Tag Archives: Marisa Allen

SpeedPoets Call-Back-Poet #1: Marisa Allen

Last week was QLD Writers Week, and though it has come and gone, I am still celebrating! Throughout this week, I plan to showcase some of the poets who will take the stage as part of the SpeedPoets Open Mic Championships on Sunday November 4 at Brew (Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City, 2:30pm – 5pm). Each of these poets was ‘called back’ to perform again at the end of an event as a result of their startling performance. So let’s kick things off by showcasing the work of Marisa Allen (aka Bremen Town Musician).

if i was a Buddhist i would tell you there is no shame in sorrow

retangle the light
i dig ditches into your confused pulse, become dust in the red eye of a flare.
the wayward chase of a burning blaze will deny pathway’s illuminated by a skittish dawn. pull down (from the sky, home of gods and harpies) the great thunderous hammer, with which we drove oak nail’s fashioned from sticks into fence post’s for a corpses tunnel.
the wreckage of a pulsar is scattered points.

sliver of heart muscles molten centre.
shaking – shivering – strobing in slipvision
wrung from the flesh heated oil from fine cuts of fat delay it’s thumping echo make a marshland of thickened solar ash, disturbed by solar wind
scattering the stuttered debris after the blast, splintered fragile honeybones decaying in a workman’s midday slump.
forces that made you leap towards brilliantine air stopped the beat forever. we stayed at this end place. adrift in time. full to the brim of sorrows. glistening. exposed. without a place to rest.


Marisa is a multi disciplinary artist working in words, sound and visuals who has performed nationally and abroad. Her sublime and visually illustrative poetry performances have appeared at the 2007 , 2009 and 2011 Queensland Poetry Festival and the 2011 Brisbane Festival Under the Radar, combining experimental sound works with spoken word. She was a Woodford ‘Wordfood Slam’ finalist (‘07/08) and has also performed at the Village Festival in Yeppoon QLD (’08) and the Riverbend Poetry Series readings (’10) in Brisbane.

Her chapbook ‘Fire in the Head selected works 1995 – 2006’ is published through Outsiders press, edited by David ‘Ghostboy’ Stavanger. Published in Going Down Swinging, Cottonmouth, Speedpoets Zine and Outsiders.

Along with poetry she has collaborated in live spoken word and recordings with violin for Shane Koyczan (QPF ‘07). Marisa is the front woman for the Qmusic award nominated avant folk, experimental blues act Bremen Town Musician as violinist, vocalist and songwriter and the band performed at QPF 2009 & 2012. She has toured throughout the United States as violinist to American/ Icelandic country folk act The Foghorns (’07) and has performed solo at SpeedPoets, Outsiders and various venues throughout Queensland since 2005.


2012 SpeedPoets Open Mic Championships

Date: Sunday November 4
Location: Brew (Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City)
Time: 2:30pm – 5pm
Entry: Gold Coin Donation
More details at www.speedpoets.com

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SpeedPoets Calls Back Marisa Allen

Each month at SpeedPoets, thirty poets are given the opportunity to sign up for Open Mic and at the end of the day, one of these poets is called-back by the monthly features to perform a short set to close the event. In May, that poet was Brisbane based singer-songwriter-poet, Marisa Allen. I just posted her poem and bio on the SpeedPoets website, so be sure to click on over.

And to give you all a taste of her musical prowess, here she is performing Nerve Child live for Balcony TV. Such a voice!

SpeedPoets takes over Brew again on Saturday June 2 and features Julie Beveridge premiering work from her new collection, home{sic} and the launch of Alan Jefferies‘ new book, Seem.

When: Saturday June 2, 2pm – 5:30pm
Where: Brew (Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City)
Entry: Gold Coin Donation
More details at www.speedpoets.com

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Peaceful Music

We are still waiting for the arrival of our son… ah yes, the best things in life take time, require patience.

So, to say the least, my head is a wee bit overloaded, which is why I have been diving headlong into the glorious pool of minimalist recordings I have in my collection. And one of the very latest in this collection is Peaceful Music I – VIII, by Brisbane based sonic experimentalist, Marisa Allen (aka Bremen Town Musician).

