An overview of “The Ajoona Guest House”a play by Stephen House

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BIOGRAPHY Stephen House

Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor, including two Awgie Awards from The Australian Writer’s Guild, Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award for Social Justice, and The Goolwa Poetry Cup, and nominations including, a Greenroom Best Actor Award, Tom Collins Poetry Prize, Patrick White Playwright Award and Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. He’s received several international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts and an Asialink India residency. Many of his plays are published by Australian Plays Transform. His chapbooks “real and unreal” and “The Ajoona Guest House” are published by In Case Of Emergency Press. His next book drops soon. He performs his acclaimed monologues widely.

Stephen’s “The Ajoona Guest House” is placed in the hustling remnants of New Delhi, India. Trying to pick up the pieces, but not knowing how to begin. Once you’re in the trance how do you find your way out of that maze. The poisons that follow. The shadows that follow. The impossible addictions that eat at the veins and tingles the brain.

There is no holding back when it comes to the “reality” of being lost. There is no holding back when it comes to how to “survive” the demons.

There is no holding back when it comes to trying to “understand” a lesson. Kharmic or otherwise that lead you to a dire situation. The need to escape is imminent. How do you begin?

In an almost Ginsberg-esque roaming deep through a dark cave and trying to avoid the sounds, the readiness to pounce on the first drop of water to the head.

Find Stephen at the top his game and his monologues reciting this in pure emotion “anger, danger, and the wanting” is one to behold.

He has toured Australia performing this original play full of poetry and entrapping you into the experience with him.

Favorite lines include “As I near the railway station I see the acid burnt face, the shining green eyes, the little girl” ” Dragging on his fourth cigarette and slurping at this second chai he gawks at young, tall, effeminate man, in tight skinny jeans with a pink singlet tucked in parade past us…”

https://www.stagewhispers.com.au/news/ajoona-guest-house

3 previously published poems by Stephen House (September 2022 Poetry Showcase)

3 poems previously published from Stephen House

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with writer/actress/director/producer Laura Cayouette

Bio: Best known as Leonardo DiCaprio’s sister in Quentin Tarantino’s  Django Unchained, Laura has acted in over 60 movies and TV shows including Now You See Me, True Detective and Friends. She’s currently recurring on Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duverney’s Queen Sugar. 

Laura is also the author of 8 books including Know Small Parts: An Actor’s Guide to Turning Minutes into Moments and Moments into a Career with a foreword by Richard Dreyfuss and endorsements from Kevin Costner, Lou Diamond Phillips, Reginald Hudlin and more.

Writing Unblocked: How I Went From Writing 1 Book In 20 years To 5 Books in 4 Years helps writers of all skill levels tell their stories and create their projects. The accompanying 6-video Creating Characters course is designed to help writers develop individualized characters that come to life. 

Her 5-book Charlotte Reade mystery series is a love letter to the people and culture of New Orleans starting in 2009 as the Saints are headed to the Super Bowl. 

An award-winning filmmaker who’s produced a feature film with Quentin Tarantino, Laura is currently working on a documentary about overtourism and the French Quarter – finding a balance.

Cayouette earned her Master’s Degree in creative writing and English literature at the University of South Alabama where she was presented the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. She’s taught both English and acting/directing at various universities. 

A member of the Pussyfooters dance krewe, you can find her parading in Mardi Gras and working with local non-profits.

Links after interview:

Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most now and currently? 

Laura: I remember loving to write in grade school. I created my first book with covers made of construction paper and tied together with red yarn bows. I drew a pyramid on the front cover and entitled it something about Egypt. It was a homework assignment in 4th or 5th grade and I remember loving to research Egyptian history and mythology. 

Back then, I loved The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, and the Nancy Drew series. In high school, I fell in love with the Existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, sci-fi-ish author Ray Bradbury, and a lifelong favorite – William Faulkner. By college, I favored southern writers like Faulkner, Walker Percy, Carson McCullers, William Styron, Tennessee Williams, and I’ll include Ann Tyler since Maryland is below the Mason-Dixon line. In graduate school, I discovered Toni Morrison and she and Faulkner remain some of my biggest literary influences. 

