One Morning on a Melbourne Rooftop

When Simon vomited the grief of his father’s death into a plastic bag on the rooftop of a Melbourne hostel, I couldn’t help but consider what a poignant narrative climax it would make. I was standing in fog freckled with security-light orange, hiccupping Smirnoff bile when he moved to the low wall by the edge. Ben ran after him; we were terrified he’d fall or throw himself over. He was trembling and wet-dog snivelling, but he hadn’t been stuck in his end-of-the-world grief all night. Not like he was then.

It was 2008 and we were twenty. Far too young, really, for that kind of grief. The weekend escape had been concocted just days before, the kind of flyaway ‘why not’ you can get away with between university semesters when there’s nothing but long nights in friends’ backyards to fill the space of days. We’d started late in the afternoon with a bottle of vodka and pink and orange slushies from the 7Eleven. We played brain freeze and a game of Presidents and Assholes with Mexican girls who were in town to see the Pope for World Youth Day. It hadn’t been a remarkable evening except that he’d been smiling through most of it. Sitting in the hostel corridor floor, his knees didn’t seem to jut so much from his too-big pants and he had that goofy look like he used to have, back when we’d welt our fingertips from too much Guitar Hero and fall asleep at 4am amongst soda cans and melted M&Ms. So instead of worrying about him, as I had for days, weeks, months, really, I’d been mentally composing a gothic piece set in the Old Gaol just over the road. Flood lights cast shadows on brick beyond the windows and I watched for spectral faces behind the bars — I’d had strange shivers in a cell the day before, one renowned for its paranormal visitations, and there was a story in it, I knew.

When we said goodnight to the Mexicans, I should have expected the hug that began with a moon-smile and ended in his fingers clenching tight to my back, that silent quiver in his bones. That he’d slip through my arms to a bundle on the floor. And that my own heart would break, again, because I couldn’t heal his.

We came up to the roof and he pushed his fingers firmly against me: ‘Fuck off.’

But Ben and I crept up anyway, pressed our ears against the door. We listened to the thud of fold-up chairs, benches scattering against the concrete. The gravelled roar of his yell. That’s when we rushed. We found him standing still, his beanpole silhouette striking against the broad grey of the gaol.

‘I’m gonna be sick.’

Ben ran with a plastic bag pulled from his pockets. The heave of vomit was spectacular. That’s when he stumbled to the low wall by the edge. When I thought he might jump.

The ghosts next door disappeared.

He looked up at us and a shift came over him. Something in his eyes. He peered over the edge, looking down at the wet street: a cat curling around a lamppost, the short white apartment building opposite. He rocked back on his heels and grinned. Then he threw it. The wobbling bag, strangely graceful in its own way, sailed across the street and landed on slanted tiles above a porthole window. The liquid threatened the plastic, then after a tense moment, rested.

A strange stillness passed.

‘Fucking hell,’ said Ben. ‘That was beautiful.’

Simon gripped us, tipped his head back and, throaty with catharsis, he laughed.

It was difficult not to see the narrative potential.

 


Art by Rhianna Carr
Words by Lauren Butterworth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALauren Butterworth is a writer, academic and editor with creative work published in a variety of outlets including MeanjinVerity LaWet InkMidnight Echo and more. She is co-director of The Hearth, a readings event that aims to platform exciting local voices in a space that nurtures creativity, conversation and ideas. She is also a host and producer of the podcast Deviant Women which tells the stories of women who dare to break the rules and subvert the system. During the day, she teaches at Flinders University and is editor at MidnightSun Publishing.

You can find Lauren at laurenbutterworth.com and deviantwomenpodcast.com

Spotlight: The Jade

The Jade has long been a staple of Adelaide’s music scene and nightlife. It’s seen live music aplenty, creative readings, album launches, weddings, birthdays, and plenty of other varied events besides. Recently, Liam McNally sat down with Jade owner Zac Coligan to talk about the Jade’s history, it’s unique style, and even the establishment’s year-long absence as they moved venue.

 

You’ve been here for a while now. How much has the business changed over that time?
A fair bit. When we first moved in, we were expecting the older model of 95% live music and so we’ve set this room up, double insulated the roof. We do get lots of live music still but a lot of it is special occasions. I think some younger bands are a bit intimidated by this room. We get a lot of CD launches and things like that. In saying that, we’ve got a bunch of gigs happening. But what it’s morphed into is a lot more of a café culture here as well.

