Monthly Archives: August 2010

SpeedPoets Open Mic Championship this Sunday

While Brisbane is in the midst of festival fever, SpeedPoets keeps things hot, hosting its annual Open Mic Championships at InSpire Gallery Bar (71 Vulture St, West End) this Sunday September 5. And to make the afternoon extra special, there are three interstate feature acts, that you don’t want to miss!

Fresh from her appearance at QLD Poetry Festival, Tiggy Johnson will perform a feature set alongside fellow Melbournite, Randall Stephens. And to round out the southern trio, the delightful Andy White will make a special appearance playing a set of songs and poems; his first performance in Brisbane in more than 2 years. Here’s a quick taste of Andy’s work:

There will also be the regular live sounds from Sheish Money, free zines, raffles/giveaways and much, much more!

The Open Mic Championship Rules are:

1.  Sign on for the SpeedPoets Open Mic Competition will commence at 2pm and cease at 2:30pm

2. Each poet will be given 3mins to perform/read one poem (without musical accompaniment or props).

3. Each poem read must be the original work of the poet.

4. Two judges will be selected to choose a shortlist of at least 5 poets for the second round

5. Poets selected for the second will be given another 3mins to perform a second poem. This poem cannot be the poem they performed in the first round and again, must be their own original work.

6. A winner and runner up will be selected by the judges from the second round performances.

7. The winner will receive $100 and the runner up $50, with a range of book prizes to be presented to commended performances.

(NB. Judges decisions on the day will be final and no further corresspondence will be entered into)

 
So start fine tuning your poems and your performance! Doors open at 2pm – along with sign up for the Open Mic Competition.

SpeedPoets, Sunday September 5, 2:00pm – 5:30pm, InSpire Gallery Bar – 71 Vulture St. West End

featuring:

Tiggy Johnson, Randall Stephens & Andy White

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2010 SpeedPoets Open Mic Competition

Entry is a gold coin donation

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Another Lost Shark in the news

My head is well and truly swimming with poetry… QPF 2010 was an unforgettable weekend, but more on that later… tonight is for dreaming.

There is however one thing I would love to share with you all. Poetry as we all know rarely gets alot of airtime in major newspapers, so it was a rush to be featured in a 6 page spread – Thrill of the Quill – in The Courier Mail’s glossy weekend liftout, QWeekend on Saturday (Aug 28).

In the article, Frances Whiting talks to QLD stalwarts, Bruce Dawe and David Rowbotham; one of the fresh young faces in Brisbane poetry, Zenobia Frost; UQP Poetry Editor, Felicity Plunkett; editor of Jacket Magazine, John Tranter and myself to get the lowdown on the poetry scene past,  present and future.

Here’s a link to download the article – Poetry is not Dead_Courier Mail – Qweekend_28 August 2010.

Enjoy!

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and the silence is ruptured…

QPF 2010 opened with the sound of minds being blown…

Here’s a few quick pics from John Wainwright to give you a taste of the experience: http://picasaweb.google.com.au/wainwright.john/QPFPoetryRUPTURETHESILENCE?authkey=Gv1sRgCL68gp_SxI2iWQ&feat=email#

More updates and pics to come as the weekend unfolds.

And if you are in QLD, head out and pick up a copy of today’s Courier Mail. Sheish Money and this Lost Shark have a full page photo in the QWeekend liftout, and the article by Frances Whiting is well worth a read. She interviews David Rowbothom, Bruce Dawe, Felicity Plunkett, John Tranter, Zenobia Frost & myself, and there is a great selection of poetry scattered throughout.

Poetry is shining this weekend! See you at the festival: www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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Another Lost Shark talks to Rave & Scene Magazine about QLD Poetry Festival 2010

QLD Poetry Festival 2010 is just one sleep away…

Here’s a couple of interviews that were published this week in the local street press. The first one is courtesy of the delightful Zenobia Frost in Rave Magazine:

INFORMER ARTS: Queensland Poetry Festival – Graham Nunn Interview – Tuesday, 24 August 2010 

ZENOBIA FROST speaks with Brisbane poet GRAHAM NUNN about the annual weekend when Queensland’s poets come out of their dens to play.

