Tag Archives: Max Ryan

Max Ryan & Where Were You At Lunch live at QLD Poetry Festival

National Poetry Week 2012 has been a big one, and what better way to close it than reliving a little QLD Poetry Festival magic with Max Ryan & Where Were You At Lunch. While the sound may not be first class, you can still feel the crackling energy between Max and the band… Pete Emptage is hollering, locked on a dirty-bass-groove, Samaan Fieck is squeezing out angular riffs while Kishore Ryan, muscles up on drums. To witness it was incredibly special… so here’s Wild Honey from their Saturday night set at QPF. It’s my Sunday gift to you all…

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August Pin-Up Poet: Max Ryan and Where Were You At Lunch (part v)

With the QLD Poetry Festival 2012 knocking on the door (that’s right, it starts this Friday!), it’s time to wrap up my discussion with Max & Kishore Ryan. It has been nothing but a pleasure rambling with both of these gentlemen and I have a stirring in the gut that there show together this coming Saturday (August 25), alongside avant-blues trio, Bremen Town Musician is going to be talked about as a festival highlight!

So with that said, let’s check in with the Ryan boys one last time…

Don’t miss Max Ryan and Where Were You At Lunch + Bremen Town Musician at QLD Poetry Festival 2012, Saturday August 25 from 10:00pm – Midnight as part of the session, Pierce the Salty Darkness.

ALS: The way we listen to music and read poetry has changed so much in the last 5-10 years. As artists, how does this affect on you? I am also interested to know how the experience of working together on Before We Lose Each Other Again has influenced you.

Max: The more it changes, the more it stays the same I guess. A great poem or a great song in the right hands will get you every time but I suppose in terms of music and poetry coming together there’s definitely more collaboration these days. Maybe we’re just reaching back to the roots of all verse which was chanted or intoned in some kind of musical setting? Poetry with music has never gone away really in terms of popular song, especially in the hands of the great songsmiths. Poetry recited in a more loose and not strictly song-structured form can be something else again. In some ways, without the defined structure of verse, chorus, bridge etc it can be harder to pull off and can easily run off the rails or, just as badly, end up with the music and words chugging along together but never really merging or sparking off each other. So I do hope our collaboration can’t be accused of that, which leads me to your next question…

One of the real delights of working with WWYAL has been the overall sense that we’ve been creating something bigger than the parts: it isn’t just their making some kind of background sound to my reciting the words. This kind of performance demands a deep listening, especially, I’d suggest, from the musicians and I think the band (and producer Nick Huggins) have managed this splendidly. There are so many little instances where I can sense a real dynamic between the music and the poetry (Kishore’s organ chord on the line ‘the tide moves one step closer’ in the poem halfway home is one off the top of my head). I think we’ve made a fine little album and I’m happy with the way we’ve captured a strong sense of spontaneity in it all. As Bob Dylan says though: ‘Time will tell just who has fell and who’s been left behind!’ Still, one of the best things to come from this project for me is how we sailed through with a deeper sense of trust and openeness with each other which often ain’t necessarily so.

Kishore: The way I read poetry hasn’t changed much in the last decade. For the most part I still read it in books and rarely on the internet. But the moments when I sit down at home, put on a record and listen to it in its entirety without doing something else at the same time are rare. Despite the fact that listening to an album with friends, as an event in itself, is such an incredibly nice thing to do, I have only done this a handful of times in my life. But people must have done this more often in the past. Surely. Max has said that as a child he would sit around the radio with his family. I often listen to albums in their entirety by myself on my ipod while riding, driving, etc. but concentrated listening to recorded music with others is a rare thing. As a listener I can see the change you’re talking about, but it’s hard to know how this affects my creativity. I’ve never collaborated with anyone over the internet. Samaan has though. He’s done some small releases with people he’s never met. He did a small release with a noise artist called Soma from Japan and another one with with Rolf Wong from Hong Kong.

For me, music is, among other things, a way to express emotion that you can’t express elsewhere. It is an expression that is perhaps impossible to accurately describe with words. But even though it escapes description, to a certain extent, it can of course have a solid relationship with words. Great songs and poetry come close to we might call the sublime, whatever that is. I will always have an interest in music, with and without lyrics. I love poetry and I love music, but they don’t necessarily work together. But I’m proud of our album. Working with Max underlined the fact that limitations can be helpful. Writing music which is based around great lyrics is very fun. Making this album was a special way to spend time with my dad and also my friends.

