Prose and Poetry in Cat City

This is quite late a post but I have very limited Internet access in Kuching. Don’t ask me why. It’s either some bloody dial-up (which works not) or have to go to a cafe with wifi access. Going to Kuching can be quite trying for me, at times. I wrote this post on 3 Aug which was the day the event was held, so read on (I shall stop being so grumpy today).

Stories about Backstreet Boys, a sea witch who seeks to break her own spell, corny love poems, Freddy and his 3-horned, 8-legged monster of a cow, the anguish of waiting for a love that never comes and the story of a wild boar piglet called Pumba reared in suburban Kuching – these and more were the creative expressions of a bunch of Kuchingites who shared on a Sunday afternoon at Bing, a coffee place in the heart of Kuching’s Chinatown (also known as Padungan).

It was vibrant! It was funny! It was also quite an afternoon of jitters and nervous laughter initially.

As everyone warmed up, the mood was set for more writings from the heart.

Nic and I were there to support and accompany Robert who was reading one of his short stories and promoting his new book, a new and revised edition of Lovers and Strangers Revisited (which was published by MPH this time – the older edition of the same title was published by Silverfish Books).

I didn’t expect Gette the organiser of Words-Worth (the afternoon of poetry and prose had a name) to drop my name into a plastic jug of names. These names were folks who had volunteered to read something that afternoon.

They came prepared.

I came with nothing! Aaargggh!

Except my Asus Eee PC which until then Nic was using to check his email while we were waiting for Words-Worth to begin.

Luckily Robert gave me an idea (thanks, Robert). He said,”Read something from your blog!”

Now that was a good idea though I hadn’t any really recent entries except one dated 28 July. But what the heck. This is a no-holds barred, read-what-you-want-to-read event where people clapped and cheered, to support each other’s poetic and prose efforts.

I was the high tech one that afternoon as my name was called. I didn’t mean for it to be this way but everyone else came prepared with a notebook or slips of A4 paper. I was truly hamming it. I was reading from my blog…..which was surreal because most of what I wrote was about this event at Bing! Ha. Cue Twilight Zone music…..

Did I enjoy it? Yes, amazingly I did.

I loved hearing each story as they reflected a raw honesty in terms of perspective and subject matter. I got a glimpse of these Sarawak writers/poets valued; what they enjoyed doing even though it was nerve-wrecking for many (they were truthful about it but they went on sharing their poems and stories in their own ways…call it true dedication to the God of Words).

What a supportive way to keep the craft of writing alive – gather a bunch of people from all walks of life, lecturers, students, musicians, journalists, etc interested in words and asking them to help us discover how words can be arranged to inspire, provoke and tickle us in various ways.

It also made me aware of the many ways one can read and one can Read. Maggie’s piece about Backstreet Boys made me laugh because she read with such energy that everyone ‘saw’ in their mind’s eyes the two teenage girls in their convertible in the middle of Nevada trying to bring their own fantasy of Backstreet Boys to life, wishing a bus-load of the boys would suddenly spring out of nowhere and cart them off to more summer time fun!

Gette’s sea witch story got me thinking of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. I could see voluptuous Ursula and her bad intentions, which were now tempered with a little empathy.

Aaron’s t-shirt “Tonight I am Single” got my attention as well as his black nail polish but his poems showed a tenderness, a kind of love in its first flush which any girl would want her doting guy to serenade her with. Never judge the t-shirt wearer by the t-shirt he wears!

Now why don’t we have such things in Penang? (Someone would say, start it la….but I think it takes a group of excited people to start and sustain it. I think starting something is easy but sustaining it…well, that’s where it gets interesting).

It would be fun and highly motivating to spur each other on to produce material which will be read out loud. It would give meaning to our work and relieve us of self consciousness. It would allow closet writers and poets to honour their lifework and have an appreciative audience to write for.

It would give us validation. That’s what writers want sometimes. A little push that says, my work is worthy!

Thanks, Gette, for the brilliant idea of Words-Worth which is a great way for writers and poets to network and spend a Sunday afternoon, sipping coffee and listening to prose and poetry.

I was an absolute newbie at readings but after today, I am super-excited to say I attended, yay, I am no longer a reading virgin.

For those who live in Kuching and are interested, Words-Worth is on Facebook (as with most people who attended the event). You can find out more from Gette’s blog too.

Catch the photos of this event from Gette’s Facebook page.

3 thoughts on “Prose and Poetry in Cat City

  1. Excellent post! I’m slowly pecking my own entry about WWII.

    You’re right about the start and sustain issue. Sustaining it is difficult! We had our first reading in 2006, the second about a year later, and nothing until bing called me earlier this year. I think we struck upon a method that works with the random draw and mini interview thing. People liked the informality of it.

    Of course I really didn’t expect people to show up on time. >.>

  2. Hi Gette: Ya, I know. While I love the work I do with my WomenBizSENSE.com, it is hard work and the only way a group grows is when everyone takes part and is happy to do so. Haha, your Malaysian Rubber Time was good, so good that everyone got there early! Thanks for inviting me gal. Loved it.

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