Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Word Christchurch: Reading, Pecha Kucha, Inspiration, and Being Me in Public

"Feeeeemales" - From my Pecha Kucha speech
(Credit: Official Word Photographer)
This past weekend, the Word Christchurch Readers and Writer's Festival gripped the central city in a somewhat laid back fever.

Three and a bit days of events had people wandering between the beautiful new event centre The Piano on Armagh Street, The Isaac Theatre Royal on Gloucester, the Christchurch Art Gallery on Montreal, and various bars, restaurants, and cafes spread from New Regent Street down to High Street. The splintered effect of Christchurch's post-earthquake arts scene has meant an eclectic and creative approach to venues. For me, I felt like I was reconnecting with some parts of the city I hadn't touched base with in a very long time, and discovering the delights of newly made areas.

And that was just the outside of the event, the skin. The flesh and bones of Word was a meaty delight of diversity. Academia stood shoulder to shoulder with entertainment, slam poetry next to discussions of immigration, comedy side by side with the death industry, unscripted hilarity next to carefully considered documentations of the human condition. Programme co-ordinator Rachael King did a fabulous job of bringing together so many threads, so many different people and ideas, the central city was fair buzzing with electric ideas.

Channelling the Harold Finch look as I read "Gravity Well"
at the Pop Up Reading Festival
(Credit: Official Word Photographer)
My involvement with Word was slightly tangential, but wove into the fabric of the weekend beautifully. I did two short readings at the New Regent Street Pop Up Reading Festival early Thursday evening to small but appreciative audiences, so thanks to those who turned up to listen. And after much blood, sweat, and fears, I delivered my Pecha Kucha "Mary Sue vs The Strong Female Character" (audio set to the slides at link) to an appreciative and kind audience. My speech was made so worthwhile by the kind feedback I got all weekend, including comments on my rainbow bow tie, and one audience member who said he brought his 15 year old film-making aspiring kid to get an introduction to feminism in pop culture. Yeah, that's what it's about *fist pump*.

The whole Pecha Kucha evening was a strong line up of interests and talent following the thread of the literary weekend. I especially enjoyed Sophie Rea's PK on "The Links Between Poetry and Youth Work", and I was pleased to make Sophie's acquaintance. The weekend was super busy so we didn't get to talk as much as I would have liked, but a hilarious problem kept springing up - Sophie kept getting mistaken for me and Ivan Coyote, and I got mistaken for Sophie. The three of us eventually got a picture together to prove that three butches can exist in the same place and moment in time without the universe exploding. Well, the room did explode, but in a good way. Because Sophie and Ivan are awesome.

The Butch Trifecta: Ivan E. Coyote, me, local poet Sophie Rea
Ivan E. Coyote. What a performer. A storyteller, poet, author, incredible observer of the human condition, and someone I admire deeply. I attended three events where Ivan performed, and had the chance to talk to them briefly (next time you're in town I'm buying you a drink, Ivan). What was said remains between us, but nevertheless it's renewed my inspiration and filled a large place in my soul. I feel empowered to explore my skills of observation and leave everything I can upon the page. It's never too late, you're never too old, to explore identity and push back against your space in the world.

The rest of my Word experience included events on immigration, living across cultures, sexuality in YA fiction, feminism in pop culture, literary and slam poetry (a new experience for me), the state of new journalism and satire in New Zealand, New Zealand women's history, sex work, and a pop culture comedy panel. Phew! What a weekend. My brain is absolutely stuffed full.

All in all, an incredible weekend for the local and national literary scene. A big thanks to Rachael King for taking an interest in this local literary minnow when she was dealing with dozens of incredible people, recommending me to Netta Egoz of Pecha Kucha Christchurch, and Sionainn Byrnes who organized the Pop Up Reading Festival. Thanks again Netta and Sionainn, I had the best time at both events and would love to do something more with you.

Here's to a fab Word 2018!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Pecha Kucha and Pop Up Readings at Word Christchurch

Sooooo, word about my Au Contraire speech got around. That makes me feel pleased and weird.

While I was too late to be put into any panel/programming for Word Christchurch, August 24-28, I was asked if I'd like to be involved in the Pecha Kucha event and Pop Up Reading Festival. Sure thing! Sounds like fun!

Pecha Kucha is a modern format of short speeches, like teeny tiny TED talks. Each speaker has 6 minutes 40 seconds and 20 slides to deliver their topic, and gives the audience exposure to a wide variety of topics in one event.

The Word Christchurch Pecha Kucha night is on Thursday 25 August, from 8.20pm at the (newly built!) Piano. Tickets are $16 each. My topic is entitled "Mary Sue vs The Strong Female Character" and will be a version of my feminist SFF speech from this year's natcon.

Earlier in the evening, I'll be taking part in the New Regent Street Pop-Up Reading Festival. A variety of authors will be reading their work, and I'll be part of the SFF contingent doing two readings apiece. This is free to attend, just grab a drink and sit down at one of the cool New Regent streets bars or restaurants to enjoy. It'll be a very intimate atmosphere.

Aside from the events I'm taking part in, I'm really excited for the entire Word festival. There are some authors and events I'm really looking forward to, like storyteller Ivan E. Coyote, and "Herstory" with Barbara Brookes the author of the fabulous "A History of New Zealand Women" that came out this year.