Saturday, 25 February 2017

A Stellar Stella Prize

I knew that the Stella Prize was an  Australian literary prize for writing by women but what I didn't realise was that they are so much more than that! Indeed (if I'd just read their website more thoroughly) they are an 'organisation that champions cultural change'.

There are a number of ways they do this - one, the prize itself - as can be seen here the current disparity between recognition of male and female writers, then there's their schools program and workshops! Plenty to inspire, aid and abet young (and marginally older) authors!

Last Thursday I attended the first in the 'Provocations' series which was a panel of Rebecca Lim, Leanne Hall and Alice Pung discussing 'There is no one way to be Asian in Australia'. It was an insightful and interesting topic that touched on issues such as the homogenising of Asian Australian authors into a singular narrative. The trio talked about how they had never been on a panel together before as they were sort of seen as 'interchangeable' despite all coming from wildly different Australian Chinese backgrounds - one whose family came as refugees, another as economic migrants and finally another whose families (both Chinese and Anglo) had arrived in Australia in the late 1800s. Another interesting point made was that in the absence of stories they felt they could relate to, they would often turn to writings on other cultural experiences such as writings by Jewish writers or about the Civil Rights movement in the USA. There will be a number of panels and then subsequent relating blog posts too.

Personally, I just want to read a book for once where the story and life goes on but the character just happens to be of Asian background and it's not focused on as a major part of the story. I 100% see the value and benefit that migrant stories bring to Australian literature and indeed they should be told and shared but why can't there be stories about other themes as well? Benjamin Law said of his TV show The Family Law (loosely based on a book) that it's actually a story about a family going through a divorce and relationships rather than about being Chinese. This is what we should be reading and watching (not necessarily about divorce but whatever is applicable). 

Which then makes me think of 'if it's not there then write it yourself!'. As I've touched upon before, for me it's the challenge of remaining committed to the story and sitting down to write. I've started doing a bit of non-fiction which I think is easier for me to put down on paper. 

Luckily aforementioned author Rebecca Lim has begun a great writing initiative for children's to YA aspiring/authors called Voices from the Intersection with a publisher pitching event on March 5 (find out more here).

Otherwise there are a few other publications/groups that tackle the arts from a diverse range of backgrounds. If there's anymore that you know of/frequent please comment them below!

Peril Magazine - Writings on Asian Australian areas of interest 
Still Nomads - Nomadic culture '

Or you could always write your own zine...

Oh! And this is our 100th blog post! Celebrate :)

Saturday, 18 February 2017


From January through to April is the Asia TOPA festival! It stands for the  Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts and is a showcase of the cross culture exchange of our nearest neighbours (minus New Zealand (sorry New Zealand). Ranging from theatre, performance art, music and art, there's sure to be something for everyone!

Check out their website here!

So far I've been involved in a performance art piece called the People's Currency which involved signing up to a five minute 'workers contract' and then you decorate a plaster iPhone with gold leaf and then presenting it for evaluation by the 'Commander' who will 'pay' you. I learnt that five minutes goes by very quickly and also that if you can, you should participate in public calisthenics when wearing a white PVC apron and hairnet. 

I also saw the ballet the Red Detachment at the State Theatre which was indeed a spectacle featuring many iconic scenes and costumes. It was an interesting consideration of the intersection of the arts and politics as well as how the arts can be instrumental in altering public opinion or perceived public opinion.  

And if you can't make it down there we have some books that might give you some insight too!


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Farewell Babette Cole

Just under a month ago we learnt of the passing of highly acclaimed and highly hilarious children's author and illustrator Babette Cole. 

Definitely a staple of my childhood she produced books such as Dr Dog, Princess Smartypants and Hair in Funny Places. Always clever and always funny, her books introduced kids to both the facts of life and the absurdities of imagination. 

You can read her obituary from the Guardian here. And here's her website! Honestly though, I do find her very funny and she would easily be at ease doing cartoons for the New Yorker or something. It's sad that there will be no more new books from Ms Cole but at least we can muse and laugh over the large collection she has remaining!

Such as

Saturday, 4 February 2017


Have you ever heard of a zine? They are self published, independent, (often) small run publications and there's a bustling scene in Melbourne! Don't let the lo-fi sort of ambience turn you off zines, many are impeccably designed, illustrated and written. And you're sure to find a zine on absolutely anything your heart desires, from the casual (probably not that casual though and pretty intense) fanzine to the obscure and specific.

The spiritual home of zines in Melbourne is the Sticky Institute in the Flinders Street Subway. You can visit their site here. Located in a pretty underground part of the city (haha) it's volunteer run and stocked with hundreds of independent publications from all around Melbourne. Coming up on February 12 is the Festival of the Photocopier at the Town Hall!  It's a free event where you can check out the coolest zines around.

I've recently started getting very enthused by bookbinding and I've always liked to write - I'd like to do more fiction but I never know what to write about so non-fiction seems to be prevailing right now. Combining the two, zines are a perfect way to do something productive with all the musings in your head and best of all, there are no rules because you're making it! I'm very excited. But come along down and be inspired yourself to unleash your inner zine master!

Timeout has an article on how to get your zine our there here or Tavi Gevinson's Rookie blog has an article on how to make them here too. Oh, and while we're here a fun article about the Sticky Institute from the ABC! 

Happy making and reading!