Monday, April 28, 2008

vienna lit fest 2008 - day 3 & after

so here's day 3: after the late nights, i had a bit of a sleep-in on saturday and so the day kind of started with rommi smith's poetry in performance workshop. it was fantastic. we did some great warming-up exercises: breathing, voice, relaxing our muscles. the tasks that rommi set us were really good. i had been a bit scared that i would not be able to come up with anything, because i have been blocked so long, but i did come up with quite a lot of lines, and i have continued to work on one poem begun at the workshop. at the end, rommi performed one of her poems (the theme was slave trade and abolition thereof) - it actually gave me goosebumps.

rommi smith showing us how to perform poetry

at night, i met up with valerio, and we went to ratpack once more. we missed the discussion lifting the veil, about the relationship of western culture with the islamic world, which i was interested in, but i simply could not make it. we were, however, perfectly on time for charles ofoedu's performance. charles is nigerian but has lived here for a long time now. he did not only read poetry, he also talked a little about his experiences in jail and the deaths of black friends of his who were mistreated by the austrian police.

next up was jackie kay. my poet friend john siddique had told me she was a must-see. and he was right, of course. it felt as if jackie were at home in her lounge room entertaining a bunch of friends. what bonding with the audience! she's so funny as well - and her poetry and prose are wonderful, too. i managed to grab one of the last books available and have it signed. :)

the lovely jackie kay

after this highlight, another one: rommi smith performing poems from her collection mornings and midnights. and i mean performing, not reading. she was supported by kenny higgins on bass, and some of her lines were whispered, others sung ... amazing what she does with her voice. the poems explore the life of a fictitious jazz diva who used to tour with several jazz legends and who has just read about her own death in some paper. rommi really had everyone's attention. wow.

rommi smith, mid-performance

of course we did not go home after the performances, but we talked to jackie and clare and rommi; clare told us some more stories as we were sitting around a table with bruno, ruth, harold, valerio and a few others, sipping beers or cocktails ... it was great, and i was pretty high on all the buzz and fun and lit vibes.

ladies swapping secrets: jackie and clare

bruno and valerio trying to squeeze my brain to a pulp

clare, nicely decorated, with johnny unger, not so nicely decorated, in the background

and it would not have been v & me if we had not walked all the way to karlsplatz afterwards. it was *really* late when i got home!

on sunday, i met up with clare and rommi in the afternoon and we spent a good hour chatting and sitting/walking in the sun. they are two exceptionally lovely women, and a lot of fun.

clare was off on monday morning, but rommi was still in town, and valerio and i went out to a cocktail bar with her, monday night. interesting conversation, laughter, and some poetry talk. very nice. very.

that was the 2008 lit fest. many, many thanks to julia novak and her team once again, for making all that happen. i hope there will be another one soon.

i still have not had time to edit many of the pics, but once i have them on flickr, i will post a link here.

song of the day: linger by the cranberries.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

vienna lit fest 2008 - day 2

no time for anything, so no time for blogging, but here is day 2 of the lit fest:

julia had asked me to pick up british poet rommi smith at one of the train stations and take her to the lunch reception for us vienna lit VIPs. *g* the reception was at josephine's house in the 19th district - very beautiful part of the city. it was lovely to talk with rommi on the way there - about her workshop at a school, about poetry, about life.

at the reception i met clare murphy and joe brennan, two irish storytellers who liz gallagher put me - or rather julia, the director - in touch with. they are such lovely people, and great fun, too. i bumped into nigerian poet charles ofoedu there for the first time in over ten years - he used to be good friends with my friend tom. i met mehru jaffer, gabriele pötscher (who co-wrote two books with an old acquaintance of mine, walter hölbling), bruce holland rogers, our host josephine, and brian patten and sylvia petter were there, too. great food, interesting discussions, a lot of laughter, and some sunshine - not a bad friday afternoon!

clare murphy going all jackie o. and joe brennan pretending not to care

at the reception: sylvia petter, brian patten, gabriele pötscher, brian's partner linda, charles ofoedu, bruce holland rogers

i was at the venue, ratpack, at 6, in time for the school slam. students between 14 and 18 had responded to a poem by jackie kay, and the final 18 presented their work on stage at ratpack and a jury of three women, including jackie kay herself, chose a winner and two runners-up (and, as it were, one HM). you've really got to admire those young people - i don't think i could have read an english poem to an audience of 100+ at that age! i would have been way too nervous, and anyway, what few poems i had written at the time, well, they were not exactly great. :)

school slam winner!

after the slam, bruce holland rogers from the united states read some of his short short stories. i particularly enjoyed one called egypt, which was rather funny.

next up was one of the events i had really been looking forward to: clare murphy and joe brennan, the two irish storytellers. they were fantastic. i don't think there was anyone in the audience who was not spellbound. people were listening and watching open-mouthed.

joe's frog story was great fun, the audience was asked to join in, and i just loved how that seemed to bring out the child in so many! do visit joe's website.

joe brennan in action

i loved the long story that clare told, an irish tale. do go and check clare out on youtube and stop by her myspace site.

