Recently, my life has been very much like Osama bin Laden’s. Mostly in that I keep telling people I’ve been living in a cave, when really I’ve been living in a fortified outer-urban compound wrapped in a blanket. Also I have a long-standing fear of aquatic mammals. The reason I’ve been living in compound isolation (which differs from standard isolation in that the percentage of isolation accrued is added to the principal incrementally for future calculation) is because I have been making a literary anthology called Going Down Swinging.
Part one of this launches this Friday, and is a digital anthology. On that note, if anyone got an RSS notification about a locked post, that’s just some layout testing I’m doing, there’s nothing exciting in there yet. The results will be in GDS. By digital anthology I mean an ebook type thing for iPads and iPhones and cetera, but one that’s much fancier and full of magic than traditional books. Why? Because electronics mean you can include film, songs, interactivity, all kinds of things the page can’t reproduce. Not that we don’t love paper books – part two is a massive print anthology and CD due out at the Melbourne Writers Festival. But we’re doing both.
The launch is at the Builders Arms this Friday June 17, from about 8. We’ll have a GDS spoken word commission from Eleanor Jackson (volcanic ash permitting), as well as performances and readings from Sean Whelan and the Interim Lovers, Eric Dando, Ruby J Murray, and myself.
There have been 17 different artists – writers, filmmakers, photographers, painters, musicians, poets, essayists – involved in the 16 works in the anthology. Here are a few of the things I’m excited about.
Eric Yoshiaki Dando – Beautiful Useful Things
This is just one of the best long-form short stories I can remember reading. Told in small subtitled fragments, and interspersed with simple ink drawings by the author, it’s based (I imagine) on his experience managing criminals and ex-cons in a community gardening project. The observations are so right, the characters so spot-on. It’s hysterical and wrong and substantial in equal measure.
Dee comes to me with his coffee in hand, he has been to look at the snow peas and some of them seem to be infected with a fungus or something. I go with him and have a look at them, they just seem a bit dried out. “I think they are going to be OK,” I say. “They just need support. Can you help me with them for a sec?”
Dee fans his fingers out in front of him. “I like their little hands,” he says, grasping at the rungs of an invisible ladder. “They grab on. They climb up.”
Rosanna Stevens – Nefertiti Rides Me
The internet is pretty sweet, right? First Rosanna does a translation of a Dorothy Porter poem…into music. It’s played as an instrumental by a cello duet. Then we get an essay dissecting what the process was and how the result was achieved. As the essay discusses various parts of the composition, embedded text lets you hear the section under discussion, isolated and recorded separately to the duet. This whole project makes my head hurt. As a bonus, the cello piece is so good it might make you cry.
Jessica McCausland – Cover image
A big theme of this edition was art under construction, seeing how we get to the final product. We have Jess’ beautiful cover image, commissioned and hand-drawn for us (see below). Then we have images of all of the drafts that she went through on the way, so we can see the trajectory she followed. To cap it off we have a time-lapse video of her drawing, painting, and cutting the entire cover image by hand, filmed from scratch. It’s. Amazing. (Find more of her stuff here, she’s pretty much The Shit.)
Caitlin Thomson – Incident Reports: The Vanishing
A poem written as a series of report cards, we decided to get textural on its arse. This poem required us to treat a whole bunch of old paper, type out the cards one by one on an ancient typewriter, then photograph and edit up the results to install in the ebook. The easy way is for chumps. And people who like to sleep.
Nick Marland – Selections from the Encyclopaedia of Notable Persons Never Born Due to Contraception.
This piece meant I had to arrange a series of increasingly ludicrous photo-shoots, involving smoke grenades, prayer sessions, wading pools and red wine baths. Through the pen of Mr Marland and the lens of the wonderful Erin Lyall, the results are brilliant.
Under Milk Wood – Vanessa Hughes
That thing of boxes within boxes? Yeah, well, first there was Dylan Thomas writing Under Milk Wood. Then Zoe Norton Lodge and Vanessa Hughes turned it into a one-woman play, which was a huge hit at the last Fringe festival and elsewhere. Then Hughes managed to use extracts to turn the entire play into this surreal, dreamy, 13-minute film version of it. Incorporating live footage, animation, overlays, original paintings, a mass of strange lighting effects, and all manner of things I can’t explain, when I watch this I feel like I’ve eaten a tub of mushrooms and want to crawl into the computer screen.
I’ll leave the rest to be surprises should you decide to pick the thing up (figuratively speaking). There’s more fiction, comic art, audio, film, poetry, and letter-writing inside. You should be able to download it from our website on Friday, or come to the launch and grab a download code.