Tag Archives: Ross Clark

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,

13 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

In the Red Chamber

Just back from a cracking reading held in the gorgeous Red Chamber of Old Parliament House.

The evening opened with a reading from Ross Clark, who read a great new poem, The Death of Jazz (one to keep your eye out for). Next up were Emily XYZ & Myers Bartlett who totally nailed their set, opening with bill of rights: prologue, the whole room reverberating as they echoed, ‘You are called upon to deliberate those things which are essential to liberty.’ Never has a poem seemed so at home… every politician needs to hear this poem! They then went straight into the second part of the poem, Separation of Church and State. So good! Here’s a clip of them performing it at Cornelia St Cafe in 2008.

And to close the night, John Tranter gave us a selection of poems from his soon to be released collection, Starlight: 150 poems. His reimaginings of Charles Baudelaire’s poems from Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) were a real highlight. I totally recommend checking out the selection Tranter has published on his website: Starlight Selection. His reading of Paradise was particularly mesmerising. Can’t wait to get my hands on this collection.

And now, it’s time for dreaming…

2 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

Brisbane Poetry Gig Guide: April 9

Friday April 17
 
Contraverse launches into 2009 at The Book Nook, Boundary St. West End from 7pm with Round Robin Open Mic and a feature set from Miss Ruby Fizz herself, Zenobia Frost. Entry is free.
 
 
 
Saturday April 18
 
Words or Whatever is Brisbane’s newest gig. All the Spoken Word, Slam, Hip-Hop and Subversion takes place from 6:30pm at Black Star Cafe, 44 Thomas Street, West End. The April gig features performances by LESSONMC, SURREAL, MANTIST, TRIKS & CHARLIE CHOCOLATE. Get along and check it out!
 
 
 
Sunday April 26
 
Acoustics on Sunday

Sunday 26th April, 12 noon – 2:15pm in the Sound and Vision Lounge, Level One Brisbane Square Library. The live sounds keep coming! Some of Brisbane’s finest singer songwriters will be performing in the library on the last Sunday of each month and for the month of April, don’t miss the original sounds of:
 
GHOSTBOY & FRIENDS

Join local performance artist & surrealist spoken word ringmaster Ghostboy as he directs a stripped down eye into the void with his muse & sister singer-songwriter Skye Staniford (Golden Virtues/ We All  Want To). And to round it all off square, he will also present two of  his underground f(r)iends in local sci-fi hip hop genre bender Darkwing Dubs as well as Graham Nunn & Sheish Money – poetry’s answer to the ocean call.

Acoustics on Sunday @ Brisbane Square Library, April 26, 12:00pm – 2:15pm featuring Darkwing Dubs, Ghostboy & Skye Staniford + Graham Nunn & Sheish Money. Entry is Free!

 

Sunday April 26 
 
Ahimsa House proudly supports the local community-based poetry group in West End—The Kurilpa Poets. The next gig is Sunday, 26th April 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). 
 
Our feature poet for April is Brent Downes. Brent is a dynamic, innovative, gifted and talented poet, writer, artist and performer from Brisbane. Brent can be found loitering with creative intent at most of Brisbane’s spoken-word events. He is the new MC and host of the long running, avant-garde West End poetry group, Contraverse.
 
In November 2008 he launched his first book of poetry Coat of Arms. This first, seminal book decisively probes modern, urban, romantic, lyrical, expressive, and conversational themes. His poetry fearlessly explores subjects you may or may not hear in a confessional! Hypnotic, cryptic off rhymes, off beat suburban lines, music for the end times, whispered declarations of post-coital love, yelled portents of sex and apocalypse, the last taste of wine on your lips—all pepper his provocative and enigmatic verse. Don’t miss a stellar performance from one of the young lions of the Brisbane poetry scene!
 
For more information please phone Vij Chandra on 0411 033181, or e-mail a message to kurilpapoets@yahoo.com.au
 
 
 
Tuesday April 28
 
Poetry on the Deck
 
Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the second Poetry on the Deck event for 2009. Join us on the Riverbend deck and enjoy the rural sounds of Longreach poet, Helen Avery (Seduced by Sky) alongside established local voices Rosanna Licari and Philip Neilsen (Without an Alibi) and emerging poet, Sophia Nugent-Siegal (Oracle).
 
Date: Tuesday 28 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/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2199
 
The first event for the year was a huge success, with tickets selling out quickly, so book early to avoid disappointment!
 
 

Saturday May 2
 
Bruce Dawe launches A Good Harvest (Post Pressed, 2009) by celebrated Queensland poet, Maureen Freer. The launch will feature readings of Maureen’s poetry by Ross Clark. Drinks and nibbles will also be served.
 
Where: In the Red Chamber, Parliament House
When: Saturday May 2, 2-4 pm.
All welcome. Free.

Maureen Freer is one of  this state’s best-known and loved poets. Indeed, as Bruce Dawe has said, ‘She is one of our most immediately accessible poets, and one who has established a firm reputation over many years’. She has received a number of awards including the Premier’s Poetry Prize 1987 and the Order of Australia for services to Australian literature, 1984. She was Chair/Convenor of the Brisbane Writers Festival from the early Warana days for fourteen years, and also chaired the 1982 Commonwealth Writers Week.

Maureen was the first person to organise a poetry reading in the Red Chamber — featuring Tom Shapcott, Bruce Dawe, David Rowbotham, John Blight and Rodney Hall. It’s appropriate, then, that what is probably her final collection of verse is launched there also.

 

Sunday May 3

SpeedPoets is back for Round 3 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 May 3 from 2:00pm – 5:00pm. The May event features the delicate beauty of Ichabod’s Crane: http://www.myspace.com/ichabodscranemusic. This Brisbane ensemble conjures the sounds of horses being ridden on sand and snake tails speeding beneath gumboots… music to be shipwrecked to! There will also 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 May 3 @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm. 2:00pm – 5:00pm.

 

then get along to…

 

The launch of The Voyage, a poetry chapbook concerning the adventures of Zenobia Frost with illuminations by Bettina Walsh.

Time: 7:00pm
!Metro Arts Basement
109 Edward Street, Brisbane
Featuring [~support act TBA~]
$5 entry / free drinks and nibblies
http://zenobiafrost.wordpress.com/

Presented by SweetWater Press

Leave a comment

Filed under events & opportunities