ALS: And what’s next for Max Ryan & WWYAL, both individually and as a collective?

Max: I can only speak for Max Ryan re your last question… just to keep on truckin I guess. There’ll be more collaborations with us all I’d say, can envisage maybe something more thematically structured even. Main thing is to be there on the night at QPF. I’m really glad there are four of us. If it was just me I’d be terrified!

Kishore: I’d love to record many more albums with Max and WWYAL and because of the inexpensive nature of the recording process, that is, an absence of overdubs, this is very foreseeable. In fact Peter is already talking of recording another one when Max comes down for our Melbourne album launch in November. Pete is one of those humans who has endless enthusiasm for music and life in general and we have him to thank for making this collaboration happen without too much procrastination.

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Max Ryan vs Kid Sam

Well today is the first of August… so I am now officially counting down the days until QLD Poetry Festival 2011 takes over the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts from August 26 – 28. So with 26 days to go you may want to consider planning your travel arrangements from wherever you may be, believe me, the line up is that good!

One of the fine Australian poets who will be appearing is Max Ryan. Max and I have had some long, lovely rambles over the years, many of which have been posted on this blog.

Recently Max and I were talking about music, so I asked him about his connection with Kid Sam and what it was like working with them and importantly, whether there are any recordings floating around…

MR: Haven’t worked with Kid Sam that much; several times I’ve performed (funny word that) in Melbourne with a fairly loose array of musos including Kieran and Kishore. Thing about Kid Sam is they’re family, of course, with all that goes with that. They’re both superb players and I think Kieran is already one of the best singer-songwriters in this country.

This recording of Hunter is, alack, the only record I have of a piece I did with just Kid Sam a few years back at Kishore’s final recital of his music course at NMIT in Melbourne. It’s pretty rough and probably goes on too long but it really went off on the night. It’s totally improvised with all of us just jamming on a few phrases I’d already come up with (some, I confess, stolen from Walt Whitman). The thing for me was I eventually turned the lines into a villanelle, Before we lose each other again; the villanelle being, as you know, a highly musical form.

ALS: You can listen to the full recording of Max & Kid Sam performing Hunter here. And it’s something else! Kid Sam create a wild, blissed-out storm while Max drops lines into the air… it might just take your breath.

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Rambling with Max Ryan (part II)

ALS: That last line really sends me Max… captures so beautifully the notion of ‘a birth and a death’ that you mention. By experiencing the show, the teens lives have altered, been forever changed… and with all change, something of our former selves is lost. Loss is another recurring image in many of your poems. Before we lose each other again contains some of my favourite lines in the collection: ‘I’d hear your name on a stranger’s tongue’ and ‘all our blood beats to the drum/ of a hunter who can never rest’, make the hair on my neck prickle. Loss is something we all experience, so I am interested in how it influences your writing.

MR: Thanks for pointing that out. It makes me realise another element of that last line… the man remembering is forever captured by the spell of another time and place, even imagination or the world it conjures implies some kind of loss…

Loss is at the heart of all poetry, methinks. Something Michael Dransfield says:

to be a poet what it means to lose the self to lose the self

I guess I don’t see this loss as necessarily a calamitous thing. Keats seemed to be pointing to something like that in his notion of Negative Capability: because the poet (not the person) has no fixed identity, is in a sense lost to the sureties of worldly existence, he/she is made open to the experience of ever-changing life. Also, the art of haiku in a sense necessitates this loss of self which is why it’s truly a humbling art.

But yeah, there’s a fairly strong theme of loss and an attendant sorrowful tone in Before the Sky. I remember being struck with that when I first saw the proofs and Judy Johnson, who edited the book, had placed two elegies at the start. Maybe I’m particularly drawn to the subject… I couldn’t say I’m an especially moribund person, there’d be few people alive who hadn’t been made aware of how precarious this existence is. There’s a beautiful section in the film What Happened to Kerouac? where Allen Ginsberg speaks about Kerouac’s death and (I can’t remember his exact words) explains how we mourn for existence because we know that this very place is it, it won’t come again.

Before we lose each other again is my first attempt at a villanelle. The title implies that the woman is one I’ve known before and am destined to meet (and lose) again and again. The form of the poem with its recurring lines and cyclical, incantatory cadences is ideal for such a theme. Without going into a discussion of transmigration of souls or somesuch, I think there’s often this recognition when we encounter certain special people that we somehow know them in an entirely uncanny way.