 

And perhaps more of an events space as well?
Yeah. People start to hear about us – and for us, it’s always word-of-mouth. We get a lot of different theatre shows, and seminars, and Music SA have done a lot of things here with guest speakers. We’ve got much more diverse events here which has been great.
This space is here to be used and it’s really quite a good space for all sorts of things. Especially quieter events.

 

How different is it to the old venue? (The Jade Monkey, on Twin Street).
When we initially started it (the Twin Street venue), we didn’t realise when we got our licence, we could only open from 9pm. We got an extension after a few years. It was a night time thing. And it was all about gigs. Every week there was two or three gigs on.
We’re mixing it up a lot more here because the space is a bit more flexible, whereas the old Jade was about the live music scene fundamentally.

 

Was there a conscious choice in changing the nature of the venue? You call it the Jade now rather than the Jade Monkey.
To be honest, we dropped the ‘monkey’ because my lovely wife Naomi hated that for years.
It was an interesting decision when we set up this place because we wanted to make it bright, and maybe ‘prettier’, if you will. It’s interesting as when you do a place like that, it kind of evokes the style of clientele you have. We get a good range here. Most people feel comfortable. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious shift but at the same time we wanted to entertain everything. And that’s the way it’s rolled, to be honest.
We made a real effort with this space. It’s a great spot for bands and it sounds wonderful in here.

 

Where did the name come from?
Initially it was because it was hidden little space and there’s that whole thing behind finding the jade monkey which is also a Simpsons joke.

 

How did bringing the food van, Phat Buddha Rolls, in change things?
It’s made a huge difference. We do everything ourselves, Naomi and I. There aren’t many places when it’s just two people running a venue, particularly of this size. We did food at first and it was very time consuming and difficult to get the numbers out quick. We did it for a little while and then went, ‘you know what? Let’s just outsource it’. We decided to approach Fork on the Road and get a food truck. It’s been really, really good.
It’s been about bringing people here to sit down and have a coffee, for us. And to bring people to sit down in the afternoon, to have a café culture, you need food.

 

What kind of difference has the location had?

 

Jade exterior
The Jade’s courtyard.

[The proximity to] Rundle Mall didn’t have any advantage to us at all at the old Jade. We were only really open after 9pm as well. I feel that with this place because we’re lucky enough to have a really nice garden, and we’re set back from the road, people are often a bit confused about what’s going on. We’re not fans of putting a big ‘$10 parmi’ sign on the front. Every day we get someone who comes in and says they’ve walked past the place 50 times and now they’ve come in the door. Once we get them in the door we usually get them back.
Having a garden makes a huge difference. People love hanging out here. In summer, it’s just wonderful. A good space to be.

 

There are more separated spaces here than there were at the old place.
And that’s a huge difference for me. When you were part of the old Jade, you were part of the gig. If the gig bombed, you felt that. If the gig went off, you felt that. Now because [the bar is] separate [to the performance space] you still feel it but it’s a different thing.
It’s really good in that respect because you can have the front bar open all the time. People can just drop by for a drink any time they like but also you can have your own space here where everyone’s here to see the band.

 

How did that changeover period between the Twin Street venue and here go?
It took us a year. A lot of the problems were finding a space but also a year before we started looking at this place, a club called Heaven had been started here and terrorised the neighbourhood. They ended up in court and then they did a runner. We still saw some bills coming in that weren’t for us.
The neighbours didn’t want us here. I reckon there were about six months of roundtable discussions with liquor licencing. It was us against the residents, the church, and an architecture firm across the road.
We just persisted and they gave up in the end because we made a good case but they were trying to wait us out to get us to not do what we were doing.
People ask me about that time, did I think it was going to happen again? I had no doubts it was going to happen again. I didn’t know when.

 

The last weekend of the old Jade was a big event.
We did a big final weekend. I just handpicked all the bands I wanted to play. It was good. It was a really fun weekend. My manager here now, Josh, played on the Thursday night with his band, the Funky Scum Rumour. I got some rock bands like BTA and indie bands like Steering by Stars and my band, The Sea Thieves, played on the Sunday. It was a good way to see it out.

