I made my first foray into the world of open mic speaking today, at the People’s Choice and Poetry Night of the Williamstown Literary Festival, which kicks off it’s event program on Saturday. They event turned out to be a combination of the People’s Choice Prose event and the Poetry in the Pub event that was started last year, and they held it at the Pirate’s Tavern, which turned out to be very hard to find. It was hidden away behind Seaworks, which is a community based corporation which aims to retain and restore our maritime history. Even showing up for a 7 PM start (and arriving around 6:40), this is Australia in winter, and the sun had been down for a good forty five minutes at least. I remember being on Nelson Place, but I knew to actually get there we had to go down a side street because the Tavern was around the back. So I turned down Ann Street, which was dark, and virtually unlit, and found a sign pointing in behind Seaworks, and drove in. And couldn’t see anything but an almost empty parking lot. I was wondering if I was in the wrong place when another car pulled in an a little old lady stepped out. So I would down the window and asked her if it was the right place–and it was.
We just had to go through another gate into a different unlit carpark and turn left.
Despite the difficulties getting there (which I assume a lot of other people faced as well), there was probably fifty or sixty people there, including eighteen writers performing their work (ten poets and eight prose writers). It was fantastic to be able to listen to some great writing, and see some old friends (and as it turns out, some new ones), perform their work.
We were given a time limit of 3 minutes, so I performed a little piece called Raisins and Cheese, which is basically a retelling of a conversation I overheard years ago going on at the back of a double decker bus in Hong Kong, at a time before everyone had a mobile phone. It’s fairy accurate retelling of the original conversation (complete with a valley girl accent), and naturally fell into the style of Dr. Seuss.
Once all the writers had read their work, the audience cast one vote for their favourite author or work. Then the votes were tallied and the winner (and runner up) announced, along with their cash prizes. For prose, it was announced that only one vote separated the two frontrunners.
Turns out raisins and cheese is more popular than you’d first think. And no, I didn’t vote for myself.
I want to say thank you to everyone who came along to present their work and everyone who voted. I’d also like to extend my thanks to the board of the Williamstown Literary Festival for creating the event. If you haven’t checked out their program, I strongly suggest you do so. They have a range of events, chats and workshops, and some great guests like Carmel Bird, Shaun Micallef and Corinne Grant. I understand there’s still a number of tickets left, so be sure to have a look.