Tag Archives: spoken in one strange word

spoken in one strange word 2012: The Sunday Wrap

… and before I can blink the sleep out of my eyes, I am back at The Judith Wright Centre, ready for the double helping of words on offer; Storm and Honey featuring performances from Doubting Thomas & Eleanor Jackson (aka DJ Thought Fox and MC Lady Lazarus) and Andrew Phillips & Tiggy Johnson + the launch of Nicholas Powell’s ‘Thomas Shapcott Award-Winning’ debut collection, Water Mirrors (UQP 2012).

Knowing that I can catch Nick reading later in the day, I opt for Storm and Honey and this is richly rewarded. Thought Fox & Lady Lazarus open up with a performance that has them embodying Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, re-imagining their lives through their own performances and interpretations of interviews and poems, alongside readings from both Plath and Hughes with the most stunning visual imagery creating a swirling backdrop (and later in the day Doubting Thomas is rewarded for his mastery of the poetic film, taking out the QPF Filmmakers Challenge). Thought Fox and Lazarus are captivating on the stage, their interaction crackling with energy. It’s the perfect poetry hair-of-the-dog to get the day kickstarted… intensely dark and joyous and I would kill to watch it all over again.

From there, we are taken on a full 360 degree spin with a life-affirming performance from Phillips and Johnson. They take us into the heart of their families, then skillfully and fearlessly, allow us to experience some of their most intimate moments. The reading is taken from their dual collection, That Zero Year, which I was honoured to write a blurb for. This is what I had to say:

From the sudden weight of Thirteen Weeks to the biting complaints of Fishing, That Zero Year, screams with joy.These poems form a dialogue of love and loss; unpicking stitches in the family weave to welcome us to the bedside table of these most private moments. Here, we witness breath-taking devastation – the missing knee in the chest, the remembered rub of a belly – and wide-eyed wonder – a smile wriggled through to the toes. That Zero Year is an unflinching celebration of breath and blood. Phillips and Johnson know what it is to be alive and we are richer for it.

This is a collection that I strongly recommend you seek out. You can do so by contacting author, Andrew Phillips via his blog. And their reading… earnest, heartfelt, wonderfully human!

So with a buzz in the temples I eagerly take in the opening of Whisper Me Awake. I have the pleasure of catching the majority of Vanessa Page’s reading and she proves just why her work has been shortlisted in the Thomas Shapcott Award in 2011 and 2012. Her voice is assured, her words ringing with the fullness of the heart. If you have not yet acquainted yourself with Vanessa’s work, you can do so here, and believe me… she is a poet to watch!

From here, I am on dad duty (the most wonderful duty in the known universe), so it’s not until the 3:15pm sessions, Through These Paper Walls and Sharp With Sparks, that I get my next poetry fix. And what a fix… first up I take in Robert Adamson’s last reading for the festival. Hearing Robert read is a wonderful experience… his voice, lifts the words gently from page to ear; easy as breathing. Highlight is not even close to describing Robert’s readings… his presence at the festival has had a profound impact on me. Then it’s off to the Theatre to catch the end of Nicholas Powell’s reading and the first half of the man I described as having the best fingernails in poetry, Steve Smart. Nick is dazzingly relaxed while Steve is poised and menacing. It’s a great combination! And then it’s back to the Shop Front to hear Paul Summers, close the session with another rousingly witty reading. His lyricism is sharp and his keen eye for detail takes us into the heat of each moment. Before QPF I was not familiar with Paul’s work… thankfully, I am now.

For me, it’s now a long stint working the book store, where I am fortunate to have incredible conversations with Robert Adamson and Jill Jones. Working the store is a real pleasure and a great chance to connect with many of the festival punters, all of whom are brimming with festival energy.

And then, in what seems an instant, we are all rolling in to the Theatre for the final session of the festival, Evening Draws Back The Sun. There are many stunning performances, but the closing trio of Darkwing Dubs, a.rawlings and Tylea showcase the vastly different styles that QPF so elegantly unites on the same stage.

