Tag Archives: Of Rhythm and Rapture

In Raptures

QPF 2011 raised the poetry bar high last night. From the joyous opening address by Jenny Galligan (Exectutive Director, Arts Development, Arts QLD) the atmosphere was crackling and then the Val Vallis and Thomas Shapcott Awards were announced and the first wave of rapture spread through the audience.

West End local, Rachael Briggs held the room to pin-drop silence with a powerful performance of her Val Vallis award winning sonnet sequence and Brisbane favourite, Nick Powell thrilled with a poem from his Thomas Shapcott Award winning manuscript. Nick’s first full length collection will be published as part of the award and launched at QPF 2012, something I am already looking forward to!

* Get along to see Nick take flight with Sheish Money & co. on Sunday afternoon as they debut their show, Shift (3:15pm, A Crash of Chords, Theatre Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts)

Two poems in to the festival and already the hair on the neck was dancing. And they didn’t stop…

Sandra Thibodeaux, gave us a rhythmic hit of politics, satire, sex and the Australian landscape as she opened Of Rhythm and Rapture; her presence on the stage, lighting up the room. Ah yes… wave of rapture #2.

Sandra was followed by the first of the international guests, Sawako Nakayasu, who delivered a razor sharp series of short poems from the collection, Time of Sky, (translations of the work of Ayane Kawata). This was one that knocked me out:

A scream inside a fish
A table is a table
The raped orange becomes the blue sky

Another favourite was her ‘hamburger nightmare poem’ (from Texture Notes), where the light at the end of the tunnel might just be a lump of fat. Wave of rapture #3…

And closing the first half of the night was the second international guest, Jacob Polley. Jacob opened with his poem Smoke, a poem that sits up there as one of my all time favourites. Hearing it read for the very first time is something I will not forget. Polley’s rich voice, ringing every last note from the poem. You guessed it… wave of rapture #4!

And then after a trip to the book store (more on that later…) and the bar, we were back in and settled for the second half of the show, a solo performance by Kate Fagan. From the outset, Fagan’s voice filled the room, and what a voice it is… clear, bell-like, each note perfectly realised. She moved from guitar to piano to reading poems seamlessly, but it was when she sang A capella, her interpretation of Child Ballad #3, that you knew undoubtedly that you were in the presence of a truly incredible talent.

And here I am this morning… words shivering under the skin ready for another day of words. And I can let you in on a secret… today I will be sitting in on drums as Sheish straps on his guitar and Ashley Capes breathes his words into the mic as part of the set, Torching the Shadows at 11:45am in the Shopfront Space. Going to be a blast!

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A Matter of Disturbance: Talking with Sandra Thibodeaux

A vocal mob are about to descend on our fine city, as the 2011 QLD Poetry Festival is literally just around the corner. I have been bouncing questions back and forth between some of this year’s featured artists, starting with Australian Poetry’s inaugural Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux.

Earlier this year you won the role of Australian Poetry’s inaugural Poet-in-Residence. What have been the highlights of the role so far?

I loved my two trips to Tennant Creek. There are some great (mostly Indigenous female) writers there who always make me remember the important things – the strength of words, the beauty of female solidarity when all the nonsense is stripped away. I sometimes go to Tennant in tatters and leave feeling whole.

I have enjoyed getting to meet so many poets across Australia, both virtually and in real life. I’ve had some great laughs with people like Coral Carter, Amelia Walker, Matt Hetherington, Derek Motion, Nathan Curnow and your good self, Graham!

It’s been satisfying to see people’s ideas spark in the workshops I’ve facilitated. I’ve seen some barriers collapse and some new writing journeys commence in the different classes.

Winning the comedy debate in Katherine – That Books are Better Than Bucking – made me gloat for a few weeks. I’m fiercely competitive in a debate.

My Friendly Street gig in Adelaide was memorable – I’ve never met such hardy folk! Their readings are like one-day cricket matches.

I’d still have to call my recent Darwin gig with Sietta my favourite, though. I really love that band, the crowd was pumped, the open mic was top-notch – a great night.

Your touring schedule has been quite hectic and there is no sign of it slowing down. How has this manifested itself in your creative output?

Luckily, I’ve grouped commitments together so that I travel for a month or so and then stay home for the same amount of time. This has been a good balance. In the home months, I’ve knocked out a play (almost finished now) about a politician who breaks his restraining order two weeks before an election. Also, in the home months, I’ve followed up with workshop participants and written new poems, many of which have been uploaded to the blog.

And, of course, being on the road has been inspiring – I wrote a few poems in Tennant and in Adelaide, and feel some inspiration coming upon me now for Brisbane!

Life on the road will soon land you in QLD, where, as part of QLD Poetry Festival 2011, you will be facilitating a workshop titled, ‘Disturbing the Poem’. Give us the lowdown on some of the techniques of disturbance you will be asking poets to consider.

I tailor-make these classes according to the participants’ needs – they email me their poems ahead of the class. However, in general, I find that we normally work around issues of voice, position, character, structure, metaphor, concrete details, titles and last lines. We do this through exercises, models and reflections. They are active classes, and the participants walk away with a few new poems. Rob Walker, in the Adelaide class, said: ‘I especially appreciated the huge amount of time and thought that you obviously put into our poems in preparation for the workshop. I was blown away that you’d actually gone to the Botanic Gardens to research my obscure trees.’ So, yeah – give me your trees, and I’ll help you bend them towards new sky.

You have been a part of the QLD Poetry Festival family before in 2005. What are your memories of the festival and what are you most looking forward to this year?

