Tag Archives: QLD Poetry Festival 2010

Why Poetry? The discussion begins…

Avid Reader (193 Boundary St West End) have declared September, ‘Poetry Month’ and to celebrate they are putting on some mighty fine events. The first of these is a discussion / reading taking place this Thursday night. To pick at the seams of the question, ‘Why Poetry?’ they have assembled Bronwyn Lea, Nathan Shepherdson, Ross Clark, Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence Emily XYZ and this Lost Shark.

Full details of the event are:

Date: Thursday September 9
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Venue: Avid Reader, 193 Boundary Rd, West End
Cost: $5.00
Bookings: Call 3846 3422 or book online at: http://www.avidreader.com.au/index.php?option=com_registrationpro&view=event&Itemid=0&did=80&shw_attendees=0

Avid’s monthly magazine is also brimming with poetic musings, reviews and other articles. You can download a copy of it from their website: http://www.avidreader.com.au/ but I thought I would post my article answering the question ‘Why Poetry?’ to get the discussion started…

Why Poetry?

Brisbane is definitely a bright star in the poetry sky, hosting major events such as QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word (August 27-29), The Australian Poetry Slam and the annual Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence Program alongside a number of regular events, including Brisbane’s longest running poetry/spoken word event, SpeedPoets. And now, Avid Reader are throwing a month long poetry party in September, featuring a panel of established poets (incl. Bronwyn Lea, Nathan Shepherdson, Ross Clark, Graham Nunn and 2010 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ) talking about the importance of poetry in our lives and readings from some of the bright new things currently setting the Brisbane poetry scene on fire. So why all this interest in poetry? Well, to give you a short answer, I couldn’t go past this quote from ‘poet laureate of the down and out’, Charles Bukowski:

Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.

For me, what Bukowski is getting at here is poetry’s ability to embrace and elevate all that makes us human. When you hear it, you should be able to see, as if in a flash of lightning, the words crystallise, and if you are open to it, the poem will contain more than images. Poetry invites us to cast off habit and reconsider life with new eyes and at its best, as Emily Dickinson put it, can take the top off your head.

I strongly believe that enjoying poetry is as natural as drawing breath. As a boy I spent many summers sitting beside my father watching Australia’s great fast bowler, Dennis Lillee tear through various batting lineups. Each time the stumps would buckle or Lillee would throw himself into his trademark appeal, shouting ‘Howzat’, my father would look over at my brother and I and say, ‘that was poetry’. Of course my father did not mean that it was literally poetry, he was simply pointing out that Lillee’s bowling had the qualities one normally expects of poetry – grace, surprise, beauty, rhythm. My father was not much of a poetry reader, but he, like all of us, had an idea of what poetry is and should be.

We know this because poetry is not firstly in the words; it is there to be discovered in the current of the river, the rush of the street, the strange angles of a spider’s web, a home cooked meal. Our senses are bombarded with literally thousands of stimulants on a daily basis… poetry is about stripping this back and getting in touch with the things that really matter; finding the truth in the everyday.

When I tell people that I write poetry, a common response is, ‘I don’t really get it’, but the truth is, that is just a reflection of society’s needless mystification of the art. A poem is not an obscure code or linguistic puzzle, if it works, it will speak to you. But remember, it’s a matter of chemistry. Not every song you hear or film you watch will speak to you, likewise, every poem you encounter will not hit the mark, but don’t let that deter you, there is an infinite number of voices and styles waiting to be discovered and when a poem hits, it will cast its spell and make the mind sing; it will engage your imagination and draw you into its universe.

As there are a myriad voices writing poetry today, I thought I would ask a handful of the poets participating in the Avid Reader Poetry Month festivities to get their thoughts.

One of Brisbane’s new voices, Jonathan Hadwen offered this:

“…it’s the way thoughts line up in our minds, a way in which we finally make sense of experiences and situations that have been difficult to understand.  The real power of poetry is in the sharing, as by doing so, we pass on this understanding. Poetry has been around in one form or another since we have had the ability to think and communicate those thoughts, and will be around until we lose those abilities.”

2010 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ responded with zeal:

“Poetry, like all art, is part of the human condition.  The reason people say they ‘don’t get poetry’ is because we are not usually called on to use our minds that way.  Quite the opposite:  ‘daily life’ generally requires us to dumb down and stay in the lower registers of what is possible for the human mind. ‘Why poetry?’ is a question that must be answered anew every few years, and yet the answer never really changes:  because it is resistance to misery.  Because it is a swing against dehumanization and an affirmation of freedom and possibility.  Because it makes jailer-minded people uncomfortable—and that really is something that can (ultimately) (maybe) change the world.”

