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.
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