Tall Poppies Talk: Creative Solutions for Unusual Times
Dear Podcast Listeners and Salon Guests ,
I sincerely hope this finds you all safe and well.
A few updates from some of our Tall Poppies who, despite the challenges of the current situation, have been busy.
Neuroscientist Matthew Larkum and his team at the Larkum Lab have published several papers in the last few months. The next one will be an opinion piece linking their research to consciousness. Keep an eye out on the website for a link to this when it becomes available. His team has been able to get a significant amount done during the lockdown – all writing and no experiments. But Matthew tells me the experiments are beginning again soon with renewed vigour.
Author Gail Jones sends her best from Sydney. Her new novel, “Our Shadows,” will be published by Text (Melbourne) on Sept 30. Gail talked at length about this new book in the September Tall Poppies Talk Salon and in her podcast:
“Our Shadows,” feature cross-cultural themes often found in Gail’s writing. The book is based in Quin (Ireland), Melbourne, Sydney and the Western Australian goldfields and there are Japanese and Italian elements. You can read more about it here: https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/our-shadows
The soprano Siobhan Stagg sang Dido in Purcell’s “Dido & Aeneas,” in Bordeaux on July 23rd. This was significant in that it was Siobhan’s first concert since March due to the lockdown. You can hear her podcast here: Tall Poppies: The Podcast with Siobhan Stagg
And despite the challenges of our times, the Tall Poppies Talk, Australian Salons continue. A few days back we hosted our first outdoor Salon. This was the brainchild of Salon co-founder David Jackson, and our way of making sure the show – or in this case the salon – must go on, despite the current Covid 19 restrictions. You can read more about this event below, in a write-up by salon regular, Nishad Pandey.
For now, wishing you all the best from Berlin. Stay well and stay safe.
Tall Poppies Talk beneath an Apple Tree
Lichtenberg Berlin, 23.07.2020
Unusual times call for creative solutions. On Thursday 23rd July, for the first time since its inception early last year, the Tall Poppies Talk, Australian Salon shifted to an outdoor location, in keeping with the requirements of Corona-stipulated social distancing. The location was, happily for me, the courtyard of the building where I live in Lichtenberg. (Non-attendance was, therefore, not a feasible option!) Beginning with a broad snapshot of this very valuable project, using music and soundbites from interviews with previous salon guests, Breandáin, in his inimitably friendly and accommodating style, invited the evening’s guest of honour onto the ‘stage’ – a cosy seat beneath an apple tree.
The guest of honour was Nick Angel, a writer who hails from Moonie, a rural town in Western Queensland. Since moving to Europe, he has spent time in France working as a lawyer and has been living in Berlin for just over three years. He has been in Berlin for just over three years. Nick won several accolades for his first novel, Drown Them in the Sea, including the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist of the Year award in 2005. His latest endeavour is a podcast series of short stories, often humorous and thought-provoking, set to quirky soundscapes composed and performed by multi-instrumentalist Kati Brien.
You can hear the first few episodes here: www.fireflyinajar.com
Tall Poppies Salon events, usually held in a wonderfully well-appointed and spacious apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, provide fertile soil for social interaction and cultural exchange, a confluence of the gregarious and generous part of the Australian spirit, and a distinctly Berlin-style eclecticism. Emphasis is placed on inclusivity, rather than distinction. The attendees, curious to meet the guest of honour, and fortified by excellent wine and good cheer, mingle freely and without reservation. However, given the profoundly unusual times we are living in, this was not a typical salon event. Seats were placed 1.5 metres apart from each other. Everyone had to reign in their natural proclivity for hand shaking and hugging. Ungainly elbow bumps and awkward greetings were in full effect.
But these renegotiations function as social ice-breakers and can, in turn, provide fodder for continued interaction. Blessed by wonderfully balmy weather and summer light that extends well into the evening, the small gathering and convivial setting created an atmosphere of relaxed familiarity. Some of those in attendance were residents of the building – a mixed crowd of Germans and expats from varied backgrounds, all interested and supportive, reinforcing the genuinely community-focused nature of this project.
This outdoor salon also reaffirmed to me that, with a plethora of green spaces and a government that has so far managed to control the pandemic relatively well, we are, indeed, very fortunate in Berlin. Social interaction and engagement cannot, for the foreseeable future, take place in the traditional way, so we must improvise and be inventive.
Nishad Pandey is a guitarist, composer and teacher based in Lichtenberg, Berlin.
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