And, John Koenig answered with a poem of his own:

“trembling under a love blue sky the thesaurus tree bears alphabetical fruit ripening and falling to be caught by slender feminine hands of faith held up in front of inquisitive gun smoke eyes with intriguing lashes curling over the words of sweet sorrow and joyful redemption making darkness and light fill the flowering iris with colour overflowing to flood the optic nerve becoming a raging river running along neural paths synaptic sparks jumping high and igniting the fire of imagination framing the question what does this mean poetry yes that’s right it’s magic”

The one thing each of these responses has in common is the passion and belief in which they are delivered. That is the power of poetry… when it hits, you are never again the same. So why not get along to one of the many poetry events happening in this fine city of ours or to your local independent book store and embark on your own quest to answer this question. The journey could just be life changing.

Look forward to reading other people’s responses to this question,

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Looking back on Ocean Hearted…

This time last weekend, I was in the the thick of QLD Poetry Festival 2010. Fourteen years on, this festival just keeps going from strength to strength. There were far too many poetic highlights to mention… seriously, I couldn’t do it justice, but the real highlight, as always, was the warmth and openness of the festival audience and the artists. Being at QPF is a unique experience and one that I love dearly. My own personal highlight was without a doubt performing in the main theatre of The Judith Wright Centre on Saturday night with Sheish Money & Namedropper, with a backdrop of sublime images from Cindy Keong. It was the strangest feeling…

I had been planning the show for 12months, working with Cindy on the photos, getting the book ready, rehearsing with Sheish and then the band. It was a big process… and then I was up there; the lights hit, the music swelled and I lost myself in the poems; gave myself to them. As soon as we hit the end of the first poem and the band locked straight into the next groove, I knew we were on.

It quite simply flashed by and as Sheish took vocal duties on the last piece – Save Myself / Lessons, I filled with emotion. Sheish and I have been doing this for almost a decade and here we were, surrounded by people we love, still surprising each other, still pushing the creative process. And as the applause rose and we walked off stage, I felt, I had left nothing behind… you can’t ask for anything more than that.

There are already plans to perform this show again, so keep your eyes out for details later in the year.

The photos here were sent through to me by the lovely Angel Kosch (and keep your eye out for official photos on the QLD Poetry Festival website in the coming weeks).

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and the silence is ruptured…

QPF 2010 opened with the sound of minds being blown…

Here’s a few quick pics from John Wainwright to give you a taste of the experience: http://picasaweb.google.com.au/wainwright.john/QPFPoetryRUPTURETHESILENCE?authkey=Gv1sRgCL68gp_SxI2iWQ&feat=email#

More updates and pics to come as the weekend unfolds.

And if you are in QLD, head out and pick up a copy of today’s Courier Mail. Sheish Money and this Lost Shark have a full page photo in the QWeekend liftout, and the article by Frances Whiting is well worth a read. She interviews David Rowbothom, Bruce Dawe, Felicity Plunkett, John Tranter, Zenobia Frost & myself, and there is a great selection of poetry scattered throughout.

Poetry is shining this weekend! See you at the festival: www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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Another Lost Shark talks to Rave & Scene Magazine about QLD Poetry Festival 2010

QLD Poetry Festival 2010 is just one sleep away…

Here’s a couple of interviews that were published this week in the local street press. The first one is courtesy of the delightful Zenobia Frost in Rave Magazine:

INFORMER ARTS: Queensland Poetry Festival – Graham Nunn Interview – Tuesday, 24 August 2010 

ZENOBIA FROST speaks with Brisbane poet GRAHAM NUNN about the annual weekend when Queensland’s poets come out of their dens to play.

Many have suggested collective nouns for poets: a stanza, a paranoia, an elevensies, a lateness – or my favourite, a solace of poets. We scribblers might joke about our hibernation habits, but you’re actually more likely to find Brisbane poets up bright and early on Saturday mornings or out late at night to write, edit, perform and chat with writerly kin. And never are poets more active in their native habitat than at the Judith Wright Centre at the end of August each year. The Queensland Poetry Festival has a long-standing reputation for proving that poetry is neither dead nor unfashionable in Australia. Over a pot of white tea, I spoke with Graham Nunn, a celebrated Brisbane poet who recently released his fifth collection.