She describes it as:

Alone in your room. It’s winter. No it’s summer… but not yet. A dog barks, there is a chicken wandering through the yard and the possums scream during the night. You live in the city but you don’t really live in the city. It’s quiet. Everything starts to warp and then you are melting. It’s 3 am. It’s midafternoon. It’s not breakfast. It’s not lunch. The wind is blowing, the clouds are gathering. A car. A motorbike. Nothing else.

Here’s the video for 2nd single from the album, IV:

The album is available now for download from Bremen Town Musician’s BandCamp site.

Another recent release well worth getting your ears on is The Peregrine by one of Brisbane’s sonic pioneers, Lawrence English. In fact, if you want to do this, you had better get cracking as The Peregrine is a strictly limited release of 500 vinyl copies. Composed in response to J.A. Baker’s book of the same name, English’s latest work cements him as one of the modern masters of his craft.

Here’s a passage from J.A. Baker’s, The Peregrine:

Swiftly now he is resigning his savagery to the night that rises round us like dark water. The great eyes look into mine. When I move my arm before his face, they still look on, as though they are seeing something beyond me from which they cannot look away. The last light flakes and crumbles down. Distance moves through the dim lines of the inland elms, and comes closer, and gathers behind the darkness of the hawk. I know he will not fly now. I climb over the wall and stand before him. And he sleeps.

And you can listen to a sample from the album here:

So if these sounds strike you, show your support for local, independent art.


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Another Great SpeedPoets Event

SpeedPoets has come and gone again for the month and as always there were many highlights.


Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician) in spoken word mode

Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician) in spoken word mode


The melodic chaos of Bremen Town Musician filled the room as she tore through a fiery set of songs from her latest album ‘No One Is Holding A Gun To Your Head – Songs to Run to’ and her spoken word set was also something to behold as she writhed, whispered and chanted the poems from her collection ‘Fire in the Head’ to life.


Robert Bos with an ever watchful Elvis in the background

Robert Bos with an ever watchful Elvis in the background


Robert Bos, winner of the 2008 Ipswich Poetry Feast Mentorship prize stepped up to the mic for his debut feature set, the highlight for mine, his poem, Undambi Country.

A huge thank you must be extended to page seventeen magazine for donating copies of their magazine to us for giveaways and of course for offering to publish one lucky Open Mic’er from the June event.

So after listening in to almost forty poems, I decided the only way to pick one poem was to think back over the event and see if there was a poem that had stayed with me, a poem that had put its hooks in and left its lines circling my brain. And there was one…

That poem was ‘afternoon commute’ by Jonathon Hadwen. Here’s a few lines …


afternoon commute

the train crunches over suicides,
there is a boy near the carriage door,
he might fall out,
he has an agreement with his girlfriend,
that they can kiss other people,
but nothing more,


To read the whole poem you will have to get your hands on a copy of page seventeen magazine when it comes out later this year. And if you have not already submitted a poem or three, then check out their website as submissions close on June 30.

Next month, SpeedPoets fires up with a feature set from 2009 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Hinemoana Baker (New Zealand) and much, much more … Stay tuned!


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A quick chat with Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician)

Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician) is feature musician and poet and the next SpeedPoets event (2pm Sunday, June 7 @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm) as well as one of the features at the final Riverbend Books, Poetry on the Deck event on Tuesday June 23 (click here for details).


marisa allen


We caught up recently and hade a quick chat…


What initially drew you to poetry?

I read constantly and writing was something that I had always done and I think the first thing I wrote was a poem when I was in year six and it just followed on from that. Later on I really started writing poetry as a means to explore song writing. I began writing poems as a stepping stone to that and just filtered out which ones were better as poems and which ones were better as songs. Poetry allows me to make sense of the world around me and to express myself.


When is a poem ready to be published/performed?

I don’t have a strict sense of readiness for a piece of writing, instinctively I know when a poem works or not. It’s ready when it’s ready and I don’t labour too much on it. Usually there is a strong voice or atmosphere to the words that let me know if a piece is suitable to be published or performed, but it’s such an unknown based on how I feel subjectively about a piece. I always say I have no ugly children, meaning I love them all equally and most I would like to put out into the public sphere. Obviously there are better poems than others, but I just write them, I don’t judge them!  Although I do like to let them sit for a while and go back to them after maybe a year and make small changes to phrases and really make sure what I’m wanting to express is clear.


