Tag Archives: spoken word

Air for the Birds – Ghostboy & the Brotherhood of the Wordless

If you don’t already have it marked in bright red (or whatever colour takes your fancy) on your 2010 calendar, then grab said pen and mark Saturday January 30, as the day you head across to State Library of QLD to experience Air for the Birds.

Air for the Birds is an inspiring spoken word event, combining the talents of some of Australia’s most well-known performance poets and one of the country’s most unique writing collectives, the Brotherhood of the Wordless. The Brotherhood of the Wordless is comprised of fourteen South-East Queensland writers with autism and other disabilities that preclude speech or the muscle ability required to use keyboards or writing implements. Using the technique of facilitated communication, the Brotherhood works with trusted scribes to bring their powerful thoughts and words to life. The Brotherhood of the Wordless have published a book of collected writing, “Tapping on the Heart of the World”, now in its third reprint. They have featured on ABC Radio National, the Brisbane Writers Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, and members have preformed at the Woodford Folk Festival to a standing ovation.
 
Working with their facilitators and one of Australia’s premier performance poets, Ghostboy,  the Brotherhood of the Wordless will present performance based texts and poems they have written over the past year with Ghostboy entitled Air for the Birds.  Air for the Birds covers the themes of fantasy and dreams, the face of the “other”, and the voices of the everyday objects central to these writer’s lives.

I recently had the chance to interview Ghostboy and several members of the Brotherhood of the Wordless, to get an insight into the collaboration.

Peter Rowe and Peter Brown with one of the BOW facilitators

Air for the Birds is such a great title for the show; air and breath being such important elements in both the performance and writing of poetry. Tell us about the title’s significance and how it came to life.
 
Ghostboy: The line is from one of the shows central poems by Peter Rowe – I felt it really summed up the collaboration, the process around their writing with me, and the degree of their dreams and ambitions… and all the guys agreed!

Glenn: it represents freedom of expression, like flying / spreading wings

Lucy: the expectations of flying is so precious to me. the lost capacity of speech is tragic & the need for speech breath is basically not there for us.

Sam P: Freedom.

Peter B: Enjoyment!

Peter R: freedom of expression and the thought of movement / something we do so naturally but so essential to my words

Adrian: freedom! our poetry is like clean air, cleansing our souls.

I was reading an essay by Diane di Prima recently and she was saying that what we are is nothing but a physical instrument, not much different to a musical instrument in some ways and that creation comes only out of changes in the physical instrument. Tell us about how the unique ‘physical instruments’ of this show came together and the creative process involved in developing Air for the Birds?
 
Ghostboy: The writers wanted to give you some sample lines from their object poems about their facilitation boards & physical environs  – as they are so central to their creative process – to answer this one:
 
chair takes me places  – Adrian

My chair is my life / It comforts me / It’s chocolate and leather / just for me  – Mike R

Chair / Flat in my legs

And yet a cube in my sign  – Lucy

Straining at the loo / I can’t let this go  – Geoff

the Communication Board feels like my lover

I’m full of gratitude and respect / my beautiful God given board / my life, hope and future    – Glenn

My Board / My true love / my fun time / my friend / my everything. 

You are to me / what air is to a bird.  – Peter R

What have been the highlights of the collaboration?
 
Sam R: So much fun working with Ghostboy, have really loved being part of this.

Mike: The enthusiasm Ghostboy brought to the sessions has been very inspiring, it has brought new life and energy to my words.

Peter R: This project has brought another level to my work

Peter B: Ghostboy and “air for the birds” ROCK!

Ghostboy: The Brotherhoods creative drive being one of need not ego; the efficiency of their language set against their unbridled energy and spark as physical beings; their ability to direct their own work in terms of the voice required by others reading it; their self-belief as artists – huge!

Finally, what can the audience expect from the show?
 
Peter B: The audience will be gobsmacked. awestruck, overwhelmed and flabbergasted!!!

Sam P: It will change the way people think about us – both us writers and human beings

Glenn: it will bring further understanding about the autistic world.

Peter R: It will bring another message that we are artistic – not just autistic- and clever.

Mike R: This is a space for us to express ourselves in the outside world.

Rodney: They will see us as poets being part of the most mind blowing dazzling spectacle of fun. fearlessness, and fucking awesome poetry!

The State Library performance will be accompanied by ouTsideRs artists including musician and poet Suzanne Jones (keyboard); renowned avant garde musician Bremen Town Musician (violin), and ouTsideRs award winning spoken word artists Pascalle Burton and Tessa Leon.
 
Air for the Birds is Presented by the State Library of Queensland, ouTsideRs aRT Inc and Brotherhood of the Wordless.
 
 
When                    4pm, Sat 30 Jan
Where                   slq Auditorium 1, level 2
Tickets                 Free, no bookings required
Please note this performance contains some adult themes and is best suited to people aged 16 and over.
 
 
And you may want to follow these links: 
 
www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/events/talks#opensource
www.outsiders.com.au

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Spoken Word – what’s in a name?

In my previous post, The Happiness Project, I used the term ‘spoken word’ in reference to Charles Spearin’s latest CD:

“This is a truly unique spoken word album and one well worth delving into.”

So, I was really interested to read a response to the post by Jacqueline Turner, questioning the use of the term, because of its preconceptions.

Thinking back, I used the term, because the project uses vocal sounds and patterns to create music, blurring the line between the everyday and art; between the spoken word and song.

Since releasing my debut CD with Sheish Money, I have also had alot of feedback stating that the album succeeds, because it is so different to most spoken word.