Many have suggested collective nouns for poets: a stanza, a paranoia, an elevensies, a lateness – or my favourite, a solace of poets. We scribblers might joke about our hibernation habits, but you’re actually more likely to find Brisbane poets up bright and early on Saturday mornings or out late at night to write, edit, perform and chat with writerly kin. And never are poets more active in their native habitat than at the Judith Wright Centre at the end of August each year. The Queensland Poetry Festival has a long-standing reputation for proving that poetry is neither dead nor unfashionable in Australia. Over a pot of white tea, I spoke with Graham Nunn, a celebrated Brisbane poet who recently released his fifth collection.

Nunn served as the festival’s Artistic Director for several years, and nowadays remains involved with the programming committee; he is a man with his finger on the pulse of Australian writing, so he was the obvious choice to ask: if we see one session at this year’s festival, what should it be? “Opening night,” says Nunn. “There’s a vibrant cross-section of writers coming from across the states, and so many cracker international acts.” Emily XYZ, a festival favourite in 2006 and this year’s poet-in-residence, will light up the stage with performance partner Myers Bartlett, while Nunn believes another distinctive voice in American poetry, August Kleinzahler, will live up to Allan Ginsberg’s description of him as a genius. And rumour has it last year’s poet-in-residence, the gorgeous Hinemoana Baker (NZ) will drop in on opening night on her way to America – definitely a special treat.

The festival is fortunate to have also received a shipment of three fantastic Canadian poets: Jon Paul Fiorentino, author of hilarious collection Asthmatica; multi-award winner Ken Babstock; and sound artist a.rawlings. Nunn is particularly fond of the Canadian voice, and is continually impressed by Canada’s enthusiasm for getting her artists out into the wider world. “We said, ‘Hey, Canada, we want these three poets; can you fly them out here?’ and of course they did,” Nunn says, beaming. “It just seems like Canada doesn’t know how to say no when you ask for things.”

The festival’s second big event is A Million Bright Things, a marathon session at which every poet on the program takes the stage to perform one poem. “This will be a huge highlight,” says Nunn. “It was the surprise hit of 2009. When you think about it, you’re putting 40-odd people on the stage to read one or two poems – that sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen. But it was just brilliant. It went for nearly three hours, and felt like it went like that. It was just a buzz.” So, with this in mind, perhaps it is time for a new collective noun: a hive of poets.

Join a hive of honeyed voices at the QUEENSLAND POETRY FESTIVAL, Judith Wright Centre, Friday Aug 27 – Sunday 29. Tickets for opening night, Rupture The Silence, can be bought at www.judithwrightcentre.com. The rest of the festival is free; find the full program at www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

And this interview comes courtesy of Myjanne Jensen at Scene Magazine:

Festival In Preview

The annual Queensland Poetry Festival is the pinnacle event of the year for all poetry lovers, not only from Queensland but from around Australia and abroad.
Now with the festival rolling into its 14th year, QPF’s Program Committee Co-ordinator Graham Nunn says this year’s celebrations are set to be bigger and better than ever.

Unbeknownst to most, the Queensland Poetry Festival grew out of the old Brisbane Fringe Festival (which originally stemmed from a little space held by the river at South Bank). Now with The Judith Wright Centre as its permanent home, QPF has grown to become the largest poetry festival of its kind in Australia. It has led the way for Australian poetry, establishing and displaying the multitude of talent Australia boasts.

“Australia has so many great poets who write in so many different styles and that’s what’s great about poetry – there’s not any one genre,” explains Nunn. “The ability of poetry to really encapsulate moments, place, time; it’s like oral history.”

As QPF Program Committee Co-ordinator, Graham has been writing seriously for the last ten years, originally starting out as a musician writing lyrics for different bands he was playing in. A turning point in his life meant the budding poet was forced to choose between pursuing the life of a musician or falling back onto his other love, teaching. Deciding the latter would most likely be the job to pay the bills, Nunn went on to teach in the country and it was during this period that he discovered his love for writing went far beyond song lyrics. “There was no music scene in the place where I was teaching and because I’d always written lyrics, my songs just turned into me writing poetry,” he explains.

Returning to Brisbane in the late 1990s, Nunn found himself facilitating every possible opportunity to jump up and have his words heard by the public. “In 2000 I just haunted every place that had a microphone turned on and I’d get up and perform some of the pieces I’d written,” he says.