Dubs is a master of the blackly comic, bringing the room to its knees as he surges through a treasure trove of Saturday morning super heroes and threatens to slap an orangutan in the face; but he can also kick hard… delivering a slap to the senses with a poem that takes a child’s-eye look at domestic violence. a.rawlings then delivers a superb reading from her collection, Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists. Her presence on stage is magnetic, her voice control, thrilling. Having angela with us in Brisbane as Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence for the past two months has been nothing short of inspirational. And then, Tylea hits a big open chord, heavy with delay and sends the most delicious shiver right through to my toes. Like rawlings, she is impossible to look away from… her easy manner and delightful banter (school fetes, jumping castles and sick children) hold the audience captive allowing the emotion of her songs to burst inside us all. Tylea closes the festival by inviting Pascalle Burton on stage, to pay tribute to Yoko Ono. It’s a rush and the perfect way to sing QPF to sleep for another year…

Before I sign off, I have to pay tribute to Sarah Gory, Talina McKenzie and the volunteer committee. I hope you are all, like me, high on festival spirit. QPF is the pinnacle of our poetry community; the fire that brings us all together and I for one, am incredibly proud to have sat by its warmth.

Til next year…

1 Comment

Filed under events & opportunities

spoken in one strange word 2012: The Saturday Wrap

The 16th annual QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word filled the Judith Wright Centre with a sweet rush of language… that language came in the form of poetry, music, film, conversation and community.  From the sparks of Friday night’s showcase, Tongues of Flame, the crowd surged back for the Saturday morning program, which opened with one of my personal highlights, a conversation with 2012 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence, a.rawlings and Robert Adamson.

The session was titled ‘Since Beginningless Time‘, and in the hour-long conversation, I talked to Robert about his passion for fishing, the Hawkesbury River, birds and Bob Dylan; and to a.rawlings about the language of water, tackling the QLD ornithological lexicon and how she applies the concepts of reduce, reuse, recycle to her work. It was illuminating and both artists were incredibly generous in their responses; Robert happily telling stories,  including one about how, as a boy, he stole a rifle bird from Taronga Zoo to capture its image on paper and how he elaborately cared for it by using a number of electric frying pans to provide heat and humidity in the cage; and a.rawlings playing us a recording of the Coral Sea from her recent trip to Arcadia Bay on Magnetic Island, alongside a recording of a hot spring in Iceland, while talking about the unique quality of their cadence. The hour came and went all too soon, but the large audience that had gathered happily charged off to the bookstore to do some ‘informed shopping’ and then hit the first reading of the day, a session with its title taken from one of Robert’s books, Reading the River.

Reading the River was a celebration of all things Brisbane; a live collage of photographs and poetic snippets swirling on the big screen, while Michelle Dicinoski, Chris Lynch, Carmen Leigh-Keates and Ella Jeffery, read poems from the vast QLD canon (including works by Val Vallis, Jaya Savige, David Malouf, Samuel Wagan-Watson, David Rowbotham, Gwen Harwood and Judith Wright) as well as their own work. It seemed an absolutely perfect way to opening the first full day of readings, grounding us all in the extraordinary beauty of this great city and its almighty river.

From there, I caught the session, Strands on the Pillow, featuring Kathryn Lomer, Ray Liversidge and Nathan Curnow. Kathryn opened with a sequence of poems about some of her favourite places in Tasmania; her eye for natural detail, drawing the whole audience in to her world. After talking with him extensively in the lead up to QPF, it was a great pleasure to hear Ray read from his forthcoming collection, No Suspicious Circumstances; my personal favourite, his poetic portrait of Dylan Thomas. And then, what followed was for me, one of the readings of the festival… Nathan Curnow read a selection of poems from his latest collection, Radar (a two-in-one collection alongside Kevin Brophy published by Walleah Press). Not only was the work incredibly strong, for example…

she leaps like a turtle
swims like a victim
can’t trust herself to float
she throws like a creature who has just discovered
the basic mechanics of their arm

but she delivers babies
and sometimes a baby  comes falling
head-first toward the ground
then she will make that catch
that terrifying catch

she doesn’t know how to drop them

(from the poem, The Midwife)

but he was present in every word… his delivery, the perfect mix of relaxed and confident. It was really something!

Next up, I danced between the two sessions, Run of Verses and An Accidental Grace, taking in Northumbrian come Emu Park resident,  Paul Summers, whose physical energy matched that of his poetry so perfectly; an epic reading from Cameron Hindrum, which brought joy to the words that fill the pages of his debut collection, Private Conversations, which I had the great pleasure of publishing; and from New Zealand, Marty Smith, whose poems kicked as hard as the horses she wrote about. The run between the two rooms was most definitely worth it!