clare murphy, storyteller extraordinaire

happy clare and happy joe after their performances

gabriele pötscher (graz-based american) and walter hölbling (graz-based austrian) read from their two collections of poetry, one of which i had read some years ago. i particularly enjoyed gabriele's tongue-in-cheek and sassy poems. it was also great to finally meet walter after so many years of corresponding online.

julia had asked me to read my poem how to survive in vienna, the poem published in the vienna views anthology in 2006, at the open mic. i was the second or third reader at the open mic and read the requested poem as well as a vienna-themed poem from small confessions & pebbles of regret. i got immediate reactions there - people smiling, chuckling, etc - and quite a bit of applause!

i would have stayed longer, but clare and joe asked me to join them for food and drinks, so i left, together with the storytellers, harold, a couple of vienna lit girls and georg in his kilt. we had a great time, and clare seemed to come to life again after having eaten more than two grown men ... *g*

i got home very late, but happy and feeling, well, YAY!! :)

day 3 to follow - pictures ditto.

song of the day: westwards we're headed by lucky jim.

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.

Friday, April 18, 2008

vienna lit festival, part 1

this is a very short shorty - it is 01.40am and i need to get up in less than five hours (looooong day: teaching, reception for authors, lit fest day 2), but i have to say that the reading went really, really well, and i had such wonderful feedback, i am still high on it about six hours later! and i have to thank my lovely, lovely friends gudrun, birgit, tom, sonja, nathan, and valerio for being there - most of them especially for me. *very touched*

there will be more, there will be pictures. what did frank n furter say in the rocky horror picture show? wait for it. ;)

song of the day: diferente by gotan project.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

yeah. well.

song of the day: breathe by anna nalick.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

smiles ...

... to exorcise the bloody bug:

"groped" - photo by ronnie

"smooched" - photo by ronnie

"blurry michi" - photo by valerio landa

"post-kaizers-euphoria: sabine, michi, valerio" -
photo by valerio landa

song of the day: mann mot mann by kaizers orchestra.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

up. down.

waaaaahhhhh!!! so i am just getting over that nasty cold, right, and what do you think happens? i catch a stomach bug. great. just about perfect. it is not as bad as it could be, but that doesn't make vomiting any more fun. thing is, no matter how blah i feel, i still have to get lots of things done this weekend, and i am very proud to have finished my prep work already.

this clip here cheered me up yesterday, and cheered me up again today. check out demetri martin's website.

song of the day: song of the ghetto by stéphanie valentin.

Friday, April 11, 2008

more fun! more noise! more kaizers! [edited]

the title of this blog post refers to a blog entry of september 2005 and my first encounter with the marvellous kaizers orchestra - arguably the best live band on the planet. having missed their last concert in vienna, because it was sold out before i realised they'd be playing here, i'd been looking forward to yesterday's concert since i reserved the ticket way back in december. having preached the greatness of the six norwegians, i did not have to go alone: sabine and valerio, both kaizers newbies, came along to arena. just like on the 28 september 2005, i was feeling under the weather - i have had a nasty cold for the past few days. but. miss a kaizers concert? nah. no way. so what if my voice was all but gone around 4 this afternoon. (as long as it's back by thursday, everything's fine. *g*) so what if i went to bed at 01.30, because i was too hyper to sleep. kaizers rock. quite literally, too.

janove aka "the jackal", charismatic frontman and responsible for most of the band's songs, has grown his hair and certainly hasn't lost any of his scandinavian sex-god-liness (see blog post of 09/2005). helge "the omen" kaizer deserves his own fan club for his unique, almost bizarre appearance (tailored suit, moustache, and gas mask) and inimitable way of playing the pump organ (sometimes he reminds me of a half-asleep, moody rowlf - yes, the one from the muppets show). drummer rune "mink" kaizer is a beast; in the best possible sense. øyvind "thunder" kaizer loves his bass, and it loves him back. and the guitarists geir "hellraizer" kaizer and terje "killmaster" kaizer, well, let's just say their nicknames aren't a coincidence. and those guys know how to rock. oh yes. in addition to more traditional instruments, oil barrels and hubcaps cannot be missing on a KO stage - it does get noisy. and that is a good thing. the guys give everything they have - but they get a lot back from their fans.

it's quite fascinating, really: a band sings in norwegian, and maybe a handful of the 1100 people in the audience understand more than a few bits and pieces of the lyrics, but from the moment they appear on stage, janove has everyone wrapped around his little finger. for the band it must be quite amazing to have an austrian audience take over and sing a chorus in norwegian at the top of their lungs (sving din hammer / til din papa drar deg inn / trekk et rom nummer / men ikkje bland din med min - maestro)!

kaizers played songs off their new album as well as many of their classics - maestro, blitzregn baby, kontroll på kontinentet, mann mot mann, delikatessen, ompa til du dør, dieter meyers inst., bøn fra helvete ... but of course KO is not a band to just play their songs, they celebrate their music - and so do their fans. and janove is not one to keep quiet between songs: he talks and asks questions and jokes and fools around. it's pure joy to watch a band have so much fun at work. this is what their fans love them for. and i cannot for the life of me imagine any fan actually going off them again.

