Tag Archives: writing process

QPF Spotlight #18 – Maurice McNamara

Just one more sleep and I will be revelling in the glory of QPF. Many of the artists have now arrived so I am already buzzing with anticipation. One such artist is Melbourne’s Maurice McNamara. I have had the great pleasure of working with Maurice over the past year and the fruits of that work, his debut collection, Half-Hour Country, will be launched at QPF this Saturday morning, August 22 at 10:30am (full details below). One thing I know is that Maurice is never short of a word, so I asked him, about his writing process and where he finds the words.




Where do the words come from?

Everyone is different. Karen Knight, in her section, talks about writing in the day, evenings for meals, drinks, tv. And how she takes weeks to get lines right. How the first lines are the hardest.

I mostly never write during the day. I write at night, after the drinks, meal, tv. But like her I write to music. I don’t care exactly what the music is, mostly moody. I wear that puppy out, playing it over and over, until I never want to hear that song again.

Unlike Karen I go out every day, shopping, walking, listening to the radio (headphones), looking at people. Mostly I’m alone and swallow up fragments. Sometimes this stuff gets coalesced properly, in the evenings, mostly it doesn’t. The best stuff gets the driver of a special event, a special emotion (below, a poem about my sister’s birthday – something slightly out of the ordinary.)

But trying to write every evening, and missing, means that automatic writing ie. just trying to say what happened, has more practice and kick in it, more unconscious rhythm.

Finding the rhythm: everyone has their own, and practising, the drum finds its owner. When I first started writing poetry, about nine years ago, I wrote over a thousand poems – one, two, three, every night. Fortunately that computer clagged out and I lost most of them. Sentimental, masked in cleverness, un-understandable, cutesy, pathetic, half-baked – I forget my other sins but they were many and various. But even from the start one has a rhythm and themes. (Equally, whatever faults I had then, I’ve still got now.)

My saving, very/very/very slow grace, the fact I went out each week and read, badly, to audiences, who went, ugh, or ho-hum, or what-the? next please. (One time a poet said, I like the font your poems are in – that’s how weak my praise was. At the time I was gratified – that’s how piss weak I was.) Going out to read all the time meant I heard lots of other good/bad/indifferent stuff. The best learning is by example. And just keep on going.

I grew up outside Bendigo, an old gold mining town, but where I was, it was mostly Irish, cut off. Like the Cullinans, nine children – Dinny, Danny, Paddy, Maisie, Bess, etc, so on, most of whom still lived with their mother, though the oldest son was hitting seventy. Some of them had never been to Melbourne. Two army tanks had pulled up in their front yard, at the end of the Second World War, from Pucapunyal en route to… Nothing much changed. In the churchyard on Sundays people stood in the same place, said the same things, wearing suits they’d bought for their wedding. I can’t emphasise how important this was/is to me: the idea of a link back, mysteriously un-knowable; the way they said the same things, their cadence and drawl.

As far as poetry goes, I also belong to two sixties artist/artists – Andy Warhol and The Beatles. I think they could be called the first democratic artists – not dependent on being upper class, un-important, using real things around them. And then, the way you heard songs over and over, radio, radio, I think that changed how people wrote.

Poetry influences: I’m sorry, but it has to be local for me. I’m not academic, I’m not international, and I’m not clever (clever is not the same as intelligent). I don’t want to live anywhere else. This is not a proclamation for bogans, or bush poetry. I don’t want to be provincial. The worst kind of provincialism is aping somewhere else. I want to live in the sort of place that is happening on its own terms. Open and hungry, enthusiastic – that’s what Australia should be. So eat from elsewhere but write our own stuff. Don’t be arch, don’t be removed. Even though most of us live in cities, keep the country in our souls. That’s the genius of Australia – we don’t live in pastoral acres, spires dreaming, the bush infects/scares/makes us. That and the ocean – sharks and snakes scare bullshit away. And temperature: this is a hot country, new world, too hot for languid tempered English. Or French theory. (Or hysterical Americans.)

