6 August 2012

Not playing, chatting

Thanks to Brian Stewart of Cyberhalides for the pics

I like a writers’ festival but to be in one, on a panel, with illustrious co-panellists and not a few illustrious writers in the audience is a blast.

This was Conversations about Jazz at the Canberra Jazz Project. The CJP has a words and music theme this year, so a few jazz poets appear in the program (Alan Browne and spoken-word artist Miles Merrill) and this panel session. I represented the local, community stream, and the professionals were Sydney writers Jasmine Crittenden and John Shand and broadcaster-writer Andrew Ford. The session was convened by Melbourne writer and editor, Miriam Zolin. Now these are significant names in the jazz writing scene and I was chuffed to appear with them. The session passed with great speed, and some interesting points were raised about writing, criticism, the purpose and nature of reviewing, the benefits of writing about music, responses to reviewing, even the writer as parasitic on the performer. Also issues about jazz itself: the size of the community, the knowledge of jazz players and their expressiveness (or lack of it). And the state of publishing in Australia and the opportunities for jazz writers. There were a few questions at the end. I particularly liked one from Alex Raupach about the permanence of writing against the ephemeral nature of performance. Now that’s one that leaves your mind in a philosophical twist. Andrew quoted from Orwell - “[g]ood prose is like a window pane” (from the essay Why I write / George Orwell) meaning that the writer is of no consequence in the review. OK, agreed. I find these discussions intriguing (and perhaps unfinalisable: modern dialectics would argue the writer can’t be removed from the writing). FWIW, CJ takes a simple and practical approach. If interested, read my Instructions to authors. I seek to promote a community, widen popular interests, record some local history, assist performers and promote Canberra’s and Australia’s presence in the world jazz scene. And still allow the author some time for work and other interests. None-the-less, I could have easily chatted for hours more. Great fun.

No comments: