Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Readings' Fifth

I've been missing a few Readings sessions due to personal problems, but things got a little better for me to attend the latest one, and a milestone of a session at that. It's Readings' fifth anniversary.

Three cakes were brought for the occasion, including two evidently home-made Red Velvets with lovely white butter-cream.

But it was one session where I was never more ill-prepared. I left home late. I forgot my camera's tripod. I didn't make enough room in the camera's 8GB SDHC card for footage. I was afraid of not having enough batteries. And there wasn't a single thing of suitable height for my camera to stand on.

Readings' fifth had an impressive line-up with a mix of two or more of the following: poets, authors, performers and rebels. Almost everyone spent their allotted 15 minutes, some stretching into 16 or 17, including commentaries. Hearing authors read their own works is a delight, but not as much as when they talk about themselves and their work, as evidenced by Shamini Flint's monologue.

The loud and forthright Elaine Foster said she wouldn't perform, but there was still a bit of drama in her recital of a poem where "the revolution will not be brought to you by Celcom, DiGi and Maxis, nor is it Malaysia Truly Asia," and so on. She would find good company with Peter Hassan Brown, whose voice also carries a long way.

Jo Kukathas read a sombre tale of a loner who lives in a dark room and is fond of his dogs. Readings' founder Bernice Chauly gives us a hint of her roots as she reads from what will be her work of "faction".

From the Little Red Dot comes O Thiam Chin, whose collection of short stories (Never Been Better) is available for sale here. He read a passage from that book (naturally), copies of which were on sale at the venue (ditto). Too bad they weren't offering discounts.

When Kam Raslan reads, it's almost certain that he'll entertain. Especially with a sneak peek at the continuing (mis)adventures of the irrepressible MCKK old boy, Dato' Hamid. Being ambushed by fragrance salesladies is as frightening as he tells it, and hilarious too - as long as it happens to other people.

The dreadlocked and tattooed rebel poet Rahmat Harun was a sight to behold as he greets the audience, "Hi, bro!", waxes lyrical of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in two languages (with some help from Hishamuddin Rais), and shows us how to fly a kite.

The fifth anniversary event ended with a couple of announcements: NST's Umapagan Ampikaipakan trumpeted (sort of) a book club at BFM89.9, and Bernice's call for help with some charity - I think.

There has also been talk of compiling the prose that has been read on all five years of Readings and CeritaKu (a sister event of Readings at No Black Tie) into a series of books, and a shout-out for contributions has been made. The deadline is 31 March.

Here's to five more years of Readings.

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