The Symphony of Awkward is a research collective of writers and filmmakers all dedicated to the scholarship of the emergent field of juvenile diary studies in their written and performed state.
Last week was AMAZING. Kim picked us all up at the CRACK OF DAWN to go to the airport and fly to
New Zealand Aotearoa! We had breakfast on the plane. When we arrived we went straight to our airbnb in Epsom, Auckland Tamaki-makau-rau. We had two days to settle in, make use of the single lane lap pool, prepare for our conference and find a supermarket (surprisingly hard, dear diary!)
The Critical Autoethnography 2018 conference kicked off on Monday morning at an outlying campus of the University of Auckland with a
traditional ceremony pohiri at the Marae. We stood on the hill and a woman kaikaranga sang us into the house wharenui. There were two groups. The welcoming party tangata whenua sat on one side, and we, as visitors manuhiri sat on the other. This very moving ceremony ended with a traditional hongi in which guests and locals truly met, face to face.
We were part of a posse of RMIT researchers and there to present on our Symphony of Awkward project in front of the WHOLE CONFERENCE. Our presentation on diarology, given on Day 2, was performative in style and included unison recitation, audience participation, randomising factors such as our iconic BINGO WHEEL, and some community singing. This was well received by a generous conference cohort. Even Peta’s terrible melodica cadenza seemed to strike a chord. PARDON THE PUN!
The conference afforded many opportunities for cultural insights, from indigenous wayfaring and research methodologies to cranberry homebrewed mead (from Stayci’s
cousin whanaunga!) and the renowned kiwi dip (Stayci’s signature move) on the balcony while watching the sun setting over Auckland Tamaki-makau-rau.
Oh, too much to tell you, dear Diary, but highlights included a workshop and performance by Tami Spry, an exhilarating night of spoken word, the homestyle catering prepared by students, friends and
family whanau of the convenors. And the bunks.
It was our first time taking diarology on the road, our first time presenting together and our first feedback outside of the Symphony of Awkward hothouse. Apart from Peta’s brief 2017 flirtation, it was also our first foray into the field of Critical Autoethnography. Despite or perhaps because of these initiations, the experience was RICH AND REAL.
This conference does not run parallel sessions; the ethos of the organising committee is that all presentations are to be attended by all participants, thereby fostering an experience of closeness, community and a kind of deep listening that is unusual in academic settings. We are grateful to have been exposed to this alternative model and would like to thank the non/fictionLab for supporting our Awkward activities thus far. Expect a furious flipping through your pages, dear Diary, as we hurtle towards more explorations and outings later this year.