Of languages and literatures and a couple of heart strings

It’s been ages, but I have been busy.  But now that I have completed a big secret task, I can blog again.
Preparations for The Conference are going apace and have been taking up most of my away-from-work time (I do have a job that also needs to be honoured due to the what it’s about and the people I work with – all super.)  I’ve been seeing how different attending a conference is to organising one.  The latter thus far has been a bit like a Kneipp therapy of hot and cold dunking. Hopefully, I‘ll be able to acknowledge the healing properties end July.
Yes there has been some writing. Spurts of new patchwork for my languishing novel in progress (NIP), and a recycled and revised old story for the inaugural issue of Jotters United that has some great funky music. Fun to be there alongside some exciting fresh poetry and fiction.
Then there was a great deal of sadness at the passing in April of Alistair MacLeod. I had been fortunate to hear him reading and even chat with him over a beer at the North Little Rock Short Story Conference in 2012. A wonderful writer, and a lovely person. He will be missed at the Vienna Conference in July. He will be missed.
More spurts of NIP bits and lots of reading about Vienna. The lies of fiction and a great deal of truth: The Water Castle and Vienna Girlboth by Ingeborg Lauterstein (Ingeborg passed away in 2012 and so I was unable to tell her that I had at last read The Water Castle which she had sent to me as a gift after making contact through the International Women’s Writing Guild to which I belonged for several years.); Night Falls on the City by Sarah Gainham; and the memoir, Last Waltz in Vienna by George Clare, recommended in a letter to my late father.
Then choosing a cover for my successfully crowdfunded book, Geflimmer der Vergangenheit. The cover with artwork by Sharon Ratheise turned out beautifully. The title had to be changed from Schimmer der Vergangenheit, since there already existed a book with that title and, unlike in the English-speaking world, there is copyright on titles in Germany. The book was made available on Friday, 13 June, although I haven’t received my author copies yet. Any day now. And my first reading in German is booked for the Café Fichtl in Floridsdorf on 29 October when the Possum is in town with her fiancé.
Then followed a couple of rejections, and a request for another look at a flash with the ok that it could be when I have more time, which is really nice.

And there were some other exciting events early June. Anita Heiss came to town! I was able to hear her read and speak on three whole days in a row and on the last day, 5 June, was honoured to talk at the 2014 Stephen Wurm Symposium on Languages, Literatures and the Australia-Europe Connection at which Anita was the keynote speaker addressing Aboriginal writing: celebrating the new Australian literature. Here are some pix (all ©Australian Embassy in Vienna) from that event. 

Jean Almeida, Anita Heiss, SP
Presenters: SP with Drs Agstner, Ramsey-Kurz, Rubik and Heiss

Needless to say, I’ve been on a bit of a high. My reading has also gone Down Under, for a while. The Symposium brought me closer to Australia than I have been in a long while. I am currently reading Anita Heiss’ memoir – yes, I am changing my views on memoir, a genre I long mistrusted – and enjoying, albeit with sometimes tears in my eyes, Am I Black Enough For You?

And so now that I have finished a difficult secret task, which will be announced in a future blog post, I will leave you and go and dig in my garden.  Happy.