Monthly Archives: October 2009

Miscellaneous Voices

Miscellaneous Press are getting behind the blogging revolution and have put the call out for the best submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and artwork by Australian bloggers to be featured in their forthcoming publication, Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing 2009. All of the details are now up on the site, so get your best work off to them post-haste… this may be the hottest anthology produced in 2010.

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Take a ride… the sounds of Kerouac, Cohen & Bon Iver

As the clouds roll in and the humidity continues to rise, dip your toes into the sounds of these new folk sounds. Take a ride to the rugged coast of Kerouac’s Big Sur with the Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard; be mesmerised by the messianic tones of Cohen as he tames the crowd at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and rug up in the snow storm of Bon Iver’s Blood Bank. You won’t regret it…

 

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Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard – Big Sur

Taken from the soundtrack to the new Kerouac film, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, this is a sweet slice of folk from the pages of Big Sur. And while Kerouac was more of a jazz man, I can see him driving along some mid-west highway, arm out the window, nodding approvingly. There is an ache in both Farrar & Gibbard’s voice that lends an authenticity to Kerouac’s words and the arrangements distill Kerouac’s bummed-out prose beautifully.

 

 

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Leonard Cohen – Suzanne

Forty summers ago, Cohen stepped on stage at the Isle of Wight festival. His set followed Jimi Hendrix (touted as one of the best of Hendrix’s career) and the audience was close to rioting. Standing in the centre of what had become a political maelstrom, Cohen looking like a ragged messiah, stood undaunted and delivered a set of songs and poems that brought the crowd to a stand still. For the first time, this set has now been released along with DVD footage of the concert and a documentary by Murray Lerner. After his mesmerising tour earlier this year, this is on the must have list.

 

 

boniver

Bon Iver – Blood Bank

After the release of the much lauded For Emma, Forever Ago, many wondered whether Bon Iver mainmain, Justin Vernon would be able to capture the beauty of his lovelorn debut. Blood Bank puts all those doubts to rest… The warmth of Vernon’s voice sits somewhere in the chest cavity and reverberates, longingly. Images of stacked up cups of blood, snow storms and secrets that fuck with your honour are pieced together to create a song that sweeps you away. Breaking up has never sounded so good…

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SpeedPoets: last drinks for 2009

If you are anywhere near Brisbane this coming Sunday (November 1), and you like your poetry live, then head along to SpeedPoets. This Sunday brings the curtain down on the events eighth year and there is no plan of slowing down… SpeedPoets will take a break over summer and return in March 2010, well rested and hungry for your words.

SpeedPoets Gimp

To take us out for the year, there will be features from Jeremy Thompson & Brent Downes, live music and sounds from Sheish Money, free zines, giveaways and a surprise performance by one of the acts that had the audience raving after QPF’s Saturday night event A Million Bright Things. And of course there is you, giving voice to your poem in the Open Section and keeping the event vibrant, diverse and full of fire.

So pack your poems and be part of the celebration this Sunday, November 1 from 2pm at The Alibi Room, 720 Brunswick St, New Farm.

I’ll see you there…

 

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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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Happy Birthday Pablo Picasso

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

– Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

Happy 128th Pablo*… now over to The Modern Lovers.

Pablo Picasso

Well some people try to pick up girls
And get called assholes
This never happened to Pablo Picasso
He could walk down your street
And girls could not resist his stare and
So Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole

Well the girls would turn the color
Of the avacado when he would drive
Down their street in his El Dorado
He could walk down you street
And girls could not resist his stare
Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole
Not like you
Alright

(read the full lyrics here)

 

And if you have experienced the genius of Picasso’s poetry, check out this excerpt from The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems.

 

* thanks to gingatao for bringing this to my attention

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Another Beat Generation Poet Passes On…

Lenore Kandel, shining light of the San Francisco poetry scene, author of the notorious, The Love Book has died aged 77. The Love Book, a small pamphlett made up of four poems, was seized by police in 1966 as hard-core pornography and book sellers were arrested for its sale. It was often said, Kandel saw the world with ‘peyote-visioned eyes’ and her work sought to translate these visions. A student of Zen, immortalised as Romana Schwarz in Kerouac’s Big Sur, her words continue to light up the minds of all who read them.