Has publication changed the way you approach your writing?

Yes. In a way it makes me a little more self conscious but it also emboldens me to push a little harder. Poems that are published are usually chosen because they are ready to be published but once that happens you let them go, they no longer are yours and sometimes I find going back to them to be tiresome, as it’s like yes this was good then when it was written but how can I better it now, how can I move from it to something that is relevant to the experiences I am having now.


Why perform/read your poetry?

I have no idea! I think this is a complex question… I am acutely aware of poetry that works out loud or as a spoken performance piece and poetry that is meant to be read in silence in your mind. I’m really interested in this contrast. At this point I read my poetry because there is a voice in it that I can hear; it brings it to life and adds dimension to the words. But there are certainly poems that I don’t feel have the immediacy to be read out loud, that maybe are very complex in imagery and need a different approach, such as the quiet of reading alone, reading a phrase over and over to grasp the meaning.


What is the greatest challenge faced by poets/poetry today?

Well I think there is always a food shortage just round the corner in any poets life! I think it is the same for any artist, getting their work heard, published, viewed, getting feedback, support in the process which is the most murky area because usually a poet or artist is constantly in a  creative process. Also creating opportunities for poets to have some value in society outside the creative and subjective world of their own writing. I think this is immensely important, that an artist should be able to connect with the world that doesn’t always support their own vision but still values the poet anyway by creating opportunities to use their skills outside of purely creative pursuits. I think the competitiveness and nepotism of any creative area can be very off putting and it’s a challenge that is unnecessary for a creative person to have to face. I think we need a completely new approach to how selection and standardization across the arts is decided, judged on artistic sensibility and merit as opposed to bureaucratic or financial standards, unfortunately it does take time for people to take your work seriously and that in itself is a challenge on a day to day basis.



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Guided by (Riverbend) Poets

Yes, the final Poetry on the Deck event at Riverbend Books is fast approaching. The final event for 2009 will launch the QLD Poetry Festival programme by showcasing five of the local poets performing at this years festival. And believe me, it is an exciting program!

Here’s a sample of what you are in for… a poem from each of the Riverbend poets.


Angel Kosch

Angel Kosch











The Rose Crows


The murder of crows in the rose garden
Are eyeing me off
With their ruffled feathers and
Beady eyes.

Sitting on fences, waddling on lawns
Gawky messengers
Dark as velvet

A murder of crows haunting the rose garden
Sitting sleekly on fences
Cawing at benches
Manning the battlements of old cement paths through
Yesterdays thorn flowers.

Old as a rhyme
Hoarse as a head jaunt
Sharpened beak poised to the light
that glints in their eyes.

The murder of crows in the rose garden
Are eyeing me off
With their ruffled feathers
And steely goodbye.



Nicola Scholes

Nicola Scholes









Step II: Learn


I could be sweating in a pleated
sports skirt, way too short for sticky
summer days, when one was seated

like an egg on the mould
of a cheap chair, that one wetted
like glue on an envelope’s fold

until sealed to plastic.  How I
hated that moment when—forced
to peel, rise to feet—I tried

not to notice the damp residue
that dissolved like the screen
of your gran’s TV.  Do you

remember the eyes of the boys
behind—how they burned into
your cheeks?



Jeffrey Harpeng

Jeffrey Harpeng











arms blue with prison tatts
on his shoulder a spider
stuck in its own web

After the bank robbery he went bush, roustabout and shearer. One job
he lived in a tin shed an hour from town. Didn’t drink with the crew
in town. Shouldered slabs of tinnies and a bottle of whiskey back. Just
in the door a termite floorboard cracked and he fell into. . . couldn’t
budge. So he drank a shout to himself and himself and himself.

