Multilingual Poetry Event in Iceland

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I had one of the most humbling experiences of my life. March 21st is the day of many things–World Poetry Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the final day of Nordic Multilingual Month. To celebrate this special day, Booktowns and Gullkistan got together to create Margmálaljóðakvöldi,  a multilingual poetry event in Hveragerði.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent Australia at the event, and read two of my own poems. I was extremely nervous, and my voice was a little shaky, but I had such a great time sharing my work. The energy in the space was incredible. There were people from Iran, Syria, Finland, France, Sweden, Iceland (obviously), and more, all there to read poetry in their native languages, and to celebrate art and cultural diversity.

You could really feel the love and warmth emanating from the readers and the listeners the whole night, and as we shared our work, we were all reminded of how beautiful human beings can be. The art museum, Listasafn Árnesinga, was the perfect setting, with thought-provoking modern art as a backdrop to the event.

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The Gullkistan family

It was such a heart-warming, nerve-wracking, and beautiful experience, and I am so grateful to Gullkistan and Booktowns for putting it together. It’s definitely an experience that I will always remember. Each reader was gifted a different book of Icelandic poetry, and I received a beautiful hardcover that is completely handwritten. It has quickly become one of my favourite things.

As always, thank you so much for reading.

All the best,

Tamara

(The pictures were sent to me by Kristveig Halldórsdóttir)

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My First Reading at a Literary Salon

Hello Everybody!

I apologise for being so absent lately; it’s week 10 of the university semester and I am well and truly in over my head. Something exciting did happen last Thursday though… I did my first ever reading at a literary salon. I was chosen to read three of my poems to a small but enthusiastic crowd at the Menagerie in Kelvin Grove. I felt the nerves all day, and no matter what I did, my poems wouldn’t stop playing on repeat in my head. I tried to read, but my brain-voice reciting my poetry drowned out Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Not even music could shut the poems up.

When it finally came to the evening, I had been at uni all day, and my nerves had kind of exhausted themselves. My house mates came to watch, and the other readers were my colleagues from my uni class, so the atmosphere was so comforting and familiar. It was a great experience, and although I flinched at the sound of my voice through the microphone at first, by the third line I felt just fine. I will be sure to share the link to the YouTube video as soon as it comes out.

As you may know, I’m going on a little trip to Melbourne on Wednesday, so I’ll definitely be posting about my time there.

Until then,

Yours truly,

Tamara Drazic

P.S. Submissions for Issue#2 of Spinebind magazine close in 6 days.

Christian Bök at the QUT Literary Salon

“Many artists seek to attain immortality through their art, but few would expect their work to outlast the human race and live on for billions of years. As Canadian poet Christian Bök has realized, it all comes down to the durability of your materials.”—The Guardian

This evening I attended the last QUT Literary Salon of the year, where Christian Bök was set to read from his book, “The Xenotext”. Bök is a Canadian poet who does a lot of experimental work. I’m a big fan of his book, “Eunoia”, where he dedicated each chapter to using only one specific vowel. His latest project is something I had never heard of before – he has encoded a poem into a strand of DNA and then put that DNA into the genome of a living, and unkillable, organism. This organism’s proteins then respond to the poem, and spell out the subsequent lines, creating a never-ending, living, and unkillable poem. This idea absolutely fascinates me, although I’m still a little confused about how it all works while I’m writing this. I feel so privileged to have heard Bök read out the first words that the organism responded with. The “Xenotext Experiment” means so much more to me than a fusion of science and language; it shows that language can live forever.

I’ve always looked at books as time capsules. I have a book in my bookshelf about Leninism, and I love it not because I’m really interested in its content, but because it was published in Russia during the second World War. It has seen so much, and has been passed through the hands of so many. Bök’s “Xenotext” is an extension of the notion of language as a time capsule, as this poem will continue on long after humans have gone, or until, in Bök’s words this evening, “the sun itself explodes”.

Christian Bök was the final reader of the evening, and there were three student readers before him. Each of them had their own specific style, ranging from prose poetry to more traditional, rhythmic verse. I always love to hear the work of other young writers, and be inspired by the uninhibited risks they take. Hopefully next year I’ll be reading some of my own work at the literary salon.

The salons are held every month at the Menagerie, an intimate café/bar in the QUT Creative Industries Precinct. For more information on the salons, and videos of the readings, check out their official blog at: https://qutliterarysalon.wordpress.com/

Thanks so much for reading,

Tamara Drazic