 

Considering your neighbours in the St Paul’s Creative Space, does that have an impact in who tends to come here?
We’ve done a lot of good things with those guys. And they’ll come over and say they want to do something and we go yeah. We’ve got a really good relationship with them. It’s funny because lots of people I’ve known for years in the music industry are working next door.
As far as neigbours go, couldn’t be any better.
They take up the lion’s share of the building so we wouldn’t have moved in without something like that next door. You don’t want someone starting a club there. Not that they’d be able to. There’s no way anyone’s going to do that ever again because they’ll end up in court before they start.

 

Did you get to have such a diversity of events at the old place – like spoken word events?

 

We did, but to be honest, the old place was all about the local music scene. So that’s what we had going on. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, we had gigs. We did have some spoken word nights though. We were 100% reliant on the event to make our money for the night. We still are to a certain degree here but we’re already open every Thursday and Friday night regardless of whether we’ve got something on or not. You can take a bit more of a punt as well. Some band gets in touch with us and says they’ve never done a gig before and they want to go a gig. We can go ‘sure, maybe a Thursday night, see how it goes and go from there.’ It’s even better for us here because we don’t have to concern ourselves whether they bring 300 people or ten. It obviously helps but it makes it a bit easier to entertain that.
We definitely had to rethink the nights we gave people at the old place because that’s 100% what we were about [there]. Bands brought people, we made money, they didn’t, we made no money.

We’re separate rent, separate tenancy – everyone thought we’re on some government-funded thing which was quite annoying because we are not at all. It’s all down to us.

 


Words by Liam McNally

Thanks to Zac Coligan.

Pictures: The Jade Facebook page

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

The Hearth: Of the Night

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire.

Words by Kayla Gaskell

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire. Providing an outlet for creatives to share their work, The Hearth runs four themed events each year. The final event of 2017 was themed ‘Of the Night’, allowing several writers the opportunity to respond creatively to this theme.

The Jade has proven an excellent choice in venue with friendly staff and a stage for readers to present their work. While Thursday’s event was delayed due to another event having run before The Hearth, there was an excellent turn out of people wanting to support their writing community.

Readers for ‘Of the Night’ included: JV Birch, Marina Deller, Andy Lee, Lisandra Linde and Melanie Pryor.Music was provided by Dee Trawartha leading up to the readings, and between sets. The readers presented a mixture of poetry, personal essay, creative non-fiction, and fiction all with the common theme of ‘night’. This diversity in creative writing was excellent to see and kept the audience engaged throughout.

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The Hearth Collective: Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, Emma Maguire and Melanie Pryor, Photo: Brendan Davies

Lisandra Linde was the first reader; a creative writing honours student at Flinders University with a background in forensic archaeology. Lisandra presented a creative non-fiction piece dealing with her thoughts about her own mortality and her first experience confronted with death—encountering a corpse in her previous field of study.

Andy Lee, an environment student at Flinders, shared three of his poems, all written for performance. His work is heavy with naturalistic imagery and considers the world around him, how he views it, and how others view it. Drawing on his studies he is a able to bring in environmental concepts such as the twenty-ninth day in order to promote environmental awareness.

Marina Deller is one assignment away from finishing her degree and presented a moving personal essay about finding herself again after a terrible period in her life. Marina is a highly engaging speaker and held the audience captive as she spoke about her life experiences and how losing her friend and, shortly after, her mother changed her outlook on life.

 

Melanie Pryor, a PhD candidate, presented a piece crafted from three memories given to her in a previous project in 2013. These memories, together with some haunting music, inspired the story of a boy whose neighbour’s little girl disappeared. A captivating story, Melanie used the memories of people living with dementia and turned them into a story of her own.

JV Birch is a poet who moved to Adelaide from London five years ago. She claims to have the concentration span of a goldfish and says that is why her poetry is so short, although it seems more likely that she dislikes excessive verbiage. JV presented six short poems each revolving around the moon.

Q&A 2
Q&A Panel at the Hearth, Photo: Lauren Butterworth

The Hearth, as well as providing a place for writers to share their work, also invites audience engagement with a Q & A session following the readings. In the Q & A, the audience, as well as the presenters, are able to ask questions about the writing process and the pieces and ideas presented.

The Hearth was involved in the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival and has just announced their continued involvement in 2018. The theme for their next event, this coming March, is Masquerade, and they will soon be on the lookout for pitches.


For more information on The Hearth and upcoming events check out their Facebook page. Tulpa would like to thank The Hearth Collective for providing the photos used in this review. 

Photos by Lauren Butterworth and Brendan Davies

Review by Kayla Gaskell