The sun snailed twice across the sky. And the kookaburras laughed,
even at the brown snake that basked at the door…

Mid-fifties, he keeps his hair long, to flip in case he meets an old



Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost











From the Ferry, Looking Out

What bonds must hold these atoms’ hands
that I stand so collected,
like stamps or butterflies?
I can see my yesterdays
scattered across this river, and wonder whether
you could piece me together in different ways
by asking the inconstant water
how she would build me.
Watching twilight
shatter into street lights –
deep blue turns fog
into romance – I am looking
to complete my collection,
and I keep coming back
to Brisbane.



Marisa Allen

Marisa Allen











Little Bird, A Singing Bird


Little bird
A singing bird
The lark of all I have
I’ll take you all
Into the dusk
The wilderness and desert
I’ll bring you home
I’ll let you know
The strength
This heart contains
When the bitter winds come
And all is done
I will remain
Little bird
A singing bird
The lark of all I have



Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present Poetry on the Deck.

Date: Tuesday 23 June
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at www.riverbendbooks.com.au

The first two events this year have been hugely successful, so book early to avoid disappointment!


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QLD Poetry Festival Presents – Poetry on the Riverbend Deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the final Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase five of the local artists performing at the 2009 QLD Poetry Festival. This QPF showcase event features multi-skilled artist, Angel Kosch (Standing on the Road); winner of The Dream Ain’t Broken chapbook competition Nicola Scholes (Dear Rose); one of Australia’s finest exponents of the Japanese forms haibun and tanka, Jeffery Harpeng (Quarter Past Sometime); poetic adventurer and protector of apostrophes, Zenobia Frost (The Voyage); and experimental writer and musician, Marisa Allen (Fire in the Head).

Date: Tuesday 23 June
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at  www.riverbendbooks.com.au

The first two events this year have been hugely successful, so book early to avoid disappointment!


About the Poets:

Angel KoschAngel Kosch is a Brisbane based multi-skilled artist , currently a core member of Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble – appearing most recently with them as an actor and singer in Food of Love – a Shakespeare Cabaret . In 2002 she self-published a book of poetry, photography and fragments called ‘Standing on the Road – from old bit of paper’ which was recognised in the Queensland Writers Centre magazine ; Following the release of her collection She was interviewed for a thesis on self-publishing, and she has recently started to compile another collection of short stories, poetry and photography. Angel is a singer/songwriter and has been writing and singing since she was about 6. In 2005, she co- wrote and produced  a combined ep Humidity with Gene Miller and Moses Jones. As a visual Artist/photographer, Angel has had a number of solo exhibitions, the most recent being ‘tell me your secrets’ in November 2007. Angel has a long history of community work and social and environmental activism, and this passion for life imbues her driving force of artistic chaos.


Nicola Scholes

Nicola Scholes won the inaugural Small Change Press “Dream Ain’t Broken Chapbook Competition,” with her collection Dear Rose…, to be launched on July 5. She also won the inaugural Love Poetry Hate Racism open mic competition in 2007. Aside from winning inaugural things, Nicola has had her poems published in The Broadkill Review (USA), Colloquy, Cordite Poetry Review, The Courier-Mail, dotlit, Hecate, holland1945, The Mozzie, Nineteen-O-Splash (NZ), Poems in Perspex: Max Harris Poetry Award 2007, Ripples, Social Alternatives, SpeedPoets, and Stylus Poetry Journal. Her drawings and poems for children have appeared in Cherububble. Nicola has also been involved in Brisbane community theatre for more than ten years. She has performed in plays with Villanova Players, and St. Luke’s Theatre Society. She is currently studying a PhD on representations of the maternal in Allen Ginsberg’s poetry, at the University of Queensland.


Jeffrey Harpeng

Jeffrey Harpeng has recently had his third co-operative writing project, a tanka-prose sequence, published in  the Spring 2009 Modern English Tanka. Earlier co-compositions were Four Tellings – A Haibun Sequence, with Beverley George (Aus), and Owen Bullock, and Joanna Preston ( New Zealand ), and Quartet – A String of Haibun, with Patricia Prime ( New Zealand ), Diana Webb ( UK ) and Jeffrey Woodward ( USA ). He is currently completing a second collection of haibun.


