Monday, May 19, 2008

Social Darwinism

Hey!  It's the end of the WordStorm Festival in Darwin, and I think everyone's agreed it was EXCELLENT.  Big kudos to organiser Sandra Thibodeaux (and yeah, I'm doing this partly 'cos I think props should be googlable).

From my meagre experience of lit festivals in Singapore/Hong Kong/Darwin, I'm now starting to understand that each one - being almost by definition international - each one entails a new perspective on multiculturalism (and of course, often once you're settled with one multiculturalism you tend to get kinda smarmy and showoffy and confident in your own cosmopolitanism, when in fact there are global multiculturalisms to be digested, each contingent on regional history and geography and context).

What we've got, here on the tip of the Northern Territory, is a assembly of writers in various genres (including drama, lotsa poetry, and journalism - literary, sports and gonzo).  We're mostly women (someone explained that in Australia women are more literate), and I've a suspicion that aside from me, no-one's under the age of 30 (except the volunteers, and maybe they should count - a number of them are writers themselves).

And we're all equatorial or Southern - whitefella and blackfella Australian, Indonesian, East Timorese, Papuan.  Of the Singapore contingent, only Shu Hoong and I are native; Shamini Flint (who's enormous fun), is a Malaysian expat with a big political identity crisis (grew up wanting to be banned from Singapore, ends up loving it here but also wary of the dangers of keeping to the expat community) and Deepika Shetty is India-born (says she can get way more journalism done in Singapore, as long as she's pushy).

I've met all these remarkable people - gaaaaah, Indonesian intellectual idol Goenawan Mohammad likes my poetry!!!  I'm all jiggly inside!!!!  And so does mega-lesbo-crime-novelist-in-verse Dorothy Porter, who gave me a signed copy of Crete, which she says contains her best poetry (unfortunately I'd just bought a copy myself, but she signed both).  And Sandra Tillman - damn, she's this sweet and gentle high school teacher and mother of two who transforms into a voice of anger for breakfast when she performs Timor Lesterian social injustice in Tetum or Bahasa Indonesia.

I am incredibly, incredibly... fuck, inspired sounds so trite, and it's not the right word.  But thrilled, just remembering them.  More joyous at the plenitude of the world.

Oh look, it's sunrise.  :)

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