The Angel

It would be silent if it weren’t for the echoing hymns, the lingering seminal cries and the whispered prayers of ghosts. It would be silent if it weren’t for his footsteps.

He acts as if he is making a choice, running his fingers along the cold, unsaved wood, looking left and right. Eventually, he chooses a pew halfway down the middle row and settles in, just like he does every evening.

He forces himself to remember. Wading into the shallows, colder than the cellars of hell, his skeletal fingers stretch, searching. Into the reminiscent void, he cries out for guidance. There is no answer. The tide tugs his overcoat until the woollen fabric is heavier than lead. And with a guttural sigh, he lets go. The tidal wave of memory drags him under. The flood fills his lungs. This is not holy water with which to cleanse. It is holy water with which to drown.

On the stain-glass windows, there are angels, floating over the Virgin in the sombre evening glow. One is different from the rest. Instead of revering the hallowed infant, her eyes glass the boughs of the Church. The man raises his face to meet her gaze.

In the cherubic creature he sees a likeness to himself. He’d cradled a similar likeness once. Held her hand. Tied her shoes. Told her stories. Watched her feathered soul ascend from the petite casket to be captured on the way to paradise. There she stays. A little angel immortalised in the stained-glass.

 


Words by Laura Benney

As well as studying to become an English teacher, Laura Benney has a passion for writing. In between completing assignments and reading voraciously, she is currently working on several projects, including a novella. Her childhood dream was to become an author.

 

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

In Conversation with Lynette Washington

To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme is a children’s book of poetry by Kristin Martin and Joanne Knott. It is also the first publication of Lynette Washington’s new South Australia-based Glimmer Press publishing house. In the week before the launch of To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme, I caught up to chat with Lynette about the ins and outs of her huge new venture.

Martin’s manuscript would eventually become To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme, a set of thirty rhyming and another thirty non-rhyming poems aimed at children. The poems are all nature based and are accompanied by the beautiful work of Joanne Knott reading the manuscript, Washington tried to help Martin place the work at more established publishing houses. Impulsively, she promised Martin if no one else would take it, Washington herself would publish the work.

LW: I wasn’t really thinking about what that meant too much! Kristen thought the offer over and came back to Lynette a few days later, wanting to publish with her long-time friend. Well, once I said I’d do it, I had to follow through.

RK: Yeah, well, I suppose publishing someone’s manuscript is not something you can back out lightly.

It’s obvious that Washington loves what she does. It’s clearly a nerve-wracking project but you can hear excitement and passion when she talks about her role as publisher.

LW: Well, you know what it’s like – it means so much to writers to get published and to get acknowledged in that way.  I’ve known Kristen for so long and she’s such a good friend that I knew she would be cool with me finding my way through the process and figuring it out as I went. Although I worked for MidnightSun for years, I was really only involved in certain aspects of the business, so there were parts of publishing that I knew really nothing about. So it was nice to publish my friend’s book as my first book because I knew she’d forgive me any blunders.

RK: It’s kind of like a first pancake, isn’t it? You know how they’re always a bit iffy?

LW: Yeah, that’s so true, you always have to throw out the first pancake.

Given the relatively small size of Adelaide’s publishing community and Glimmer’s infancy, I was curious about the publication’s next steps, beyond To Rhyme or Not To Rhyme.

RK: Is Glimmer primarily interested in children’s books or are you a bit easy either way?

LW: Definitely not just interested in children’s books. I think the next book I publish will be a book for adults, although I don’t know what that will be yet. I’ve also got a particular interest in short stories and stories that really play with genre conventions.

RK: I suppose it makes sense with you being a short story-ist that you would want to publish those things. Short stories are also wonderful to sit and read and just kind of have piece meal.

LW: From your mouth to the world’s ears. I just wish more people thought that because there’s still a bit of reluctance, I think, for the reading public to pick up a short story collection. I would love to see that change. But then, it goes in cycles and there have been eras where short stories have been the preferred norm.

RK: That’s for sure. Charles Dickens seemed to have a good time with it.

LW: Yeah, it worked for him, didn’t it?

Washington’s desire to publish adult fiction next turns us briefly towards MidnightSun, another small SA-based press. Washington worked at the press for a time and some lessons stuck past her tenure at the publishing house.

LW: Anna (Solding) always used to say you publish something that you love and that’s true. When you work for a small publisher you invest a good twelve months or more in a book and unless you really passionately love that book there’s no reason to take it on. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into very little reward financially; there are other rewards of course, but I think you have to fall in love with something in order to take it on. And that’s really what happened with Kristin’s book. It’s so special and I knew that a lot of big publishers would run from something like this; [a project] that’s not going to make anyone lots and lots of money, but should be out there in the world. I guess that’s what I’m looking for: those little projects that should be out there in the world, but maybe other publishers would shy away from.

RK: I think it’s important in Adelaide specifically, because our publishing industry is so small, to have those pushing off places or catch alls for forgotten projects.

LW: Absolutely, and I think little publishing houses are definitely pushing off places for writers. I saw that happen a lot at MidnightSun. A writer would get their first break with them, have some degree of success, and then they’ve got a publication record and when they approached a bigger publisher, they’re more likely to be taken on. It definitely serves that purpose for emerging writers, which is good thing, a really valuable thing.

 

Glimmer Press can be found at their website glimmerpress.com.au, on Facebook as Glimmer Press and on twitter @glimmer_press.

