Tag Archives: Aural Text

Things to do in Melbourne when you’re walking (part II)

Today I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time on the 3RRR airwaves with Alicia Sometimes and Jeff Sparrow, talking poetry in Brisbane, the mighty QLD Poetry Festival and the state of poetry publishing in Australia. And as Alicia knows I love my music, we also talked musical influences and I read my poem, January 29, 2009 for the late John Martyn. Aural Text really is a great promoter of all things poetry, so I recommend you get online and listen to the podcasts and if you can work it into your week, don’t forget you can livestream it each Wednesday.

On the way there and home, I continued my pilgrimage to many of my favourite Melbourne haunts. Today I visited:

The French Lettuce: Voted by The Age as baking the best vanilla slice in Melbourne and for mine, they are on the money. Served with a generous dollop of rasperry sauce on the side, this is one heavenly dessert. Don’t balk at the $5 price tag… it is worth every cent.

Alice’s Bookshop: For secondhand poetry, this store is hard to go past. Today I picked up a gorgeous copy of Kenneth Patchen’s ‘Hurrah for Anything/Poemscapes and A Letter to God and a pristine Black Sparrow Press edition of ‘Without Music’ by Michael Palmer. So many other books there that I also wanted to take home… another time.

Polyester Records: Another great independent music store that boasts an extensive catalogue of Australian and overseas artists. For me you know you are on to a good thing when they stock artists such as Tren Brothers, Vic Chesnutt, Uncle Tupelo and every album by The Necks.

Polyester Books: Dubbing itself the world’s freakiest bookstore, Polyester stocks literature, art books, film, mags & zines from the edge. If you are looking for a bookstore that holds the censorship laws in the contempt they so richly deserve, then look no further than Polyester.

Horton Books: This place specialises in quality remaindered books… and I emphasise quality. A really great Beat Literature section, some fine poetry and a large number of art books. And did I mention that most of the books in store are about half the recommended retail price? Well worth checking out!

Pellegrinis: What do I say… this place is a Melbourne icon and has been since the 1950’s. Every time I visit Melbourne, I always stop in for the spaghetti bolognaise. It is without a doubt the best I have ever eaten.

Tonight, I am off to Poets Stripped Bare, feat. John Tranter & Lisa Gorton sharing insights into their creative process and reading a selection of their work. Very much looking forward to it.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under discussions, events & opportunities, poetry & publishing, who listens to the radio?

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.

3 Comments

Filed under discussions, events & opportunities, poetry & publishing, who listens to the radio?

Aural Text Award: And the winner is…

Adam Gibson and his band The Aerial Maps for their 2008 album, In the Blinding Sunlight. Here’s what the judges had to say:

“Adam Gibson’s In the Blinding Sunlight is a poetic triumph. It mixes the exquisite, ethereal language of love with the firm vernacular of the everyday. Beautifully written, beautifully musical and just beautifully executed. The best thing is it is a CD you want to play again and again and again. For me, it doesn’t get better than that.”

— Alicia Sometimes

Here’s a clip of their song The Great Australian Silence:

Highly Commendeds were awarded to Going Down Swinging 25 (double CD issue), A Million Bright Things – QLD Poetry Festival 2009, As If Nothing Happened, And It IsPaul Mitchell & Bill Butler and of course The Stillest Hour recorded by Sheish Money & myself.

I am wrapped to be in such fine company and the other highlight is that Sheish and I have tracks featured on two of the other shortlisted albums (GDS 25 & A Million Bright Things).

Happy times indeed!

4 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

Shortlisted for the Aural Text Award

Received some really nice news this afternoon, the CD I recorded with Sheish Money, The Stillest Hour has been shortlisted for the Aural Text Award.

While I don’t know the complete shortlist, I do know that the QLD Poetry Festival CD – A Million Bright Things is shortlisted, so I know the competition is strong.

The winner is announced on closing night of Overload Poetry Festival this Sunday, September 19. Will keep you posted!

 

6 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities, poetry

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

3 Comments

Filed under poetry & publishing, Uncategorized