I like how you’ve used the word ‘family’! Well, that’s how it felt. I remember Graham and Julie holding hands in the audience once the lights went down. Cute! I was room-mates with Amelia Walker in 2005, and we’ve continued to be friends. I met Yvette Holt for the first time, and we went on to work together on several occasions. I was mesmerised by Hinemoana Baker and knocked out by Ian McBryde – I love his dry wit. I was also struck by the talent and integrity of Kevin Gillam, and we invited him to Darwin last year. And I must say … Graham Nunn’s MCing was superb – I much prefer the snapshot style of introductions you do. They’re so much better than full biographies.

Is there a poem you have recently written that has you more excited than usual?

The ones that have excited me the most are too long for this forum, I feel, but I don’t mind this one:

‘Girl’

Camp dog draws an arc around your fire.
With a flick of your careless head, you allow
her into the warmth when you have a need
of her bristling fur beneath your fingers.
She approaches on careful paws, never asking too much.
Is this why you give her even less?
Her ribs are numbered. When you’re done,
you toss the bones into the ashes,
nudge her away with cracked boots
and leave the number of a disconnected phone.

***************

Catch Sandra at the following QPF 2011 events:

Disturbing the Poem w/ Sandra Thibodeaux
FRIDAY 26 August
10:00am – 1pm

Join Australian Poetry Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux, as she takes you through the art of poetic disturbance. Sandra will be encouraging participants to ‘disturb’ their poems, shifting perspective, place, chronology and voice; playing with economy, resonance, metaphor, structure, colour, and the senses. Such disturbances may unearth new levels to the poetry or may lead to the creation of new works. This active workshop is designed for poets o f various levels. Though not essential, participants will get more out of the workshop if they email drafts of poems a week beforehand.

Where: Queensland Writers Centre, Level 2, State Library of Queensland, Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Brisbane

Cost: $20

To book please contact the Queensland Poetry Festival on 07 3842 9950 or by email at qldpoetry@gmail.com. Places are strictly limited, so get in early.

FRIDAY 26 August:
Of Rhythm and Rapture

Join us for the opening night extravaganza of 2011 Queensland Poetry Festival, Of Rhythm and Rapture.

Lighting up the stage will be poets Sandra Thibodeaux (NT), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Jacob Polley (UK), and singer-songwriter Kate Fagan (NSW).

Acclaimed singer-songwriter and poet Kate Fagan will feature with a very special one-hour feature set showcasing her musical and lyrical talents. This is also the first time Australian audiences will have the opportunity to experience the 2011 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence Jacob Polley’s ‘transcendental’ style, and the textured, eccentric work of Sawako Nakayasu.

It will be a night to set the stage on fire!

Tickets start at $15 and are available now through the Judith Wright Centre on 07 3872 9000 or via their website. Don’t forget to join as at the JWC for the rest of the weekend of FREE poetry and spoken word.

When: Friday 26 August

Time: 7.30pm

Where: Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, 420 Brunswick St Fortitude Valley 4006

SATURDAY 27 August:

Shelter in the Flesh, 2:45pm, SHOPFRONT Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts (Free Entry)

SUNDAY 28 August:

Onward to Infinity, 7:00pm, THEATRE Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts (Free Entry)

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Meet the 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley

Jacob Polley is well and truly set up at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and his residence is already building momentum. His workshop series starts tomorrow night at QLD Writers Centre and he is heading up to Rockhampton for workshops and readings later this week. Here’s a link to an interview he did with ABC Radio’s Kelly Higgins-Devine just after he arrived on our shores.

And remember, if you want to experience Jacob’s transcendental style live, make sure you book yourself a ticket to QLD Poetry Festival’s, opening night event, Of Rhythm and Rapture on Friday August 26. It’s a stellar line up featuring, Jacob Polley (UK), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Australian Poetry’s Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux and acclaimed singer-songwriter, Kate Fagan. Tickets are available here, so book early and don’t miss out.

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2011 QLD Poetry Festival Program is Launched!

It is with great excitement that I announce that the 2011 QLD Poetry Festival Program is launched and available for download from the QPF website. And with that announcement, I can also happily say, tickets for the opening night event, Of Rhythm and Rapture, on Friday August 26 (7:30pm – 10:30pm) are on sale now. 

Opening night is always special and this year’s event boasts an exciting line-up of international and interstate performers including 2011 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Jacob Polley (UK), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Australian Poetry’s 2011 Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux (NT) and singer/songwriter/poet, Kate Fagan (NSW).

Here’s a clip for Kate’s recent single, Clear Water:

Tickets are available now from the Judith Wright Centre Website, so don’t be left standing at the door… book your seats early!

The other ticket that has just gone on sale is for Sandra Thibodeaux’s workshop, Disturbing the Poem. In this workshop, Australian Poetry Poet-in-Residence, Sandra Thibodeaux, will take you through the art of poetic disturbance. Sandra will be encouraging participants to ‘disturb’ their poems, shifting perspective, place, chronology and voice; playing with economy, resonance, metaphor, structure, colour, and the senses. Such disturbances may unearth new levels to the poetry or may lead to the creation of new works. This active workshop is designed for poets of various levels. Though not essential, participants will get more out of the workshop if they email drafts of poems a week beforehand.

The workshop takes place at Queensland Writers Centre, (Level 2, State Library of Queensland, Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Brisbane) on Friday August 26 from 10am – 1pm and tickets are just $20.

To book contact the Queensland Poetry Festival on 07 3842 9950 or email qldpoetry@gmail.com. Places are strictly limited, so get in early.

It’s going to be a massive three days, so for those a little further afield, start thinking about travel arrangements now… with a line up featuring Jacob Polley (UK), Sawako Nakayasu (Japan), Aidan Coleman (SA), Kevin Gillam (WA), Amanda Joy (WA), Kate Fagan (NSW), Matt Hetherington (VIC), Johanna Featherstone (NSW), Louise Oxley (TAS), Jaya Savige and many others, it will be well worth the trip!

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