And after a quick stop at the bookstore (the wallet is definitely haemorrhaging), I again made the run between two sessions… starting by diving off The Edge of Chaos, with a superb reading by David Stavanger. No one, and I mean no one, can read a poem and interact with the audience as seamlessly as David does and it is a real pleasure to watch. Then I zipped off to The Phrasebook of Silence to catch the last of Jill Jones, a reading by another of the New Zealand guests, Nicola Easthope, who gave us a big-hearted set of poems about her Orkney Island heritage; and to close a reading from the masterful Robert Adamson. Robert’s work has had a profound impact on me, so to have the opportunity to speak with him and hear him read his work on the weekend was somewhat of a dream come true.

Then it was time to eat… something that is often forgotten when you are being sustained by words… but only food would suffice with the one two punch of A Million Bright Things and Pierce the Salty Darkness looming!

A Million Bright Things has become a QPF institution… a session that showcases one poem from every poet on the program; the ultimate poetic sampler you might say. I have had the immense pleasure of MC’ing this wordy behemoth since its inception back in 2008 and it has become well known as my annual cardio workout!

Tonight’s event had something a little special too, opening with the debut performance of a.rawlings’ Sound Poetry and Visual Poetry Project, Gibber. This was a complete rush… there was a live twitter stream featuring writers from across the globe (including my lovely wife, Julie Beveridge, and past QPF guests, Tim Sinclair and emily XYZ), sound recordings sampling the natural poetics of Queensland’s vast landscape; guest poet, Nicholas Powell reading his poetic response to Gibberbird, Q, Without My Female Typist; local poets, Chloe Callistemon & Tamara Lazaroff sounding off; Maja Jantar collaborating live via skype; and of course, a.rawlings intoning, speaking, gargling, whispering and making an all round glorious cacophony as only she can do! The performance was filmed, so hopefully this appears somewhere soon and when it does, I will be sure to link it.

And then we were into it… the full-on swirl of some 40+ poets, each lighting up the mic with what they do best… and it all happens in just under 90mins. It really is the most amazing high! But the night doesn’t end there!

Its a quick rush to the bar and back into the shopfront space, to catch what is for me, the second highlight of the festival, the session, Pierce the Salty Darkness, featuring Bremen Town Musician and Max Ryan & Where Were You At Lunch. Bremen Town was in a slightly stripped back mode, featuring driving force Marisa Allen on violin and vocals with two different drummers,;the absolute standout, the closing track where Allen makes her violin roar and quiver over the hypnotic drum beat of Mayuresh Sathe.

Then to bring the night to a close, Max Ryan and WWYAL rumble on stage and deliver one of the most rollicking sets ever seen at QPF. The band are fierce, Pete Emptage on bass shaking and hollering like a tasered man, Samaan Fieke squeezing the most out of every guitar string and Kishore Ryan, making the kit sound like thunder; while out front, Max Ryan is in full-throated glory, his words rattling in the four chamber of the audience’s collective heart. The love on stage is big, and throughout the set, they don’t miss a beat, delivering us home with the exquisite beauty of the title track off their debut album, Before We Lose Each Other Again. Their album is going to be on repeat this week, and I have no doubt will make my top 5 of the year!

Singing, ‘Before we lose each other again…’ I walked out into the Valley night, knowing I had witnessed something extraordinary and smiling at the prospect of coming back tomorrow to do it all again!

10 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities

Three Great Poetry Competitions!

There has been a lot of talk about literary prizes in QLD since the recent axing of the QLD Premiers Literary Awards, but never fear, we are still providing some of the leading poetry opportunities in the country! Here’s three great poetry competitions coming your way courtesy of QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word & Arts QLD.

1. Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award for Unpublished Poetry

Named in honour of one of QLD’s finest poets, the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award for Unpublished Poetry is committed to encouraging poets Australia wide. Entrants may submit multiple times, with each entry accompanied by a separate entry form and a separate entry fee.

Entry Fee : $20

Entries close 5pm Tuesday 10 July 2012.

1st Prize : $1,000 plus 1 week fully paid at Varuna Writers House
2nd Prize : $500
3rd Prize : $250

Download guideline and submission forms:  Entry form Val Vallis Award 2012

*****

2. Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize

Named in honour of a distinguished Queensland Poet, the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize is committed to encouraging Queensland poets, who have a manuscript ready for publication. Now in its 9th year, this prestigious prize for an unpublished poetry manuscript comes with a total prize money of $3,000 together with a publishing contract with University of Queensland Press.