In my writing I don’t live up to this, but I think about it. In this country we’ve got indigenous, migrants, Anglo-Celtic, all burnt by sun, flood and drought, like nowhere else. Only we can do it.

My theory of poetry: watch the faces of the audience, if they remained closed, turned away, something is wrong. (The best poets have a language, a themness that drags us somewhere else, but is yet, recognisable – oh, to be one of them.)

Poets I get excited by: Eric Beach, Jennifer Compton, Grant Caldwell, Jordie Albiston, Myron Lysenko. Not always and not everywhere: but a surprise, a kick, a relaxation, a floating away. Not very much bullshit in any of them.

That’s the trouble with poetry – because it’s tight, where it goes wrong, you flip out. No patience. But then, you stumble across, and you feel like stroking the armpits of your host. Casual sex. Your armpits smell like cummin. (How do you say that word un-rudely?) I’ve got that with Laurie Duggan; like, love some of the Martial poems, then others leave me cold. Same with Dorothy Porter. Hate poems by poets in search of material, trawling art galleries. ‘My response to the Mona Lisa, waiting for Helen to turn up…’ Then we leapt into a foreign sports car. Please. Enough. (Even in art you’re relentlessly middle class.) Middle class masquerading as rascal, even worse. Brett Whitley, you’re busted. ‘See my lawyer, man’. The best Australian poems I’ve read were by Eric Beach, about his girlfriend with motor neurone, caring for her, published in Salt-Lick. ‘Brushing her hair, ice waterfalls.’ Nothing else even comes close, and originally, he’s from New Zealand.


About Maurice:

Maurice McNamara has been involved with the Melbourne spoken word scene for a number of years. His writing is casually lyrical, funny but serious, and aims for a spare contemporary feel. His book, Half-Hour Country, has just been published by Small Change Press.




sister’s birthday

having gone to see
‘my year without sex’
a self-consciously Australian movie
small family details
but at least a story arc
as the Americans say
though, written/directed by a woman
I noticed the husband didn’t complain
when there was no sex for a year
which made him a bit too nice, I thought
though, okay, she nearly died

coming out of the theatre, remembered
sister’s birthday, bought flowers
and rillette, to spread on bread
a French name for the potted meat
Dad used to make
but a French name costs more
I try to remember my sister’s birthday
the same day as Mum’s
this year she would have been 96
(so waxen she looked
laid out on the hospital bed)
sister lives alone and has the sort of casual
Catholic violence I detest
try to forget

drive to Armadale
a thunderstorm!
lights on
blinded by rain
cars drive home

visits of duty
driven by a sort of love underneath
a perfect cup of tea
an event that only happens every couple of years
a confluence of milk/tea/sugar
she listens to talking books
doesn’t watch tv
eyes hurt too much

insulted my girlfriend only in passing
pauses between words
women have powers men don’t possess
though men are obvious bastards
saying I was excited by engines but my girlfriend wasn’t
was sexist
I didn’t have much of a headache
by the time we left

I wish she didn’t live alone
but I can’t fix her life up
I can’t fix my own
I don’t like going back
to where I was before
live in the present
which is uneasy

my girlfriend and I had a stupid argument in the car
I was comparing the heroine in ‘my year without sex’
to Muriel in ‘Muriel’s Wedding’
how they had the same daggy Australian woman thing
not found elsewhere
she thought I was being insulting

my voice became more metallic
‘you don’t get it’
grinding on, through changes of lights
she retreated to silence
like Mum used to do with Dad
I felt empty
she did too


Catch Maurice at QPF 2009:


Saturday August 22 – 10:30 – 11:30am

The First Bullet of the Day: featuring Robert Bos and the launch of Half-Hour Country (Small Change Press) by Maurice McNamara and Dear Rose (Small Change Press) by Nicola Scholes


Saturday August 22 – 8:00pm

A Million Bright Things: featuring a short set from every bright thing on the 2009 program plus a feature set from the awesome Neil Murray


Sunday August 23 – 11:00pm – 12:00pm

Choreography of Chance: featuring Maurice McNamara, Rhys Rodgers and Santo Cazzati


All sessions are held at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brunswick St. Fortitude Valley.