the great news is that they announced another appearance in vienna in october or november. and guess who's going?

valerio and sabine totally loved it, too. :)
v was the man with the camera, i hope to have a couple of photos to share some time soon.

i just had to watch the kaizers live dvd today, plus all the bonus material. they're a lovely bunch of guys. may they be around for a long, long time.

and here's some kaizers for you. enjoy.

editing in for a p.s.: geoff berner was the support act - worth checking out. gypsy folksy klezmer punk sort of music from vancouver, canada. ;)

editing in once more: i've sneaked into valerio's facebook photo album and nicked a couple of pictures (which i am sure is perfectly okay if i tell you that they are NOT MINE, they are VALERIO's, and he is not only nice and talented, he also has the most beautiful hair!):

song of the day: maestro by kaizers orchestra.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

sandalous girl

i am getting stranger and stranger by the minute. today i tried on a skirt (no, this is not the strange part), and the shop assistant brought me a pair of strappy sandals with 6 cm (2.4 in) heels just to see what it looked like with "proper" shoes.

me: "nice, but exactly the kind of shoes i absolutely don't wear. can't wear."

her: "why?"

me: "because i can't walk in such shoes. i'd break every possible bone in my feet and legs within five minutes!"

her: "then it's about time you started practising!"

me: "no way!"

fast forward, an hour (and approx. 12 trousers, 2 dresses (!), 3 t-shirts, and 3 skirts) later: michi leaves the shop with a pair of jeans, a skirt, a t-shirt - and the sandals which she has grown rather fond of over the past hour. something odd is going on here. hmmm.

* * * * *

in the mailbox today: patrick carrington's Hard Blessings and suzanne frischkorn's American Flamingo, both in exchange for my secret meanings.

* * * * *

i still have not made the final decisions re what to read at the lit fest - which is in 8 days!! slowly getting a little panicky here. i heard yesterday that there will be a reception for authors reading at the festival, next friday at 1pm. now if only i can get rid of this horrible cold before next thursday ...

the vienna lit fest programme (click to enlarge):

* * * * *

kaizers orchestra concert with sabine and valerio tomorrow! yay!!

song of the day: we had it right by nellie mckay & k d lang.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

café kafka

as promised - pics of the latest open mic at café kafka (friday, 04 april). my new - and very brave - friend valerio decided to come along, and what's even better: he did not regret it afterwards!

i read what is the sound of one hand clapping?, and one of the letters from small confessions & pebbles of regret. cristina, the special guest from mexico, asked me to read the german translations of two poems for her, so there was a first for me - reading in german! we took tons of photos, i loved hillary keel's poem about istanbul, and martin aka homemade gordon banks is just the bestest mc ever. especially in spanish. :)

the reading part was over around 11.45, and then we stayed to chat with some of the regulars, and the newly-weds ruth & bruno dropped in ... and i did not get home until 2 am!

martin, bestest mc in the whole wide ... erm, wien?

blurry but having fun: valerio & i

hillary & harold

happiness has a name: ruth & bruno, the newlyweds

valerio has a laugh

two lovely ladies - ruth & i

more pictures on my flickr page .

song of the day: madagascar by gogol bordello.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

what i've been meaning to blog about but never got around to ...

so much for my time off work: of course, me being me, i had to come down with a bad cold and a fever for a few days. i am sure it had nothing to do with me standing around in the chilly morning air last sunday ... duh. :)

monday: farewell to the loveliest bunch of students ever. i was almost embarrassed by all the wonderful feedback. and one student told me that she was particuarly impressed with me as a person, even more than me as a teacher. does feedback get any better than this? we went for lunch and ice-cream after class. unfortunately, not everyone could come, but ... i am sure they were there in spirit.

apples make a girl happy - nadine

andy and "his" martha

werner, doro, marianne

the wild teacher and the crazy bunch

* * * * *

tuesday, i went to one of my favourite haunts again, the central cemetery. i spent several hours in the new jewish section, where i had never been before, and took lots of photos. later that afternoon, ronnie joined me, and we walked around some other parts of that beautiful place for a while longer. here are some pictures - for more, please visit my flickr page.

* * * * *

wednesday, there were people to see, but i was feeling blah - and when i got home around eight, i knew why: 38C, my thermometer said. so, off to bed, and i guess i sweated most of it out. i was supposed to be working thursday afternoon and evening, but that had to be cancelled. :(

the good thing about thursday was that i received the ten author's copies of small confessions & pebbles of regret, as well as loch raven review 2007, and carolyn guinzio's west pullman.

friday, i felt up to going to the open mic at night, but i will blog more about that later, when i have edited the tons of photos!

another week i did not make it to the movies - but i got to watch into the wild with my students last week, it is fantastic. very beautiful, and my students found it as moving as i did.

song of the day: ask the mountains (extended version) by vangelis & stina nordenstam.