Taking an alternative route down to my local library I was drawn to look into a delicious looking bookstore. There were typewriters visible through the translucent window and my writing had become stale as of late. This could be just what I needed….
Upon entry to the quaint little space I noticed a man behind the counter decked out with a seriously fashionable moustache and outfit to match. He fitted the space so well he looked like a painting in the background. A little voice whispered ; ‘well, I may as well just have a little look around…’
The shelves were carefully aligned and decked with all sorts of books from deep down and thoughtful (cloud gazing at the moon) to earth wise tips on how to live whilst making this world a better place.
Desire Bookstore in Manly was quickly becoming a cool place. I nearly ran away with a beat poets wisdom wrapped up in an A3 poster to stick on my wall but instead became quickly engaged in a chat soiree with the bookshop keeper, Kuba. After our humble connection he discreetly slid a small little square of paper across the counter as he bid me farewell. I held it preciously in my hands, and unveiled it discreetly as I strolled down the street as if a member of some underground club. It read;
“BONFIRE @ Desire -a monthly open mic- come one, come all”.
8pm on a Tuesday night a small gathering peaked at a dim lite store on a tucked away back street in Manly. Drinks were served from a milk crate with local brewed cider, beer and paper cups filled with wine on the go. Already the floor had been cleared and people were sitting crossed legged or back to back with conversations interplaying creating a great big spider web of connections. There was general respect, a hush brewing as if we were all feeding on the same gritting anticipation for this night’s adornment of artists.
A little stage was set with a school desk, mic stand, fancy guitar amp, big red curtain drapes and privy backdrop.
‘That looks like grandma’s old sitting chair’ I pointed out with enthusiasm.
The music began, and our host announces the big news ;
‘next month is our 23 event it will be 2 years to date’
cheers erupted from the over-zealous crowd. A general love and support can be heard from regulars and the curious newcomers soak it all in. The night see’s an array of performers from extremely talented writers, poets, spoken word artists, and musicians all free from pretension. I was impressed.
As an audience member I was blown away by the variety of work from this so loosely constructed event. Somehow it all seemed to work, and fall graciously into place. The different faces, from different places, and different generations all coming together to share the same space and express themselves is something special any where. And I imagine I will hold this place dear to my heart for moments to come.
I donned the microphone, and felt a warm response literally freeing me up on stage. (‘I’m going to make a habit of this’, I thought, and since have returned here every month). Highlights of that particular evening were, Szymek Dorabialski the hooves man- weaving poetic genius from a collection of horse names in a newspaper betting bill…Helen- the older woman who talked of passion throughout her years with such dry wit it made me weep with enjoyment… Eliot with his short story of his magical girl in the back of a Volvo… and of course I must give it up for at least one musician (although I’m quiet a musical elitist ) Julien, young boy who sounded like a young Jim Morrison, singing about dropping his ego of all things.
How mature the world can be, sometimes…
Bonfire night at Desire Bookstore, 3/3 Whistler Street, Manly, takes place the last Tuesday of every month.
Desire Bookstore is open between 10am and 5pm seven days a week.