For full program details head to www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com




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Where do the Words Come From #7 – Skye Staniford

SpeedPoets rolls around again on Sunday April 5 and this month’s music feature is Brisbane songbird Skye Staniford. Skye is a member of local music outfits,  ‘We All Want To’ and ‘Golden Virtues’, who regularly collaborate with Brisbane’s Ringmaster of Debauched Cabaret, Ghostboy, so I asked her the big question… Where do the Words Come From?

Her reply…

In bursts from my mind. Past, present and imagined love. Being. 

Beautiful, tell me more, I said… and she did:





I’m influenced or inspired by many things I come across. It’s a recurring process:

1. Come across ‘thing’. IE: book, album, sauce.

2. Get caught up in the moment of ‘thing’. IE: adopt language of book, begin singing in same style as on album, start putting Worcestershire Sauce on everything.

3. Initial hit of thing wears off. IE: finish book, get bored of album, start questioning the versatility of Worcestershire Sauce.

4. Some element of ‘thing’ weaves its way into me forever ie: A love and gift for using Nadsat, a love and gift for singing harmonies (thanks Simon, thanks Garfunkel), a love and gift for preparing and consuming  an incredible Bloody Mary, and we all know who the star of that show is…

It’s all about the ‘thing’.


The writing process

The pen is romantic but the keyboard is swift. Writing the words and working out how to express what I’m feeling and wanting on the guitar is a very strange ‘thing’. Explain I cannot. I have to jump on any desire to write straight away or it vanishes. I rarely practice. I don’t sit down and go ‘ok, I’m going to write a song now’. When I have done this in the past, the songs have been shit. I’m not extremely prolific but I’d like to think that means I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl.


The importance of voice

I’m a flautist and singer who smokes. I spent a large part of my childhood in hospital, hooked up to machines, with acute athsma. So aside from being insane, I will say that I don’t value and respect ‘the importance of voice’ enough.


Recurring themes

Longing and dysfunction. Satisfaction and contentment. Caring too much or not enough. Infected tattoos.


How have my feelings about lyrics, changed since I first started writing?

I used to be able to hammer out a stream of consciousness filled with mistaken rhyme. I also used to go night swimming on mushrooms. I’m more careful these days – less is definitely more.


Find Out More:




“ Brisbane ’s premier folk and roll outfit” – RAVE MAGAZINE

 Here we have a spearfishing guitarist. He can find a feast on any suburban street. Where we see pavers Reece sees starfruit. Background: Garage, Punk, Stoner Rock. Foreground: Words, Voice, Guitar, Bass, Harmonica. 

Coming up like a hurricane is our Shakespearean Siren and calligraphic enigma. An olde world, r-rolling violinist; Hannah Jane sings sweeter than syrup and looks like a wrapped present in any garment. Background: Classical, Gypsy, Folk. Foreground: Words, Voice, Violin, Guitar, Keys.

To her left we have a wandering minstrel. All legs and mellow, Robbie is a teleported-from-the-seventies cat, a melody-mining machine who loves on the frets like he loves vintage vinyl. Background: Prog Rock, Psychedelic, Experimental. Foreground: Voice, Bass, Guitar, Mandolin.

Then there is the ale-sipping chanteuse Skye, who sings off headlands and relates to the pied piper. She wants to eat a devilled egg and lay across your piano. Background: Blues, Doo Wop, 90’s Rock. Foreground: Words, Voice, Flute, Guitar, Bass, Tambourine.

