Tag Archives: Woodford Folk Festival

Taking your poetry places: Wordfood & Australian Poetry Journal

Last night, I took my poetry to a place I never could have imagined… the opening night of the 2011 ICOMS Asset Management Conference. The experience was brilliant! Performing in front of hundreds of people gathered in the main hall of the Gold Cast Convention Centre, people who were not your average poetry going audience, was an absolute buzz. There was a beautiful stillness in the crowd and the faces looking back were smiling and nodding as I told stories and read poems about the gorgeous coastline and my family. It was a chance for my poetryto travel and it travelled well.

So if you are looking for ways to make your poetry travel, here are two great opportunities… the Wordfood Applications close this Friday, so get cracking!


WordFood Expressions of interest closing this Friday 20th
Online expressions of interest for the WordFood Spoken Word & Slam Showcase that runs as part of the Woodford Folk Festival each year close this Friday 20th May. This is like a “mini word festival” within Australia’s largest and truly electric arts festival. Previous performers on the WordFood bill have included the likes of Sean M Whelan, Bedroom Philosopher, Eddy Burger, Adam Hadley, Tessa Leon, Amy Boddassian, Crazy Elf, Miles Merrill, Bravo Child, Emilie Zoe Baker, Matt Hetherington, Sezsu, Maiden Speech, Nathan Shepherdson, Golden Virtues & Graham Nunn.
This year WordFood will be running two showcases: one in a large music/cabaret venue for spoken word / performance poetry / slam; the other in a very small intimate tent called Words for One featuring solo readings by page/contemporary/haiku poets. Artists that have been before are more than welcome to apply again this year.
You have to set your own fee for this festival. As the website states: “We invite you to enter your proposed fee, an amount you are prepared to perform for without feeling compromised. Please understand that averaging more than 1500 proposals we do not get the time to negotiate or haggle the fee” To give you a guide, realistic fees for the WordFood events would be $600-$1200 max performance poets for 2-4 x sets and $300-$500 max page/contemporary poets for 1-2 sets. This is approx $250-$300 a performance. SE QLD poets can also choose to apply for a festival pass only (worth $400). 
Remember, applications close this Friday 20th May at 5pm:  www.woodfordfolkfestival.com


Australian Poetry Journal: SUBMISSIONS NOW OPEN

We are now seeking poetry submissions for the new Australian Poetry Journal. The closing date for the first issue is 4 July 2011.

Submissions must be accompanied by a completed entry form and sent via post or email:

BY POST – to Submission – Australian Poetry Journal PO Box 21082 Little Lonsdale Street VIC 8011. Manuscripts will not be returned.

BY EMAIL – to victoria@australianpoetry.org with the subject title Submission – Australian Poetry Journal. The entry form is to be completed and sent as an attachment to the email.

Submission forms can be downloaded here: as a pdf or as a word doc.

Poems previously published (in hardcopy or online) will not be accepted.
Entries should not be on offer to other publications or competitions at the time of submission.

There is a maximum submission of 5 poems per writer per issue. The closing date for the first issue is 4 July 2011. Entries postmarked 4 July 2011 are acceptable. Late entries will not be considered.

Writers will be notified of the results via email. If you do not have an email address, please include a stamped self-addressed envelope with your postal submission.


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Poet’s Breakfast #4 – Suzanne Jones

Time for that early morning wake up call! It’s Poet’s Breakfast with Suzanne Jones…


Wake up mum, Weetbix time! 2 year olds have no time for pancakes unless its second breakfast and mums always need time for coffee.



maiden sleepover voyage
her father at the helm
a Sunday breakfast


I began to seep
maple trees

saplings at least
walling off

at sixteen leagues
I baked
my own

called my father to table
called my mother to table
called my sister to table


tomorrow I’ll call my son
and husband to table
we shall sit

a veritable sugar house
and eat
our own.

About Suzanne:

Suzanne Jones: Performance poet and co-founder of seZsu, has featured at the likes of Woodford Folk Festival; QLD Poetry Festival; Sydney’s Friend in Hand; and was a member of the first QLD Poetry Slam team; Finalist in the prestigious Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup 2006-2007; Co-winner of the National Poetry Week Open Mic Championship 2005 and QPF Poetry Slam 2006 and 2007 finalist; she released her first chap book, Pregnant & Tongue Tied in 2006.

Find out more:



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Lost Shark Interview #1 – Sean M. Whelan


Woodford Folk Festival is just days away and one of this year’s featured acts is Melbourne artist, Sean M. Whelan. This Lost Shark took some time to have a chat to Sean about his last shows with The Mime Set, Spoken Word and his plans for 2009.

Spoken Word is one of those terms that encompasses an incredibly diverse range of styles. Where do you think your work with The Mime Set fits?

I hope it doesn’t fit anywhere too comfortably.  There are slight elements of theatre involved in our shows, but mostly it’s about the music scoring the spoken element. It’s pretty carefully constructed. A lot of attention is provided towards creating spaces for the words to breathe in. I’ve always been a bit frustrated whenever I’ve seen poetry and music together and the music is drowning the vocal. I figure music already has it’s natural voice, but when you can’t discern the words of a poet then that voice is diluted. Everybody in The Mime Set had a real intuitive feel for it all. As a poet I hate to deliver such a pun bomb, but… we were definitely on the same page. Ouch.

I don’t think much about spoken word in terms of different schools. It’s never a healthy act to get into the whole comparisons thing anyway. I’ve certainly enjoyed the results The Mime Set and I produced when we stepped into a rehearsal room together. It wasn’t always an easy process, rehearsal rooms sometimes had stormy skies, but whenever something good is at stake, there’s some risks involved.

What can an audience expect at your shows?

