to travel to other worlds but are sick of waiting until NASA perfects human travel to Mars, then this next event is for you.

words by Cameron Lowe

Monday, February 8, 2016

Onkaparinga: aka The Night the Bus Driver Turned Down his Radio to Listen to our Sing-along

It is said that change is the spice of life. Flinders Speakeasy has a standard and successful formula of two events on campus, and two off campus. Thrown into this mix was a new endeavour undertaken by the Speakeasy team as the club hosted an additional event off-campus in November last year. Held at the Onkaparinga Arts Centre in Port Noarlunga, the event offered a new venue, and a new atmosphere. Readers were able to showcase their writing talents not only to other Flinders students, but also to some of the locals who showed up. The locals were not just observers at the Speakeasy, as a reader was even included from their number.

     This event was one to test out the skills of the Speakeasy team in new and unique ways as the club branched out to attempt something new. It took the club out to a new place and showcased the skilled Flinders writers in a foreign environment – what would have been less obvious is that the smooth running of the event was testament to a successful team operating a well-oiled machine. The only problem that occurred throughout was the late arrival of the pizzas. Missing pizzas are certainly the sort of thing to haunt many people’s nightmares, but a follow-up call later and everyone was enjoying their pizza. There are just some things you can’t prepare for.

     The readers showed as broad a scope of works as ever with nearly every form of prose present and a good helping of poetry to go with it. The latest Speakeasy zine was on show at the door, looking stunningly designed in its eclectic style. (I picked up a sepia-toned one that looks a beautiful Tolkienesque map, but there are also more colourful options).

     The people at the Onkaparinga Arts Centre provided a great space, well set up for the readings. A bus was provided to take everyone from the university down to Port Noarlunga, and then return. The bus trip leant a convivial air to the already inviting event. The event itself was such a supportive one that even the most anxious of people would be sure to feel at least a little warmed to the idea of speaking. It is this good-natured camaraderie that has seen the club manage to achieve the successes it has.

     This new undertaking offered the club the chance to show off the talents of the undergraduate Flinders students in a brand new way. Whether there will be more events of this sort remains to be seen, but one can only hope there will be other new and original things in the new year of Speakeasy. The club’s horizons were pushed out a little further with this event to thorough success so hopefully there will be many more opportunities of this sort in the future.

Words by Liam McNally

Speakeasy at the Wheaty: aka The Night Riana's Mother Turned Up for Twenty Minutes and Won the Raffle

Mid-November of last year saw our wonderful Speakeasy family flock in waves of goodwill and excitement to our favourite backyard in Adelaide—the outside area at the Wheatsheaf Hotel. Our second public event of 2015 was set to be an absolute cracker, with an array of our favourite speakers set to return, as well as a few undergraduates more than ready to pop their Wheatsheaf cherry.
We had Riana Kinlough’s famously funny prose, which flowed seamlessly into Kayla Gaskell’s masterful excerpt from a larger body of work. Cameron Lowe did not disappoint for lovers of horror, whilst Lise Van Konkelenberg bared her soul in an exceptionally brave performance.

Our first break saw the long-awaited presence of pizza and the chance to buy a copy of our fresh-off-the-presses zine, which was in colour for the very first time—and in two styles of colours at that! As always, thanks must go to our marvellous and very hard-working Zine Team for giving up their time to edit, contribute, craft and print our zine into colourful being.
Our lovable regular Richard Falkner kicked off the second set with an exciting foray into the second-person technique; Taeghan Buggy’s poetry was as stunning as ever, and Amelia Hughes wowed us in her first Wheatsheaf performance! Sean Stockham proved himself a worthy Speakeasy veteran, closing off the set with his famously calm and chilling on-stage demeanour.

Ordinarily, this would be the end of our night—but this was no ordinary event. Our fearless retiring Director Lauren Butterworth then took the stage as our Very Special Guest, treating us all to a slice of her PhD novel in what was, oddly enough, only her second Speakeasy performance as a reader.
As Lauren’s applause at last died down, there was only the raffle to go, after which, with a bundle of fond new memories and a handful of inspiration for new creations, we scattered into the night towards our beds.

A gigantic thank you to everyone who read, listened, zined and helped out in any way—and a very special thanks to our MC CJ McLean who entertained us all from start to finish. Our readers are growing more electrifying, our zines are growing more impressive, our pizza orders are growing more expensive, and our little club is growing the fastest of the lot—who knows the talent and fun that 2016 has in store!

Words by Jess Miller