Lastly, a true gentleman. Radovan holds his knife like a jazz drummer and plays a mean slide ukulele with a ripe pear. A Serbian pimp daddy with the crib to prove it, he reigns on sticks and mallets but draws the line at brushes. Background: Metal, Hip Hop, Heavy Rock. Foreground: Drums, Percussion


Catch Skye live at SpeedPoets when it returns for its second gig of 2009 on Sunday April 5. It all happens at the The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm from 2pm. The gig will also feature local spoken word/hip-hop artist Dark Wing Dubs and Pru Gell (Northern Territory). There will also be live sounds from the SpeedPoets engine room of Sheish Money, free zines, giveaways and the hottest Open Mic section in our fine city. Entry is a gold coin donation. See you there!

SpeedPoets: Sunday April 5, 2pm – 5pm @ The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St. New Farm.


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Where do the Words Come From #4 – Felicity Plunkett

It has been a great pleasure chatting to each of the feature poets who will read at the upcoming Poetry on the Deck event at Riverbend Books on Tuesday February 24 (full details below). This time I chat to Felicity Plunkett to see just where she finds the words that inhabit her poems.





My writing is influenced by my reading, which has always been central to my life. At school I was introduced to the poetry of Catullus and Virgil by a Latin teacher who realised I was getting bored. I found a copy of T S Eliot’s Selected Poems on the footpath one day on the way to school, then discovered Browning, Plath and Levertov. I don’t remember studying any Australian poetry at school, but later was able to do a double major in English and Australian Literature at Sydney University, which gave me access to inspiring teaching and brilliant poetry.

I’ve been able to work in poetry-related areas, mainly as an academic after doing a PhD at Sydney University, so teaching, reviewing and reading have all remained central. Now I have small children I get to revisit the delicious shapes and angles of great children’s writing, and I also get to re-experience the imaginative richness and absorbency of kids, which is a great reminder about a kind of mindfulness it’s easy to lose. My students inspire me, and I have wonderful like-minded friends to talk about books with. This year I’ve been reading Paul Celan for his gorgeously askew metaphor and his intensity, lots of Americans like Louise Gluck and Robert Hass, and Australians including Judith Bishop, Nathan Shepherdson and the ever-flowering John Tranter. A turning point for me as a poet was a mentorship at Varuna with Dorothy Porter – I learned a great deal from Dorothy about pithiness and intensity.

Odd things influence me – an offhand comment, a row of surgical instruments laid out, and music – there’s an essay in this, but I won’t write it here.

That’s a version of the lineage of inspiration answer that is one way into this question. I think the answer is probably more complex, and involves serendipity, openness, and joy.


The Writing Process

The back cover blurb of the Louise Gluck I’m reading announces that she practises poetry as a species of clairvoyance. I am interested in poetry’s mystery, and Dorothy talked about poetry and the daemonic. Having said that, re-shaping and editing is equally important, so the Romantic and pragmatic hold hands when I’m writing, which can make it very difficult to manage a pen. Pen – I’m a note-taker. Sometimes I have to wait until I get away from a conversation to record something that suggests something else – little flakes and sparks that stir the imagination. I don’t find there’s any one path into a poem. Some seem to emerge fully formed, while others involve a kind of archaeological enterprise. Some poems seem to get shaken down by inverted poses in yoga.


The Voice

I’ve had some interesting conversations about this lately. I use a range of first person voices, not all of which are biographically my own. I also love the second person, and the ways it can make the reader and the poet quite close. I enjoy acts of ventriloquism from time to time. Beyond the technicalities of voice, I do think that truth, however defined, drives powerful poetry, and I do think you have to learn to listen to write.


Recurring Themes

I need to have these pointed out, as I guess they emerge from preoccupations you may not know you have. Vanishing Point is about the body, and the erotic, and about making, and focuses on the life and vulnerability of the body. Maybe the fact that there is a lot of blood in my poetry comes from a consideration of overt and covert violences, though I am also interested in the start and the end of the life of the body. 


