Facing The Uncomfortable: an interview with Charlotte Laurasia Raymond

Meet Charlotte, short-statured, pocket rocket, dancer, poet, goat enthusiast, adventurer, exhibitionist, theatrical can-can dancer and perpetually hungry makeup enthusiast. We met on the balcony of the equally fiery and petite Cabinet Bar and Gallery where Charlotte firmly declared that “Gin is Food.”

So who are you? I’m Charlotte Laurasia Raymond. I like to say I’m a goat enthusiast. I guess I could also say social worker, Filipino Sri Lankan, queer, all those things are true, but fall short of really telling you who I am. I identify strongly with being short (I’m 5 foot high). And I’m passionate, I think passionate is just a good word to describe me.

Why short? Cause it’s endearing! Also, because connects me with my mum who is also short. Much of my identity comes from my mum’s connection with the Philippines, with her status as an outsider. Growing up, at extended family gatherings, my mother used to sit with the children and it wasn’t till I grew older that I understood it was because she felt like an outsider. I think one of the common themes of my identity is being mixed race, being queer but not overtly queer and having a physically small structure. I think by always focusing on my height I get to identify with these parts of me without having to be explicit.

Some of your most compelling pieces are about your mother. Has she ever seen your poetry? She’s seen it on YouTube, my brother showed her a video and said she liked it, but she’s never spoken to me about it. Writing poetry about my mother has felt like a healing process in rebuilding for what was a long time a very estranged relationship.

Never invited her to a live show? I do a lot of poetry about being queer and my parents don’t know that about me.

But so much of your poetry on the internet references your queerness. We just don’t talk about these things. I’ve always been the initiator of change and the one bringing conflict

Crew call-out: Do you want to be part of the next stage of Melbourne Spoken Word?

Melbourne Spoken Word was founded in 2015, with the idea of it being a central online hub for spoken word in Melbourne, the place to find out about events, discuss spoken word, and involve the spoken word scene in a unified platform to amplify our artform and bring in new audiences.

A couple of years ago we expanded from a website that people could add their events and submit articles to, to an organisation consisting of a committee from the spoken word community to create accountability and share some decision making. This year, as we move towards incorporation, we wanted to expand that further.

We’re calling out for those involved in spoken word in Melbourne to fulfil some specific roles, namely some people for our new Board and some fresh perspectives in the current committee. We also want to create some co-ordinator roles, including a reviews editor, a comment/opinion pieces editor, some interviewers and a producer to help to produce our podcast and audio-journal, Audacious.

All roles unless otherwise stated are currently volunteer roles, and for people with a passion for spoken word and existing support for the aims of Melbourne Spoken Word. Currently, MSW is applying for grants and seeking other funds to provide payment for roles. We’d love for you to be part of the process of MSW becoming an official not-for-profit organisation for the spoken word scene in Melbourne. MSW believes in paying artists where funding is available. We’re not looking for someone who merely wants to use the role to add something to their CV, but someone who sees the value of this work in the community.

Board Members MSW is in the process of forming a legally recognised incorporated association, with membership, that is registered as deductible gift recipient (DGR) – that’s a not for profit organisation that you can become a member of. In order to do that, we need to form a board, and are calling for expressions of interests,

Look let me show you something: an interview with Sharifa Tartoussi

In the lead up to the launch of her debut collection, ColourBlind, MSW’s Amanda Anastasi interviews Sharifa Tartoussi on going to the Australian poetry slam, loving her culture and examining privilege.

Sharifa, you won the Victorian Poetry Slam last year, qualifying you to compete in the Australian Poetry Slam at the Sydney Opera House. What were the things you gained from this experience?

I think the biggest thing that I gained was connections. I mean that both as an artist and as a person. I was able to connect with other artists from around the country and internationally. I was able to get to know more about them as people, about the creative projects that they are working on, the causes they hope to champion and the nature/vibe of the scenes that they came from. It was not only eye-opening in that sense, but hugely enriching, when it boils down to the best thing about this particular gain; I made new friends from around the country based on shared interest and these are now not only people I can collaborate with in the future, but people I get the feeling will be lifelong friends in some instances.

I also gained a huge amount of exposure, winning the Victorian final meant that there were radio interviews, news articles, a title I could put in the bio section of applications. It got people paying a lot more attention to me as an artist and to the conversations, I am hoping to prompt people to have more. I also got to perform at the Opera House which exposed me to a whole other arena of audience members and prospectors, which is always welcomed. It means that you have more people listening and likely to take heed of what you have to say.

Being on that big a stage also meant the I was forced to grow both as a person and an artist. It got me thinking about what was next for me and how I could keep advancing and challenging myself. Although initially, it meant that there were growing pains, I feel it helped me achieve a healthy e