Chris Tse at Melbourne EWF

Chris Tse talks about his visits to Melbourne's Emerging Writers Festival.

An author (not Chris!)

An author (not Chris!)

In 2012 I made a snap decision to visit Melbourne for the Emerging Writers Festival. I was between jobs and grappling with a manuscript I’d been working on for six years, and I felt that it might give me some fresh inspiration (and when is a trip to Melbourne never a good idea?) That year’s festival remains one of my most indelible memories as a writer and was my first exposure to hearing what was happening and being talked about by writers in Australia. It left a major impression on me and gave me a major boost in confidence. 

When I was invited to be an artist at this year’s EWF it felt like coming full circle – though my brother still continues to question whether I can still be considered an “emerging” or “young” writer.

My reading at the fabulous Queer Icons Party was a spine-tingling and unforgettable experience that reminded me just how fortunate I am to be able to visit other cities and countries to share my work and meet other writers. The venue for this reading was a former church hidden away in an otherwise non-descript office building in Flinders Lane. Our MC for the night, Mama Alto, made the most of the vaulted ceiling with a beautiful rendition of ‘Over The Rainbow’. Local poet Adolfo Aranjuez finished his reading with a high energy dance performance, and I honestly hope more New Zealand poets incorporate movement into their readings from now.

On the Monday before I flew home I chaired a panel about the poetic voice with two inspiring Australian poets: Shastra Deo and Magan Magan. EWF was also a chance to catch up with writers I’ve had the chance to meet at other festivals in Newcastle, Brisbane and here in New Zealand. Our two national literatures are not too dissimilar, and since that first EWF back in 2012 I’ve been more aware of Australia’s literary scene – but I know there’s still so much to learn and read. I hope my appearance at EWF this year prompted some audience members to find out a little more about what’s happening in New Zealand, and maybe one day we’ll see them on our shores at LitCrawl.