From September through November this year we curated six one-hour events at Haymarket Library in Sydney. City of Sydney Libraries let us run free in the library space as part of their Late Night Library program.
For our first event, we took inspiration from our Features column and called it Rant. We had four guest speakers, Seizure contributors and soon-to-be-contributors: Alice Fraser (comedian, writer and ex-lawyer), Ben Law (author, columnist and man-about-town), and Lauren Beukes (South African sci-fi author) just happened to be in town, then we ended on the remarkable showmanship of David Hunt (author of Girt).
There's unedited audio if you like that sort of live-event podcast. You can use the player below or if you're an iTunes-type person, you can follow this link.
The second instalment was AltTxt, hosted and conceived by the marvellous Justin Wolfers. Our AltTxt king/jester brought together five talented artists to do a live reinterpretation of a text. On one side of the room was James Brown, sound artist, Grace De Morgan, writer, and Nick Sun, writer.On the other side of the room was Irit Pollak standing behind an old-fashioned overhead projector and embedded in the audience was photographer Isobel Parker Philip. Front and centre, between two laptops, sat Justin Wolfers who then revealed the text they were to be working on, Donald Barthelme’s ‘The First Thing The Baby Did Wrong...’.
From then on it all spiralled into experimentation as the artists and the audience began to figure out how they could, would or should interact. At times the room was silent as we were all fascinated by Irit's overhead projection. She drew on transparencies, tore up paper and cellophane and even introduced a bucket of water as she remixed the visuals like a DJ. James Brown lay a deep hum and the sound of a baby crying and then began mixing in samples from Justin's reading and from the open audience microphone.
It was a good-natured chaos that photos and audio can’t completely do justice to, but here are some snaps to hint at the fun.
Toby Fitch was host for All Cut Up. He started off with an engaging monologue on the history of collage poetry. He had some of his favourite poets do readings and explanations of their own work and then gave everyone in the audience piles of photocopied documents, scissors and sticky tape for people to make their own collage poetry. It was primary-school craft-hour meets bohemian poetic convention, with great audience readings at the end.
Next up, Thomas Wilson experimented with turning Flashers into a live writing event with a game show twist. Collecting three talented contributors, Robyne Young, Hannah Story and Oliver Mol, he put them each behind a curtain then had them come out and read an original work and then sent them back into their cells to prepare something on the spot. We had some great wildcards and we all had the chance to see the dashing TDW in a tuxedo.
Our potty-mouthed poetry editor Fiona Wright then hosted an evening of swearing. We had sheets for people to make swear haikus while four published authors read some of their more scandalous work. The show may have been stolen by the walk-in who wrote and read out his haikus at the end.
Lastly we had an event that encompasses everything Seizure is about, helping newbies find their audience. First-time host Portia Lindsay introduced the opener and we started with a bang as Omar Musa orated from his debut work, Here Come the Dogs. Summer Land made us laugh along to tales of her childhood from her memoir Summerlandish, before Jo Riccioni took us back in time to post-WW2 England in The Italians at Cleat’s Corner Store. We ended with the ground shaking beneath our feet as Bruce McCabe gave us a taste of near-future terrorism from his book Skinjob. We even had time for a few wild cards who had recently been published.
So that was season one of Seizure Goes to the Library. We have plenty in the works for next year and we hope to see you in a library again soon.
With thanks to City of Sydney Libraries and the Late Night Library program, particularly Ali Dexter, Daniel Sanches de Lima and Steven Mitchell.