“It’s not only the feedback from the audience, it’s great feedback for yourself about how the words sound because things can sound really different to you in your own head than they do when you’re actually standing up in front of people.”

In 2001 Nunn was invited to co-run the Queensland Poetry Festival and in 2004 was thrown in the deep end, taking over as the festival’s director. Despite a bit of a rocky start, it was an experience he says is still one of the highlights of his time working with the event and something he will carry with him forever.

“Oh my god, to be honest, the first year I got involved I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Luckily we got through it though and I look back on it now and think it was an amazing festival,” he tells.

“Katie Noonan at the time had a band called Elixir and I asked her if she would be interested in turning a poet’s poems into songs and putting it to music. Katie came back and said she’d really love to do it with the work of Thomas Shapcott, who is a bit of a Queensland icon in poetry. When they performed that night it, for me, is still one of the most outstanding things I’ve ever been involved with because Thomas was on stage, looking at them (Elixir) and going, ‘Geez, that’s my poem’ and they (Elixir) were looking at him when he was reading the poem going, ‘Oh my god, that’s the poem’ – it was amazing.”

This year’s festival, running over three days, will draw poetic voices from local, national and international artists, with more than 50 poets packed into 25 spoken word sessions.

In her second time performing, acclaimed US spoken word artist and 2010 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ, will headline the opening night celebrations, ‘Rupture The Silence’, alongside fellow American and one of Nunn’s personal favourites, August Kleinzahler.

“The opening night is always a cracker of a night and this year is going to be no different,” says Nunn.

“I know I’m immensely looking forward to seeing August Kleinzahler because he has been a hero of mine for many years. For me he’s one of the great American voices.”

So whether or not you’re into poetry, make sure to check out and support the best of what Australian poetry has to offer at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival.

QPF runs from August 27-29 at the Judith Wright Centre.

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See you on the weekend!

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Free Double Pass to QLD Poetry Festival Opening Night

Well, the title of this post just about says it all…

The first person to comment on the blog telling me what they are most looking forward to about the QLD Poetry Festival will receive the double pass to this Friday’s (August 27) opening night event, Rupture the Silence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.

I will then contact the winner to inform them of how to pick up their tickets via email…

Good luck everyone, and see you at the festival: www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

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Collaborative Ghazal Project: The Ghazal of Another Lost Shark

A big thank you to everyone who sent me their pearls of thought as part of this project… I have now strung them together into a poem that I think sings quite beautifully.

So here it is… The Ghazal of Another Lost Shark! Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the poem.

The Ghazal of Another Lost Shark

Tonight as rain hisses on stones, you come to me.
The breeze that lifts the curtain calls your name to me.

A rooster’s yellow beak opens the dawn, taking with it
my dreams, as the heat of morning breaks in me.                          (ALS)          

Another waits in ancient Xi an for the same dawn.
A traveller remembering they could not wait for me.                   (Therese)

Rumpled with sleep an early morning kiss smooths
out the creases, as you fold into me.                                                      (Cindy)

Velvet silhouttes of eucalyptus leaves on lace.
What, I ask, to make of them? What to make of me?                      (Brad)

A flint struck on the horizon relights the day.
A wind stirs thought, the senses rise, earth quakes in me              (tipota)

I feel your tear drop soothe the thing that burns.
Your skin is cool, your breath refreshes me.                                       (Therese)

She comes and goes, she heaves and sighs, she domes and dips,
my thirst she knows and, salt-lessly, she slakes me.                          (John)

Silently slipping sandal-less away at night,
love goddess, dry bone, Earth’s only child, forsakes me                 (John)

Return to the water Lost Shark, only
there will you find the depth of me.                                                          (ALS)

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Waking Hours

This is how I wake:
your face at the foot of the bed
the colour 
of
honey
a safe haven for first steps.

