Readers who joined the Wild Readings community across the past two years have included playwright and actor Margi Brown Ash, novelist and essayist Ashley Hay, director and screenwriter Evan Clarry, filmmaker Katrina Graham, music writer and novelist Noel Mengel, visual artist and writer Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox, and comedian Michelle Janssen. In October, Anisa Nandaula, winner of the 2018 XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word and 2016 Queensland Slam Poetry champion, will read from her new book Melanin Garden. A number of other special guests will also join the line-up, and the audience will have a chance to share their own work during an open mic session.
Wild Readings, held on the third Tuesday of each month, is an entirely free event to allow people from all walks of life to take part as a reader or audience member. It is the brainchild of Writer Out of Residence Kirsten Fogg, who was living in Brisbane and wanted to create a forum where she could share her creative non-fiction work. Bringing together a volunteer team of local creatives to run the event, she started the Wild Readings series at Mu’ooz Eritrean restaurant in West End. The team chose the not-for-profit restaurant, which trains new immigrants in hospitality, as a venue which was welcoming and also shared the ethos of giving people a chance to develop their skills. When Fogg returned to Canada in mid 2017, the team continued the mission of Wild Readings.
Poet and Wild Readings co-founder Nerissa Rowan said the majority of readings in Brisbane had been exclusively for poetry and spoken word. “When Kirsten approached me with concept of running a regular reading event for everyone, regardless of genre, I thought it was a fantastic idea. I love poetry readings, but if you weren’t a poet there wasn’t much chance of finding an open mic where your work would be embraced. We wanted to change that.”
Playwright and Wild Readings co-founder Lisa Southgate said the eclectic nature of the subjects and styles meant each reading was a completely different experience. “We’ve had some amazing talent read for us — award-winning authors, playwrights, songwriters — but some of the greatest moments have been hearing the new readers. To see people who have never stood behind a mic before reading their work to an appreciative audience is really heartwarming.”
Readings begin at 7pm, but readers and audience members alike are encouraged to come along earlier to network. After the featured readings, the audience is given their opportunity to share during the Footlights open mic session. “We encourage people to come early and meet each other. Part of our aim is to strengthen the community of writers within Brisbane,” Southgate said.
The outcomes of that cross-pollination were demonstrated when Southgate worked with local songwriter Francesca de Valence on Beware of Boys , a moving musical memoir which debuted at the 2018 Anywhere Festival. “I met Francesca at Wild Readings — we’d spoken about songwriting and she had performed some fantastic songs during open mic, so naturally I approached her to help me write a musical. I was thrilled when she agreed, as working with someone of her calibre on my play was a dream come true,” said Southgate. “Creating a strong community of writers, whether they write fiction, non-fiction, songs or poetry, can bring about amazing things. And that’s what Wild Readings is all about.”
Readers also enjoyed this story about West End African Restaurant Mu’ooz.