Tag Archives: alicia sometimes

Things to do in Melbourne when you’re walking

Been a busy couple of days in Melbourne. The city has turned on some good-ol-fashioned sunshine, so I have been out enjoying it and some of the amazing stores, pubs and cafes that dot the streets and laneways. Places I have visited so far include:

Collected Works: Quite possibly the best poetry and ideas bookstore on the face of this (or any other) planet, run by one of the world’s true gentlemmen, Kris Hemensley. Located on Level 1 of the Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St., this store is a must visit for poetry lovers. Yesterday I had the chance to chat with Kris at  length and I know the store is facing some tough times, so if you are on the lookout for poetry, make sure you do your shopping here. You can ring up the store and order over the phone (no online store as yet, but keep an eye out in the future for this) and believe me when I say, this is the most comprehensive collection of poetry you are ever likely to see assembled in a retail outlet, so they are most likely to have what you are looking for! I can also recommend checking out the Collected Works blog, poetry & ideas.

Missing Link Records: Very cool independent music store, boasting sections as diverse as psych/folk/drone (now that’s a genre I can get into!). Great place to find out about local, independent bands or get your hands on that hard to find import. Great vinyl section too!

Sticky Institute: This is place is a treasure trove of zines and independent writing. There are zines covering just about every topic you could dream up… some are printed on squares of toilet paper, some are printed on high quality glossy stock; there are titles like culture slut and all my friends are dead because I killed them. You can lose yourself in this place for hours!

Mag Nation: if you dig magazines, this is the place for you! Again, you can lose yourself in this place for hours. Great range of music, art and literature magazines as well as some pretty cool t-shirts and other bits and bobs.

Readings (Carlton): Last night was lucky enough to catch a reading there by the delightful Nick Powell (who will feature at the final SpeedPoets gig on Sunday December 5), Bonny Cassidy and Melbourne favourite, David Prater. Great store with a comprehensive Australian poetry section.

The Brunswick Hotel: Had the immense pleasure of featuring at their fortnightly poetry gig, Passionate Tongues last night with Tiggy Johnson. Tiggy’s work has that hit of authentic domesticity that makes it immediately accessible. Her sets last night featured poems from her debut collection, First Taste as well as a number of new poems, inspired by her recent trip around the country. We in Brisbane are very lucky as Tiggy and her family are about to make the move north! I also performed two sets last night. In the first, I read a number of haiku and longer poems from Ocean Hearted and then a set of completely new work. Michael Reynolds as always was in fine form as MC and kept the night rolling along. Good times indeed!

Degraves Espresso Bar: Melbourne prides itself on being a good coffee city and Degraves Espresso Bar serves up one of the best coffees you will find. Their menu is simple, but tasty… the homemade spicy beans on toast is a great start to the day!

And tonight I am off to a wonderful event called ‘Haiku & Soup’ at Myron Lysenko’s place and then tomorrow I am being interviewed by the ever smiling Alicia Sometimes on Aural Text. You can tune in to the radio live at 12:15pm Melbourne time. Details about how to live stream the show are here.

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Review: fourWnineteen by Adam Fieled

I was recently sent this link to Stoning the Devil and was pleasantly surprised to read a review of Australian print publication, fourWnineteen. fourW is a print annual published by the Booranga Writers Centre. Issue nineteen features poems and prose by many fine Australian voices including alicia sometimes, Nathan Curnow, Andrew Slattery, Jill Jones, Michael Sharkey, Jessika Tong, David Prater and this Lost Shark. It is always a great surprise when a reviewer singles out your poem, runs a fine tooth comb over its hide…

I agree with Adam wholeheartedly that fourW  ‘deserves, I think, to become an institution.’

Read the review here.

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Perform-a-Form: putting Page and Stage back together again

One of the ideas this Lost Shark has been exploring is the line that is so often drawn between page and stage. The Page vs. Stage debate has long been part of the poetry landscape, so it has been fascinating to get an insight into the heads of artists like Hinemoana Baker, Tim Sinclair and alicia sometimes (see the posts – Speak Out: Poetry and the Spoken Word). Each of these artists continue to push the boundaries of their art and find success in both areas. Are they Perform-a-Formers?

I came across this great manifesto by Thomas Sayers Ellis on the Poetry Foundation website. The manifesto states that ‘a perform–a–form occurs when the idea body and the performance body, frustrated by their own segregated aesthetic boundaries, seek crossroads with one another.’ Ellis goes on to say that  ‘perform–a–formers seek a path around both academic and slam poetry; to eliminate the misconceptions between them; and to balance the professional opportunities (in publishing and employment) opened to each. The utterance, paged or memorized, is only a schema in need of diverse modes of respiration.’ It is a really great read and one that I encourage you all to check out.

Read the full manifesto here.

Interestingly, Ellis claims Sekou Sundiata as the last great perform-a-former.

Watch him in action here.

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Speak Out: Poetry and the Spoken Word (part 3) an interview with alicia sometimes

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the Dr. Seuss lovin’ Tim Sinclair about all things Spoken Word. This interview with alicia sometimes continues to dig deep into the world of the spoken word, the opportunities for publication that exist and the art of performance. Questions by Clint Creagan.

alicia-sometimes

Some people have suggested that the term ‘spoken word’ is used by those  who are afraid or ashamed to call the work ‘poetry’. What are your  thoughts on this? 

Spoken word is a term that is used because it encompasses far more than just poetry. Poetry is often literature in a metrical form, usually verse. There are endless definitions and types of poetry just as there are many descriptions and forms of spoken word. Spoken word is spoken. Not sung or in print form. Spoken word can be just the sound of a repetitive voice, a speech, a rant, a monologue, a dialogue, a scream or text fused with music, sound or samples. I would call any poem read aloud as spoken word but it is usually a term that is referred to when the piece is completely off the page – performed, rehearsed and experimented with sound (especially voice).

Spoken word is not just a cool word for poetry. Neither term gets the movie going public to stop what they’re doing.

 

What opportunities are out there for spoken word artists to have their  work published? 

The best opportunity is under their noses. It is so cheap and easy to record your own work today. Recording studios are not thousands of dollars any more and it is both accessible and necessary to record your own work: to become producer, musician, work in collaboration and get your pieces out there. Many bands do it, so should spoken word artists. Spoken word pieces have had top 40 hits. If you can’t name them it’s because they didn’t market it that way – it’s called hip hop, rap or simply not given a name. Websites are great for promotion also.

Many performers will go from performing their work at many poetry readings to having their own shows. Again, the term ‘spoken word’ is often left out – most will call it a play, monologue, cabaret, performance etc…
 

Do you think we will see more opportunities for the publication of  performance poetry in the future? 

Yes, because artists won’t rely on the journals, magazines or anthologies to come up with an idea, they’ll do it themselves.
 

You have performed your work and been published many times. Do you think  your performances and your published work have complimented each other?  

In many cases the work is completely different. I started out performing spoken word with musicians (playing bass and speaking is kinda hard to do but it was fun). I did that for 5 years before I even attempted ‘reading’ my work. I am more interested in being published for the page than I was back then. I like the challenge and the difference. With print I have the chance to change and edit, on stage it’s more of a instant buzz or an instant death. Both compliment each other because my performance work is often very different in style and content than my print poetry. I get to have different depths.
 

Do you consider that some of your own poems are written specifically  for performance and would therefore not work for the page, and vice versa?

Some poems wouldn’t work on page because they are meant to be spoken – by using gesture, pauses, subtlety, timing, immediacy, feedback etc Some wouldn’t work on stage because they rely on texture, visual cues, word plays etc. Others work for both. I like the fact that words can be that different.
 

What makes a good performance poem? 

Communication with audience. Learning the work. Thinking about the piece and understanding it the way an actor would with words from a play. Sincerity (even with humour). Confidence.

 

Can a good performance draw attention away from bad writing? 

Yes but if it takes attention away from bad writing then perhaps it could be a great performance piece. What is bad writing? If someone gets up on stage and says a very simple sentence like ‘My underpants are on fire’ (hardly Shakespeare) and receives giddy applause then what makes it bad? If the way the performer expresses themselves is in context, humorous or meaningful etc then it can be fantastic entertainment. Is it a poem? Maybe not, but who cares? Poetry critics? If it was spoken, it’s spoken word. Is it genius? Well, if it made you smile, cringe, think etc, maybe. Crap writing plus crap performance equals bad audience reaction. Crap writing on the page is naked and so is a performer standing in front of an audience in front of a mike. The audience will tell them soon enough. If they’re listening.

Nothing kills great writing faster than it being performed in a horrible, dull or bland way. This is because the author is not thinking about the medium that they’re using. I’ve seen it happen with amazing writers. You’ll lose people.

 

What do you see as the benefits of performing your own work? 

Immediate feedback, chance to enhance the work, a chance to have fun. I love performing, don’t have to wait until the piece is ‘published’.
 

As a previous editor of Going Down Swinging you have had a first hand account of what it takes to record and publish spoken poetry. What difficulties did you find in this process? What are the benefits? 

With other people’s work the difficulties are actually getting the performers from out of their hiding places. Once in the studio, most writers are amazing: in their originality, creative drive, experimentation and enthusiasm. They are often surprised at the endless ways of layering their work and creating full pieces.

When authors submit their own work often their pieces are badly recorded (you’d never hand in a poem on dog eaten pages) or are simple ‘dry’ readings which can (not always of course) sound average and uninteresting. You can tell they’ve never listened to other recordings. The hardest problem though, at first, was actually receiving the work .

 

Some people have suggested that much of the performance poetry we see  today, tends toward what stand up comedians are attempting, which relies on timing and wit, but is one dimensional in its range. What are your thoughts on this? 

Again, I think that poetry at ‘readings’ MUST be entertaining. Poetry/spoken word doesn’t have to be loud or hammed up or bedded with music but it must be interesting. Too many poets forget their audiences, it is a different medium to the page. Not better or worse or one dimensional. Just think of the times you have been most impressed, involved or entertained at a poetry reading – it is often because the performer was funny, insightful, unique, engaging etc (even controversial). Are people that afraid to laugh?

 

About alicia:

alicia sometimes is a Melbourne poet/writer/musician. She is co-host of 3RRR’s spoken word and books show, Aural Text, and has performed at many festivals and venues both locally and internationally. She has also performed in front of fish, on a tram, across the Nullarbor, with a stuffed horse and on ABC TV’s Sunday Arts. She was co-editor of Going Down Swinging for six years. Her first book is kissing the curve (FIP)

 

Find out more:

http://www.aliciasometimes.com/
http://www.myspace.com/aliciasometimes

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