Now, I’m influenced by more forms of storytelling, especially films. I’ve tried to bring some of the aspects of filmic storytelling into my writing – a focus on capturing a visual expression of a moment, a reliance on good dialogue to reveal character and move the story along, playing with juxtapositions, soundtracks and other editing elements, and an attempt to bring characters in my head to life in the way actors do. 

In that way, I’m most influenced by Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Costner and Quentin Tarantino – all of whom appreciated and invested in my storytelling. 

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer? 

Laura: I was 11 years old when my parents split. It was 1975 and many of the other families in our suburban neighborhood were also divorcing. My mother moved us into a 200-year-old farmhouse with several of the broken bits of those families and we formed a collective, a commune. I knew at the time that I was living a truly unique experience set against the backdrop of the Bicentennial – and I was certain that it was my purpose in life to be the one to tell the story of Lemonade Farm. 

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career? 

Laura: Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Costner and Quentin Tarantino all contributed a lot, as did author, Tom Franklin, my uncle Gerald, my mother, and several of my friends. 

If I had to choose one, I guess I’d have to say Richard Dreyfuss. He sponsored me to attend Writer’s Bootcamp screenwriting programs for over two years. He commissioned me to write a script for him. He wrote the foreword to my acting book, Know Small Parts: An Actor’s Guide to Turning Minutes into Moments and Moments into a Career. He even got me a laptop. And when I wanted to shoot eight minutes of a script I was looking to direct, the Oscar-winner played one of the leads for free. 

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work? 

Laura: Lemonade Farm is set in Maryland, where I mostly grew up. In the 18 years I lived in Los Angeles, I wrote screenplays set in L.A., Maryland, the desert, coastal towns, my family’s home of Louisiana, and more. In 2009, I moved to New Orleans and my 5-book mystery series is set there. If you’ve ever spent any time immersed in the local culture of New Orleans, you know the city is a full-on character in the story. 

I’ve traveled the world since I was two and that has certainly affected my perspective, but I usually set my stories in the U.S. 

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you? 

Laura: That’s a truly tough one. I find great meaning in being able to pay forward my experiences, especially when it helps someone. In that way, my acting book has been truly meaningful. I get a lot of feedback about helping someone get work or make informed career decisions. 

I’m starting to get great feedback about helping people be able to write their stories with me new e-book, Writing Unblocked: How I Went From Writing 1 Book In 20 years To 5 Books in 4 Years. One client who’d always had ideas but no idea what to do with them said that now he can tell his stories forever and he couldn’t express how much it meant to him. I live for that kind of feedback.

All of that said, I think the project I’m working on now might be my most meaningful and creative in the truest sense of those sentiments. I wrote a screenplay, The Source, years ago about the children of Eden – two immortals and two reincarnates. It’s the furthest from writing my own experiences that I’ve ever gone – way outside of my sweet spot of “writing what you know.” I researched for eight months before writing a word. 

After finishing Lemonade Farm, I decided I’d eventually turn The Source screenplay into a short book series – two or three books long. Writing the mystery series gave me the confidence to finally take on the short fantasy series of The Source. I’m excited to break The Source out of the tyranny of the 2-hour-max storyline. I can finally write whatever I want – dive into character development, dwell on backstories, and include details I had to cut for time. I feel so energized just thinking about getting back into research and brainstorming – especially all the Egyptian stuff. I’m hoping to jump in before the end of the year. 

Q6: What are your favorite activities to relax? 

Laura: Puzzles. Big time. I usually do at least one 1000-piece every weekend. 

Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing? 

Laura: From my own writing? I don’t even begin to know how to answer that. But it’s probably something in Lemonade Farm. I spent a lot of time wordsmith-ing that one.

Q8:What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration? 

Laura: I used to be a D.J. so music has always been fairly important to me. Lemonade Farm has a soundtrack. So do the mysteries. Those each have a playlist on YouTube. Pinterest pages too. I like to share all of my senses with my readers, immerse them in my mindset and the world of the story. Even as an actor, I often have a theme song for the characters I play. 

