Monday, January 28, 2013

Pause for thought

I write poetry not to change the world
            but to change me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Postcard Poem Project

Last year, I participated in a Postcard Poem Project initiated by the US performance poet, Christian Drake. Organising through the powers of Facebook, Christian asked for poets from anywhere in the world to email him their names and addresses. He then allocated each participant two addressees to woo with poetry. Poems were scratched, sketched and scrawled on the back of postcards and mailed across the globe.

I bought Canberra postcards from Smith's Alternative Bookshop and sent my poems off to Loudon, New Hampshire and New York, NY. I added my email address, in case my recipients would like a new poetry penpal. I only received one postcard in return, with no personal details other than the image of Los Angeles on the card.

My poems were inspired by the cards I wrote them on. Consequently, they had themes of place and home. One card had a night sky, which inevitably drew thoughts of stars. Similarly, the poem I received echoed the city of Los Angeles.

Here is one of the poems I wrote:

From my back porch, I see hearts break
And bad poetry;
I see promises made and the
Sparkle of regret;
I see sparks flung and propositions caught,
Globes spun and shapes wrought.
In the distance, I see the
Future and the Past
Meet briefly, brush cheeks, and
Blush passing.

Christian Drake has a fantastic performance presence. His poems are full of nature and animality. One of his poems has Christian roaming through the crowd, a werewolf baying for blood. He has an album on Bandcamp titled Kill Starlings.

Here is werewolf:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What Inspired Me in 2012

Here are some of the Australian poets and publications that kept me going through the last year. I have limited them to Australian publications released in 2012. As Graham Nunn (who inspired this post) describes it: the riches of Australian Poetry.

Steve Smart - Voices In My Head

When I picture Steve Smart, he is always in a long black coat, with unruly dark hair and practical glasses, hunched over a page. He is always hunched, as if bearing the weight of all his words.

Voices In My Head is a 79-track record of that weight and an inspiring package for an aspiring performance poet. It records poems from several of Smarty's performances, including shows he put on for the Brisbane Writer's Festival and Overload Poetry Festival.

You can read a track listing and liner notes on Smarty's webpage here. Unfortunately, it is not clear how to buy the album, but I recommend going to hear him perform and buying it from him in person.

A review of the album by Amanda Anastasi is here.

Julie Chevalier - Linen Tough as History

I went to the inaugural Southern Highlands Writer's Festival in Bowral this year and got to hear Mark Tredinnick speak and read some of his poetry. After I got home I ordered Mark's Fire Diary online. Lots of googling later, I found a review of Julie Chevalier's poetry collection, Linen Tough as History.

I bought both it and her earlier book of short stories. Chevalier's poetry is modern and pop culturally aware. It contains sharp social criticism without being preachy. I much more enjoyed the first half of the collection, which focusses on this contemporary critique, than I did the second section of ekphrastic poems. Regardless, it was engaging and a fantastic example of modern Australian poetry.

The book can be purchased at this site and a review is here.

Going Down Swinging #31 and #33

Ok, I am going to cheat a little. I bought Going Down Swinging #33, which was published in 2012, but what came with it was the little gem of #31, which was a 2011 release. I love everything GDS does, but I particularly want to focus on #31.

#31 was GDS's first multimedia digital edition. The variety and combination of forms keep you engaged throughout. Collaborating with musicians, videographers and visual artists is something I am looking forward to and GDS #31 is a great place to get ideas.

Luka Lesson - 'Please Resist Me' video

'Please Resist Me' is one of Luka Lesson's older poems, but it is the title track of the album he released this year. Please Resist Me contains spoken word and hip hop pieces, perfectly demonstrating Luka's combined strengths. It also shows the impressive collection of collaborators and artists he has ties to.

The video for 'Please Resist Me' was released this year as part of the promotion for the album. It too shows Luka's broader family of people dedicated to the cause of words, being a collage of performers and writers miming to Luka's voice.

Australia has a vibrant and motivating arts and performance community. It continues to surprise and comfort me. I feel particularly blessed to be a small part of it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The year that was 2013

I am not generally a maker of New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't agree with making commitments, more that I don't stop often enough to check my progress against them.

But as I write and perform more poetry, I am finding it offers ample opportunities to reflect. Why did I write that poem? What do I want to do next? Which poem should I be working on now?

This year I am going to write down my performance poetry ambitions. Hopefully by stating these publicly, I will be committing to making them come true. Perhaps.

Anyway, here is the post I am going to write at the end of this year.


The year that was 2013

Poetically, 2013 has been the most productive and rewarding year of my life. This year, I have:

  • Performed at literary festivals in China, Indonesia and Australia
  • Featured at poetry gigs in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and New Zealand
  • Performed and recorded my poetry with musicians
  • Written and performed work with other poets
  • Developed a complete, themed show, based on my poetry, and performed it in Canberra and at the Queensland Poetry Festival
  • Had one of my poems featured on the Indiefeed Performance Poetry podcast
  • Been published in Going Down Swinging, my favourite Australian literary journal
  • Completed the first draft of my verse play
I have been blessed this year by more than one person saying:
  • Your poetry has inspired me to write
  • Your poem made me cry
  • I really learnt something from your workshop
  • How can I get into slam?
I have also been able to achieve a lot in preparation for 2014, by:
  • Being accepted into a drama program to develop and stage my verse play
  • Having enough quality material to record and release a new album in 2014
  • Meeting the people behind Liner Notes - Sean M Whelan, Emily Zoe Baker and Michael Nolan - not just because I love their work but also because I need to be part of of Liner Notes, at least once

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Metaphor II

Thoughtlessly brought into the world of my car
By the sweep of my sleeve,
The ant lands on the horizon of the steering wheel.

In the pause between lights it seems to question me;
Antennae twitching in nervous wonder,
Or frantic fear.

I consider ending its misery
But outside the car the traffic calls;
When next I look the ant is gone
To make what sense it can
Within this vehicle’s walls.