Tag Archives: Janaka Malwatta

QLD Program Launch Feature #3 – Janaka Malwatta

Word on the street is, tomorrow night’s QPF Program Launch at Riverbend Books is a sell out… that’s right, 100 tickets already in the hands of 100 lucky people. And I stress the word lucky here as the line up is nothing short of scintillating! Sheish Money & Jane Sheehy will add their distinct rock’n’roll flair to the night; Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson will set your heart and mind racing with the rhythm of their words; Michelle Dicinoski will send sparks flying with the launch of her debut collection, Electricity for Beginners; and Janaka Malwatta will make his feature debut, reading from his debut collection, Kavi.

Janaka was born in the Sri Lankan hill capital of Kandy. He came to Brisbane via London, where he spent much of his life. He caught the poetry bug as a medical student in London, and first performed poetry in London at the Stoke Newington International Airport in 2009.  Janaka performs regularly at Speed Poets here in Brisbane and has published a collection of poems entitled Kavi. The poems in the collection are based principally in Sri Lanka. He moonlights as a GP in Brisbane when not performing poetry.

Here’s a recent poem:

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is green again,
as green as the day it was first made,
raised on a terrace at the ocean’s edge.
Stone benches so close to breaking waves,
you inhale ocean spray with every breath.
Pampered like a favoured child,
the lawn gleamed in the sun. A quarter mile
of displaced longing, a European promenade
built under Asian skies.

Galle Face Green is green again.
For twenty years closed off, there but out of reach,
a reminder of times before the city was besieged
by bombers in lorries and suicide vests,
and checkpoints stretched down Galle Road
like yellow dominoes, waiting to fall.
Soldiers in flak-jackets replaced promenaders,
barricades against the threat from the sea.
Untended, Galle Face became barren and brown,
green only in name and in memory.
The terrorists never came this way.
The fences have gone now.
Galle Face Green is green again.

The food stalls are back, but they’ve been corralled,
caged like animals in a purpose-built shack.
Twenty years ago, they roamed free on the grass.
We stood in the open, warm rotis grasped
in hungry hands. Children ran as families gathered at dusk,
to let sea air dispel the day’s city dust.
The in-crowd dropped in, on their way out
Blue Elephant dances, then on to Puloas
the food stalls at Galle Face drew everyone out.

The kites have returned, flapping, fluttering, flashes of colour,
competing with seabirds
in seabreeze dances;
it’s a game they always lose.
Pelicans are perched on top of lamp-posts,
surveying with equal disdain
passing tuk-tuks and the fathers of the nation,
preserved in bronze near Parliament steps,
ties and collars unfamiliar restraints
on over ambitious Asian necks.

Galle Face Green is green again.
Courting couples hide from prying eyes
and the fierce sun under giant umbrellas,
or climb down the steps the tsunami assailed.
The risque couples paddle fully-clothed
ankles and shins cautiously exposed
laughing waves chase them back up the beach.
Children splash in warm ocean waters, kites flutter overhead
tourists snap pelicans on lamp-posts perches
and Galle Face Green is green again.

***************

If you want to try and barter your way in tomorrow night, the details are below. Hope to see you there tomorrow night!

Date: Wednesday 22 June
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

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Book Launch: Electricity for Beginners by Michelle Dicinoski

As part of Wednesday night’s QLD Poetry Festival Program Launch at Riverbend Books, Michelle Dicinoski’s debut collection, Electricity for Beginners will be launched by Bronwyn Lea.

Book launches are an incredibly special thing and none more so than your very first one. Let’s face it, books are a wonderfully slow process, so when they are finally ready to be sent out into the world, a celebration is called for.

Michelle writes poetry and creative non-fiction. Her first poetry collectionis titled, Electricity for Beginners,  published by Clouds of Magellan. She is also currently working on a memoir, Ghost Wife, that tells her own and other women’s stories about same-sex marriage, hidden histories, and belonging. She recently received an Australia Council grant for a new project about forgetting and obsolescence in the digital age.  

Here’s a recent poem that was first published in Cultural Studies Review.

Rounds
 
Friday night another faux-Irish pub
another convocation of the hopeful, the hopeless,
and the undecided.
We watch the covers band struggle with feedback
as the TVs show a soundless montage
of great mishaps in motorsport.
 
We talk shit like it matters.
Strident debate over Best Celebrity Names:
we argue Netanyahu vs Megawati,
Telly Savalas vs Lee Lin Chin.
Trivia savants, we trade facts like marbles:
an upturned Frisbee holds a litre of beer.
Napoleon and Caesar were born with teeth.
Elite archers shoot between heartbeats.
 
At this, we quiet,
try to imagine small acts of precision
till the band plays ‘Come on Eileen’
and we form a rowdy chorus
of toora loo rye, toora loo rye ayes.

******************

Other feature performers on the night include, Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson, Janaka Malwatta and poetic riff-maker, Sheish Money. This Lost Shark will also read a selection of work from Jacob Polley, the 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence as part of the program launch. It is going to be a big night, so make sure you are there to celebrate the launch of Electricity for Beginners and to get a taste of  what’s to come in August when QLD Poetry Festival takes centre stage at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. 

Date: Wednesday 22 June
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

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QPF Program Launch Feature #2: Sheish Money

We are edging closer to the program launch of QLD Poetry Festival 2011 on Wednesday June 22 and with the local line-up of Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson, Janaka Malwatta, Michelle Dicinoski, this Lost Shark reading a set of 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley’s work and Sheish Money, the creative sparks will be flying.

