And I’m back from my stint as artist-at-large at the Brisbane Writers Festival! The final fate of the sketchbook is yet to be decided – in the meantime, photos of most of the pages may be viewed on the album on the BrisWritersFest Facebook page (I don’t think you need to be logged in to see them).
It was a little Moleskine Japanese Album (accordion fold) sketchbook. The drawings are with Pitt Artist Pens and a 0.05 Staedtler. I had free rein to run upstairs and down, in and out of panels, perching at the edge of workshops, hanging out in the green room and the cafe, an excuse to talk to anyone and to meet – oh, so many people, watch Briony Stewart (artist-in-residence) construct a dragon, rave about topics and then find a conversation partner had written the book on it, hang out in the festival tent telling ghost stories and reading tales printed on pillows…
The last hurrah of the festival was “Glitter and Dust”, where those left standing talked (read, recited, praised) for two minutes each. Sarah Wendell graciously was my assistant, and I opened out the sketchbook listing (as it could not be seen in detail, only in length), some key images from each page. I have reconstructed it as follows, as my notes were written in the pink twilight of the tent and adapted as I went:
An accountant’s shining silver boots
Ibises stalk, possessive, on the grass,
Fingers clutch coffee like a rope to safety
And writers stare into a glowing void.
Twinned, rabbit-headed children.
A dawn of sunflowers,
Cerulean platform shoes,
A Blyton-novel’s worth of uniforms.
The self-abandoned intensity of browsers in bookstores.
Writers eating, holding forks like pens.
Wallace Stevens’ poem of pineapples,
Fishing rods with a catch of ferns,
New friends, hands raised, exclaiming over books,
Professional pigeon-harriers of the library cafe.
Steve Kilbey’s hands.
The Green Lantern impersonating Marianne Dashwood,
Small boys rolling laboriously downhill.
Fairytales peopling the long night,
Fashions glowing in the field.
Tigon, the literary hound, sits pensively.
Serious study in the high green room,
Graeme Simsion marches dully for a point.
Ibises swoop, delighted, on the lawn,
And Red Crow sets a stage for coming night.
[And folding the sketchbook in again] A tickertape of greeting and goodbye.
It is not a poem, but I like to think the tremor in my voice extended the syllables in the shorter lines to create a consistent pattern.
And of course it doesn’t include Elizabeth Wein’s Spitfire necklace and how that directly led to my current emotional fragility on finishing reading Code Name Verity, or how Kate de Goldi’s editing workshop took a detour into poetry recommendations, or discussions of first-person accounts of mastectomies without anaesthetic in 1812, or how Rob Spillman has caused me to now read Elizabeth Bishop’s “An Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore” out to anyone who will hold still long enough, or, or, or…