Feelings About Poetry

I have always loved poetry’s capacity to give a sense of the poet’s imaginative architecture; their passions and preoccupations. I love the poetic intensity that can light up most subjects, and the main change in my feelings about poetry, as I read and write more, is a deepening appreciation of the risk, adventure and craft of the work of poets I love. I love its capacity to crystallise, and to start a vision, and I love the sensual and textured that finds its way into poems.




John Banville, the fifth Beatle, pesto, cake
(or friand) – anyway, we talked. And
when we didn’t, days felt long. John Banville
with his longer oeuvre my compensation:
burnt CDs; unknotting reef and clove knot,
rolling hitch: the verbal boy-scoutery
of your ever-casual emails: these and when
not these, the things we’d said: the glance you gave,
the way you leant back in the lift one day
and with that, all my floor leant into you
and I was thrown, my skinned knees anchors:

Oh stupid girl! How much of this could be
misprision, missed points, mis-en-scene?
But missing, with its sighs and crumbs, drags on.


(previously published in Blue Dog and Best Australian Poems 2008 – Black Inc.)


About Felicity

Felicity Plunkett’s manuscript Vanishing Point won the 2008 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and is forthcoming with UQP. She is an Honorary Research Consultant at the University of Queensland, where she teaches literature and poetics, and a widely-published reviewer. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney. Her poetry has been published in journals and anthologies including Best Australian Poetry 2008, The Best Australian Poems 2008, Heat, Southerly and Blue Dog, and was awarded Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes in 2006 and 2007.


Poetry on the Deck

Join Felicity on the Riverbend deck alongside the sounds and imagery of award winning poet Anna Krien (2008 Val Vallis Award); global traveler Alan Jefferies and exciting Brisbane voice, Jessika Tong.

Date: Tuesday 24 February
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 www.riverbendbooks.com.au

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!


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Where do the Words Come From #3 – Anna Krien

Anna Krien is one of the feature poets at the first QLD Poetry Festival event for 2009, Poetry on the Deck to be held at Riverbend Books on Tuesday February 24 (full details below). Her poem ‘The Last Broadcasters’ won the 2008 Arts QLD Val Vallis Award. So let’s take a look at where the words come from…





Perhaps my greatest influence was my primary school teacher Miss Buffham. She noticed that I had somehow managed to sneak through without learning how to read (this was in a fairly hectic and full state school). She quickly bundled me off to this little old lady who made animal brooches out of FIMO and taught me how to read. The next few years were a blur – with a FIMO rabbit brooch and a whole new world opened up to me I simply disappeared into books.


Writing Process

Roll out of bed crack o dawn if possible. Coffee goes on the stove simultaneously with the laptop being turned on. I have a rule (that constantly needs reinforcing) no internet until 1pm. Then with a coffee in hand (white, two sugars) I keep working on whatever is at the forefront of my mind. Because I write in different areas – essays, journalism, short stories, poetry – I have to organise my weeks as to what I am focusing on. My life is a sticky-note. But most of my work, no matter how separated they are, tend to bleed into each other. I guess my ultimate goal is to one day write and publish something that is everything – poetry, fiction, journalism, philosophy, essay, and not give a damn about what genre it is ‘supposed’ to be or how vexed bookshop owners are going to be when deciding what section to put it in.

On a good day I’ll work through to 1 or 2pm, allow myself to check emails, and then start arranging interviews and stories and meetings and read the papers, magazines and a few chapters of a book. Then get ready to waitress at night, or go for a swim, or whatever. On a bad day, well, I get frustrated, feel like a failure, am lonely, and slip into bad habits.


Recurring Themes

There seems to be a lot of driving in my poems. I’m a bit of a poetic petrol-head. When I was little I loved the drive to somewhere. I never really wanted to get there. We had this old orange Leyland P76 that was like being inside a whale as it steered along highways and up apple peel shaped mountain roads. Dad had a collection of dusty melting cassettes and there was one album amongst the Dire Straits, Carly Simon, Roy Orbison, and Pavarotti that used to send me into a kind of spell. Oxygene by Jean Michel Jarre – perhaps one of the first electronic music albums produced. When it played I’d stare out the window and imagine I was outside the car, running alongside it. When the Leyland finally died after a lifetime of overheating and being pushed uphill, my parents bought another P76. Can you believe it? Lime-green this time.