Nunn served as the festival’s Artistic Director for several years, and nowadays remains involved with the programming committee; he is a man with his finger on the pulse of Australian writing, so he was the obvious choice to ask: if we see one session at this year’s festival, what should it be? “Opening night,” says Nunn. “There’s a vibrant cross-section of writers coming from across the states, and so many cracker international acts.” Emily XYZ, a festival favourite in 2006 and this year’s poet-in-residence, will light up the stage with performance partner Myers Bartlett, while Nunn believes another distinctive voice in American poetry, August Kleinzahler, will live up to Allan Ginsberg’s description of him as a genius. And rumour has it last year’s poet-in-residence, the gorgeous Hinemoana Baker (NZ) will drop in on opening night on her way to America – definitely a special treat.

The festival is fortunate to have also received a shipment of three fantastic Canadian poets: Jon Paul Fiorentino, author of hilarious collection Asthmatica; multi-award winner Ken Babstock; and sound artist a.rawlings. Nunn is particularly fond of the Canadian voice, and is continually impressed by Canada’s enthusiasm for getting her artists out into the wider world. “We said, ‘Hey, Canada, we want these three poets; can you fly them out here?’ and of course they did,” Nunn says, beaming. “It just seems like Canada doesn’t know how to say no when you ask for things.”

The festival’s second big event is A Million Bright Things, a marathon session at which every poet on the program takes the stage to perform one poem. “This will be a huge highlight,” says Nunn. “It was the surprise hit of 2009. When you think about it, you’re putting 40-odd people on the stage to read one or two poems – that sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen. But it was just brilliant. It went for nearly three hours, and felt like it went like that. It was just a buzz.” So, with this in mind, perhaps it is time for a new collective noun: a hive of poets.

Join a hive of honeyed voices at the QUEENSLAND POETRY FESTIVAL, Judith Wright Centre, Friday Aug 27 – Sunday 29. Tickets for opening night, Rupture The Silence, can be bought at www.judithwrightcentre.com. The rest of the festival is free; find the full program at www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

And this interview comes courtesy of Myjanne Jensen at Scene Magazine:

Festival In Preview

The annual Queensland Poetry Festival is the pinnacle event of the year for all poetry lovers, not only from Queensland but from around Australia and abroad.
Now with the festival rolling into its 14th year, QPF’s Program Committee Co-ordinator Graham Nunn says this year’s celebrations are set to be bigger and better than ever.

Unbeknownst to most, the Queensland Poetry Festival grew out of the old Brisbane Fringe Festival (which originally stemmed from a little space held by the river at South Bank). Now with The Judith Wright Centre as its permanent home, QPF has grown to become the largest poetry festival of its kind in Australia. It has led the way for Australian poetry, establishing and displaying the multitude of talent Australia boasts.

“Australia has so many great poets who write in so many different styles and that’s what’s great about poetry – there’s not any one genre,” explains Nunn. “The ability of poetry to really encapsulate moments, place, time; it’s like oral history.”

As QPF Program Committee Co-ordinator, Graham has been writing seriously for the last ten years, originally starting out as a musician writing lyrics for different bands he was playing in. A turning point in his life meant the budding poet was forced to choose between pursuing the life of a musician or falling back onto his other love, teaching. Deciding the latter would most likely be the job to pay the bills, Nunn went on to teach in the country and it was during this period that he discovered his love for writing went far beyond song lyrics. “There was no music scene in the place where I was teaching and because I’d always written lyrics, my songs just turned into me writing poetry,” he explains.

Returning to Brisbane in the late 1990s, Nunn found himself facilitating every possible opportunity to jump up and have his words heard by the public. “In 2000 I just haunted every place that had a microphone turned on and I’d get up and perform some of the pieces I’d written,” he says.

“It’s not only the feedback from the audience, it’s great feedback for yourself about how the words sound because things can sound really different to you in your own head than they do when you’re actually standing up in front of people.”

In 2001 Nunn was invited to co-run the Queensland Poetry Festival and in 2004 was thrown in the deep end, taking over as the festival’s director. Despite a bit of a rocky start, it was an experience he says is still one of the highlights of his time working with the event and something he will carry with him forever.

“Oh my god, to be honest, the first year I got involved I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Luckily we got through it though and I look back on it now and think it was an amazing festival,” he tells.