Kieran Ryan (on the Kid Sam album) says it nicely in the song Mirror Drawings:

I’ve been around once or twice now
Come around a few times more
but I can’t always recognise you
in all your different forms

streets of jogjakarta touches on something similar:

the rooftop thrums with rain
as she comes back to say goodbye
calling you to go or stay
like she once did in another time

Going back to the villanelle, the image of the hunter is of course a symbol for death or mortal fate, the thing we can never escape. So the very thing that pursues the lovers, the knowing that ‘one night the hunt will end’ instills a kind of desperate passion in their lovemaking. The ‘faceless hunter’ beats the drum and we can only dance to it:

and all our blood beats to the drum
of a hunter who can never rest

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Rambling with Max Ryan

Quite some time ago, I posted a long interview with award winning poet, Max Ryan. Max has just released his second collection, Before the Sky, so we decided to start rambling all over again…

ALS: Your latest release, Before the Sky, is brimming with musicality. In the collection we ride the bus home after seeing The Beatles, with the shell-shocked girls in the back (Journey of The Beatles Fans); we hear Keith Richards, choogling away on open G (Keef); and we sing for the cohort of the damned as the radio is turned off (Rimbaud Blows the Whistle). I have spoken to you before about your love of music, but I wanted to ask you specifically about how you came to writing Keef and Journey of The Beatles Fans.

MR: Whoo… I guess you mean poems with a musical or music theme.

The last time I saw the Stones, a woman actually prostrated when Mick introduced Keith. Keef started off as some kind of paeon to the man himself but it ends up being just as much about the narrator, some one who’s a contemporary of K and sees his life as moving in some kind of parallel to his. Of course our narrator’s life, like most lives, is a compromised one…he gives up rock and roll to run a lawn-mowing business, splits up with his wife in contrast to K who ‘got rid of Anita’. In the end though the last line describing K’s phenomenal riffing power (‘dead on time’) seems to bring the two together. Keith is, after all, mortal. Isn’t he?

Journey Of The Beatles Fans came from an idea I had for yonks for a poem about seeing the Beatles all those years ago. Tried many times to get it down but it always seemed to trail off into a ragged vision of us teenyboppers riding home on the bus to and from Newcastle. Last year I was reading Geoff Page’s marvellous 80 Great Poems where he was discussing TS Eliot’s Journey Of The Magi. Most of you will remember it’s a dramatic monologue by a Magus (one of three) describing his trip to witness the nativity. The mood is weary and defeated as the three travel through hostile arid lands:

With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly

The seminal event is brushed over in a few lines with the Magi

…not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

Anyway, it all fell together: I got the idea that the actual journey to the concert and the effect it had on those pubescent pilgrims was the heart of the matter. Basically, I planted my poem in Eliot’s even using the same metres and his litany-like depiction the journey. The mood in my wee saga is definitely up-beat on the way down to the show:

With us with our ears pressed to scratchy radios, ringing out
It won’t be long yeah yeah yeah

After the climax:

And JOHNPAULGEORGEANDRINGO ran on, not a moment too soon
Bestowing Grace; it was (you could say) the only word for it.

the mood shifts to something similar to that experienced by Eliot’s Magi of a sense of something gained but also lost, a birth and a death.

It would be hard to equal Eliot’s powerful final line:

I should be glad of another death.

But the Beatles fans, or at least one of them, can celebrate the journey because, although there’s still the sense of dislocation and not being able to fit in, the imagination relives the unconditional joy of knowing that something way beyond anything he’s seen before is about to happen:

I was still on that bus, heading for the show.

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Riverbend Poetry Series II – Julie Beveridge

Just two more sleeps until the deck of Riverbend Books lights up with the words of local poetic shape-shifter David ‘Ghostboy’ Stavanger; new voice, Vanessa Page; the award winning Max Ryan and Brisbane lady of words, Julie Beveridge.

Julie is an emerging poet. She is the Program and Services Manager for Queensland Writers Centre and was Festival Director for the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2008 and 2009. Julie is an active member of the Brisbane poetry community and is passionate about innovation in the promotion and distribution of new work to audiences. Julie has been a feature artist at the Queensland Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word; Byron Bay Writers Festival; Brisbane Writers Festival; Tasmanian Poetry Festival and the Sydney Writers Festival: 2006 Word Wrestling Federation SLAM as well as reading at various arts events throughout Queensland, Melbourne and Vancouver. Her latest collection, Home is where the Heartache is (Small Change Press), is her first collection of haibun. As she has been promising for several years now, her follow up collection home{sic} is still under development.

