Awkward Energy: Matt Vend Book Launch Review
Review Done by: Barry Viljoen
Photography By: Andre Swart
On a balmy Thursday evening in January, Ike’s Bookshop and Collectables hosted Matt Vend’s book launch for his book “Awkward Energy”.
Ike’s Bookshop and Collectables is an independent second-hand book shop, stocking books which are either out of print, or less easily available in larger chain bookshops. The shop itself is a treasure trove of various titles and topics, neatly tucked away just off Florida Road, with a fairly large wrap-around balcony. This would be the location for the event itself, which has over the last few years hosted several local book launches. However, there was a different energy and excitement to start off 2022, after all the challenges within the creative industry, with a local author’s book launch being the first of the year.
Matt Vend is a well-known member of the Durban and South African live music scene, having been a performing member of bands such as Sibling Rivalry, The Carboot Vendors and, more recently, Matt Vend and the Tender Ten. This career has spanned from his teens, to what is now almost his forties, having taken him around the country and globe. Perhaps this is an appropriate segue into the book itself, which comprises a collection of poems and writings composed during the course of his career. As explained by Matt on the night, it was a painstaking process of digging through and selecting works written in old notebooks or on scraps of paper. As a result, we get small glimpses into Matt and his personal development and thought processes through the years.
Matt also reflected upon this and the discomfort and vulnerability which resulted from this. Jokingly, he stated how it got to a point where he was either going to have to burn the work, or take the leap and publish. Obviously, having gone for the latter, it is important to be aware and be cognisant of the fact that there is a strong theme of independence which runs through all of Matt’s work; not only in his dogged determination for touring, recording and releasing under his own steam, but also in the route he took for the publication of this book. He has attributed this to his punk roots and mentorship from Syd Kitchen.
The first speaker of the evening was Shafinaaz Hassim, who focused briefly on the state of creative industry in South Africa, the impact that the pandemic has had on it and renewed energy which is present in the face of adversity. After which, Sanabelle Ebrahim spoke a little about the editing process, leading up to the release, with the books having been printed on the day of the event. Matt Vend and Luke Molver then took up the conversation, discussing the work and the journey in general that had taken Matt and his publication to where it is now.
After a few questions and general conversation between the author and the audience Matt treated us to a few of his songs, which he admitted he is more familiar with and which is a more comfortable space for him, compared to speaking in front of crowds.
As the sun set and the event came to a close, Matt prepared to embark on a tour along the coast, which would see him launching his book in Cape Town. Matt, as a journalism graduate, has implied that this brief foray into written publication might be only the first, as opposed to the last; with a possibility of producing more publications of poetry and prose as well as a novel, in the not too distant future.