Remix My Lit

Songs and sounds can be grabbed and mixed; films can be spliced, homaged or spoofed; so what about literature? A new initiative lets you mix-up some fantastic short fiction by prominent writers – pieces that are licenced under the Creative Commons initiative. Your mixes might also be selected for an anthology to be produced post-project, and if you’re planning to attend the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in August you can get involved at a big interactive live event. The project is supported by ‘Story of the Future’, at the Australia Council for the Arts.
I’ve had a go of the first story by Emily Maguire (author of Princesses and Pornstars: Sex, Power and Identity, and the novels Taming the Beast and The Gospel According to Luke), which is titled Cherished.
I definitely plan to give some of the others a go too if I get time. It’s great fun indulging in creative literary experimentation. Quite the literary-minded activity!
Other authors who are, or are going to be involved are Damian McDonald, Cate Kennedy (one of my favourites), Stefan Laszczuk (pronounced ‘Lash-chook’ I’m told, and keep an eye out for his I Dream of Magda in August, a fabulous book – review/interview forthcoming), Lee Battersby, Philip Neilsen, James Phelan (whose third Lachlan Fox thriller Blood Oil is released soon), Kim Wilkins, and Danielle Wood.

2 thoughts on “Remix My Lit

  1. Thanks for the link: this is quite an interesting project. Iā€™m curious, though, about what you see as constituting the specificity (if any) of a literature ‘remix’ as opposed to, say, high modernism’s patchwork ‘sampling’ of themselves & other writers (cf the Waste Land; or Ulysses in some ways; or, particularly, Pound’s Cantos); or cut-up poems by Burroughs & Dada; or this interesting project on a short piece by Beckett:; or, less high-lit, fanfiction or (more high-lit again) works like Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead or the Wide Sargasso Sea. That isn’t to say you can’t draw lines, or that the project isn’t worthwhile & interesting even if you can’t, but I’m interested in what those lines might be. The authors seem to suggest that the difference is one of medium, access, democracy; I’m inclined to think that these things in lit broaden the number of (potential) participants in these projects rather than change the nature of the writing. Medium probably matters more in this respect in sound & film, in that the ability to take something verbatim (rather than re-creating it) from a pre-existing song or film didn’t really exist before digital media. But quotation of writing (or speech) exists wherever there is a person with a memory and a pen. Interestingly, verbatim quotation seems incidental rather than integral to the stories I’ve read on that site anyway: the collage-effect that I associate with sampling and mashups (although not necessarily with remixes per se) is almost entirely absent in most of these examples, but far more present in the high-modernist examples cited above. This is a bit ramble-y but I guess this interests me partly because I get the sense that there’s a move, particularly among youngish writers, towards a plot-and-characters style of writing and away from a highly experimental, highly formal avant-garde tradition. In which case, remix, particularly of prose stories, is a striking thing to throw in amongst this because it strikes me as essentially a formal and experimental mode. Anyway. Iā€™m done.

  2. Hey Alys! Instead of replying to your whole comment I’ll share what I found interesting about the project. When I went to ‘remix’ the story, ‘Cherished’ I basically used it as an inspiration, or a starting point, not just in terms of the actual wordage but thematically also. But when I was writing I only referred back to it about three times. It is encouraged, though, as with some of the admin mixes to do something completely different and experimental with the words themselves. Some of the mixed stories are reasonably nonsensical. I have actually encouraged some poets I know to go and have a go because I would be interested to see what they’d come up with as they essentially work in more experimental, non-linear or less-narratival forms of expression.I haven’t actually read the Dada poems but am very intrigued!I have been reading about Absurdist drama recently too and I was thinking about how, even though I’m not too familiar with contemporary theatre, there doesn’t seem to be anything as strikingly different and daring as these works, ones that expressed nothingness to the point that audiences either walked out or were deeply struck and moved by them.It is an interesting project, especially because prominent authors have offered up stories outside of copyright to be mashed up. I think, essentially it may be not just about experimentation, but about inspiration. Opening the lines between established and new writers. In a way, emerging writers can pay homage to the other writers in the way a scene in a film might echo another, or a riff is ‘borrowed’ from an admired song.

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