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Lawnya Vawnya 13 Weird and Wired
Day 1: Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Welcome to the 13th Edition of Lawnya Vawnya! Over the course of the festival, each day will be written about by our writers in residence and this newsletter will be distributed to daily.
MEET THE WRITERS
is an author, a film critic, and a PhD student at MUN concentrating in Queer Gothic. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society. His short fiction has been published in Canada and the U.S. He wrote a Gothic horror short film called New Woman that has played around the world since 2019.
(they/he) is a multidisciplinary artist, zinester, and storyteller. Their work explores world-building, memory, and queerness through a lens of folklore and narrative. Elijah loves thrifting, scavenging, upcycling, and giving away free stuff as a form of community care.
is a British writer, editor, researcher and producer. She washed up on Newfoundland’s shores in 2022 and lives in St. John’s with an ageing rescue pitbull mix called Lily. Holly’s career spans tech and culture, from art galleries (AGO) and music festivals (NXNE, WayHome) to media startups and software scale-ups. Previous projects and collaborations include Stupid Magazine (a print publication about pop music), TIFFBOT (a film-loving recommendation chatbot), and a brief foray into standup comedy with The NewFunny Crowd. As a writer, producer and pundit, Knowlman’s insights have been featured by outlets including The Guardian, BBC Worldwide, The Globe & Mail, Poynter and CBC. Her favourite song might be Natalie Imbruglia’s version of Torn. Her favourite album might be London Calling.
RIDDLE FENCE LAUNCH
Lawnya Vawnya 13 kicked off at Bannerman Brewing with a launch party for the latest edition of Riddle Fence’s journal. We were treated to the gentle, sweet music of Peter Lannon, whose soulful voice will touch even the hardest of hearts. We even got to do a little singalong after Peter taught us a part in the last song of his set. It felt like a room full of friends who just hadn’t had the chance to meet yet.
The main focus last night was author and activist Desmond Cole, who read from his book The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power—an eye-opening piece of literature about the lived realities of racism in Canada. Cole also talked powerfully and with his characteristic wit about the corporatisation of Pride month, specifically the necessity of resisting a uniformed police presence during Pride. I left the launch party energised by the activist spirit Cole sprinkled over the room. The best quote of the evening crossed Cole’s queer and anti-racist activism with the delightful absurdity of pop culture, as he touched on the oppressive symbolism that accompanies gun-carrying cops in uniform at Pride: “I’ve never seen Robocop take his clothes off, but you [police] should be able to take off that uniform and be human.”
- C.H. NEWELL
MOTHER TONGUES • XIA-3 • GRETA & THE GOLDFISH • WITH HOST MADAME DADDY
With AI maybe threatening to eliminate all of our jobs or even being the fun new thing that makes us all go extinct, what could be more human than seeing a great show and sharing your excitement with some new pals?
Hi! My name is Holly (@hollyknowlman) and I’m one of the Writers-In-Residence for LV13. I’m excited to be here! Join me — if you please — as I swim around delightedly in a pool of brilliant rising musical talent this festival week.
Appropriately, my adventure began with some goldfish. Greta and the Goldfish, to be precise. I’d noticed their name on many lampposts around downtown St. John’s but this was my first chance to see them. Frontperson Greta told me the best song for new listeners is the one about Laika, but I actually preferred their namesake track, “The Goldfish.” Greta, did you ever listen to Sleeper’s 1992 album The It Girl?
Ontario’s Mother Tongues made me want to be in a field in the sunshine. This psychedelic brother-sister fronted duo (with the cutest, chunkiest, matchiest guitar leads) cite their influences as Stereolab, Bjork, Broadcast and My Bloody Valentine… I think fans of female-fronted britpop will dig this band too.
There was a last minute lineup change. With Aquakulture unable to fly in due to bad weather (fogtown more than living up to its nickname), XIA-3 stepped in last minute. And absolutely crushed it. XIA-3 is fronted by Dr. Jing Xia, a guzheng virtuoso (an instrument I knew so little about I had to youtube it before the show). She’s so obviously a master of her craft — something I will never get tired of watching, and together with bandmates Ritche Perez and Brian Downton has put together a wildly entertaining set. Imagine if a harp was also an electric guitar and Steve Vai was a small Asian woman wearing white doc martens. Jaws collectively dropped.
Special mentions to:
Our highly entertaining and high-energy host, Madame Daddy. All of Lawyna Vawnya’s big shows are hosted by drag queens, which just makes so much sense. More please.
THE FIX ITS: For killer stage design (a high-camp twist on men at work signage), also for showing up at the show in full fluro builder wear.
Myself for stocking my fridge with pasta salad and bottles of water before I went to the show.
- HOLLY KNOWLMAN
Design and Illustration by ELIJAH JANKA
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