Burning Bright: Day #1 of QPF 2011

Day #1 of QPF 2011 was an absolute thrill from start to finish. I took in over seven hours of poetry starting off the day by attending a tribute to the late David Rowbotham, featuring Paul Sherman, Ross Clark & my lovely wife, Julie Beveridge. Helen Avery also performed in that session and read from many Australian classics… that’s right, think Patterson, think McKellar. Taking in some of our heritage was the perfect start to the festival.

Then things shifted tempo and I was hitting the skins beside Sheish Money with Ashley Capes up front belting out his words. I know there was footage shot of the gig, so maybe, just maybe, it may surface sometime soon. Brisbane locals John Koenig & Carmen Keates rounded out the session, John delivering a set of poems that conjure the Australian landscape, many of which can be found in Brisbane New Voices II and Carmen reading a sequence from her unpublished verse novel Second Hand Attack Dog, a no-holds-barred account of life on the road in an unsuccessful band (The Dick Candles – so beautifully Bris!).

Next up I caught Tim Sinclair who has been digging in the dictionary for words such as Afflatus and Lopsided and penning poems in their honour (check out his debut ebook, re:reading the dictionary), Amanda Joy, who delighted with a selection of poems from her latest chapbook, Orchid Poems and Chloe Wilson, who read from her debut collection, The Mermaid Problem, closing the session with her poem, ‘Hold That Tiger’, where the tiger takes a bite from her trainer and licks itself clean.

The next session for me was one of the highlights of the day… Image Back to the Word, featuring Aidan Coleman, Sawako Nakayasu and Cindy Keong.  Aidan’s images are tight and crystalline, with the power to transport you from the deeply intimate to the hilarious in a breath. Sawako, well, she has blown the audience away every time she has stepped on stage. Her poems a rush hamburgers, ants, eyeballs and strange happenings. Can’t wait to hear her again today. Cindy Keong closed the session, reading from a series of poems inspired by her recent work in Tanzania. Coupled with a backdrop of stunning photography, her performance showed the intimate relationship between image and word.

And then it was All Roar and Crash as Andy White, Kevin Gillam and Marisa Allen blended their love of music and words – Andy playing and singing as only he can, Kevin splicing bursts of cello throughout his reading and Marisa playing saw and violin. Hearing Andy read from Stolen Moments was a blast. It is a book we are all very proud of. And the session closed with Marisa and Kevin joining forces – cello, violin and Marisa’s powerhouse voice all rising to a tremendous crescendo. So good!

Australian Poetry presented Lines featuring Nick Powell, Eleanor Jackson, Bity Booker and Eliza Hull; a show that allowed the ‘kissing cousins’ of song and poetry to dance a little closer. Kate Fagan also lit up the stage with her amazing presence to open the session with a reading from her forthcoming book, First Light.

And then it was the showstopper, A Million Bright Things… one poem from every poet on the program with me running up and down the stairs to introduce everyone. This gig just keeps getting better and is fast becoming one of the hallmarks of QPF. It crackled with electricity from the get go and held its energy throughout. 42 of the world’s finest in 90 minutes… who could ask from more!

So if like me, you are still wet with the residue of words, get along this morning and belt something out in the Open Mic and then stick around for what I am sure is going to be another mind-expanding day of poetry.

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