I hope a damn good hour or so of their lives. We’ve had such wonderful, generous and warm audiences over these past few years. They’re the moments that are why I love performing. When a kind of river opens up between you and the audience. It sounds kind of airy-fairy new age mumbo but for me it’s often the difference between a good and bad show. I think maybe I’m overly sensitive to the mood of an audience, I certainly have a hard time having fun on stage if the audience isn’t. I’m not suggesting one should pander but if you don’t have any feelings at all for an audience then I can’t work out why you would want to step onto a stage in the first place.

These are the last shows you will perform with the band. How are you all feeling about this journey ending?

There have certainly been moments of deep sadness about it but that’s grasping onto the past. Mostly I feel completely blessed, blessed to have been involved with such talented and incredibly good looking musicians. We toured, we worked hard putting on good shows, we did it all off our own bat and we fucking loved every minute of it, yes, even the bad minutes.

Sam Wareing, Andrew Watson, Justin Avery, Jonathan Shannon and Chris Chapple; I salute you. I also strongly salute our special guests Bec Armstrong, David Cox and Emilie Zoey Baker.
Do you have plans to continue collaborating with musicians?

Most definitely. I’ll be working with members of the The Mime Set again. It’s not something I’m even thinking about until next year, but I have no plans to stop working with musicians. All of my most rewarding experiences in literature have been through collaborations. There’s no reason why I would want to stop doing it. What I really want to do is develop it further. I was also involved in a collaborative show this year at the Melbourne Writers Festival called Static. This was with writers alicia sometimes and Nathan Curnow. Also director Kieran Carroll and Quinn Stacpoole. That was an amazingly rewarding experience. The show was specially commissioned by the good folk at Going Down Swinging. And we’d all like to develop that show further next year and possibly tour it too.

Jonathan Galassi, President of the American Academy of Poets referred to spoken word poetry as a “kind of karaoke of the written word.” Legendary poet Amiri Baraka has also been outspoken about the spoken word movement, despite his ties to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe: “I don’t have much use for them because they make the poetry a carnival … They will do to the poetry movement what they did to rap: give it a quick shot in the butt and elevate it to commercial showiness, emphasizing the most backward elements.” What is your take on this?
Well let me say first the last thing I want to get into is a slinging match with the President of the American Academy of poets! Military action might be taken! (Joking! Guys I’m joking really.) Humour is difficult in print sometimes isn’t it?
I digress.  I’m not interested in getting onto platforms and defending the virtues of spoken word. For many reasons really. I don’t identify myself as a champion of spoken word because it’s only one of many things I do. There’s also the printed work, photography, plays, novel writing (it’s coming! it’s coming!). Also spoken Word is exactly the same as every other art form you care to mention. There’s the most undescribabely precious jewels at the top of the mountain and a river of shit flowing through the valley below. With all the extremes inbetween. And just like every other art form when you really find the jewels, the chase is definitely worth it. I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy the pleasures of seeing my name in print and touching the paper it lands upon and also being able to personally deliver those same words to a room full of people. Especially work that is memorised. I’ll always be in debt to the wonderful NY poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz who really pushed me into getting off the page. It’s an incredibly liberating act for a writer to read their work from memory.  And to be swaying on stage with a bunch of beautiful people all plugged into the same electrical socket that you are is a special kind of bliss.
You also often perform in solo mode. How does your work differ without the band?

It’s certainly different. I wouldn’t rate one as better than the other. Just different. If I’m coming off doing The Mime Set shows then it can feel a little naked. But performing solo is what I do most. There’s so much involved in putting the music shows on. It still goes back to what I said before about establishing a link between you and the audience. The same rules apply. The advantage of the music shows is that you can perform a lot longer. It’s difficult to do a dry reading longer than 20 minutes.

What’s on the horizon in 2009?

Plenty! Firstly a tour of Canada and the United States. With Emilie Zoey Baker, alicia sometimes and Justin Ashworth. We’ve all been specially invited to perform at the Festival Voix d’Amériques in Montreal. A festival specially dedicated to spoken word, it runs from the 6th to the 13th Feb. We also have more shows in Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto. After that there’s shows at The Bowery in New York and The Green Mill in Chicago, the birthplace of slam poetry. So that’s pretty damn exciting.

When I get back from the tour I have plenty of other projects to sink my teeth into. Shannon Ryun, a film maker from Brisbane is making a short film based on one of my poems. I also look forward to working more with Beck Wheeler, an incredible illustrator from Melbourne who has produced many works based on my poems. We are looking at releasing a book together and some short films too with Neil Sanders. There’s also an ongoing series of readings myself and the Babble crew have been putting on together called Liner Notes. Which are spoken word tributes to iconic albums of our time. The last one we put on was dedicated to AC/DC’s Back in Black album and was an amazing night. I think we’ll look at developing that show more, maybe putting together some kind of compilation CD. One other project I can’t even talk about, it’s so red hot! A trip to Berlin could be on the cards too.

Should be a great year I expect.


Sean’s latest book, Tattooing the Surface of the Moon can be purchased at www.smallchangepress.com.au


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Reading at Woodford Folk Festival

If any of you are in QLD and looking to take in some amazing art between Christmas and New Year, you should come on up to the Woodford Folk Festival.

I am reading in the Arti Arti space with the lovely Julie Beveridge on Saturday December 27 at 8pm.

This is a gig presented by Small Change Press and Mc’d by that poetic chameleon Ghostboy.

Other poets to feature in the Arti Arti space include Sean M. Whelan, Matt Hetherington, David Stavanger, Rob Morris, Pascalle Burton, Nathan Shepherdson and Sezsu.

So if you are looking for a bit of spoken word to spice up your silly season, get on up to Woodford… would love to see you there! All events start at 8:oopm and the Arti Arti tent runs from Dec 27 – 31, 2008.

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