Sunday, May 15, 2011

Event Review: Women of Letters

picture from the Women of Letters website

Born from the astonishing minds of Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy in 2010, Women of Letters seeks to recapture the spirit of the dwindling art of letter-writing by inviting prominent women of Australia to write and read a letter to a common subject. Michaela curates the events and runs the show on stage, while Marieke hangs out front of house charming guests and raising money for Edgar’s Mission, an animal welfare shelter in Victoria.

Usually held in Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre, other capitals are sometimes lucky enough to have Women of Letters pay a visit, and last Sunday was Brisbane’s second turn to host the event. On the bill were Patience Hodgson of The Grates, Magistrate Jacqui Payne, novelist Kris Olsson, singer songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke and Morag Kobez-Halvorson. The theme of the afternoon’s letters was love; perhaps one of the most dreamt of yet hard to get right letters in the history of correspondence.

The afternoon began with Patience tripling the wanderlust of all those in attendance as she spoke about her love for New York City; the co-op where she bought wondrous groceries at phenomenal prices, her beautiful upstairs neighbour who unwittingly provided Patience with free internet throughout her stay, her downstairs neighbour with a seemingly booming love life, the sunny step of her building, the streets down which she cycled and the studio in which she recorded. Jacquie Payne next bought tears to eyes as she spoke in her letter to the people she cherished most in her life; her six much adored children, their adventurous childhoods and the pride she had for the burgeoning adulthoods, her love of being a mother clearly shining through.

Up next Morag wrote a love letter to her health, wondering where it might have tripped off to as she took the audience through her tale of the simply unfair seeming health trials of the past few years of her life. From uterine masses to having a hip replacement to a non-existent but for awhile panic inducing ovarian tumour, Morag told her often painful tale with a dark wit that had listeners simultaneously giggling and squirming, and reminded us all how we should love our health while we had it in full. Following Morag’s medical adventures was writer Kris Olsson whose love letter to the alphabet provided a lovely abstract note to the event. The tender way she spoke about her love for sounds, letters, words and their collective meaning shed light on the value she has for her work and the importance she places upon the information and education she has the privilege to spread.

Finally rounding off the afternoon was Kate Miller-Heidke, whose love letter to her thirteen year old self had the audience in fits as she recounted the misadventures of her youth which she would have a do-over Kate perhaps not repeat. She finished by singing a love song written for her by her partner Keir Nuttall, key lyrics of which went something like “I need you like a tourist needs a toilet…” (there is a video of the couple singing this song somewhere on the internet, I know because I’ve watched it, and if I could find it for you I’d share, because it’s darn hilarious).

Following the fives’ laughter, tear and thought inducing efforts, a short interlude allowed audience members to grab a drink and vegan cupcake from the bar, and write their own letters on pre-stamped Women of Letters post-cards and aerogrammes. With the break over Q&A was launched and the women answered audience questions about motherhood, advice, unread letter ethics and whether they had ever written an actual love letter to a lover, and what it might have contained.

The afternoon was, as the Women of Letters seemingly always are, touching, uplifting, inspirational and educational. As the crowd exited The Zoo and sauntered down the streets of The Valley conversations were flush with excitement and revelations. Women of Letters as an institution is a very powerful tool (for men as well as women), and allows for a very subtle but necessary education process within the very personal sharing that is traditional to the letter medium. A must go to event for anybody if they can, visit the Women of Letters for more details of where Michaela and Marieke are headed next.

(ps, sorry about the wibbly wobbly posting, blogger has been down for repairs and it has been causing us some issues! Not to worry though, as posting should be back to normal this week.)

1 comment:

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