29 July 2009

Dark Paradise

You know how some ideas haunt you? Well, this photograph haunted me from the moment I first I came across it several years ago. I knew that at some point I would write about it—and now I have.

Jō and Ichiko Takasuka, Victoria 1914/5

DARK PARADISE is a radio piece, the story of Japanese immigrant, Jō Takasuka, who grew Australia’s first commercial rice crop in 1914/15—as told by a benshi or silent film narrator. From the moment the Takasuka family arrive in Melbourne in 1905, they have to battle not only a harsh physical environment, but also a hostile political climate, thanks to the notorious ‘White Australia’ policy. DARK PARADISE is a fictionalised account of such a time and place.

Written by Noëlle Janaczewska
Produced by Jane Ulman
Music: Chis Abrahams & Jim Denley
Sound engineer: Andrei Shabunov

Performed by: Kuni Hashimoto, Linda Cropper, Asako Izawa
Ivar Kants, Felix Gentle, Gerard Carroll, Ian Scott, Gary Bryson, Hamish Daniel,
Andy Scott, Barbara Smith, Garry Hogan, Nicholas Field & Yuki Matsuura

ABC Radio National: Airplay
Sunday 9 August, 3:00 pm, repeated Thursday 13 August, 7:00 pm, and available online for 4 weeks from first broadcast at

And I haven’t finished with this material—neither the story of the Takasukas, nor the figure of the benshi. Over the coming year, I’ll be continuing to work with it for new projects in print, poetry and performance.

23 July 2009

Noëlle on Another Lost Shark

As part of the run-up to next month's Queensland Poetry Festival (where I'm reading), I did an online interview about my writing process, and the performance/poetry nexus, with Queensland-based poet Graham Nunn. You can read it, and my poem Local Customs: Tips for Refugees on Graham's Another Lost Shark site.

14 July 2009

Minnie Mouse Redraws the Line

Listen to my short piece Minnie Mouse Redraws the Line on ABC Radio National's Airplay. Thursday 16 July at 7:00 pm or on-line for 4 weeks from Sunday 12 July.

The piece is a playful speculation on the relationship between Mickey and Minnie Mouse of Walt Disney fame. Minnie finds herself under house arrest in a rundown hotel in Sydney. The studio suits at Disney want her to lie low for a while. Mickey is at the peak of his fame and the knowledge Minnie has of the 'real Mickey' risks a cartoon catastrophe.

Performed by Lucia Mastrantone. Produced by Libby Douglas.

11 July 2009

The Need for Imaginative Space

The last month has been one of workshops and deadlines and struggling with questions of structure. It's been a crowded, busy, scheduled month, so these words from Doris Lessing's 2007 Nobel lecture about the space you need to think and write seemed particularly apt.

Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, “Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?” Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas—inspiration.

If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.

Read the rest of her lecture here.