 


Interview by Riana Kinlough

Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

In Conversation with: Quart Shorts Collective

Recently, Tulpa Magazine had the chance to put a few to Janet, Ben, and Patrick, three members of the Quart Shorts collective.

Where did the idea for Quart Short come from?

Ben: The demise of the Spineless Wonders reading nights, something of an Adelaide institution that ran at the Wheatsheaf Hotel. I only ever attended one Spineless Wonders event, which I seem to remember was their last. I was impressed by the quality of the writing, and intrigued by the use of professional actors – something that immediately set them apart from other reading nights, more usually built around writers reading their own work, and not always very well! I was sad to see Spineless Wonders end, and initiated a conversation with founder Caroline Reid about whether it might be continued under a different team, perhaps even a different name. It seemed too good a concept to allow to disappear. For understandable reasons, though, Caroline was not interested, so the idea fell away again until one night, over a few too many glasses of red no doubt, Janet and I decided to bite the bullet and start our own reading night, borrowing the Spineless Wonders format – poetry and prose read by actors, and interspersed with live music – but giving it our own unique twist. We also felt that we had a chance to fill a niche in the Adelaide arts and cultural scene, which in 2016 seemed to have a paucity of live reading nights. How wrong we were! It’s extraordinary how vibrant the spoken word scene has become in Adelaide in the last few years. It was a beautiful surprise to suddenly find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Hearth, Soul Lounge, Draw Your (S)words, and others, and even more amazing to find it wasn’t the same thirty people rocking up to each one – there seemed to be a genuine diversity of audiences hungry for live readings.

 

Janet: We are enormously indebted to Spineless Wonders and their initial concept, but we added the innovation of working as a collective and seeking original submissions from writers across Australia.

 

Patrick: We evolved from the readings staged by Spineless Wonders at the Wheatsheaf Hotel about 5 or 6 years ago. I was cast to read a few stories and sharing the experience with the other actors involved, I realised it was a rewarding experience for both actors and writers. We’re very grateful to Caroline Reid for her many hours volunteering to make these nights happen.

 

 

What makes Quart Short stand out from other spoken word/literary nights?

Ben: Our use of actors. Our focus on short stories rather than poems. Our use of live music, not just as background but as an integral part of the audience experience. I also think our openness and inclusivity – unlike some other reading nights, we don’t cater solely to young audiences or strongly appeal to those with academic backgrounds. In this regard, I think we’ve always been a little bit uncool next to some of our (friendly!) rivals, and perhaps a little old-fashioned in respect of our preference for solid, well-crafted pieces rather than innovation for its own sake. There is a confessional flavour to a lot of spoken word, which I think we’ve always tried to steer clear of, not because it’s not important  but because we feel it is just not for us.

 

Janet: The actors. Our ‘mission statement’ if you like is ‘good stories well told’. Patrick Frost has been a professional actor for over 40 years He also knows and has worked with actors with many years of experience. After Ben, Lisandra and I have selected the stories to be read on the night Patrick reads each story, decides which actor would suit the story, including the narrative voice, and then contacts that actor. He sends them a copy of the story, discusses the story with the actor, and what we might be looking for on the night and then, several days before the event the actors rehearse the story. Each actor is encouraged to bring their sense of what the story is trying to achieve, and say, to their reading. This intense collaboration makes for good literature and good ‘theatre’. Many of our writers are astonished when they hear the invariably nuanced, sensitive and professional readings of their stories.

 

Patrick: As Janet points out, we badged ourselves with ‘good stories, well told’ – so, our big point of difference is the actors’ voices, reading as narrators with character, nuance and sometimes, emotion to bring the stories to life. I’ve often described it as storytime for grown-ups!

 

 

What is the process for selecting stories?

Janet: I look for well-conceived, thoughtful, interesting narratives, a strong narrative voice and, because I am fussy about editing, material that’s free of grammatical and spelling errors.

 

Ben: The collective – Janet, Lisandra, and myself – each read the stories, and make comments and recommendations. I think there is a Quart Shorts-style piece (as our website has it: ‘we are looking for stories that surprise, delight, and challenge; themes, characters, and plots that make the mind whirl or the heart jump; and stories that will sound great when read aloud’) although personal preference – taste, dare I say it – can’t help but come into it. We robustly discuss our selections, and try to reach agreement. Sometimes this process is a joy, when our curatorial stars align, and sometimes it is painful, when, for example, we just don’t seem to be able to convince the others that we’ve found the next Raymond Carver or Alice Munro! I think curation is the right word here. It is not simply about the pieces in isolation, it is about crafting something like a journey for the audience to go on, and about getting the balance between different forms, styles, and themes, and between light and dark, funny and sad, and so on.

 

Patrick: I can leave the selection to Janet, Ben and Lisandra as they look for strong narratives or sometimes other aspects of story that will work well on the audience when read aloud. Sometimes they’ll ask me to read a story to see if I agree it will have resonance, be thought provoking, funny or perhaps controversial.

 

 

How do you feel Quart Short has grown over its lifetime?


Janet:
It’s hard, from my perspective inside the collective, to answer this. If it has grown it is because of the hard work of the four organisers.