I like a lot of genres, but when I was working on the mystery series, I had a lot of fun finding the perfect New Orleanian music for each book. Book three, The Missing Ingredient,  also had a movie they were filming in the book. The soundtrack for the movie in the book was mostly 70’s funk – that’s definitely a favorite for me.

Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote? 

Laura: Definitely the e-book, Writing Unblocked: How I Went From Writing 1 Book In 20 years To 5 Books in 4 Years. I took everything I learned from getting my master’s in creative writing and everything I learned from my nearly 30 years as an actor/writer/director/producer and created a faster, easier way to write that can even be fun. It makes me so happy to be sharing my methods and help people past whatever’s hindering their writing process.

I also created a 6-video course, Creating Characters, that helps writers create textured, individualized characters – no matter their writing skill level.

Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Laura: Too many to mention. I will say that The Source started out differently than anything else I’ve ever written. In L.A., I used to crochet and craft every Sunday with my best friend from high school, Angela. Since we first met decades ago, we’ve always made each other better as artists and craftsmen. 

One weekend, I decided to see if the same would be true of writing a screenplay. It was a long shot since Angela’s not a writer of any kind, so I decided we’d start by naming all the things people love in movies. By the end of that day, we had an outline for what would become The Source

I’d research all week then present my findings every Sunday to help us brainstorm story ideas. Sometimes we’d get so excited to share our ideas that I’d have to write notes as we were talking so I could listen to her without forgetting what I had wanted to say. 

One Sunday, we both got so hyped up about a vision we’d had that week that we decided to stop talking and draw what we wanted to share so we wouldn’t forget. She started telling me about her vision and showed me her drawing. I turned mine around so she could see that we’d both drawn the same unusual vision. It was one of those moments where we felt like we were being guided by the muse and it felt both spooky and incredible.  

Links:

Website: https://lauracayouette.com

Twitter: @KnowSmallParts

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauracayouettepublic

Amazon Author’s Page

Writing Unblocked E-Book

https://lauracayouette.samcart.com/products/writing-unblocked

Creating Characters Video Course

https://lauracayouette.samcart.com/products/creating-characters-copy

Blog: https://latonola.wordpress.com

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/latonolawordpress

Pinterest

Website: https://lauracayouette.com

Twitter: @KnowSmallParts

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauracayouettepublic

Amazon Author’s Page

Writing Unblocked E-Book:

https://lauracayouette.samcart.com/products/writing-unblocked

Creating Characters Video Course:

https://lauracayouette.samcart.com/products/creating-characters-copy

Blog: https://latonola.wordpress.com

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/latonolawordpress

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/latonola/

A Poetry book Review of “Afterglow” by Michelle Marie Jacquot

http://www.michellemariejacquot.com

copyright (c) 2022 Michelle Marie Jacquot

“Afterglow will be releasing on 9/17/2022” Pre-order info is available within links on Michelle’s site and Barnes & Noble listing on bottom of page.

Michelle Marie has many avenues pointing her in many different arrows in her career. As an actress in Los Angeles, to a singer, to having a comedic sense of humor. She has also had a Barnes & Noble best-seller in “Death of a Good Girl” and I interviewed her for a quick-9 interview last year around the time “Deteriorate” was released. A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Michelle Marie Jacquot (Poet, Actress, singer/songwriter)

The most interesting thing you find from Michelle’s personality is through her writing. Poetry in quick deep thoughts, a comedy (at times a dark comedy), a reality of false absurdities of some of the people that surround her, mostly though she is a thinker. I may be outdating myself but her new book “Afterglow” reminds me of a pandemic vision through the old Jack Handey “SNL sketches” written through the beginning of pandemic times to the current and her observations of whatever a “new normal” is.

The book includes a quick excerpt to the recently passed poetic genius “Lawrence Ferlinghetti” and from there you are fall into the mindset of how these changes have everyone scurrying to the zone of “Where the fuck do we go now?” and are we still supposed to think for ourselves or for the masses.