News stories also tend to creep in and out of my poems – tiny in-briefs of affecting truth and alien voices coming out of transistor radios. I like real poems – which is not to say that all the others are fakes, but I personally like poems that startle me with recognition. It’s the journo in me, no doubt. There is also a lot of curiosity and wonder about how things got to be a certain way. The strangeness of science, awkward adaptations between people and their surroundings, the decay of creatures and the environment.


How my feelings have changed about poetry

Is it wrong to say I’m not a fan of a lot of poetry? Probably – but I’ll say it anyway. To be concise, I think there is an excess of bad writing out there posing as poetry – coughed up linguistic fur-balls that are confusing and cryptic, as well as the indulgent self-fascinated bird droppings that are cathartic for its author and painful for the rest of us. Perhaps I am so acutely pained by this because I have my own share of bad writing posing as poetry hidden somewhere in a milk-crate in the garage. At the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle one year, a few of us organised a Teen Angst panel where we read out the miserable poetry we had all written back in the day and laughed ourselves silly. It was wonderful. I think if a poet can’t laugh at him or herself, chances are their poetry is going to be a pain in the arse.


Some Poems that Stayed With Me

Broken Land by Coral Hull is quite possibly my favourite collection of poetry. Out of print, of course.

David Berman’s Self-Portrait at 28 and How I Met Your Mother

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot

A Small Mistake, Kevin Brophy’s poem about the class pet hamster.

Electricity Saviour (page 21 of this link) by Sharon Olds

Josephine Rowe’s collection, Asynchrony

Charles Bukowski’s collection The Night Torn Mad With Footsteps

Sarah Holland-Batt’s The Art of Disappearing

The Well Mouth by Philip Salom


A short poem….


Iron Lung

Inside his iron lung
he had sticky-taped
an old poster of the Geelong Cats.
When I mention
the team captain had
left a seventeen-year-old girl
in a hotel room choking
on her own vomit,
he shut the cabinet door
to his chest
and asked me to leave.


About Anna

Anna Krien’s writing has been published in The Big Issue, The Monthly, The Age newspaper, Best Australian Essays 2005 & Best Australian Essays 2006 – published by Black Inc, Griffith Review, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, COLORS, Best Australian Stories 2008, and Frankie magazine. Her poem ‘The Last Broadcasters’ won the 2008 Val Vallis Award. Once she had a neurological cat scan, which came back saying she had an unremarkable brain.


Find out more…



Poetry On The Deck:

Join Anna on the Riverbend Deck alongside exciting new voice, Jessika Tong (Anatomy of Blue, Sunline Press), award winning poet Felicity Plunkett (2008 Thomas Shapcott Award) and global traveler, Alan Jefferies (Homage and other poems).

Date: Tuesday 24 February
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 www.riverbendbooks.com.au

Spaces are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!


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Where do the Words Come From #2 – Santo Cazzati

The second in the Where do the Words Come From? series takes a look inside the thoughts, processes and intensely musical world of Santo Cazzati.





My erstwhile careers as a concert pianist and a free jazz performer-composer left me with the frustrating feeling that I was doing nothing innovative. I felt that the cutting edge in music was in underground club music as produced by post-1984 music technology and played by DJs or in “world music” which challenged the dominant ideas of what constitutes the mainstream direction in music (the “anti-chocko conspiracy”). When I found that my powers of analysis and aesthetic appreciation of this music via a massive CD collection far outshone my ability to actually produce original specimens, I gave up trying to be a musician. But just before I did, I had started to incorporate spoken word elements into my compositions. Removing the music left me with a cappella spoken word. Many of my spoken word pieces have a ghostly trace of absent music. But I have since discovered the brilliant and suggestive music of speech rhythms, subtle vocal inflections and use of pitch variation that we all use to communicate. None of this communication appears on the printed page but can make an enormous difference to how words are intended by their speaker to be understood and how they are actually interpreted by the recipient. This is my number one influence in spoken word performance.