 

Ben: We have been fortunate to have had big audiences from the beginning, and still average around fifty per night, and sometimes more, which amounts to a very full-feeling space when the venue’s capacity is only one hundred. Our brand recognition has increased hugely, and it’s been nice to have been recognised by, for example, the Salisbury Writers Festival, which had us on a panel on Adelaide’s spoken word scene last year alongside members of The Hearth and Soul Lounge. To be honest, though, we have never been great at promoting ourselves. I think if Quart Shorts had a personality type it would be an introvert, the shy eccentric in the corner who looks interesting to talk to. Most of our growth and recognition has come, I think, from word-of-mouth, which is very powerful in a city as small as Adelaide. Over time, I think we have come to feel increasingly valued within Adelaide’s arts scene, particularly by the actors who seem to relish getting up in front of large groups of strangers and potentially making fools of themselves – how strange!

 

Patrick: I think principally, our growth has been with audiences. People seem to want to share the experience with their friends as if there is some comfort in being read to. There’s always a long list of people tagging their friends below our posts announcing the next reading night. One thing I would like to do is survey our audiences to ascertain the frequency of their attendance, their interests, their connections to writing or performance.

Most of our growth has been organic, I think. Social media has helped us connect at low cost, the music we stage each night creates more following, the writers whose work is chosen often bring friends and family, too.

 

 

Why are the events organised around the seasons?

Janet: Personally, I cannot remember, but it might have been for convenience and to give the collective, who all have busy lives, a breather between readings. I think we decided four readings a year was a good number and the concept of seasonal readings, quarterly readings, led to the name ‘Quart Shorts’, i.e. short stories read every quarter!

 

Ben: I don’t think this was planned. My memory is that the name Quart Shorts came first and, with that in place, it seemed to logically follow that we would hold the event four times a year. It does seem to have caused some confusion, though, with people thinking our events are themed around the seasons.

 

Patrick:  The ‘salon’ idea seemed to lend itself to a seasonal approach, and hence, the name Quart Shorts to indicate short stories read quarterly.

 

 

 

Why Bibliotheca as a venue?

Ben: As well as being beautiful, intimate, and centrally located, the bar doubles as a book exchange so it made sense for lots of reasons. The owners, Marina and Roman, have always made us feel welcome, particularly I think because we drink a lot of whisky.

 

Janet: Bibliotheca has been outstandingly supportive and have never charged us for the venue. The proprietors have been marvellous and they seem to enjoy the readings as much as the public. It’s been a mutually satisfying and very productive relationship.

 

Patrick: As well as being a very cool little bar, Bibliotheca is a book exchange! It also creates a warm (or cool) atmosphere for each of our seasons. On a summer’s night the passing street traffic can even interact through the open window.

 

 

As an individual, what attracted you to Quart Short and what do you bring to the team? 

Janet: The idea, exemplified by Spineless Wonders, of having professional actors read short stories is what made me want to continue what Spineless started.

In addition, I have attended many ‘readings’ of both poetry and short stories over the years; some writers do a great job of reading their own work but, to be brutally honest, many do not. When I saw what an actor could do with a short story (or poem), the varied, nuanced, sensitive and thoughtfully paced readings that honoured both the author and the text, I was moved to try and keep alive what Spineless Wonders started in Adelaide.

I think I bring to the team is the idea choosing only polished, professional, carefully edited writing of a high standard – possibly too high! As a writer I understand the struggle to produce professional, high quality work. I can’t spell to save myself and I need to check and recheck the basic rules of grammar when I’m editing my own work. Editing and polishing is hard work but doing that work is what makes a writer a professional story teller and communicator.

I usually sit in on rehearsals – they are often held in my house – and I have learned that actors also have a ‘grammar’, not quite like the rules of written or spoken English, but a way of approaching a text, whether it be a play, poem or story, that involves certain conventions around how to use one’s body, one’s voice and ‘spirit’. Quart Shorts, ultimately, is about communication. If you are a writer or an actor and you want to communicate clearly, if you want to be understood, there are rules to help maximise communication and it’s best to learn and use them. So, yes, I am the ‘grammar Nazi’, but that’s only because I make so many mistakes myself!

 

Ben: Primarily, my love of the short story form. I have never understood the average reader’s aversion to it or its status as a sort of minor, bastard brother to the novel.   It’s great to see relatively new initiatives like the Short Story Festival celebrating the form but I still feel we have a way to go to recover and redeem the short story, and I hope in some small way Quart Shorts has been a part of that. In addition to my striking good looks and mordant wit , I bring to Quart Shorts a sharp, editor’s eye for good writing, a love of genre not necessarily shared by my colleagues, and an attentiveness to the relationship between form and content.

 

Patrick: I love reading out loud – it’s an ability every actor should be constantly refining. So, when Spineless Wonders was closed, I was very keen to join Ben, Janet and (initially) Annie Waters to make our version of a reading salon really come to life. Then, I discovered the casting of stories was a wonderful opportunity to share my love with other actors and give them an opportunity to shine!

 

What are your plans for the future of Quart Short?

Janet: At the moment things are up in the air, so watch this space.
Patrick: We’ll be taking some time out after Spring Shorts at the end of October to assess our ability to continue and, most likely stage at least one other specially focused salon in 2019.

 

Ben: A minor scoop for you: sadly, Quart Shorts will not be continuing as a quarterly reading salon after our final event for this year, Spring Shorts. While we hope to bring you one or two events per year in the future, we have found it increasingly hard to commit as much time as we would like to Quart Shorts and would prefer to gracefully bow out than to produce events of a lesser quality. We make this decision with a heavy heart but feel it is best for all concerned. We are incredibly grateful to all of the writers, readers, and musicians who have contributed so much during the last three years. For now, though, we are looking forward to a bumper Spring Shorts – and a well-earned rest after that!

