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.
See you on the weekend!