Roots Literary Salon Wrap-up 

By Lit Salon secretary, Kacy Toombs  

The Lit Salon is back at it again with another successful night of literature and prose. On the 23rd of May, the Grove Bar was like time reversed. Patrons came dressed in their best hand-me-down sweaters, jean jackets, and vibrant 60s dresses. The night captured that feeling of dusting off your family’s old photo album and spiralling into nostalgia, for better or for worse. Full of beautifully crafted slam poetry and heart-touching memoirs, this was a time of reflection, family lineage, and a lot of tree metaphors. Is this bitterness in the air from the coffee of my espresso martini? It’s time to talk of our Roots.  

The night started off with a wonderful and raw performance from our very own media manager Tori Brown! She started us off right in the feels with a cover of Radiohead’s No surprises, before slipping us into Billy Joel’s Vienna, and finally leaving us with at least a little bit of hope with The Beatles’ Let It Be. By the end of her performance, we were all thoroughly warmed and ready for the readings.  

Our first reader, Karma O’Reilly, started off strong with a punchy memoir about the messiness of family, and how pain and love are often entwined. There were powerful scenes of Christmas dinner outbursts and how different mothers love. Karma’s best advice received from family is “Don’t get pissed“, and that sounds like something we can all try to live by.  

The wonderful Preet Bulchandani returned to perform another powerful slam that blew everyone away. Preet is such a powerful linguistic artist, twisting amazing imagery of roots, potions, and witches to deliver us a message about women’s strength in breaking the cycle of trauma. Preet’s best family advice was from her mother: “Courage, gratitude, strength, love and wisdom. She taught me that true happiness will blossom with me when I believe I have these in abundance”. 

Our lovely editor extraordinaire David Uptin returned with another wonderful excerpt from his memoir (we’ll hear all of it by the time the year is done!). Filled with homely imagery of the Australian landscape, his connection to a hometown that isn’t really his hometown, his love of Taylor Swift, and the confusion surrounding the grief of Zoom funerals. David’s best family advice he’s received is “You do you, Champ“. 

It was now time for the introduction of our first guest reader (that’s right! Our first). Kári Gíslason read from his upcoming memoir, Running with Pirates (available to pre-order right now *wink* *wink*). His reading was the beginning of a funny and endearing tale of how, at 18 years old, he had a run in with a Pirate on the island town of Corfu in Greece. And much to our delight, he read aloud the dialogue in the character’s appropriate accents.  

Our interval included an exclusive little discount code for an upcoming Brisbane Writers Festival event. I guess it pays to attend our events! 😉 

Our second guest reader for the night was the amazing Melanie Saward. Melanie is a proud Bigambul and Wakka Wakka woman who talked about what the meaning of Roots meant for her who, at the age of 14, was uprooted from her life as her family moved to Brisbane/Meanjin. She read aloud from her recent novel Burn, and offered some heartfelt advice for all of us writers out there: “As a third year, the writing you’re doing now might not seem important. But the difference between me and the rest of my cohort is that I kept writing. My advice is to seek feedback and to hold onto your writing.” 

Murtaz Muneeb is another amazing return reader and rapper. Unfortunately he was unable to attend, but Preet stepped up to the challenge, reading his slam The Root of All Good. It was excellently executed and jam packed with strong imagery of trees and fruits and roots. The best family advice Murtaz has ever received was from his father: “My Dad used to tell me to always have balance in life“. 

Max Saltmarsh was next, with an intimate memoir delving into dysfunctional families, small hometowns, the feeling of displacement of never fully having roots, and broken dreams. The best family advice Max has received was “It’s always just a moment in time”. Which is fitting, as I remember scrambling to write down a quote he said relating to the idea of people being drawn to what’s familiar: “When you escape from Hell, it’s hard to know what Heaven looks like“. How wonderfully wise.  

And lastly, our very own Janice K Jones finished the night with a piece of inspired memoir. Janice had us all in the palm of her hand with her visually immersive storytelling. She took us from Welsh castles in rolling hills to rugged Brisbane. She spun tales of belly dancers and fire jugglers. Of regrets and talking ravens and smoke, with sombre recollections of loved ones now lost. We were all left a little speechless! The best family advice Janic has received is, “Don’t take so many risks (sadly ignored, always at great cost)”.  

We had a few special announcements at the end of the night that we are pleased to share! Huge congratulations to Karma O’Reilly for being our ‘Best Dressed Grandpa’. Also, a quick shoutout to Georgia, a UQ student who came to our Salon night (she knows what’s up!).  

We are happy to announce our new Writing Fridays supported by the Queensland Writers Centre! On the first Friday of every month, we will be holding a group writing session using the pomodoro method (25 minutes on, five minutes break). It is a great opportunity to stop by, get some work done, and even talk to the team about your writing. ALL students are welcome! Keep up to date through our Instagram @qutlitsalon.  

Our next theme, New World, is open for submissions! But get in quick, they close May 18th. The next salon will be held at The End Bar at 73 Vulture Street in West End. Bring a friend is the loose dress theme, as we want to know who you’d choose to be stranded in a new world with (while you’re also wearing anything else slightly fantasy, pirate, or science-fiction-inspired).

We’re in a new venue celebrating the end of the Brisbane Writers Festival from 6 pm until 9 pm on the 2nd of June. Only two days after the 31st of May ScratchThat Fantasy winter zine launch! So, strap in for a weekend filled with fantasy-esc writing events, and even some people reading from the zine potentially, stay tuned to our Instagram for more!


Kacy Toombs is a writer and nature enthusiast based in Meanjin/Brisbane. She is a third-year student studying a Bachelor of Creative Industries in Creative Writing and works with the QUT’s Literary Salon as the Secretary. When she’s not dedicating herself to the onslaught of assessment deadlines, she is often out walking and daydreaming of new plot ideas for multiple incomplete novels. Find her @kacy_too on Instagram. 

QUT Literary Salon
QUT Literary Salon
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