 


Thanks to Ben Brooker, Janet Thomas, and Patrick Frost.

Submissions for Spring Shorts close on October 8th. Spring Shorts will be at the Bibliotheca Bar and Book Exchange on October 30.

You can find out more about Quart Shorts at their website or their Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Ordinary Objects: Percy the Puzzle Piece

Percy is the filler piece of the puzzle.

The plain blue patch of sky that gets popped aside while all the other more striking pieces get matched up. Forgotten as colourful patches of grass with glints of wildlife are pieced together and trees are built from the trunk up to the tips of their autumn leaves.

Lying patiently, Percy waits on a quiet corner of the table, eager to be placed amongst the other pieces. He is lost under coffee cups and couch cushions.

The puzzle is never completed, but “will have to do,” as Percy is nowhere to be found.

Years later, Percy is plucked from his spot wedged between two floorboards. The puzzle he belonged to has already been discarded. No one remembers where Percy came from, or where he’s meant to go.

Percy is discarded, never completing anything or reaching his potential as part of the bigger picture. Percy the patient puzzle piece.

 


Words and art by Lisa Vertudaches

14117837_1175055035900900_9161235252814084858_nLisa Vertudaches is an independent illustrator & animator, working from a studio in Adelaide, South Australia. Specialising in looping GIFs, Lisa really enjoys creating cute, silly and sometimes absurd animations and illustrations.

 

 

www.lisavertudaches.com

 

‘Mother-To-Be’ by Tina Morganella

 

At the baby shower, I watch the mother-to-be warmly welcome each guest. Soon exhausted, she accepts a chair and sits regally. Beatific. Drawn and tired, but plump with life too. Women paw at her belly and coo over her. She doesn’t seem to mind. I smile at her, at how beautiful she looks. She returns it, encouragingly.

Flutter, flutter, flutter. I can hear my hope’s wings beating. A little silver moth with metallic wings sits in my rib cage. Lately, my husband and I make love with intent.

The other women laugh and sip champagne. They offer each other nappy-changing advice as they childishly lick icing off cupcakes. Presents pile up in the corner, all bows and ribbons.

My sister refused to come. She doesn’t believe in a celebration before the baby is born. ‘What if it dies first?’ She has two of her own. Did she carry the fear to term? I try not to worry.

When it’s my turn to guess the size of the mother-to-be’s girth for the measuring game. I tentatively reach out a hand, but she laughs, takes it and presses it firmly over her belly.

Don’t be afraid,’ she jokes. ‘Can you feel her?’

The mother is so poised. I gaze back at her as I smooth my palms over her belly, my eyes wide. An unnatural warmth, like the energy given off by machinery. A sort of hum, a tautness, a pulsing.

I am unsteady. I can almost feel another heart beating alongside my own. My breasts seem to swell, and the back of my neck grows clammy. The twist of a frustrated scream spirals up from my toes and curls around my soul like smoke. The ache of want is unbearable.

Hope, at times a consolation, at times just cruel, is overwhelming. The moth’s wings are frantic. Flutter, flutter, flutter.

I pull away from the mother-to-be and step back. Another woman jostles into my place.

Retreat. Just for a moment. I go to the bathroom and breathe scented soaps and freshly laundered towels. I splash cold water on my face and gather myself; prepare for the kindly-meant but needling questions about when I’ll be starting my own family. They rattle my confidence. They know so much, but they don’t know this?

Maybe this month, maybe this month. Be positive. Flutter, flutter, flutter.

But when I pull down my pants and sit on the toilet, I see the familiar smear of sticky red-brown blood. My period. That earthy smell of promise which is no promise at all.

Hope is a celebration for a baby that hasn’t yet been born.

The moth folds its wings closed.

 


Words by Tina Morganella

Tina Morganella is a freelance writer and copy editor with an MPhil in creative writing. Tina is most interested in fiction and travel literature and has most recently been published in Rush (US), and STORGY Magazine (UK). She also has nonfiction articles published in the Australian press (The Big Issue, The Australian, The Adelaide Advertiser). You can read some of her work at www.tinamorganella.com

Artwork by Joel Tuckwell

The Hearth: Masquerade

The Hearth is quickly becoming a fixture of the South Australian spoken word scene. Here at Tulpa we’re no strangers to The Hearth, or the incredibly supportive platform they provide for Adelaide’s writing community. The Hearth’s approach to creative readings is unique, with equal focus placed on work and the creative process.

Tuesday’s ‘Masquerade’ theme did not disappoint, with readers approaching the subject from entirely different angles that both delighted and fascinated the audience. First up was Amy T. Matthews, a Senior Lecturer at Flinders University and award winning novelist. Amy shared an extract from one of her romance novels, admitted her embarrassment at some of the tropes it covered and shared her experiences dealing with publishers in Australia and abroad.

The second reader of the night was CJ McLean who treated us not only to a discussion of queer identity and persona in literary history but also donned a wig and performed a cheeky musical number. Needless to say, the audience had a great time clapping along.

Next up was Tulpa’s own Taeghan Buggy, a writer, poet and creative writing Honours student. Taeghan’s poetry gave a modern touch to a few mythological deviants. Who doesn’t like to hear about Puck as a high school delinquent or about Loki’s modern expressions of queerness?