Entry fee: $20

Entries close by 5pm Thursday 12 July 2012.

Download guideline and submission forms:  Entry form Thomas Shapcott Prize 2012

The winners of both these awards will be announced at the opening night of the Queensland Poetry Festival at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts, on 24 August 2012.

*****

3. The 2012 QPF Filmmakers Challenge

The Queensland Poetry Festival Filmmakers Challenge explores the arena where poetic expression and audio-visual technology collide.

We challenge filmmakers, video artists, poets, and all multimedia practitioners to create a short work (5 mins max); a record of poetry performance, a video text manipulation or something entirely different.

Poetry is defined broadly as memorable language. We are looking for originality; creativity; a piece that shows your understanding of the many varied and wonderful possibilities of language.

The winner will be announced at the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival and the winning entry, along with a selection of shortlisted entries, will be screened at the festival (24 – 26 August).

Selection panel: angela rawlings (2012 Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence), Francis Boyle (QPF Program Committee), Talina McKenzie (QPF Programs Coordinator)

Prize: $500 is up for grabs!

Entries close 5pm, Thursday 19 July 2012.

Download guideline & submissions form here.

1 Comment

Filed under events & opportunities

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.

—————————————

See you on the weekend!

2 Comments

Filed under interviews/artist profiles

QLD Poetry Festival Fever: interviews with Emily XYZ & Jeremy Balius

Well the street press are brimming with interviews with some of the artists who are just days away from turning Brisbane into the poetry capital of this country.

So for those people who can’t pick up a copy I have decided to repost them here. First up here is the interview with Jeremy Balius from this week’s Time Off Magazine:

A MAN OF HIS WORDS

The Queensland Poetry Festival takes over the Judith Wright Centre next week; HERE HELEN STRINGER talks to one of its performers, Perth poet Jeremy Balius.

The mention of spoken word poetry might conjure images of a smoky basement room filled with black-cloaked figures gently clicking their fingers in approval as a pale, malnourished, art school dropout woefully laments the demise of intellectualism in rhyming couplets and a dry monotone, but it’s a misconception that Perth-based poet and performer Jeremy Balius – soon to be in town for the Queensland Poetry Festival – is quick to dispel.
The reality, he explains, is a lot more engaging and evocative than the traditional “Beatnik berets and black turtlenecks” perception would suggest.
“Spoken word as a scene or an experience is a lot closer to what you would experience in theatre,” he says. “So the reasons for going to the theatre would outweigh the reasons for going to the cinema because the actual human emotion element is happening in front of you. That’s what’s going on with spoken word poetry. You’re experiencing it in real time; it’s happening in front of you. It’s a whole lot more engaging than the cliché back-room hokey perception.”
Originally from Los Angeles, Balius – who describes his own work as “more vehement and excitable than the usual” – came across spoken word through music: “the writing of it came from being heavily involved in music and being lyrically bent. The more and more you head down that path you end up coming to the end result which is poetry.”
His immersion in the world of poetry – aside from writing and performing he’s also ventured into indie publishing with Black Rider Press – has lead to his appearance at the Queensland Poetry Festival, an honour, he jokes that must be a “clerical error”. As he says, “it’s completely amazing that of the people coming from WA I’m coming up with Andrew Taylor and Andrew Burke, two stalwarts in WA. These guys are pinnacles in the poetry scene and that alone is a huge honour for me.”
While performance is obviously inherent to all spoken word, Balius is particularly diligent in delineating between printed and spoken poetry.
“I’m probably more militant on this issue than most people… It’s hard to separate myself from the performance aspect. When I read work that I’m going to perform bound within it is the delivery and the movement and the drama of it all and the personal engagement with the audience… It’s about being able to step up on stage and deliver and people just being so blown away that they’re actively responding; they’re so in the moment and not containing themselves.”
Indeed, he’s probably one of the few poets who can claim the dubious honour of having evoked a response so uncontained they’re forced off stage for fear of provoking a riot. Admittedly, the event in question occurred after a band Balius was performing spoken word with was mistakenly booked to play a Bhangra – a very specific type of Indian dance music – festival.
“It went sour so fast and people responded with such vehemence and youthful jubilee that quickly the pandemonium rose to where there’re guys starting to fight and there’s just complete chaos. We got cut after the second song.”
Thankfully, audience responses are usually more positive and rarely involve violent retaliation.
“My favourite response is not even a favourable one but I use it as my mantra. Someone came up to me and he said, ‘You should probably know that we don’t get people like you around here that often…I think I liked it but I don’t know if I should.’” It’s an apt mantra for a spoken word poet: I liked it, but I don’t know if I should.

