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Hi, I’m Noëlle Janaczewska, and I’m reading from a piece called Yellow Melancholy.
I can’t entirely explain why that first encounter with yellow melancholy on page 244 of The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe so cheered me, but I can speculate. C. erisithales is not a terribly prepossessing plant, but it has the most evocative name, a name that recalls the poetic tradition that informs so much English nature writing, and not only nature writing, but landscape history as well. W. G. Hoskins began his influential 1955 book The Making of the English Landscape not with statistics or theoretical exposition, but with Wordsworth and the remark that ‘poets make the best topographers.’ Yellow melancholy recharged my interest in the plant realm and our human interactions with it, a long-standing interest, but one which had lain dormant a while. It suggested possibilities, new ecologies of exploration and research. It reminded me that not all writing paths lead to theatre.
From this first encounter unfurled a fascination—with thistles, with those plants we characterise as weeds, and with the histories of environments both real and imaginary. ‘The pied beauty of clouds, foliage, and limestone walls come into view not as background to important events but offering an alternative focus of its own,’ writes Paul Carter. Improvising along this line of thinking I began wondering what insights a history of the thistle in Australia might throw up. What shadows, footprints and lines of connection.
I started to see thistles as a kind of text, multi-layered, multi-lingual, full of uneasy but exciting reminders of the expanse of untamed nature just over the horizon. Legacies of the wild that haunts civilisation. ‘The landscape is like a historic library of 50,000 books,’ according to Oliver Rackham, ‘many were written in remote antiquity in languages which have only lately been deciphered; some of the languages are still unknown.’
Forget therapy and the prescription pad, let’s return melancholy to artists, writers and thinkers. Not as the corrosive by-product of creative genius, but as an integral part of the human quest.”
ABOUT NOELLE JANACZEWSKA:
Noëlle Janaczewska writes plays, performance texts, monologues, poetry, essays, gallery and on-line explorations, and radio scripts across drama and non-fiction. Her work has been performed, broadcast and published throughout Australia and overseas. The recipient of 5 AWGIE Awards, her stage plays have won the Griffin Playwriting Award, the Playbox-Asialink Playwriting Competition and the 2006 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award. Recent productions include: Random Red and Weeds Etc for ABC Radio National, Eyewitness Blues for the BBC, and The Hannah First Collection, 1919—1949 for the Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai. Find out more about my work and read excerpts at http://noelle-janaczewska.com
“I had my first residency at Varuna in 1997.
The extract from Yellow Melancholy is from my manuscript-in-progress: THE BOOK OF THISTLES. I began it with a New Work grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and a Varuna Flagship Fellowship in 2010.” Noëlle Janaczewska
SELECT PUBLICATIONS (theatre & radio productions not included):
Colourful moths of North Korea published in Cordite 35: Oz-Ko, 2011
Zuiderzee published in Extempore 5: 2010 (November)
Hopscotch published in The Green Fuse, Picaro Press, 2010
Salt lemon published in Black Market Review (UK), Issue 2 (Spring 2010)
Jesus’s Ass (by way of Nietzsche) published in Cordite 31.0: Epic, 2009
Learning (to love) the Clarinet published in Extempore 3: 2009 (November).
F. R. G. S. published in Short Circuit, Currency Press, 2009
The City Lorikeets, published in Island 118, Spring 2009
Songket and This Territory, Currency Press, 2008 *
Vamos Ao Brasil/Let’s Go Brazil. Scan, 2006
Dorothy Lamour’s Life as a Phrasebook, Wayzgoose Press, 2006 *
Skin Flick from the Black Lagoon published in HEAT 6 New series 2003
Minnie Mouse redraws the Line published in HEAT 4 New series 2002
Lemon Pieces (Quelques Moreceaux en Forme de Citron) published in the space between, UWA Press, 1998
Historia published in Australian Women’s Drama, Currency Press, 1997
The History of Water/Huyền Thoại Một Giòng Nước, Currency Press, 1995 *
Find out more about my work and read excerpts at http://noelle-janaczewska.com
Agent: Cameron Creswell: email@example.com
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