After a brief bar break we were treated to an essay on Billy Joel and the changing definitions of ‘cool’, courtesy of Quart Short collective co-facilitator, playwright and essayist Ben Brooker. Ben’s creative process included printing his piece off at OfficeWorks right before the show.

The final reader of the night was social media poet Katie Keys who combined wit with photography for a performance that was equal parts poignant and hysterically funny. Katie’s dedication to her medium has made her tweet a daily poem on social media for nearly a decade.

Every Hearth night ends with something special- a chance for the audience to ask the performers questions. The Q&A is a great opportunity for the audience to learn from, and engage with, the performers, their work and their creative process.

I would recommend The Hearth to all writers of every experience level. Whether you go as a performer or a listener there is no doubt that you will get something out of these extraordinary reading nights.


Words by Lisandra Linde

For more information on The Hearth and upcoming events check out their Facebook page. You can also learn more about The Hearth collective and its performers on their website

‘Free Light’- By Karen Smart

_

The Runner stared into the cloth sack, feeling the weight of it in his hand. ‘I don’t do no favours for chicken feed.’

Please, it’s all I have. We have to be on this ship.’

You ain’t getting on the fuckin’ ship if I say you ain’t. And ya ain’t.’ The Runner sneered as I turned to walk away, but not before the glint of silver at my throat had betrayed me.

But I’m a reasonable man, see?’ He called after me. ‘Willin’ to negotiate. For the right price.’

I reached slowly for the chain around my neck. ‘You don’t understand. It’s the only thing I have left of my—’

Don’t matter to me none, a’course,’ the Runner said, looking at the back of his dirty knuckles with an exaggerated air. ‘But if ya want to get home I suggest ya hand the trinket over.’

Please,’ I begged. ‘There has to be something else I can do — I can earn the rest of my passage.’

The Runner laughed. ‘Hand it o’er. My woman could do with a piece o’ bling. And I ain’t seen nothin’ so pretty in years, not out here.’

That was it then; there was nothing more to be done. The chain was unclasped, the ring tossed into the sack, and the Runner stood aside.

Sir,’ he mocked, as he gestured to the hatch. ‘Thisaway, if ya please.’

I climbed the steps with a heavy heart. Behind me, buried beneath the earth in a secret place, lay my dead wife.

And at my chest, wrapped tightly in discarded medical cloth and hessian, was my sleeping infant daughter, her umbilical cord still drying.

____

The Stitcher looked at us carefully.

This says you’ve completed your allocated pregnancy,’ he said, indicating the portable scanner on his wrist. ‘If you’ve completed your cycle….’ he trailed off, confused.

I looked at my wife, placed my hand over her gently swelling belly, and smiled faintly to reassure her. ‘It was a natural conception.’

Impossible,’ the Stitcher spat out. ‘There hasn’t been a Natural in this sector in at least twenty-five years. I should know. I damn well delivered it.’

Miri was stricken. ‘Please — we have no idea how this happened. You have to help us.’

The Stitcher shot her a sharp look but didn’t respond. Instead, he continued with his own questions. ‘And your completed cycle?’ he asked me, ignoring Miri.

A boy. Carried and birthed normally, in Sector 9.’

And where is the child now?’

Dead. Cortola virus, aged two years.’

Ah, that’s too bad.’ The Stitcher looked again at the scanner. ‘But it doesn’t explain this. It’s impossible to conceive without registration – there are procedures that have to be followed. The genus samples need to be purified and screened before implantation, for a start. And, even supposing you’ve managed to cheat decades of Command policy and population control, the sterilisation protocols would have taken effect at the age of five, along with the rest of the female population. I’m sorry, but there must be a mistake.’

There’s no mistake.’

The Stitcher sighed. ‘Okay, fine. Lay down on the table and I’ll check you over. Maybe then you’ll come to your senses.’

The makeshift examination table was spread with a new cloth, and I helped Miri up onto it.

It’ll be okay. Just hold on.’ I told her.

The sector hospital was nothing more than a few rooms in an abandoned house on the edge of town. It had a roof that leaked, no running water, and electricity only when fuel could be salvaged for the ancient generator. It had no permanent staff, just the Stitcher, who set bones, and cut bullets out — but he was our only option.

The transducer was thirty years old, patched with scrap, and ran on precious generator power, but the Stitcher turned it on and ran the wand slowly over Miri’s stomach, just below her navel. The heartbeat was obvious and strong.

Well I’ll be damned.’

The Stitcher looked quickly between us, crossing the room to lock the door and draw the blinds. The fewer people who knew about the reason for our visit, the better.

Do you know what they’d do to you if they ever found out? What they’d do to me for helping you? You know it’s illegal for citizens to circumvent the cycle protocols. If any Command agent even suspected it had occurred—,’ the Stitcher hesitated, exhaling slowly with forced calm. ‘By law I’m required to notify the Militants immediately.’ He nodded toward the door. ‘Did anyone see you come in?’

I shook my head. We had been careful.

We can still rectify things then. I’m going to need you to wait outside while the elimination takes place. Maybe no-one needs to know.’

I was at the Stitcher’s side in a second, my hand around his wrist.

I can’t let you do that. We intend to complete this cycle.’

You are crazy.’

Probably. But we heard that you had helped others in the past. We need to travel to the Free State. And we need to do it now, before she gets any bigger.’

The Stitcher crossed his arms in front of his body and stepped away from me.