WHAT: Queensland Poetry Festival
WHERE & WHEN: Judith Wright Centre Friday 27 August to Sunday 29

And here is a recent interview with Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence Emily XYZ from this week’s Rave Magazine:

New York performance poet EMILY XYZ tells ZENOBIA FROST about her residency at The Judith Wright Centre.

You could call Emily XYZ a punk poet – a brilliant spoken word renegade who’s been making words sound good for 30 years. Brisbane wasn’t even on her radar before 2006, when an invitation from the board of the Queensland Poetry Festival came “completely out of the blue.” The poetry community liked her so much that four years later we asked her back, this time as Queensland Writers’ Centre poet-in-residence – a coveted three-month stay in an apartment above the Judith Wright Centre to write and to engage with local poets and audiences.

But XYZ didn’t start out life wanting to be a poet. “I was in a punk band in my 20s,” she tells me, “but the band broke up. I wanted to continue writing lyrics – but I realised that in order to do that, for the lyrics to stand on their own, they were going to have to be really compelling.”

XYZ studied poetry in college (dropping in and out of a few degrees before dropping out for good), but found more inspiration in the music of Patti Smith and David Bowie than on the page. “Somebody lent me Ziggy Stardust when I was 17,” she muses, “and it just made sense to me – the whole idea of a concept album, something with direction.” So it was that words came to be “secondary to music” in Emily XYZ’s work. Rather than detracting from its poeticness (I hereby deem that a word), XYZ’s influences and aims culminated in a powerful, rhythmic style, further honed once she joined forces with performance partner Myers Bartlett.

I was very much a beginner when it came to poetry in 2006, and until then I’d found more solace in print than on stage. Seeing XYZ and Bartlett perform was just damn cool, and certainly made me reconsider the way I thought about the sound and rhythm of my work, even on the page – but their 2006 visit spanned a mere weekend. This time we have 90 days to learn from Emily XYZ. Weekly workshops at Queensland Writers Centre have been such a success that XYZ hopes to extend the series well into September. Her performances around Brisbane have taken her from Avid Reader to SpeedPoets to alongside Ghostboy & The Golden Virtues at Swallow & Exit.

“People actually care about the writing scene here,” says XYZ, putting Queensland’s dwindling arts funding situation in perspective. “In the US, there’s the Lincoln Centre and the Getty Museum, but that’s about it for funding. No arts organisation the size of Queensland Poetry Festival would be able to import talent!”

Since 2005, QWC and QPF have been making sure international poetry makes a zing in the lives of local poets through the residency program, and each writer has left a unique legacy. One of Emily XYZ’s major writing projects is an unusual venture – a Twitter poem called 90 Days in Brisbane. Dip into it for a daily taste of her vibrant work: that ride home after workshop is sweet / focus over, story bridge is like a carousel & judy glows at other end friendly blue in the dark.

Book a workshop through the Queensland Writers Centre: www.qwc.asn.au, or come and see EMILY XYZ at the Queensland Poetry Festival, August 27 to 29: www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

And finally here is a link to another interview with Jeremy Balius in Scene Magazine.

The excitement is building…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under events & opportunities, interviews/artist profiles

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

Leave a comment

Filed under events & opportunities, interviews/artist profiles

spoken in one strange word

Last night at Riverbend Books a crowd of 70+ gathered on the deck eager to get the first glimpse of the 2010 QLD Poetry Festival: spoken in one strange word program. And no one went home disappointed, with stunning feature sets from Suzanne Jones, Darkwing Dubs and Ynes Sanz, all of whom will be perfoming at QPF 2010.

The full program (including artist bios) is now available online at www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com and it is a program that I am very excited about!

QPF 2010 features six international artists – Emily XYZ (USA), Jon Paul Fiorentino (Canada), Angela Rawlings (Canada), Ken Babstock (Canada) and August Kleinzahler (USA) alongside more than 30 performers from all over Australia including Andrew Taylor (WA), Kelly-Lee Hickey (NT), Andy Jackson (VIC), Les Wicks (NSW) and Bruce Dawe (QLD) as well as a session paying tribute to one of Australia’s finest poets, Judith Wright and the much loved, A Million Bright Things, featuring every poet on the program.