Maybe the term ‘spoken word’ has some baggage it needs to unload; maybe we need to come up with a different term; or maybe we are just splitting hairs?

I am stating the obvious when I say that poetry has always been an oral art form, but since the print revolution of the late 1800’s, there has been a definite shift toward print publication. Oral poetry has not been replaced by print publication, but the longevity and increased distribution of print has certainly made it the more dominant form during the last 100 years.

Technologies of Writing by Jaishree K. Odin is well worth reading. It states:

“In the preprint era, when only a small percentage of the population had access to written sources of information or knowledge, both public and private affairs were primarily conducted through oral communication. The primacy of physical presence in communication promoted community formations that were very much dependent on geographical togetherness and within that constraint further determined by communities based on parochial and family bonds. Printing revolution changed all that–for the first time, it was possible for political, economic, and culture producers to reach people who were dispersed geographically. As a result new types of communities were formed that were based on personal or professional interests, or political affiliations.”

This statement highlights the need for the oral and print tradition to survive side by side, as for me (and I will only speak for myself here), the ‘community formations’ which occur at readings such as SpeedPoets are just as important to the establishment of a thriving poetry culture as print and now electronic publication and distribtution are.

So with that cleared up (for me at least) why not call the oral art, spoken word?

Mark Mizaga’s article, The Spoken Word Movement of the 1990’s makes an interesting point:

“This issue of defining and classifying spoken word, and how much of spoken word can actually be termed as poetry, is a problem even for the artists themselves.”

Reading on, the difficulty seems to stem from issues such as marketing, the line between rap and poetry and a myriad other reasons. 

I use the term spoken word to describe the oral transaction a poet enters into when they stand up in front of an audience and read/recite/perform their poem.

Is there a better term? Or is the nature of a ‘term’ that it will eventually polarise some people? I don’t think there is any way around labelling things… even if we didn’t want to, it would happen.

So what’s in the name ‘spoken word’? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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The Happiness Project

I came across a copy of Charles Spearin’s Happiness Project today and feel so much richer for it. Spearin, founding member of Do Make Say Think & member of Broken Social Scene has put together an album based around the melodies of everyday conversation. For this, his first solo project, Spearin recorded interviews with people in his neighbourhood (including his own daughter) on the subject of happiness and then set about writing music to match the cadence of the voice; cadence and vocal inflection driving the creation of the music. The result, Spearin describes as neighbourhood melodies… the natural, unselfconscious music of speech.

As a poet, this concept really drew me in, as this is something we explore (or should) in the creation of every poem… the music words make when spoken. This is a truly unique spoken word album and one well worth delving into. Get all the news here at The Happiness Project.

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Words or Whatever

Looking for some poetry and spoken word in your life this Saturday night? Well, look no further than Words or Whatever at Blackstar Cafe, in Brisbane’s West End. And with Sista Loops, Bille Brown, Fred Leone & Julie Beveridge all doing their thing (as well as Sheish and I), it is bound to be bristling with energy. Hope to see you all there.

 

wordsorwhatever6

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Another Lost Shark Special Offer: The Stillest Hour + Measuring the Depth

Well, there aren’t many copies left of either of these items, and after all, there’s no point them adorning my shelves, so this Lost Shark is offering them as a package for $20 incl. postage.

So if you want to get your ears around my debut CD, The Stillest Hour, recorded with the master of the poetic riff, Sheish Money and your eyes on my 2005 collection, Measuring the Depth, shoot me an email at: geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au or leave me a comment below and I will get in touch.

Or If you would just like a copy of The Stillest Hour, you can order one as a separate item for $12 (incl. postage).

And to give you another taste, here’s a track from the album: Gutter & Edge

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Poetry @ Inspire

If you are in and around Brisbane tonight, you may want to check out this new reading. I know where I will be…

Poetry @ Inspire

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SpeedPoets 8.7 featuring Alan Jefferies & Bruce Dorlova

Well, it is almost that time of the month again… time for the gathering that is SpeedPoets. So, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of Brisbane this Sunday (October 4), pack up your poems and head on down to The Alibi Room (720 Brunswick St. New Farm), from 2pm. This month features poetry sets from Alan Jefferies and Bruce Dorlova as well as Sheish Money and I stepping out again to play some poems from The Stillest Hour (and some new stuff). As always there will be free zines, plenty of Open Mic and other give aways. To make your poetic tastebuds sparkle, here’s a poem from Alan and Bruce.

See you Sunday…

 

Don’t feed the birds
            by Alan Jefferies
 

Don’t feed the birds
that’s what the letter said
We, the Body Corporate
prohibit you from
feeding the birds.
He didn’t care
he sat all day on the roof
in his dressing gown
a bucket full of bread by his side
the birds seemed to like it
the skinny ones, that is
the fat ones could no longer make it
to his fourth floor balcony window.
While the hallway filled with letters
threatening court action
                   eviction
                   a firing squad at dawn.
He didn’t worry
as long as they kept coming
swooping over his head like the spokes
of a giant wheel
showering the suburb with the shit
his neighbours now held him responsible for.

 

 

water bottle
by Bruce Dorlova 

 

it has become the custom
among our kind to always carry
Water.
this is the age of Aquarians
each polycarbonate amphora
spilling greedy
for want of lack.

i embrace parching
wrap it in thickfurred tongue
close it in creaking voicebox
surrounded by small seas i
drink not.

salt sharpens thirst.
This is the conundrum of oceans

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