Oh no. Not a chance. You’ll die a hundred times before you even get to the border!’ he spat. ‘Those others — that was a long time ago, and for very different reasons. We were smuggling food rations, not people, and I paid a heavy price. They torched my home. I watched the people I’d been trying to save starve anyway. And then I spent four years in prison. There’s no way you’re going to make it before she delivers — you may as well kill her now.’

We have to try. We’ve already lost one child. We can’t lose another.’

What you’re asking me to do is treason. They won’t just execute me. They’ll execute every single person I ever knew. Don’t you understand? They’ll tear open your wife’s body and excise the child, then dash its head against the rocks, and they’ll do it right in front of you, laughing.’

Miri had risen, silently crossing the room to where we stood. She reached out and took the Stitcher’s calloused hand in her own and brought it to her navel, holding it against the small bump.

The Stitcher stared at her.

Please.’ Miri whispered.

____

The Stitcher, it seemed, found sympathy with our plight. He offered us a room in the hospital basement, and we hid there, quiet and still, for nearly five months. It took some time, but the Stitcher made contact with people from his past, recalling great favours, even applying a touch of violence when needed, but it was eventually arranged. We had with us a little money — not much, but enough to keep the captain interested. We would leave the sector in three days’ time, when the moon was high and the circling of the patrol ships was closest to the Command station, and furthest from land. We would fly low, invisible.

Miri had grown plump and round while we waited. She held the child, this miracle, differently in her belly; it grew in her, sustaining us both. And as each month faded into the next, we even dared to hope for the life that was promised to us in the Free State. There would be no medical restrictions. No scanners. We could raise this child in safety. We would survive.

The night before our departure, as we slept on our mattress on the cramped floor of the basement, I dreamed of the sea. I watched a small girl-child dance in the waves. Look Miri, I called to my wife, who stood by the water, her back to me. We have a daughter. But Miri did not turn around. She walked into the water until the waves lapped first at her knees, then at her waist, and finally her neck, until she slipped below the water like a ghost.

I woke with a start. My dream world refused to leave me; I still felt the wetness surrounding me, engulfing me, smothering me. I turned to Miri, but she was sitting upright, staring between her legs. The sea of my dreams was crimson.

Isaiah—’ she whispered, pale and shaking.

In the hours that followed, we breathed together in raspy bursts as the pains gripped her; we screamed together as our daughter arrived into the light; and I wept, alone, as my wife drowned in her crimson sea.

The Stitcher cut the sinewy life cord, and placed the tiny girl in my arms.

Elana. Our light.


Words by Karen Smart

Art by Rhianna Carr

Karen is a university student and renegade semi-colon over-user who isn’t afraid to use a hefty expletive if the situation calls for it. She hopes to spend the rest of her days reading, writing, and somehow finding a way to be paid for both.

You can find her wallowing on Twitter.

In Conversation With: New Wave Audio Theatre

Tulpa Magazine  recently sat down with the cast and crew of the New Wave Audio Theatre to discuss their forthcoming full-cast audio plays. This new venture is headlined by a talented group of young creatives seeking to bring the products of the arts community to more people and show the works of unheralded artists. We were joined by writers Taeghan Buggy and Alys Messenger, actors Cat Galligani and David Hampton, director Connor Reidy, and project manager Anita Sanders.

What the New Wave Audio Theatre team have produced is characterised by their collaborative nature. The impression one has when sitting down with this team is one of cohesion and mutual pride in their work.

new wave

Pictured (Left to right): Taeghan Buggy, Alys Messenger, Cat Galligani, David Hampton, Connor Reidy, and Anita Sanders.

The first thing we asked them is why they chose podcasts as their medium of choice. Anita explained that the dual benefits inherent to this format are the cost-effective nature of production and the ability for a podcast to transcend your surroundings. With the ability to put in your headphones and listen wherever you might be, the convenience of the format is greater than most. Anita also offered her view on the effect audio has on an actor’s performance as the actor cannot use gestures or hide behind costumes – they must ensure all their effort is put towards the use of their voice.

Actor David Hampton explained that learning to focus his performance through his voice, when he is used to working with posture, positioning, costume, and action, was an interesting experience. He recalls director Connor Reidy approaching him at an early recording to tell him ‘I can see you acting it but I can’t hear you acting it’. He had to shift his mindset from how he was previously taught to act.

The accessibility of the format is an important part of New Wave. It has none of the demands or barriers of more traditional theatre such as cost and set times. With a podcast, the theatre comes to you. It enables the listener to access emerging artists’ work without the investment of an entire evening. This not only benefits the artists involved but also the viewer. New Wave brings theatre to all levels of society, including those who have neither time nor money to spare on traditional theatre.

Director Connor Reidy  found working with writers and actors a rewarding experience, enabling him to see what each party sought to achieve. It was unlike anything Connor had done before.

The larger number of people in the workshop environment of the scripting process made for more variety in ideas and had plans go in unexpected directions, writer Taeghan Buggy said. Three or four people would be in a room together working from the initial ideas and themes, teasing out a concept from these beginnings. Alys Messenger recalls that on one occasion, the team created a mind map following the development of ideas, and eventually they ended up in a place they had never expected.

Anita was key in looking for the writers to bring in to the project. Her priorities were in finding writers with a passion for the performing arts as this project was not just about the writing but also the performance itself. Anita chose Taeghan for her interest in poetry, which she felt would translate well to audio plays. Connor recalls the poetic nature of the opening of one play (episode three) and how effective this was.