This book reminds everyone to be themselves. Write out your feelings. Don’t feed a populous ego. An excerpt from Alfred D’Souza sets the stages on how during a couple of years of unknowing can shape your personality and vision for yourself and for beliefs.

These poems are real! Comedic, sarcastic, sadness at times, loving at times.

The familiar feeling of poems such as “Party of One” we got older and did anyone including ourselves notice?

Familiar and deep thinking short poems “Wherever She Went” “I Used to Have Dreams” “My 2020 Presidential Run” Here We Are Now, Entertain Us”, “Customer Service in May”, “Where is My Mind” all play upon this idea of the every day during the pandemic. Is this a normal day, or is this weird, or does it matter? Answers? Well hmm…We can write at least. And these poems are done with a quick flare of deep thought comedy that inside feels a sadness as well.

One of my favorite poems in this collection is “Maybe Heaven Got Boring” as Michelle goes into deep thinking watching an ant on her balcony ledge and comparing that to wondering if decisions such as brushing an ant away or letting it be is the same as how God would feel trying to make a decision on anything. Ants, humans, days, nights, sun, planets, oceans, otherwise?

“I Can’t Stop Reading My Horoscope” brings me back to my childhood and constantly reading my horoscope and thinking I am supposed to be feeling exactly as this writing is saying, or hell i’m nothing like this at the moment. Horoscopes always used to feel like an exact and ruled out any other possible characteristics that are passed to us.

Anger and boredom such as “Today I Wanted to Break a Plate” makes you wonder if hmmm…a metaphor can be a reality according to a moment’s notice of anger or an energy.

This is a collection of poems (comedic, pandemic, sad, happy, mad and wonderfully crafted)

Excellent, smart, metaphoric, quick/deep thinking brilliance from Michelle.

follow her on instagram @michellemariejacquot

twitter @michellejacquot

Cover photography by Marg

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/afterglow-michelle-marie-jacquot/1142020955

Wolfpack Contributor: Stephen House

Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor, including two Australian Writer’s Guild Awgie Awards, and a Greenroom Best Actor nomination. He has had 20 plays produced, many of them commissioned. He’s received international literature residencies from The Australia Council and Asialink. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press. His next book is out soon. His poetry is published often, and he performs his acclaimed monologues widely. 

5 Poem Poetry Showcase from Stephen House

*note all 5 poems below were previously published in the following magazine/websites
“ditto” published by Pif Magazine USA 
“closure” published by Honest Ulsterman Northern Ireland / Culture Cult India 
“café of then” published by The Blue Nib Ireland  
“self-preservation” published by E Ratio USA
“thankful” published by Verse of Silence India / highly commended for The Robyn Mathison
Poetry Prize Australia*

ditto

crawling gentle on splintered wood
shards of trickle a smudge reminder 
of my still alive continuing

did a muffled dream breathe isolated
or was combination itinerant scribe
nature presenting elementary grasp

nobody knew i played with dangerous
why discard compensation ongoing
endure dependent relies on silent

it was murky rain on broken past
that spelt me your eyes meant truth
only a fox smiles of not eat fresh kill 

they must realize decades of try
to slap me down bred pointless
achieved their angst and my freedom

i’m no real poet of anything actual
an assembly devised in lockdown
became art form notorious slap

would the cluster believe joyful
comes from non-adherence be normal
essential queer chime takes final bow

ditto answers all when constructing
sliding chapters in pandemic scale
decades taught me heaven belief

closure

we pondered final cold parting
debated repeat inevitable flee 
two bodies stifled year sly passion
nil fact else glue seal tight stay
avoidance trick of never be closure 
rational discuss lost in bull-shit whine  
ritual words drown keep damp clinging
next sex muddle bed fake home 

so i pulled at pin grip tight near always 
pricked hope inflate squirm slippery in need  
goodbye whisper pack tremble escaping 
pleaded no call scream baby come back 
stopped slept empty alone beach hiding
cried as kid lost new toy in snatch
grieved be missing us body kiss struggle
hope tear brittle gone lope sliding waste

