I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about going away; I find at the moment that I am thinking coherently in 'chunks' of no more than four or five days ahead. I packed my bag thoroughly last night, but in the hour or so I have left before catching a lift to the airport, I will repack, as we are flying on an uber-cheap Tiger plane, trying to avoid paying extras like checked luggage, and I need to keep my wardrobe light and compact, not an easy thing to do when Melbourne is threatening four seasons in one weekend as usual.
I also haven't thought about social engagements; as a consequence I am allowing myself to float in Zoe's wash as she eagerly churns to various blogmeets that have been put together over the last few weeks. If you are in Melbourne, and are keen to join in,
For what it's worth, Braidwood, Two Fires, last weekend, was great. I was on a Small Publishers panel with the sweet and articulate Alice Gage (Ampersand magazine, you know, the funky one with the Penguin tribute cover), the serious Stephen Mathews (print-on-demand guru, Ginninderra Press) and the personable Rob Riel (another print-on-demand guru, especially with poetry, as in Wagtail) and the whole lot of us were presided over by Finlay Lloyd publisher and artist Phil Day.
I felt a bit like I was in one of those Sesame Street clips that sing one of these things is not like the others. All the others were digital or off-set print publishers, fraught with commercial pressures, hell-bent upon getting new writing out there, everywhere, in an attractive and affordable manner. I, on the other hand, put out small editions, hand-crafted, with a vague eye to making money (something I have to address very soon) but focusing more on the object than the accessibility. However, the more we talked, the more we had in common. For example, Rob Riel has a similar interest to mine, of looking at Australia's poetic history, and rifling through the dross to find gems to republish. He now has a series of poetry reprints called Art Box, reproducing what he considers to be good out-of-print volumes. Is he creating a canon? I hope so, to some extent. I don't think Australia has one for poetry apart from Lawson-Paterson-Gilmore-insert names here-big gap-Wright-Murray :)
We talked a wee bit about design, a lot about accessibility, more about the Future of The Book, had some healthy interjections and questions from the audience, and I got to poke Phil with a stick a little bit, a beloved hobby of mine for years now because he takes it so well (we used to go to art school at the same time).
We also got to spend some time in the Braidwood Book and Print Room a not-to-be-missed experience for anyone who loves eclectic books, fab prints and works on paper, and a gorgeous setting. This is a bookshop that doesn't care that it lives in a small country town; it has a distinctly European sensibility and doesn't stock anything you'd expect to find. It's very easy to find: as you're travelling through the Braidwood town centre on the way to the coast/Batemans Bay, you turn left onto the highway, and not far along on your right is a blue house and a sign saying 'bookshop'. Enjoy.
Ooh, I'd better go and have some lunch and finish packing. Hopefully there'll be a bit of liveblogging happening throughout the weekend, maybe some twittering. Have a nice whatever you're doing, too. Plenty heaps of excitement, hopefully.
* A phrase I picked up on TripleJ on the way home from the Aged Poet's house today. I'd had enough words, wanted some music. But five minutes of whichever dumbed-down girlie DJ was on shift today made me switch off. I love JJJ music, hate the perceived need to sound like a dumb illiterate Aussie, which seems to be standard Yoof Rad'o policy these days. GAH.