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EWF14: Mixtape Memoirs

by Twitchy on June 6, 2014

Attending consecutive days of a writing festival, family life and packing for a house move surely don’t mix. I knew this but all the same I’d rather share festival highlights than focus on loco logistics. Starting with the most recent and working backwards. (To the best of my underslept, addled memory.)

Wednesday night was Mixtape Memoirs: “A desperately romantic line up of writers and musicians have written memoirs based on songs they put on mixtapes for teenage lovers […] This night is the mix CD you shoved in the backpack of that sweetie back in high school.” At my vintage I’m kind of surprised anyone here remembers what one of those is.

This night was different in format from previous programming in that it was held at The Toff in Town; a dark and night-clubby performance space.


Karaoke time

Jack Colwell’s gregarious debut MC spot was well received, rounded out by also introducing himself as the first Mixtape reader. His tune? Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, relating to a confusing and messy male-love pursuit which ended precisely at 11am on a Sunday and Jack finding himself “cold and… shamed, lying naked on the floor.”

Chad Parkhill detailed some explicit realities of dual virginity loss “what we lacked in technique we made up for with pimply teenage enthusiasm,” and dating girls, moving swiftly on to bedding flatmates and fellas and a general self-discovery trajectory that even he seemed surprised to hear himself read out loud.

Jenny Valentish read a comical account of what happens when a wide-eyed and flat-chested young lifeguard meets a (pre-emo!) Goth who loves Hanoi Rocks. Despite any maternal approval she was after her “John Hughes movie moment, a Judd Nelson air punch,” her rollercoaster tale finishing up with her reverting to the open-bedroom-door-rule again.

Geoffrey O’Connor pleased me by playing a Smiths tune, the only one from my own adolescent era. Even then “Pretty Girls Make Graves” was quite likely played ironically. Curiously, two girls he’d pursued had been fans and despite any confirmed taste for it he’d found himself exposed to the music twice thanks to them.

Anna Dunnill began by singing her chosen song “This Year” by the Mountain Goats, accompanying herself on the ukulele. Hating fiercely on her boyfriend of the time, ostensibly for his offensively bouncy shoulder-length hair, on reflection she suspected there may have been a little bit more going on at the time.

Sam West elicited much laughter with his “thinly-veiled autobiographical” adventures. His Cosmic Gates song which promised “cyborg romance” actually materialised in the form of a recollection that included girls sneaking out of windows, love and passion pop in Ferntree Gully and dancing like a robot.


Laurie May is a passionate, Indigenous-Anglo feminist, the “hardest working poet” and well known in her local Alice Springs. Laurie’s take was more sobering; the audience silent and attentive during her tale of a “grey lizard” who thought she needed to become a “f*ckable Princess” as that is what was expected. She spoke of the messages young girls are sold in needing to be smiling, available and compliant to be “loved”. She says her story has a happy ending however, because she got to be a “grey lizard” again. Laurie is involved in running festivals and the Red Dirt Poetry Festival is coming up soon.
Just then, I noticed the lovely Ella Hooper crouching behind her table at my feet- there’s something that doesn’t happen every day. She got up to read as the final speaker and after “Aurora” by Veruka Salt played, she spoke of moving on from the love of thirteen year old besties and on to first moves with boys.

She and MC buddy Jack closed the evening with a karaoke-style performance of The Motels “Total Control”.

Ella Hooper is a team leader on ABC’s Spicks and Specks and Low High is the first single from her debut solo album, ‘In Tongues’.

Mixtape Memoirs was presented in partnership with publication The Lifted Brow.
The Emerging Writers’ Festival concludes tonight with a wrap party:
6:00 PM, Friday 6 June 2014
Thousand Pound Bend
361 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee Wilson June 9, 2014 at 11:45 am

What a cool night out! I remember those Torn days. I even had my hair cut like Natalie Imbruglia!


Grace June 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Oh, that sounds like a fun night! I bet you’re like a giddy kid in a candy shop, being amongst all those like-minded people 🙂 x


Deb @ Bright and Precious June 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm

What an interesting night! I feel so uncultured at the moment – this has made me crave some!


Twitchy June 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Yes, well I did feel rather cultured but also a tiny bit old!

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