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The final rehearsal

We had our final rehearsal today before next Saturday’s big QLD Poetry Festival performance… and it was rocking! The addition of drums, bass and keys has taken taken the performance to a whole new level; the musicality of the poems magnified, giving them a song-like quality. Add the visual narrative provided by Cindy Keong’s photography on a big screen at The Judith Wright Centre and this performance is without doubt, the most exciting project I have been a part of. Roll on QPF…

With the mention of drums above, I thought I would post this pic of me sitting in with Sheish Money & Namedropper last Friday night at The Step Inn. I think the look on my face says it all…  What’s more, it looks like I may just get the chance to do it all again at QLD Poetry Festival next weekend with Sheish & co. and Jeremy ‘The Black Rider’ Balius, who has asked Sheish and I to sit in with him at one of his QPF performances to provide some blues-infused rhythms.

Good times coming!

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Collaborative Ghazal Project

Last week with my workshop group, we looked at the ghazal. I have to say it was not a form that I had ever paid much attention to, but after reading widely, I have a whole new appreciation of the form. As part of the session, I gave the group the opening sher (couplet) and had them respond to this writing their own sher; the result was breathtakingly good, so I thought I would try it here and see how it works.

Firstly, a few words about the ghazal for those new to the form…

A ghazal is composed of five or more couplets.

The second line of each couplet (or sher) in a ghazal usually ends with the repetition of a refrain of one or a few words, known as a radif. In the first couplet both lines end in the refrain so that the ghazal’s rhyme scheme is AA BA CA etc.

All the couplets, and each line of each couplet, must share a similar meter.

Every sher should be an independent poem in itself, however, the shers may share the same theme or even display continuity of thought.
 
The final sher (or maqta) includes the poet’s takhallus (pen name). Traditionally, this is how the poet attempted to secure credit for his or her work.

You can read more about ghazals here.

So with these notes to guide us, here’s the (two) opening sher of The Ghazal of Another Lost Shark. Once I have a number of responses I will put the poem together, write a final sher and repost. Look forward to reading your pearls of thought.

 

 

The Ghazal of Another Lost Shark

Tonight as rain hisses on stones, you come to me.
The breeze that lifts the curtain calls your name to me.

A rooster’s yellow beak opens the dawn, taking with it
my dreams, as the heat of morning breaks in me.

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QLD Poetry Festival Fever: interviews with Emily XYZ & Jeremy Balius

Well the street press are brimming with interviews with some of the artists who are just days away from turning Brisbane into the poetry capital of this country.

So for those people who can’t pick up a copy I have decided to repost them here. First up here is the interview with Jeremy Balius from this week’s Time Off Magazine:

A MAN OF HIS WORDS

The Queensland Poetry Festival takes over the Judith Wright Centre next week; HERE HELEN STRINGER talks to one of its performers, Perth poet Jeremy Balius.

The mention of spoken word poetry might conjure images of a smoky basement room filled with black-cloaked figures gently clicking their fingers in approval as a pale, malnourished, art school dropout woefully laments the demise of intellectualism in rhyming couplets and a dry monotone, but it’s a misconception that Perth-based poet and performer Jeremy Balius – soon to be in town for the Queensland Poetry Festival – is quick to dispel.
The reality, he explains, is a lot more engaging and evocative than the traditional “Beatnik berets and black turtlenecks” perception would suggest.
“Spoken word as a scene or an experience is a lot closer to what you would experience in theatre,” he says. “So the reasons for going to the theatre would outweigh the reasons for going to the cinema because the actual human emotion element is happening in front of you. That’s what’s going on with spoken word poetry. You’re experiencing it in real time; it’s happening in front of you. It’s a whole lot more engaging than the cliché back-room hokey perception.”
Originally from Los Angeles, Balius – who describes his own work as “more vehement and excitable than the usual” – came across spoken word through music: “the writing of it came from being heavily involved in music and being lyrically bent. The more and more you head down that path you end up coming to the end result which is poetry.”
His immersion in the world of poetry – aside from writing and performing he’s also ventured into indie publishing with Black Rider Press – has lead to his appearance at the Queensland Poetry Festival, an honour, he jokes that must be a “clerical error”. As he says, “it’s completely amazing that of the people coming from WA I’m coming up with Andrew Taylor and Andrew Burke, two stalwarts in WA. These guys are pinnacles in the poetry scene and that alone is a huge honour for me.”
While performance is obviously inherent to all spoken word, Balius is particularly diligent in delineating between printed and spoken poetry.
“I’m probably more militant on this issue than most people… It’s hard to separate myself from the performance aspect. When I read work that I’m going to perform bound within it is the delivery and the movement and the drama of it all and the personal engagement with the audience… It’s about being able to step up on stage and deliver and people just being so blown away that they’re actively responding; they’re so in the moment and not containing themselves.”
Indeed, he’s probably one of the few poets who can claim the dubious honour of having evoked a response so uncontained they’re forced off stage for fear of provoking a riot. Admittedly, the event in question occurred after a band Balius was performing spoken word with was mistakenly booked to play a Bhangra – a very specific type of Indian dance music – festival.
“It went sour so fast and people responded with such vehemence and youthful jubilee that quickly the pandemonium rose to where there’re guys starting to fight and there’s just complete chaos. We got cut after the second song.”
Thankfully, audience responses are usually more positive and rarely involve violent retaliation.
“My favourite response is not even a favourable one but I use it as my mantra. Someone came up to me and he said, ‘You should probably know that we don’t get people like you around here that often…I think I liked it but I don’t know if I should.’” It’s an apt mantra for a spoken word poet: I liked it, but I don’t know if I should.

