Sunday, April 20, 2008

vienna lit fest 2008 - day 1

i have to do this in instalments or i will never get any work (yeah, that four-letter-word!) done. so here's day 1:

was i nervous? was i? you bet. thanks to valerio for making sure i actually showed up at the venue, vienna's ratpack. *g* and thanks again to my lovely friends who came to ... well, make me even more nervous. ;)

sylvia petter kicked off the lit fest with her short story "Bogey Man" from the collection "Back Burning", which i enjoyed, despite being a little distracted before my own performance. sandra huber was next, reading some of her recent poetry. cool sounds in her lines, and very charming stuttering. :)

vienna voices - sylvia petter, sandra huber, julia novak, me

and then it was my turn. i began with a poem from my manuscript-in(-sort-of)-progress, elemental, oxygen (o) – first kiss, the poem dedicated to sean power who was the first boy to kiss me - properly, that is - and who drowned in 2004. i could sense that the audience went quiet and were really listening, and i felt myself relax halfway through the poem. next was rho from the greek letter series, and it went really well. i followed that up with a poem from small confessions & pebbles of regret, and it was as if the people in the audience were holding their breath at times, it was fantastic! i enjoy reading that poem out loud – and the same can be said for the last one i read, a very personal poem – Open Letter to A Poet. i'd had really good feedback on that one before, and i just had to read it at the festival. i could see on people's faces that i really *had* them, which was, well, *wow*, and then there was so much applause, i was totally overwhelmed and thrilled. :)

me, being a poet in public ;)

after the reading, victoria, one of my vienna-based poetry acquaintances, came up to me and said "you look great, and ... your last two poems ... i was so touched, some of the lines brought tears to my eyes!" i am sure i blushed, though it was probably hard to tell, because my face was all flushed anyway. ;)

then the wonderful rommi smith approached me to say she had just bought both my books and would i sign them for her, and where could she get hold of that last poem ... i was sooooo thrilled! she also mentioned that people had actually gasped and held their breath at the back, in reaction to Open Letter.

i got myself a new fan that evening, too, oxana, who's originally from moscow and who gave me such lovely feedback that i ended up beaming so much they could have switched off the lights! ;) stacy from the vienna review asked me a few questions, random people congratulated me ...

my new fan oxana with her friend

and my friends hugged me and told me they were proud of me, it just made me feel very loved and fuzzy and warm, and later that evening i said to a couple of friends that i was really, really happy. no "but". no "if". just plain happy.

next up was british poet brian patten whose reading i enjoyed a lot. one could see that the man has had a lot of experience performing – he read alongside neruda and ginsberg when he was an up-and-coming poet and worked closely with adrian henri and roger mcgough. i bought one of brian's books and had it signed, of course, poet groupie that i am. *g*

brian patten and julia novak, event manager extraordinaire

brian patten and this weird woman ...

labyrinth poets peter waugh, homemade gordon banks, felix de mendelssohn and toby fischer rounded off the evening with poetry "round the world" – some interesting stuff there, though the poem about the part of austria that i come from was not a compliment ... *s*

of course i did not leave immediately after the reading, there was some poetry talk with several people before valerio and i walked all the way back to karlsplatz, and i caught the last underground train home.

the only problem was – i could not get in my front door. my key would not fit. hm. now – right door. right key. not drunk. okaaaay. deep breath. try again. the key wouldn't go in any further than about a centimetre. my downstairs neighbour joined me, having been on the last train as well. we tried her key. nothing. hm. not good. we tried again and again. so the question was, of course, what do you do when you cannot get into your house at 1 a.m.? there were no lights on in any of the apartments facing the street. so who were we going to wake to get in? i was soooo glad that i was not alone – and so was petra. we were just about to get a little desperate when a light went on on the first floor, so we rang and rang the doorbell, and petra's neighbour opened the door for us. whoever went in last before us, might have left the door open, you know ... that would have been a smart move.

i was too high on good lit fest vibes to go to bed immediately – all the wonderful feedback and the buzz and the other performances and connecting with new people had me up until well past 2.

day 2 and many photos to follow, i have to get some work done now. i am already beginning to panic when i think of what's coming this week ... teaching, translation work, prep work, socialising, doctors' appointments ...

song of the day: this is the life by amy macdonald.


Chrissi said...

I wish I could have been there! It sounds like such a great time, I'm really sad that I have to miss it this year. How does it compare to the first viennalit festival, in terms of atmosphere and visitors and general vibe?

and congrats on your readings! :) I would have loved to hear them...

Regards from the other side of the big bond,

michi said...

chrissi, thanks for your note! how are you doing out there? when are you back?

the atmosphere was great. the venue was really good, and the audience mostly paying attention, sometimes it was totally quiet and there was this sense of expectation. people were spellbound by some of the performances. for me it was even better than the last one in terms of networking, it was great to be invited to the lunch reception for the participants on friday. i was more involved this time, which made it more exciting for me. i loved it all. the only thing i missed was the discussion on saturday evening, because i just could not make it, and i took one workshop - more about that in my posts about days 2 and 3!

i am sure you would have enjoyed the lit fest!!


Chrissi said...

I’m good here – time is flying!; I’ll be back in a month. Looking forward to read about days 2 and 3!

Anonymous said...

wonderful, ms. m! you look so confident and relaxed on the stage!

wishing like mad i could be there. great to read through though.


Collin Kelley said...

Oh, this looks like fun!

michi said...

oh, this was! :)

Liz said...

You sure look the part of the professional poet, Michi : )

It all sounds brillaint...looking forward to next instalment!