Here’s a recent poem:

by way of explanation– a letter to my former self

i

in that pivotal moment
overcome by language

longing    surrender   fatality

all too vast to even whisper

vast

like ocean liners appearing in a landscape
distant and unassuming
evolved from nautical miniatures
into colossal water vessels that
carry the wealthy and retired
who secretly hate to travel
but who live like sharks
swimming
swimming

ii

words
fused to the walls of my memory
rocks weight the pockets of suicidal expectations as the water rises

suddenly I cannot describe the soft white flesh of the ripe green pear

iii

the precise moment I can’t exactly pinpoint
cannot articulate the second when the
thought of a poem became infinite
cannot recall the shift of sky (though probably grey)
or the correct mass of expectation
i have placed upon myself (though probably heavy
to the point where you need a hand
outstretched kindly
to help you lift it)
can probably recall my husband
quiet supportive and over achieved
facing me with the simplicity of a man waiting at an open door
with tea in one hand and toast in the other
though he may not have been physically present

iv

consumed with the figure of myself
that i thought had been painted on my behalf
by some gorgeous designer who wears
off shade single breasted suit jackets
to hide his gentle breast line
but that was really self drawn and
unflatteringly inaccurate

v

later in the bathroom
a wet moth takes solace
in the cool ice white tile
before getting sucked
into the exhaust fan

so swiftly
not even the moth
it turns out
knew it was turning
to dust

If you haven’t already got yourself a ticket, here’s all the details:

Date: Tuesday 19 April
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 http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/2491/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

Hope to see you all there,

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Riverbend Poetry Series II – Max Ryan

It’s only a week away until the second event in the Rivernbend Poetry Series is here, so if you haven’t got your tickets, check the details below and make sure you snap one up. This is a poetry line up that is bound to light up the deck – Vanessa Page, David Stavanger, Julie Beveridge & from just across the border, award winning poet, Max Ryan.

Max Ryan’s collaborative CD with musician Cleis Pearce has received several music industry awards. He has twice won the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival Poetry Prize and been short-listed for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. His  first book Rainswayed Night won the 2005 Anne Elder Award. His latest collection Before the Sky won the Picaro Press Poetry Prize.

His words sift deep into life and are full of power and insight.
                                                                                      – Judith Beveridge

Here’s a recent poem from Max:

 

krishna

leaps out from behind a tin awning everywhere I look baba I no find you

he says stealing me a sweet from a vendor’s barrow here baba all thing

shine together as I follow his stop-start shuffle down kolkata alleyways

out to chaplin square where a wedding band oomphas round the corner

and a stray dancer twirls on dusty sandals and laughs into the hazy air

laughs till a beggar takes my arm whispering long life too much money

in three week many thanks ten rupee holding me by the arm hissing his

mad mantra all the way down to chor bazaar closed now except for the

lights of a chai stall where a man with a trolley for legs rolls out from

under a table and points to where krishna sits against a wall come come

krishna calls this ground my home baba this my mother krishna one day

shining in saffron robes saddhu beard and trident next day rough-shaven

a tilted fez hawaiian beach shirt and trousers krishna face swollen blue

from one more police bashing come come baba you want charas very

cheap come come very best I find you krishna leading me through smoke

of evening coal fires along to mirza ghalib street where two young

ecstatics sit cross-legged on a blanket wailing to the dim city sky willing

their bodies away from this world of men made of straw bismillah they

sing may the lord deliver us tonight bismillah take us into his final sweet

flame do not trust this krishna a washed-up sailor tells me through the

mist of his steaming chai do not trust this man

 

Full details of the event are:

Tuesday April 19
 
Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second event in the Riverbend Poetry Series for 2011. The April event features one of Brisbane’s finest new voices, Vanessa Page, reading from her debut collection, Memory Bone, the wildly wonderful, David Stavanger (And the Ringmaster Said), lover of all things rock’n’roll, Julie Beveridge (Home is Where the Heartache is) and Max Ryan, who’s latest collection Before the Sky won the inaugural Picaro Poetry Prize. 
 
Date: Tuesday 19 April
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 http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/2491/Riverbend+Poetry+Series

Get your tickets this week!

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