WHAT: Queensland Poetry Festival
WHERE & WHEN: Judith Wright Centre Friday 27 August to Sunday 29

And here is a recent interview with Arts QLD Poet-in-Residence Emily XYZ from this week’s Rave Magazine:

New York performance poet EMILY XYZ tells ZENOBIA FROST about her residency at The Judith Wright Centre.

You could call Emily XYZ a punk poet – a brilliant spoken word renegade who’s been making words sound good for 30 years. Brisbane wasn’t even on her radar before 2006, when an invitation from the board of the Queensland Poetry Festival came “completely out of the blue.” The poetry community liked her so much that four years later we asked her back, this time as Queensland Writers’ Centre poet-in-residence – a coveted three-month stay in an apartment above the Judith Wright Centre to write and to engage with local poets and audiences.

But XYZ didn’t start out life wanting to be a poet. “I was in a punk band in my 20s,” she tells me, “but the band broke up. I wanted to continue writing lyrics – but I realised that in order to do that, for the lyrics to stand on their own, they were going to have to be really compelling.”

XYZ studied poetry in college (dropping in and out of a few degrees before dropping out for good), but found more inspiration in the music of Patti Smith and David Bowie than on the page. “Somebody lent me Ziggy Stardust when I was 17,” she muses, “and it just made sense to me – the whole idea of a concept album, something with direction.” So it was that words came to be “secondary to music” in Emily XYZ’s work. Rather than detracting from its poeticness (I hereby deem that a word), XYZ’s influences and aims culminated in a powerful, rhythmic style, further honed once she joined forces with performance partner Myers Bartlett.

I was very much a beginner when it came to poetry in 2006, and until then I’d found more solace in print than on stage. Seeing XYZ and Bartlett perform was just damn cool, and certainly made me reconsider the way I thought about the sound and rhythm of my work, even on the page – but their 2006 visit spanned a mere weekend. This time we have 90 days to learn from Emily XYZ. Weekly workshops at Queensland Writers Centre have been such a success that XYZ hopes to extend the series well into September. Her performances around Brisbane have taken her from Avid Reader to SpeedPoets to alongside Ghostboy & The Golden Virtues at Swallow & Exit.

“People actually care about the writing scene here,” says XYZ, putting Queensland’s dwindling arts funding situation in perspective. “In the US, there’s the Lincoln Centre and the Getty Museum, but that’s about it for funding. No arts organisation the size of Queensland Poetry Festival would be able to import talent!”

Since 2005, QWC and QPF have been making sure international poetry makes a zing in the lives of local poets through the residency program, and each writer has left a unique legacy. One of Emily XYZ’s major writing projects is an unusual venture – a Twitter poem called 90 Days in Brisbane. Dip into it for a daily taste of her vibrant work: that ride home after workshop is sweet / focus over, story bridge is like a carousel & judy glows at other end friendly blue in the dark.

Book a workshop through the Queensland Writers Centre: www.qwc.asn.au, or come and see EMILY XYZ at the Queensland Poetry Festival, August 27 to 29: www.queenslandpoetryfestival.com

And finally here is a link to another interview with Jeremy Balius in Scene Magazine.

The excitement is building…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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