Writing Process:

Decide in advance the general shape of the piece you want to produce – length, subject matter, vocal sounds, attitudes. Drink a bottle of wine. Listen to music which is in a related mood. Sit at computer and write uncensored. Then eat and sober up. Go to work the next day. Then look at the crazy stuff written the day before. Retain utterly visionary and inspired grammatical incongruities. Delete all tired cliches. Read aloud, as if in performance, over and over again for several days until you find you are no longer making small changes to the text. This kills two birds with the one stone – you are editing and also practising for performance. Howzat?


Where The Voice Comes From:

In primitive times, undoubtedly, indistinct human vocal utterances would have been closer to what we now call “music”. In Ancient Greece, “poetry” and “music” were not distinguished from one another. The word “rhetoric” did not have the pejorative connotation it does today. Rhetoric was the art of convincing and moving listeners with the power, subtlety and expression of your voice. This is almost everything to me. I have issued a challenge to a talented and inventive Melbourne sound poet to see if we can read a page from the Yellow Pages and make it sound interesting and aesthetic just through the use of our voices.


Recurring Themes:

The theme, if you can call it that, which recurs repeatedly in my spoken texts, is the aural structure. You should be able to listen to my pieces, have no clue what the hell I’m talking about, or perhaps be quite antagonistic to the subject matter, and still appreciate it as a sound structure. I’ll never forget the utterly moving experience of competing in a poetry slam with poets who recited their work in Greek and Arabic. I did not understand a word (other than the really obvious like “megalo” and “Iraq”) but was deeply moved by the richness of the intonation patterns, phrasing, metre, timing, raw vocal individuality – in other words, the music of it all. Having said that, there is a strong recurring influence on the subject matter of my pieces and that seems to be some kind of countercultural critique of the stupid mainstream society we are surrounded by, whether this is reflected in the economy, politics, our sexual relations, our chance day-to-day encounters. I think I am so addicted to irony that I am incapable of a single sincere utterance. But that is a kind of sincerity, is it not?


How My Feelings Have Changed?

The absolute best thing that happened to me was when I stopped wasting my time in the soul destroying pursuit of sending written poems to journals only to be published half a dozen times while receiving form letter rejections in the hundreds. When I turned to spoken word and not printed word, I found a regular and appreciative audience which meant I had a chance to develop an individual and innovative perspective as an artist. Instant response of a live audience is tangible. But even if you do get published, it is almost impossible to gauge that audience response.



Santo Cazzati is only a spoken word artist. His texts do not disseminate in print or any other kind of written form.


About Santo Cazzati:

Santo Cazzati is a spoken word artist. The son of
Italian immigrants to Australia, he emerged from past
lives as a classical concert pianist and avant garde
jazz musician to teach at an elite Melbourne private
school which must remain anonymous in order to protect
those concerned. He performs in a range of styles,
from fast rhythmical delivery to slow atmospheric
meditation, often with a strong world music influence
and critical ironic distance.

Links to Performances

1) At ABC Online, hear “first prize ($10) winning” piece, “Ballet Class”, from Jan 2009 Babble Poetry Slam.


2) Other Babble performances can be seen as well as heard. Click on the two thumbnails “Mafia Slam : Santo” for “Rental Property Inspection” and “The Poor Struggling Landlord”. Or on “Zombie Slam : Sacrifice” for “Bulgarian Rhythms”.


3) Appearances on television programme Red Lobster include “Telly And Phone Talk” in Episode 177 and “Silk And Bamboo Charanga” in Episode 180. These pieces are on late in the 30 minute programme and unfortunately it seems that you cannot fast forward to the spot but can in any event see other poets performing in Melbourne’s grass roots scene on the way.



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