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Angie Hart toys with kimchi brown rice while pondering a twist on the old desert-island chestnut – what would she choose, Spotify or a crammed bookshelf? “The books,” she decides. “I’d miss music, but songs are forever in my head. Desert-island reading? Bliss.” Then she adds: “Any chance of a guitar or stationery instead?”

We’re in Mixed Business, a Clifton Hill haven where the former Frente! frontwoman’s decaf lattes aren’t questioned.

It’s also where she best tackles her fear of leaving home, triggered partly by a friend’s death in 2013; a still-delicate wound. But then, Angie, 44, has spent years mining painful emotions: in song, poetry, and now, as co-curator of Women of Letters, through a waning medium given new life.

“Letters are the vinyl albums of literature,” says Angie, who in her new role selects prominent women to read aloud letters on a chosen topic at often sold-out WOL events. Founded in 2010 by writers Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, WOL is now a literary juggernaut with sister events in New York, Indonesia and Ireland.

“With social media comes yearning for the opposite, more meaningful exchanges,” says Angie. “Our meetings are unrecorded, intimate one-offs, like letters themselves.”


Angie, a committed writer, spoke at the inaugural WOL event and gladly accepted the baton from Michaela, who recently moved on to head the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

She feels old, but doesn’t look it. Lose the grey and Angie could almost play herself in a biopic of indie darlings Frente!, whose breezy 1990s pop (remember Ordinary Angels?) was a platinum-selling alternative to grunge.

She’s wrestling with an autobiography about those days.

“It’s like songwriting,” says Angie, who is also recording her third solo album. “There’s an initial burst of inspiration, then you write some crap tunes that you have to dig your way through.”

There with figurative shovels are husband Blair, their two-year-old daughter (a surprise after years of IVF torment), and a network of local music collaborators, including fellow members of acapella outfit Ladychoir.

A pretty manic life can’t stifle the laughter. If only there was more downtime.

“I recently went to our magical backyard shed and unwrapped The Hollow of the Hand, PJ Harvey’s book,” Angie says. “It drove home why words matter. I sat there absorbed. I’d love more quiet time alone like that.”


  • The next Women of Letters event is on Sunday, February 26, 3-5pm at the Thornbury Theatre.
  • Tickets:


A coffee with Angie Hart. Photo: Steve McKenzie
A coffee with Angie Hart. Photo: Steve McKenzie





Decaf latte at Mixed Business, Clifton Hill. Photo: Steve McKenzie
Decaf latte at Mixed Business, Clifton Hill. Photo: Steve McKenzie

THE VIBE \ Light and airy, with cheery staff who neither hover nor judge, be it Angie’s decafs or my aversion to dairy.

THE BREW \ There’s a lovely, subtle bitterness to my long black made with Seven Seeds’ ethically sourced house blend, and impressive latte art on Angie’s foam.

THE FOOD \ Scrumptious chicken roll with aioli for me; Kimchi fried brown rice for Angie. She also rates the “yummy” potato rosti with poached egg and avocado.

The chicken roll at Mixed Business, Clifton Hill. Photo: Steve McKenzie
The chicken roll at Mixed Business, Clifton Hill. Photo: Steve McKenzie