Marisa Allen

Marisa Allen is a songwriter, musician and performer. Better known as the front woman for the band Bremen Town Musician she had her first book of contemporary poetry ‘Fire in the Head’ published in 2007 through Outsider press, edited by David ‘Ghostboy’ Stavanger. She has been published in Cottonmouth (Western Australia), Tsunami Street Press (Queensland), performed regularly at Outsiders poetry nights, QPF 2007 and has been a feature artist on 4ZZZ radio show ‘The Siren’s Call’ that showcases local women writers, songwriters, poets and musicians. She also had a stint editing local folk stories in Reykjavik, Iceland for guided tourist walks around the city. It seems she can’t stop writing, and always has her pencil sharpened, just in case.




Zenobia Frost is a poetic adventurer, hat fetishist and protector of apostrophes whose debut collection, The Voyage, was recently launched by SweetWater Press. In her writing, Zenobia aims to highlight those common enchantments that are often overlooked. Thus, The Voyage is a whimsical journey on (generally) calm seas with a crew of curious creatures and a compass that points to whichever shore offers the best cup of tea. Zenobia’s poems have found homes in such Australian journals as Going Down Swinging, Small Packages, Stylus, Mascara and Voiceworks, and she has recently performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival, Contraverse and Under a Daylight Moon.


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Brisbane Poetry Gig Guide – May 15

Saturday May 16
Words or Whatever – Performance poetry @ Blackstar Cafe 44 Thomas St West End from 6:30pm.

Featured acts this month include – Dissent of Didymus, Darkwing Dubs, Luke Townson + Special guests including some non english speaking poets.

As well as these awesome acts, we wil have our regular features including ‘Words of Honour’ (tribute pieces to great wordsmiths) &  ‘Words-worth’ – Live Poetry Auction. 

Saturday May 23

No Frontiers: a multi arts performance event featuring music, poetry, prose and visual arts.      

3–4pm at the Museum of Brisbane Gallery 3, within the Brisbane City Hall, (through main entrance and turn left – follow signs), King George Square, Adelaide St, City.

Jena Woodhouse –  performing poetry on some vanished homes of Brisbane

Jack Sim – telling stories from the shady side of Brisbane’s ghostly past and ghost tours present; and
Peter Green and the Midnight Prophets – playing music of midnight, travellers cheques, a North Ryde girl and dancing skeletons.


Sunday May 31
Ahimsa House proudly supports the local community-based poetry group in West End—The Kurilpa Poets. The next gig is Sunday, 31st May 2009. Time: 02—04.30 PM at – The Emma Goldman Room – at Ahimsa House, 26 Horan Street West End (opposite the West End State School). Everyone is welcome. Murri and Koori poets please join in!

Our feature poet for May is Rhys Rodgers. Rhys is a dynamic young performance poet who has been performing poetry for the last few years, and has already gained a substantial following in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast. He won the Love Poetry Hate Racism Open Mic competition, and The SpeedPoets Open Mic championships in 2008. He was a finalist in both the Nimbin and Woodford poetry slams in 2008. He has also been invited interstate to run workshops on cultivating meaningful relationships with imaginary friends. Come and be dazzled by his brave naked words. Mostly loud, sometimes soft, but always saturated with feeling. Don’t miss a sensational performance from one of Queensland’s rising young stellar poets!

Sunday June 7
SpeedPoets is back for Round 4 of 2009! Be there as Brisbane’s longest running spoken word/poetry event takes over The Alibi Room (720 Brunswick St. New Farm) on Sunday June 7 from 2:00pm – 5:00pm. The June event features the soaring soundscapes and experimental blues of Bremen Town Musician. Their new album No One Is Holding A Gun To Your Head (Songs To Run To) was one of my favourite releases from 2008, a real album of discovery. And just to mix things up a little and showcase her diverse talents, Marisa Allen (Bremen Town Musician) will also read from her debut collection Fire in the Head and other works. To round off the afternoon, winner of the 2008 Ipswich Poetry Feast Mentorship Prize, Robert Bos will step up to the mic for his SpeedPoets debut. And as always there will be live sounds from the SpeedPoets poetic riff generator Sheish Money, giveaways, free zines and two rounds of Open Mic. Entry is a gold coin… See you there!
SpeedPoets, Sunday June 7 @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm. 2:00pm – 5:00pm.

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