Here’s an excerpt from God/Love Poem:

GOD/LOVE POEM
 

there are no ways of love but / beautiful /
            I love you all of them 

I love you / your cock in my hands
            stirs like a bird
in my fingers
as you swell and grow hard in my hand
forcing my fingers open
with your rigid strength
you are beautiful / you are beautiful
you are a hundred times beautiful
I stroke you with my loving hands
            pink-nailed long fingers
I caress you
I adore you
my finger-tips…   my palms…
your cock rises and throbs in my hands
a revelation / as Aphrodite knew it

(read the complete poem and other poems by Lenore Kandel)

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The New Folk pt III

Right now, the Spring sky is as wide open as the weekend. And as always, I’m colouring my Saturday morning with a burst of that new folk sound. Hope it paints your sky as big as you like…

 

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Ten Paces Away – The Gin Club

The belting first single from Brisbane’s folk/country/rock collective The Gin Club’s last album Junk. These guys are something to see live, with four (or is it five?) vocalists/lyricists, leading the band through country rave ups, folk ballads and staright up rock ‘n’ roll. Personally, I love it when Ben Salter (also of Giants of Science & Wilson Pickers fame)  takes the wheel as he does here on Ten Paces Away. He is without a doubt, one of Brisbane’s best singer/songwriters. You can catch them live at The Zoo in Brisbane on November 27!

 

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Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

Drawing on the long history of hillbilly, bluegrass, folk & country, Old Crow Medicine Show, have gone from busking on street corners to playing sold out shows with the likes of Merle Haggard, The Felice Brothers & Dolly Parton. They are one of those bands that makes you want to drink good whiskey and sing loud… ‘rock me mama like a wagon wheel…’

 

Mudcrutch

Lover of the Bayou – Mudcrutch

This is Tom Petty’s pre-heartbreaker band and man do they rock. Their debut album from last year (that’s right… it took em over thirty years to get around to making it) is raw and filled with some of the best guitar playing you will ever hear. And just check these lyrics…

‘I was raised and swam with the crocodile/snake eyes taught me the mojo style/suckled and weaned on chicken bile/I’m the lover of the bayou’

Tom has always been the master of southern-fried rock and this rave up of The Byrds classic is up there with his best.

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Tokyo Godfathers

My wife sent me a link to this film earlier today and it has really peaked my interest.

The film is set in modern day Tokyo and focusses on the life changing moment that occurs when three homeless people (an old drunk, a drag queen and a teenage runaway) discover a baby in a garbage dump on Christmas eve. As New Years Eve approaches, the three unlikley heroes set about solving the mystery of the abandoned child and on their journey are forced to confront their own haunted pasts.

And while this doesn’t seem the most groundbreaking plotline, haiku are used throughout the narrative to illuminate many of the film’s pivotal points and provide further insight into the compassionate, humanist and at times sorrowful hearts of the protagonists.

On discovering the baby, Hana (the old drunk) composes this haiku:

                                                          little baby
                                                          powdery snow on its cheek
                                                          this holy night

That’s hooked me into wanting to see more…

Here’s a link to the Official Site and a trailer.

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The Best Australian Poetry 2009 (UQP, ed Alan Wearne)

Well, I came home to a copy of UQP’s The Best Australian Poetry 2009 tonight, featuring poems from some of my Australian poetic heroes - Geoff Goodfellow, Robert Adamson & Thomas Shapcott – so it is a nice feeling to have 5 of my haiku included alongside these gentlemen and about 30 or so other fine poets.

These haiku, written during my residency at the Ekka, have been displayed as part of Museum of Brisbane’s ‘Ten Days in August’ exhibition as well as at the Ekka, so they have been really good to me.

I’m off to crawl into the pages and soak it all up… here’s one of the haiku published in the sequence.

                                                                      first date
                                                                      too scared to kiss
                                                                      on the ghost train

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