Connor Reidy was largely responsible for finding actors, knowing more actors and having the more available networks, being in the final degree of a performing arts degree. Actor Cat Galligani explains that she had worked on a project with Connor at the beginning of the year and that he was able to bring three or four actors over from that project.

According to Connor, what they wanted to achieve in pursuing this project was showcasing artists’ voices. Adding that in Adelaide, we are lucky to have quite a large network of creative people but unfortunately there are limited opportunities. This project gives listeners the chance to sample the talent of the Adelaide arts community and reach out and support them. Connor said that while the arts are heavily supported during February and March, it filters off through the rest of the year. New Wave Audio Theatre coming at the end of the year gives them a good opportunity to connect with audiences before they are flooded with mad March.

Taeghan said that from her perspective as a writer, her goals focused more on capturing the attention of the audience by providing something that drew them in and made them want to keep listening.

Writer Alys Messenger, who tends to focus on directing, refocused on writing for this project. With a background in drama, she offers a different perspective again. For her, the goal was to look into the dynamics of relationships, because that’s where she feels a lot of drama lies, in that point of butting heads between two people. Though, she added, not necessarily people, as you’ll find out in one of them.

It’s surely the business of a writer to pique the curiosity of their audience, after all.

From an actor’s perspective, Cat Galligani said that she hopes the plays offer an escape. Whether that be from something going on in the listener’s life, or simply boredom, that wherever they should be, they hear someone else’s problems, someone else’s dynamic, and they get a new experience.

Looking back at their experiences, all expressed having enjoyed their time. Connor said that working in a form that was solely voice was interesting and enabled the development of new skills. Cat’s experiences seem to be similar as she explained she found the focus on voice, and the development of an entire character using just voice, to be a good experience, enabling her to try things she had not previously attempted, such as new accents.

Taeghan found the process very free. The method of telling the story (all audio, a set time) was constrained but within that, there was great freedom in what they could tell. Taeghan said Anita told them she felt their work felt fresh. It is something of a departure from larger theatre where they choose the plays they know to be a success and thus restrict themselves from fresher and younger voices. Getting a younger voice out there in a medium accessible for younger people is a goal one feels is held with universal importance by the New Wave team.

For Alys, the workshop environment and the nature of generating ideas within that was a worthy experience. Harking back to Connor’s comment of limited opportunities, Alys said she feels that it is often necessary to create opportunities, just as they have done with New Wave.

David described the New Wave experience as being akin to a ‘creative pallet-cleanser’ – working with a group almost entirely new to him, he felt he had to rethink approaches to character.

For Cat the scripts she worked on with New Wave were some of the easiest scripts she has performed because of how well they were written. One such script, Hurt Money, by Alys Messenger was one of the first scripts she had picked up and felt certain what her character was about, her background and motivation.

Anita stressed the importance of providing channels of distribution for artists as not enough exist to take the amount of art produced in Adelaide. That by setting about creating and distributing art, they were able to show the ‘amazing talent’ already present in Adelaide that just needed to be seen. They sought to create a positive environment of growth that would enable artists to be acknowledged both in the industry and by the general public.

What of the future? The chorus of approval for more New Wave Audio Theatre is absolute. Everyone expressed a desire to do more should the opportunity arise.


Words by Liam McNally

Photography by Lisandra Linde

With thanks to Anita Sanders, Alys Messenger, Taeghan Buggy, David Hampton, and Cat Galligani.

New Wave Audio Theatre’s first episode is to be released on 30th November. Be sure to check back on Tulpa for the review on Wednesday.

Check New Wave Audio Theatre out at their site: https://newwaveaudiotheatre.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

‘You and I’ by Tanner Muller

You’re standing outside your friend’s apartment building, your body soaking, your phone without a percentage. You lift your handbag over your head and begin to walk. It doesn’t take long for you to slip and fall onto the pavement. You cry, but the tears are hidden amid the rain that falls onto your face. Now, more than ever, is the opportunity to reveal myself to you. I lower the car window and speak to you for the very first time.

‘Do you need some help, miss? You look hurt,’ I say.

Your head turns sharply to face me. ‘Well, you must be a genius,’ you say as you examine my appearance, ‘Do I know you?’

I think, of course you do. I’m your future lover. You just don’t know it yet.

‘Unless you recognise me from Thursday quiz nights at The Lodge, I wouldn’t think so.’

You stare at me, bewildered. You’re clearly not amused.

‘Would you like a ride home?’ I say to break the awkward tension—hoping, praying, that you’ll accept my offer.

‘Give me a good enough reason as to why I should. For all I know, you could be a murderer.’

‘Well, I—’

‘Is this how you pick up chicks?’ you interrupt. ‘Prowling the streets in search for some girl who’s in dire need of assistance?’

‘Did it work?’ I say in my final attempt at getting you into my car. I’ve been anticipating this very moment since I first laid eyes on you. Now, my future with you all depends on these three words. You’ll either tell me to get lost, and refer to me as that maniac who tried to kidnap you on the street that night, or you…laugh. You laugh. I wouldn’t consider it to be my finest moment, but it’s enough for you to take a risk and put your trust into me. You step into the car.

You drench the leather seat covers, but I’m not bothered because I finally have you close to me; close enough to touch you, to smell you. Your sweet peachy fragrance lingers inside the vehicle. This was, of course, despite your soaking body. I could only imagine this scent from outside the window of your apartment, but now it fills my nose with delight.