And while I am speaking of A Million Bright Things, another highlight of last night’s event was the launch of the CD featuring 16 red hot performances from the A Million Bright Things session at QPF 2009. Readers included Adam Phillips, Zenobia Frost and Jeffery Harpeng as well as members of the QPF Committee performing a selection of poems. It was a buzz to hear these poems light up the winter night and to celebrate, I have 5 copies of the CD available for $12 incl. postage to send to the first five people who email me at geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au.

Here’s the track listing:

1. Jane Williams – Attention to Detail
2. Jayne Fenton Keane – A Jazz Poem for Miles Davis
3. Adam Phillips – Gem Cutter
4. Bremen Town Musician – Sailor (filmed live at A Million  Bright Things 2009)
5. Angela Costi – Grandmother Maroulla’s Liturgy
6. Geoff Goodfellow – Blue Sky Mornings
7. Maurice McNamara – Elizabeth’s Baby Cries
8. Brianna Carpenter – Jacqueline
9. Elizabeth Bachinsky – Tips On Performing From My Mother
10. AF Harrold – Beowulf
11. Rob Morris, Sheish Money & Graham Nunn – Vegemite
12. Barbara Temperton – Purl
13. Jeffrey Harpeng – Horse Tail
14. Zenobia Frost – Bathing with Neil Gaiman
15. Hinemoana Baker & Christine White – Talk You Up
16. Neil Murray – Anywhere Tonight

Am looking forward to sending the copies out to some very lucky listeners!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under poetry & publishing, who listens to the radio?

Just Kissed Goodbye… Some memories of QPF 2009

QPF 2009 may have just been kissed goodbye, but the words of the 40+ artists who took to the stage continue to resonate in the heads and hearts of the thousands who attended. I am certain that these words will form the seed of many new poems, new friendships, new dialogues and to quote Ferlinghetti, ‘give voice to the tongueless streets’. This quote, alongside ‘wake up, the world is on fire’ (Ferlinghetti), and ‘spoken in one strange word’ (Judith Wright) were written in bold lettering across the windows of The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. These words breathed life into the shopfront space, which was a new (and may I add, very successful) venue for QPF 2009 and set the tone for an amazing weekend of words.

From the Official Opening where I had the privilege of reading the winning poem from this years Arts QLD Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem – The Severant by Andrew Slattery, the festival simply hummed. I would love to share with you a couple of lines from the winning poem… words that will undoubtedly stay with me:

We have ammended the world.
As I walk home I unpick the seams from the footpaths.

Each muscle locomotes my frame.
I wear my suit and walk into the vista city;

through the old mine with its pile of coal like a dead whale;
past the doctor who repaired my chest;

past the tailor who sews spines
into standing men as they wait.

Throughout the festival, there are many other lines that etched themselves into the very fabric of my being… here are a few:

Cancer’s what gets us. Got Grandpa. Got Baba.
It turns you yellow in the end. So, I’ve been smoking
again.

(from Celebration by Elizabeth Bachinsky)

 

You suicided all my poetry was written on your skin first
line
second line
third line a tight rope tight knife

(from Chapter 5 by Paul Magee)

 

A scorched afternoon in the Alice
or the meltdown that lavas out of kiddies
when they cannot have a treat.

(from Station Street As A Dark Nickelodeon by Kent McCarter)

 

take with you plenty of water and one mustard seed of faith

(from Mount Wellington by Jane Williams)

 

Be still. I am the Bear from your dreams.

(from Nature Poem by AF Harrold)

 

And as the festival drew to a close on Sunday night, we celebrated another incredible session featuring the voices of the QPF Committee (Nerissa Rowan, Zenobia Frost, Debra Ralph, Alicia Bennett, John Koenig, Francis Boyle, Jodi DeVantier & this Lost Shark) alongside Jane Williams, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Paul Magee, Geoff Goodfellow, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, AF Harrold and Hinemoana Baker.

And importantly, we celebrated the many achievements of Festival Director, Julie Beverdige as she announced she would be standing down from the position. Julie has taken the festival to a new level during her two year tenure, building on the success of the first eleven years and putting in place the necessary structure to make QPF sustainable for many years to come.

QPF  has yet again provided some life changing moments for me (and many others). Moments that will fuel me, until we do it all again in 2010.

3 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities