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

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

image from pixabay.
‘paper dreams’ published by Literary Garland India
‘our times’ published by Feral Literary Journal USA
‘a tidy laugh’ published by Scarlet Leaf Review Canada 

Bio: 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. 

paper dreams

most mornings in my local café
i scratch away into one of my notebooks
first drafts of poems and plays
details of literary opportunities   

across the café a woman older than me
scribbles into her notebook too
drinking coffee in full concentration
her creative dedication apparent  

one morning i don’t have my wallet
i find as i go to pay for my coffee
siting near the counter the woman hears 
and insists on paying for me 

she asks me to join her for another coffee
and i take her up on her offer
we talk about our café working time
share publication and poetry stories

we also talk about our daily routine
and our noticing each other writing 
laugh at our scribbling with coffee each day
involved in our own work and way

my paper dreams she says 
as she fans her book out many pages thick
and i notice her beautiful handwriting 
comment on it and then fan my notebook too 

we still sit separately across the café
but smile and a quick nod or wave
but only ever say two words if we pass
paper dreams is all we utter

yesterday at the counter 
as we ordered coffee (and i paid for hers)
she whispered happy paper dreams to you 
and i felt her joy and purpose merge with mine

i quietly said the same words back
flicking though the pages of my notebook
and then she flicked her words too  
and we chuckled as writing friends do


our times

i know a guy  
who presses leaves together 	
with heavy stone weights	 
to make trays
he piles up 
on the veranda
of his small tin shack 
that backs on to a railway line

sometimes i help him work
or just sit near 
watching him with his big green leaves
keeping out the day-time heat
writing my travelling words down
into a notebook 
or dozing on a grass mat
next to where he stacks the trays

as day slides to evening
by light of lamp 
he packs the trays into cardboard boxes
ready for a dawn ride on his pushbike 
to wherever he goes
to drop them off
and collect money 

we don’t speak a language the same 
but our times flow easily 
we laugh 	
make noises with tongues
click fingers
smile warmly 		 
touch each other lightly 	
affectionately 	

in the cool of the night
we sit out the front 
of where he lives and works
and he goes inside and makes hot sugary chai
and we drink it on the veranda  	

together 	
in shared silence
as trains roar behind us
shaking the tin shack
and us

a tidy laugh

a woman in a café
by a beach
near an empty warehouse where i sleep
in a narrow lane 
behind a five-star hotel
asks me 
are you on holidays
          i’m here for a couple of months 
so what is your work 
             i write poems and plays
             perform when i get a gig

she spits out a tidy laugh
that bangs me in my gut
so you don’t work at all
same laugh
             i do
             i’m working now
             here

i pick up my pen 
begin writing a poem
about a woman 
who laughed at my work

she stands to leave
gives me a look 
goes by where i sit
writing about her
              goodbye
no reply
only a tidy laugh
	ok

she keeps walking towards the five-star place
past my warehouse squat

i buy another long black
on credit
	thank you
        i think i can pay tomorrow

get back to my work
my poem

my life

my fear



Poetry: Real and Unreal by Stephen House 

3 poems previously published from Stephen House






Poetry: Real and Unreal by Stephen House

real and unreal  
"real and unreal" is the title poem of Stephen House's chapbook of poetry of the same name, published by, in case of emergency press, Australia. 
with you:
in your real world of calm content

we walk along beaches
let rain drench us
feel sun warm us
become detached from time and need
	
we sit in cafes
drink black coffee
share what we will
keep what we choose to hold inside

we wander in parks
watch ducks with ducklings
feed possums with apple
let beaks and paws touch our skin
	
we drive into the desert
live in a tent
spend hours in silence
read old newspapers retrieved from bins

we hold hands gently
let tears fall freely
laugh at life
create unreal stories and make them real

alone:
in my unreal world of anything goes

i fall into drinking
slide around in night-clubs
dance like a crazy-man 
aim to get beaten up and thrown out

i walk in the wilderness 
sleep in shelters i build
practise yoga at dawn
chant in tune to the moon and sun

i collect rubbish from coastlines
make mountains to reach high
worship them as Gods
appeal to them for advice and help

i take flights to foreign countries
cruise trade on phone apps
have sex with handsome men 
don’t stop until satisfied and exhausted    

i live on city streets 
play with anyone i feel like  
perform tricks on command
sing songs by request if i know the words

i travel to india
camp by Mother Ganga
chant Om Namah Shivaya 
bathe in our river three times each day

i close myself up in hotel rooms
write poems about you
laugh in verse and cry in rhyme 
take real stories and make them unreal

and you have two worlds too

with me:
in my real world of calm content

alone:
in your unreal world of anything goes

you and me are our reality
apart or together

real and unreal

Bio: 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. 

3 poems previously published from Stephen House

Acknowledgments

“i say no” published by The Freedom Review India / commended for Tom Collins Poetry Prize / Winner Goolwa Poetry Cup Australia

“where and when” published by Australian Poetry Journal “bar games (and survival)” published by The Freedom Review India / Winner Goolwa Poetry Cup Australia / adapted excerpt from poet’s stage play “Almost Face To Face” published by Australian Plays

i say no

my shabby room is mine for fifty bucks a week
not far from the beach 
away from the main road
the neighbours all seem cool
	
indonesian lady-boy 
on the game next door
asks me if i’m working from my room
i say no 
the guys that come and go 
are for recreational fun 
though anything can happen when i’m broke

old aussie surfer 
once well known
on the other side of my room 
asks me if i surf
i say no 
i used to
i now do yoga and run and swim
but i might pick up a board again 
the waves down there look awesome

dutch painter upstairs 
functioning ok for an alcoholic 
asks me if i paint
i say no
i’m a writer and a wanderer  
though i used to dabble in oils
he asks me if i drink
i say no 
i use to heavily 
but only when i was painting

handsome filipino guy 
two doors down 
asks me if i’m looking for a relationship
i say no
i have one of those somewhere else
i’m into hook ups with nameless strangers
and fun-buddies are ok too 

french ice addict 
covered in tatts
across the path from me
asks me if i’m wired when my lights are on all night
i say no 
i’m straight and sober usually 
writing poems until dawn
my drug of choice is strong black coffee
i quit smoking weed in asia

i like my shabby room and life
with the international crowd all around
who are friendly and fascinating 
and share some common interests and points of view 
the big green sea only five minutes away
when i need to be alone and free

and the handsome filipino isn’t only into relationships
i discovered late last night 
when he dropped by my shabby room
while the others nearby in their shabby rooms
did whatever they do

where and when 

i’m standing alone in a café 
no one is serving

out the back dishes clatter 
someone coughs

i wait
check face book
yawn 
ring a small brass bell
with a tinny tinkle

a guy appears 
stands on the other side of the counter
facing me

brown eyes 
strong hands 
jagged forehead scar

i know him from sex 

once i think 
maybe twice 

i’m not sure where and when

i order a long black
he looks at me
man on man gaze 

i smile
we drift into whatever it was 

our hands touch as i pass him two coins

he winks
we fall into whatever it is 

i remember where and when

bar games (and survival)

he has a circle around him at one end of the bar
i have one around me (where i stand) at the other end
we're not a bad team (him and i)
 
our circles have formed for different reasons
his because they all want him
(or have had him before) 
and mine because several of them recognized me
from my poetry performance (outside the train station)
earlier tonight
my words were appreciated by most of them
and here and now i’ve become a (minor) front bar celebrity
 
and one shouldn’t ever look a gift-horse in the mouth
and the gift-horse (happening) is free double vodkas (coming on strong)
 
i start another story about performing in a theatre
in brisbane (true) which drifts into a yarn about a kangaroo
getting into the theatre that no-one could catch (not true)
and they all lean in (fascinated)
and me after ten (or more) drinks can tell a dam good yarn
 
i’m getting restless here so i leave my audience
wander down to him (and his lot)
and ask him if he wants to stay with them
or come upstairs and dance with me
 
he wants to dance
but has found some (well-heeled) trade
so he nips into the disabled toilet
with an excited old trick (on a walking frame)
i get bought a couple of (top shelf) shots
tell another (untrue) tale
and line up a dude (for tomorrow) 
 
and when he's back
we head upstairs  

and in an all-night club
full of (all night) people
we forget about bar games (and survival)
and dance
(until the sun comes up) 

Wolfpack Contributor: Stephen House

5 Poem Poetry Showcase from Stephen House

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.