“Katie Noonan at the time had a band called Elixir and I asked her if she would be interested in turning a poet’s poems into songs and putting it to music. Katie came back and said she’d really love to do it with the work of Thomas Shapcott, who is a bit of a Queensland icon in poetry. When they performed that night it, for me, is still one of the most outstanding things I’ve ever been involved with because Thomas was on stage, looking at them (Elixir) and going, ‘Geez, that’s my poem’ and they (Elixir) were looking at him when he was reading the poem going, ‘Oh my god, that’s the poem’ – it was amazing.”

This year’s festival, running over three days, will draw poetic voices from local, national and international artists, with more than 50 poets packed into 25 spoken word sessions.

In her second time performing, acclaimed US spoken word artist and 2010 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ, will headline the opening night celebrations, ‘Rupture The Silence’, alongside fellow American and one of Nunn’s personal favourites, August Kleinzahler.

“The opening night is always a cracker of a night and this year is going to be no different,” says Nunn.

“I know I’m immensely looking forward to seeing August Kleinzahler because he has been a hero of mine for many years. For me he’s one of the great American voices.”

So whether or not you’re into poetry, make sure to check out and support the best of what Australian poetry has to offer at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival.

QPF runs from August 27-29 at the Judith Wright Centre.

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See you on the weekend!

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Free Double Pass to QLD Poetry Festival Opening Night

Well, the title of this post just about says it all…

The first person to comment on the blog telling me what they are most looking forward to about the QLD Poetry Festival will receive the double pass to this Friday’s (August 27) opening night event, Rupture the Silence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

I will then contact the winner to inform them of how to pick up their tickets via email…

Good luck everyone, and see you at the festival: www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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Rupture the Silence

QLD Poetry Festival is only a few short weeks away and tickets for the opening night show, ‘Rupture the Silence’ are selling quickly. 

Rupture the Silence will feature readings and performances from Andrew Taylor (WA), Jon Paul Fiorentino (Canada), August Kleinzahler (USA) and Emily XYZ (USA). This event will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of what is shaping up to be one of the finest festivals in QPF’s 14 year history, so don’t hesitate… book your tickets early to avoid disappointment!

Date: Friday August 27
Time: 7:30pm – 10:30pm
Venue: Performance Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts
Tickets:

Full (Web/Phone/Door) $25 / Concession (Web/Phone/Door) $18
Groups of 5 or more (Web/Phone/Door) $18 / Concession (Web/ Phone/Door) $15
School Groups – Students $15 / Teachers $25 (one free teacher with every 10 students)

Booking: Phone 3872 9000 or online at http://www.jwcoca.qld.gov.au/02_cal/details.asp?ID=855

 And here’s a taste of what you can expect when QLD Poetry Festival 2010: spoken in one strange word kicks off and the silence is well and truly ruptured!

 

 

And while you are at it, why not head on over to the QLD Poetry Festival website and check out the expansive list of artist interviews. Just click on the 2010 Festival tab for interviews with Jon Paul Fiorentino (Canada), Kelly Lee Hickey, Andrew Taylor, Jean Kent, Les Wicks, Martin Langford, Ross Donlon and many others.

Happy listening/reading… see you at QPF 2010!

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Talking with the poets about QPF

QLD Poetry Festival 2010 is edging closer… and to help everyone get to know the artists better, the good folk at QPF have been conducting some exciting interviews.

The first two interviews posted on www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com are with Andrew Burke and Susan Hawthorne. They talk about their inspirations and influences, the importance of festivals, publishing and their own evolution as writers.

To find them just visit the site, run your cursor over the 2010 Festival button and click on Artist Interviews. Be sure to keep your eye on the site over the next few weeks as there are many more interviews to be posted!

Tickets for opening night are also now on sale… and believe me, you don’t want to miss this event aptly titled Rupture the Silence, featuring Andrew Taylor (WA), Jon Paul Fiorentino (Canada), August Kleinzahler (USA) & Emily XYZ w/ Myers Bartlett performing her dynamic works for two voices.

Details are:

Date: Friday August 27
Time: 7:30pm – 10:30pm
Venue: Performance Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts
Tickets:
Full (Web/Phone/Door) $25 / Concession (Web/Phone/Door) $18
Groups of 5 or more (Web/Phone/Door) $18 / Concession (Web/ Phone/Door) $15
School Groups – Students $15 / Teachers $25 (one free teacher with every 10 students)
Booking: Phone 3872 9000 or online at http://www.jwcoca.qld.gov.au/02_cal/details.asp?ID=855

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