So today was my first in-person experience of a Women of Letters event, now rechristened People of Letters because it allows people with penises to take part as well, which is awesome. I’ve devoured the anthologies, but have been unsuccessful snagging tickets to the actual shows because they sell out so damn quickly. I love the Spiegeltent, but it’s tiny! I’d been foiled in my efforts with this show as well – I was at work, on Twitter, and saw that they were on sale, and by the time I got home to my credit card, bang. Sold! So I was resigned to missing out on this one as well. But an absolute angel on Facebook announced that she had spare tickets yesterday afternoon and I pounced, grabbing one for myself and a friend.
So I found someone to come with me, and we fronted up an hour early, finding the girl with the tickets who I met over Facebook, introducing ourselves in the park across the road from the Arts Centre and it felt all cool and illicit, like two anonymous secret agents exchanging vital and priceless information. And then my friend and I joined the line and waited, giddy with anticipation. I saw Marieke Hardy and resolved – RESOLVED – to be completely cool in front of her, because she was standing at the door greeting people which made my year. But I passed by her, and something, some form of evil pixie in my brain dissolved my self control and I sort of blurted to her that I love her and it probs came across as quite hysterical, but all credit to the lady. Her eyes widened for a second and then she said she loved me too and then she TOUCHED MY ARM, GUYS. SHE TOUCHED MY ARM.
So with my life irrevocably a hundred times better, I walked into the Spiegeltent and we found our seats. The incredibly adorable Michaela McGuire was introducing the speakers, as I gather is normal at these events seeing as she and Marieke “Awesome” Hardy co-founded them. And then the letters began. There were five couples, who were writing to each other, which is a fantastic spin on an already fantastic idea. First up was Clare Bowditch, singer and star of ‘Offspring’, and her close friend, Emily Lubitz, lead singer of TinPan Orange. Way to make me cry, guys. The two women shared, in several letters each, anecdotes and memories of two decades of friendship. They even performed a song for us and we all clapped along and the world was buzzing with amazingness. They discussed music and motherhood and love and all the joy and pain that comes with life, and we all cried and laughed and clapped and it was the best, most dynamic way to begin this event.
Next up was the poet and cartoonist Michael Leunig and his son, Sunny, who was A MAGICIAN. Totally amazing. Michael Leunig was such a sweetly spoken guy, with such humble charm, and when he told us that he really hadn’t wanted to be here because he didn’t know how to proceed, we all cooed and fawned and took no offence in the slightest because he’s Michael Fucking Leunig and he’s the best. Sunny Leunig was wonderful, and did MAGIC as well, which was the coolest. They spoke a lot about the relationships between fathers and sons and how parents influence their children for better and worse. And also, he made his dad draw a Mr Curly cartoon like, in front of us, during the letter. Seeing Leunig in actual action, guys. Yes.
Then came slam poet Emilie Zoey Baker with her partner, editor Michael Nolan. Emilie regaled us with whimsical tales of their early courtship, before describing in devastating detail the way their lives had changed since Michael became a zombie. How she wasn’t willing to ‘re-dead’ him, because she loved him too much, but how him being a zombie really inconvenienced day-to-day living. Then Michael got up to speak, and roared into the microphone for a bit, spewing blood, before gently being coaxed back to his seat with a handful of bacon from Emilie’s handbag. Good times indeed.
After a short break, we were straight back into it, with Spiderbait drummer Kram and entertainer and ‘Playschool heartthrob’, Rhys Muldoon. These two men are more-or-less Australia’s best bromance, telling wonderfully hilarious tales of narrowly avoiding a kicking from Axl Rose and their duel tales of fatherhood. Kram’s letter was touching and funny in all the right places, and Rhys’ came straight from the heart. And they wore matching Aviators ‘by accident’. Sure, guys. Also, I couldn’t stop marveling at how luxuriant Kram’s hair is. I want it. On my own head.
Finishing up was the husband and wife team of Michael Williams, director of my fave place in Melbourne, The Wheeler Centre, and the lovely Michelle Bennett, Triple R presenter. Their letters were full of love and tears and humour, a tribute to a relationship full of books and a love of literature. Their two sons featured heavily in these letters and I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the house by the time they were done. I’m running out of time to write this recap, but it was one of the best days I have had in a long time. Truly inspired by some of our best entertainers and intellectuals and I love them all. Thank you, People of Letters