‘Voice’ launch

August 2, 2021 at 8:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

In the heart of Brussels in the Canal of Wolves

Wolvengracht

Rue du Fossé aux Loups

The box landed on my doorstep in time for Imbolc, the Witchcraft festival marking the end of winter and the approach of spring. I knew what it was straight away. I set the box on my altar, not knowing what to do with it, and the flurry of emotion that had landed with it.

It didn’t last long.

There are few finer experiences than opening a box of your own books for the first time.

‘Writer Rijn Collins’ VOICE is a moving, honest and, at times, darkly humorous three-part memoir. She knocks on the doors to belonging, identity and love through the power of language and her innate desire to understand both herself and others. Drawing on Rijn’s linguistic background in Flemish, Irish and Icelandic, VOICE is both a curious tour of foreign places and words as well as a triumphant journey to the heart and light.’

‘Voice’ (Somekind Press)

Travel seems long ago and far away thanks to Covid, which is why I absolutely loved writing about my time with these lands and their languages. But what I loved most – what I’ll always love – is writing about Brussels.

I lived there for a year in my teens, and for nine months in my thirties. Deciding what to include in the Flemish chapter of my memoir was so much more challenging than the Irish and Icelandic sections, though I love both those languages too. Memories of Brussels keep floating up, and I hope they never stop.

The Witchcraft store where I’d buy amber and myrrh incense wrapped in wax paper, and tiny bells to plait into my long black hair.

The bar on Schildknaapsstraat, Street of the Squires, where at seventeen I met a Swedish backpacker whose recent inheritance was allowing him to travel far and wide across Europe. When he invited me to join him, fully funded, it was a temptation beyond belief. When I eventually and regretfully declined, he tied a bracelet around my wrist to remember him by. Decades later, I still know which box in the garage it’s in, nestled next to a deer skull and antlers, snake skins and velvet dresses.

The library where I found a huge volume of Sylvia Plath’s journals, and painstakingly handwrote whole chapters into a teal notebook, week after week.

The hairdresser where a devastating breakup led me to cut off my waist-length hair, like a myriad of heartbroken women before me. When the owner asked if I’d like to keep the hair, I told him about the relationship. He murmured sympathy and asked ‘Would you like me to stomp on it instead?’ Mais oui, monsieur, oui. He gathered all his staff and to my delight, led them in a wild dance across the studio, grinding my hair into the floorboards.

On my doorstep in Street of the Candlesticks, Brussels

I could go on (and I probably will, somewhere).

Or you could come along to my launch this Sunday in Melbourne and pick up a copy yourself.

When: Sunday 8th August, 3pm-6pm

Where: Sloth bar, 202 Barkly Street, Footscray

If you have an interest in Icelandic spells or feminist punk, linguistics or Goth girls, or just supporting local authors…would love to see you there.

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VOICE

May 25, 2021 at 8:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Something wonderful has happened.

My name is on a book cover.

My debut collection of short memoir, VOICE, is now available for pre-order. Somekind Press is a crowdfunded publishing house, and their ROAR series is ‘dedicated to some of Australia’s newest and most exciting writing talent.’ Such amazing company to be in!

From Somekind’s website:

An adventure, a home, a new skin to slide into and claim as my own…” In writer Rijn Collins’ VOICE, a moving, honest and, at times, darkly humorous three-part memoir, we meet a young Rijn on a personal journey of discovery; a poignant search to find and accept herself. Rijn’s hunt takes her to faraway lands – from Melbourne to Belgium and Iceland (and back again), from drinking cherry beers on medieval cobblestone streets to gazing at the Northern Lights knee-deep in snow in places where “roads are rerouted to avoid underground elf homes.” Punk to paganism, snow and solitude to cheery Irish pubs, Rijn knocks on the doors to belonging, identity and love through the power of language and words and her innate desire to understand both herself and others. Drawing on Rijn’s linguistic background in Flemish, Irish and Icelandic, VOICE is both a curious tour of foreign places and words as well as a triumphant journey to the heart and light.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I love the niche, and there is plenty of that here. Tiny bird bones and feminist punk, pagan altars and snakes curled asleep in my bra, snowy sagas and Goth cafes, the languages I adore and a winter solstice wedding, a taxidermy snow goose and a potential Riverdance audition.

If that sounds up your alley – you beautiful weirdo – please click through on the photos and place your pre-order. You have ten days to do so to help it reach publication, so I would love your support, as well as the opportunity to support a fabulous new micro-publisher on the Australian, Japanese and American literary scene. Here we go ❤️

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If you need to hug reindeer…

March 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I collect phrasebooks.

I also collect red shoes, snake tattoos, and musician ex-boyfriends, but that’s a whole different story.

Matt Burke Photography

I was fifteen when I found a 1967 edition of ‘Teach Yourself Norwegian’ in a secondhand bookstore. Always drawn to the exotic words of snowy lands, I taught myself how to order black coffee, croon endearments to reindeer, and ask for a lift to Sweden.

Then, on page 147, the author was apparently compelled to teach me ‘You will be shot at dawn.’

Hmm, curious.

A few pages further, it read ‘If you continue, I will shriek loudly!’ (Varer det stort lenger, skriker jeg høyt!), and the enigmatic  ‘The first thing I saw was a pig’ (Det første jeg så, var en gris).

Really, what kind of holidays did they have in the sixties?!

All it took for a word wench like myself was that one intriguing spark, and my collection began to grow. I can’t pass a secondhand bookstore without scanning its shelves for more quirky old phrasebooks and their gems, and now I have the joys of the internet as well, I doubt I’ll stop anytime soon.

How could I resist, with treasures such as these?

* I don’t mind watching, but I’d rather not join in (No me importa mirar, pero prefiero no participar) – Spanish

* My hedgehog is not stupid! (Min igelkott är inte dum!) – Swedish

* Je suis desolé de vous quitter, mais je dois acheter un chapeau (I am sorry I have to leave you, but I must buy a hat) – French

* Oho! Tota noin … Eihän se vaa ollu’ sun ajokoira? (I’m awfully sorry … was that your hound?) – Finnish

* Nár fhág sé a chlaíomh ar an mbord? (Didn’t he leave his sword on the table?) – Irish

While it’s entirely possible I spend far too much time diving into dictionaries and chuckling at the sheer magic of words, who hasn’t been in a situation where you’ve looked around and thought, damn, wish I knew how to say I want to hug that squirrel in Esperanto? And because of course you now need to know, it’s Mi volas brakumi tium sciuron.

But my absolute favourite has to go to those glorious Germans, who thoughtfully provided us with this priceless line:

* I am not a conference delegate, nevertheless I would like a penguin (Ich bin kein Mitglied dieser Konferenz, dennoch möchte Ich einen Pinguin).

If you’re anything like me, I bet you’re dying to work that into a conversation.

For more delights like this, try out http://www.bbc.uk.co/languages and http://www.omniglot.language.

 And if you ever get to use them in a real life travel context, by all means, let me know!

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