It is always a great pleasure for me to kick back and watch Sheish Money in full swing as often, I am standing beside him, dropping my words into his rolling wave of riffs. Sheish is the engine room of SpeedPoets and a QLD Poetry Festival regular, popping up beside the likes of Tracey Morris for impromptu sets, as well as delivering his own bluesy-poetics. His first book, Another Rock Pig, was released in 2007, along with the DVD, Reception, which was shortlisted in the 2007 QLD Poetry Filmmakers Challenge. And in 2010, he released his debut CD, Would Should Could with his band, Namedropper.

Here’s a live shot from the album, recorded at the now sadly defunct, InSpire Gallery Bar as part of Sheish’s monthly gig, Float:

Tickets for the event are now on sale and regularly sell out, so don’t be one of the people standing on the road craning your neck… buy your ticket and take the ride.

Date: Wednesday 22 June
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

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QLD Poetry Festival Program Launch: Wednesday June 22 featuring Betsy Turcot

It’s almost time to unveil the program for QLD Poetry Festival 2011! So to make the program launch a night to remember, Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are joining forces one last time this year to launch the 2011 program as part of the 2011 Riverbend Poetry Series with readings by a handful of local performers who will be stepping on to the QPF stage during the last weekend in August (26 – 28). 

Feature performers on the night include, dynamic duo, Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson; Michelle Dicinoski, who will read from her debut collection, ‘Electricty for Beginners’; the rhythmically elegant, Janaka Malwatta and poetic riff-maker, Sheish MoneyGraham Nunn will also read a selection of work from Jacob Polley, the 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence as part of the program launch. It is going to be a big night, so make sure you are there to get a taste of what’s to come in August and help the 2011 Riverbend Poetry Series finish with a bang!
 
Date: Wednesday 22 June
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/2508/Riverbend+Poetry+Series 

Here’s a sneak preview at two of our feature artists, Betsy Turcot & Eleanor Jackson, who will be performing as a duo on the night.

Betsy Turcot hails originally from the United States and since relocating to Brisbane, she has contributed her words, her heart and her passion to the city’s vibrant spoken word scene. Host of the popular, bi-monthly “Words or Whatever”, Betsy featured at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival as a member of The Broken Records Collective show “Just Like Me”. With her fresh delivery style, Betsy was a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup. With a BA in English literature, she brings a considered measure to the slam performance genre and is committed to teaching diversity through performance poetry.

Long-term lovers

I am speaking the language long-term lovers do.
I am renting the space between tangled limbs.
The unspoken space where heat lives.
I am crafting my love in a french press,
brought to your slumbering head.
Waking your senses,
defenseless as you rest.
How I cherish this weakness.

Have you seen mine?

Another failed attempt screams red between my thighs.
As all the bellies grow around me,
I watch another chance die.
I need your hands to release the pain I hide.

Is this what love is about?
No more infatuation,
no more heat of the moment,
but the space on your back where I lay my head.
Your heart pounding the beat I have read more times than I can count.
Your hands so soft in my calloused palm.
The script of our history already tea-stained long.

© Betsy Turcot

 

Eleanor Jackson has recently relocated to Brisbane from Melbourne, where she was a regular feature at Melbourne’s numerous poetry venues. Two-time winner of the Midsumma Poetry Out Loud slam, Eleanor has featured at the Overload Poetry and Melbourne Writers Festivals and was the producer of the Melbourne Poetry Map, a series of audio poetry walks supported by the City of Melbourne. Her audio poems have been published in Going Down Swinging and the Cordite Poetry Review, while recordings of her work have been featured on RRR’s “Aural Text”, 3CR’s “Spoken Word”, ABC Radio National’s “Night Air” and the online poetry channel, “IndieFeed: Performance Poetry”. Her poignant, conversational style of poetry is capable of creating powerful quiet.

(untitled)

She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns,
In that she took the ipod when she left,
So I untied my ropes – let sirens sing.

So empty now of jazz or evening swing
I let the house hum silent and bereft –
She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns.

Eventually the winter tuned to spring
I forgot the violation of the theft
So I untied my ropes – let sirens sing

And stalked that record store, “the king of spin”
A shopgirl so deluxe that I forget
She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns

Each week another momentary fling
Transactional, yet sending me to sweat,
So I untied my ropes – let sirens sing

Dancing like a boxer in the ring
I swung out wildly for the hot brunette
She stole my every rock and roll, my hymns
So I untied my ropes, let sirens sing.

© Eleanor Jackson

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The road ahead…

Last night at Confit Bistro will go down as one of the best gigs I have ever been part of. Straight up, I want to thank everyone who could be there (and everyone who wanted to be there). The energy in the room was sparking all night and the smiles beaming back from the floor shone brighter than the lights. And the performances…

Fern Thompsett brought the spirit of emily xyz into the room, with a stunning performance of her poem, Interview with Syd Barrett, Janaka Malwatta kept the beat going with his superb Jazz Man, David Stavanger growled like a dog in a storm and breathed like a dying asthmatic as he belted out Tom Waits’ What’s He Building In There? and his own, When the Devil Comes for Tea, Nathan Shepherdson took us on a T-Rex trip with his piece, Bolan Variations and Sheish Money spilled a little ‘Blood on the Tracks’; his versions of Simple Twist of Fate, If You See Her Say Hello and You’re a Big Girl Now, were unforgettable. To quote Bob, they twisted like a corkscrew threw our hearts.

So again, thank you… it was amazing to stand up in front of a room filled with people I love and do the thing I love. It will make the trip out to Blackall this afternoon fly a little faster. And of course there’ll be no phone or internet out in the beautiful west, so will be back with news early next week.

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