Click on the arrow above to listen to Michelle’s reading.
“Hi, my name’s Michelle Cahill and I’m reading from my novel, Riding Without Krishna…
A south easterly swell breaks the waves. Sarita leaves her apartment to walk along the cliff. It’s December in Sydney, the day a boat crashes off the coast of Christmas Island, drowning fifty refugees. A flowering of jacaranda brightens the street. The petals shed indecently, covering cars, pavements and lawns. Sarita catches a handful blown about by the warm breeze.
Something about the petals reminds her of home. Her thoughts are fragmented, steadied by the clarity of absence. She remembers windhorses fluttering against a bleak line of mountain ranges. Rinsed by monsoon rain they dangle from electric wires which criss-cross the steep, terraced valley.
As a child, she stands in the alcove of a shop packed with rolls of fabric, paper scrolls, trays of ink. There is a young Tibetan woman stretching out hemp and printing it with blocks.
Sarita asks what the words mean. With their curves and horizontal strokes they look familiar. The woman takes no notice, her baby asleep in a sling wrapped around her chest. The shed is damp, there is scarcely any light. Sarita’s curiosity provokes a soft laughter. The flags are like prayers the woman answers, offerings to the sky, wind, to fire and earth.
“Like coloured rice!” Sarita says.
Breathless, she runs off to catch up with her mama and her older brother on the road. She will be in trouble for running away. Her mama pitches her an accusing glare.
“Where have you been child? We were looking for you everywhere!”
ABOUT MICHELLE CAHILL:
Michelle Cahill was the recipient of an Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award residency at Varuna for her manuscript, Riding Without Krishna. She was awarded an Australia Council grant in fiction to complete a residency at Sanskriti Kendra, New Delhi in 2009. She was a fiction contributor at the 2004 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and was twice shortlisted in the HarperCollins Varuna Manuscript Development awards. Her stories have appeared in Southerly, Famous Reporter, Transnational Literature, Prosopisia, Snorkel and will soon appear in Etchings. Michelle is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently Vishvarupa, highly commended in the Wesley Michel Wright Prize. Her poetry has won several awards and is anthologised in UQP’s 30 Australian Poets, the HarperCollins Book of English Poetry by Indians, & Black Inc’s The Best Australian Poems 2009 and 2011. This year she is a Fellow at Hawthornden Castle. She is coediting the Puncher and Wattmann Anthology of Asian Australian Poetry, & she serves as an editor for Mascara Literary Review.
“I spent a blissful week at Varuna, working intensely on my novel manuscript in October 2010 as part of the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award.” Michelle Cahill
The Accidental Cage, 2006, Interactive Press
Ophelia in Harlem, 2010, Kilmog Press
Vishvarūpa, 2011, 5 Islands Press
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