As we pull away from the curb, I notice how gentle you appear to be from the corner of my eyes. You’re like a priceless family heirloom or an ancient glass vase, look—but don’t touch. And your legs are smooth, as though they were manufactured and shaped like a Barbie doll. I’m resisting the temptation to meaninglessly graze my hand across your knee. Heck, I’m resisting the temptation to pull over the car and penetrate you gently and fill your body with nothing but love. But I don’t. Of course I don’t. I must be patient.

‘What’s your address?’ I ask, though I know perfectly well where you live.

‘Why do you want to know that? So you can stalk me?’

You make the environment uncomfortable again, as though you’re teasing me, playing mind games to analyse my reaction.

You chuckle before continuing, ‘I’ll just tell you where to go from here.’

We’re a few more blocks away, but there is no conversation. Instead, you sit there politely with your hands folded into your lap, providing me directions to your building: right, left, left, right, left, right.

‘So, what were your plans for tonight?’ I say to interject the monotony.

‘Well, before I was drenched in rain, I was drenched in my friend’s tears,’ you say sarcastically, as though you didn’t want to be there. ‘Every time she has something troubling her, she expects me to pick up the pieces.’

‘That must put a lot of pressure on you.’

‘You want to know something? It does. I’ve never been able to say it out loud before, but it’s exhausting.’

‘So, why do you do it then?’

‘I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps I’ve become used to it—going out of my way to help others. Now listen, are you sure you’re alright with this? I feel as though I need to repay you in some way—’

‘Tell me more,’ I interrupt. ‘How does this person make you feel?’

‘Honestly,’ you pause for a moment, your mind lost in thought, ‘I dislike her, immensely. But I keep disregarding the importance of my feelings towards her, because I’ve convinced myself that it’s wrong to think that way. I place her at the forefront of my life, but have been shown nothing in return. She doesn’t care for me. She—’

You’re wanting to speak more, but you resist and fight to keep the words back.

We approach your apartment building, but I leave the engine running. You turn and stare at me with a polite grin.

‘Thanks for the ride, mister,’ you say.

‘The pleasure was all mine.’

It was in that moment I thought, you like me, don’t you? Even if you won’t admit it to yourself, you trust me already. I gave you my undivided attention and listened to your problems. In this short car ride, I’ve managed to begin chipping away at your walls of doubt and unhappiness. No one else in your life has been able to achieve this. I’ve exposed you to the emotions you were hiding. All you could see were limitations, stops signs. You were trapped and blinded by what you feared most: the truth, the correct truth, the truth you’re meant to be feeling. Through my extensive observations of you, I’ve been able to examine your behaviour, even in your most vulnerable states. So now it becomes clear that you want me. As a matter of fact, you need me.

‘I almost forgot to ask for your name,’ you say.

‘Derek,’ I respond, lying.

‘I’m Valerie.’

‘Nice to meet you, Valerie.’

You exit the vehicle and we wave each other goodbye. I wait as you enter your apartment building before driving away. Your peachy scent continues to linger under my nose on the ride home. I’ll be back soon. No doubt about that.


Photo 6-7-17, 20 40 04

Tanner is an emerging writer living and exploring in Adelaide. His work has been published in Glam Adelaide, Mind Shave, Verse Magazine and the Piping Shrike anthology series, among other places.

Website: https://tannermullercreative.com

Instagram: @tanner.muller

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tannermullercreative/


Art by Rhianna Carr. You can find more of Rhianna’s art on Facebook @RhiannaCarrART or on Instagram

Relocation

The stuttering crawl of traffic arrests, and a terminal red line on the GPS tells Gerald he should settle in. He sits straight-backed in a collared shirt, top button still buttoned, in the driver’s seat of his car, in a line of stationary cars, a still frame excised from a zoetrope.

On the passenger side, an emergency stopping lane hints at escape. It runs clear, but only as far as the next overpass. There, a massive pylon erupts from the ground like a memorial. For any who made the attempt, it would mark an end.

Gerald’s spent a lot of time on this freeway, rolling slow in the dusk, but he’s never been held up exactly here, at the top of this low rise. He’s noticed the graveyard, of course, beyond the concrete wall that serves to divide the locals (dead) and those just passing through (ostensibly living). The other side has it pretty good, with their freshly mown grass. Their gated community. Until now Gerald had never noticed the graffiti scrawled against the barrier: If you slept here you’d be home by now.

The vehicle in front of him inches forward in a restless zombie shuffle. Ahead and to the right, a transit van’s indicator light blinks like a tic. Fumes from all these idling motors start to cloy, so Gerald recirculates the air in his cabin. There: he is sealed off from the others, those commuter vessels, also static. Steel cannisters for single occupants. When the traffic flows again, they will diffuse into the suburbs. For each car a garage; for each garage a dwelling. Is that what home is? That’s encapsulation, thinks Gerald, but it’s too transient. Home should be a place to stay and sleep sound. At this rate when he reaches his destination it will be time to leave again.

More than anything else, Gerald wants a shorter commute. So he pulls into the emergency lane. He is moving, picking up speed, tearing past the other cars. He can see his new address.


Words by Andrew Roff

Andrew Roff’s first novel-length manuscript was shortlisted for the Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award at the 2016 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. His short fiction has appeared in Antithesis Journal and Antipodean SF, and has been adapted for community radio. Andrew’s interests in crime, politics and economics inform his writing. He tweets at @roffwrites and you can read more of his work at roffwrites.com.