began roam swept coast bird-screech singing 
forest cloud trail growth calm give murmer
ocean flounder icy blue dreaming
sand warming pillow fall white stretch no end
inlet granite time old grow always
trees reach sway weather element life
mantra name silent supreme inner ancient
horizon arrive red-orange new cycle 

returned to corpse house once empty grip lover 
smelling lust-chaos tales more never will
ghost-me wet screaming memory ghost-you
life drift lame kind nothing now all
breathe in true wanting back me be only
calm alive here alone fleshing stable 
silence time beauty return wallow sacred
nil regret you naught never will me be

café of then

there’s a café tucked into a city nook
where i’d regularly be three decades ago
when i’m back this way   
i always stop by 
take my old table spot
float back 
to life of then

i’d skulk here to hook up late at night 
drop in heading home in wide eyed dawn
speeding crazy 
crashing low
nowhere to go 
needing somewhere be
boy dream soaring
hard morning pain
confused by not real
escape bad trick danger

a mate from that epoch appears 
i nip in and order bitter blacks
bump into an italian with now dyed hair 
who i knew from more than here 

shakes hard my hand 
recalls with worn grin
us in a dim city room with new-found trade 
on the game together 
a few times one year 
i chuckle wry at street-wandering ways			
he sniggers sly at what’s still not forgot

as years slide on 
and ways of vanished youth 
drift into psychedelic space 
i give thanks to run-away eons and after dark lads 
who faded out through fate and choice 

or kept going on like me and some
riding faded spontaneous memories
jolted along by almost old age  
struggling against blatant facts 
of a dwindling now

hidden stories of bygone reality
steering the remembered route
back to this café of then


self-preservation

silence knows conceal of stifled queer self-young 
kept tight vigilant under wrap in never give my all 
careful instilled damage residing in thrown chains 
dragged along by experience regardless as they dish
put down cards to remove shadow of privately safe  

so i floated away to hidden no name bliss destination 
for sweet acceptance relief from lectured draining calm  
to soft vision harmless shell of no expectation burden 
without abuse process adding toil to how and why path 
obvious returns in who cares elation of run fast escape  

and fuck their taught lessons since born glimpse told
instilled frozen dread of alone when human complexity
was not spun by doctrine heterosexual churching values 
or biding by rules of no choice made to cry sorry twice  
for me is not on offer to them of unnatural changing plan 

rhyming inner agenda through persuaded knot in mindful
by internal direction ordained psychology taught analysis
education in social norm drives convention in exist try
work living and expected interaction delivers cold tedium   
to view unfolding destroyed into obscured by adherence  

but self-preservation designed by realization life known 
without measured layer expectation drowning internal truth
offers combination of one-ness that is fact of all-together  
teaching avoidance of dictated pushed enquiry conveying be 
of circling still point in time universal honesty delivers win

thankful

breathing in 
real

ice sea-froth lap naked feet pinking
ramble be one follow winter grit beach

twist trail gum trees hike wild step pacing
screech birds flock-massing silent move gain

coffee two more shadow tall morning city
eyes blue-grey playful near switch click device

bag travel packing in wheels joining ramble
park scrub moon welcome lone slowing slumber

pink-red shiraz sip blue flute chill crystal
dark shadow dance once was i can as them

your you-voice sweet choir my fade tune sing missing
gaze look in dreaming rise float waning heaven

ocean submerge womb heal water still body
blood-drip set sunning sky envelope calm 

words written think verse take given by honest
universal be living celebration now with

smiling out 
thankful

Wolfpack Contributor: Stephen House

3 poems from Stephen House



Bio: Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright, and actor. He has been commissioned many times, and had 20 plays, and several word and image exhibitions and short films produced. He has received international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts to Canada and Ireland, and an Asia-link India residency. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press Australia.His new book will be released soon. He is published often and performs his acclaimed monologues widely.
Stephen House | Australian Plays Transform (apt.org.au)