QPF 2009 may have just been kissed goodbye, but the words of the 40+ artists who took to the stage continue to resonate in the heads and hearts of the thousands who attended. I am certain that these words will form the seed of many new poems, new friendships, new dialogues and to quote Ferlinghetti, ‘give voice to the tongueless streets’. This quote, alongside ‘wake up, the world is on fire’ (Ferlinghetti), and ‘spoken in one strange word’ (Judith Wright) were written in bold lettering across the windows of The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. These words breathed life into the shopfront space, which was a new (and may I add, very successful) venue for QPF 2009 and set the tone for an amazing weekend of words.
From the Official Opening where I had the privilege of reading the winning poem from this years Arts QLD Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem – The Severant by Andrew Slattery, the festival simply hummed. I would love to share with you a couple of lines from the winning poem… words that will undoubtedly stay with me:
We have ammended the world.
As I walk home I unpick the seams from the footpaths.
Each muscle locomotes my frame.
I wear my suit and walk into the vista city;
through the old mine with its pile of coal like a dead whale;
past the doctor who repaired my chest;
past the tailor who sews spines
into standing men as they wait.
Throughout the festival, there are many other lines that etched themselves into the very fabric of my being… here are a few:
Cancer’s what gets us. Got Grandpa. Got Baba.
It turns you yellow in the end. So, I’ve been smoking
(from Celebration by Elizabeth Bachinsky)
You suicided all my poetry was written on your skin first
third line a tight rope tight knife
(from Chapter 5 by Paul Magee)
A scorched afternoon in the Alice
or the meltdown that lavas out of kiddies
when they cannot have a treat.
(from Station Street As A Dark Nickelodeon by Kent McCarter)
take with you plenty of water and one mustard seed of faith
(from Mount Wellington by Jane Williams)
Be still. I am the Bear from your dreams.
(from Nature Poem by AF Harrold)
And as the festival drew to a close on Sunday night, we celebrated another incredible session featuring the voices of the QPF Committee (Nerissa Rowan, Zenobia Frost, Debra Ralph, Alicia Bennett, John Koenig, Francis Boyle, Jodi DeVantier & this Lost Shark) alongside Jane Williams, Janet Jackson, Angela Costi, Paul Magee, Geoff Goodfellow, Neil Murray, Elizabeth Bachinsky, AF Harrold and Hinemoana Baker.
And importantly, we celebrated the many achievements of Festival Director, Julie Beverdige as she announced she would be standing down from the position. Julie has taken the festival to a new level during her two year tenure, building on the success of the first eleven years and putting in place the necessary structure to make QPF sustainable for many years to come.
Again, I had the absolute privilege of reading a poem before we all walked out into the Valley night. The poem is titled Fortune and as I said on the night… I am a fortunate man.
and when, after I’ve wasted a lifetime looking
picking over poets, browsing beaches, shopping malls
when, after I’ve up and quit, you suddenly
adopt me, smiling from the carpet of the Royal George
when you renounce your wilderness and move in
living in the back room as its sage, my other
the one who will teach me to desire
only what happens
when you come, inscribed by solitude
dog-eared, faded, packed with former lives
inside you like a matryoshka doll
when you gather
when you fold
when you find me as the moon
found Li Po in his drunken boat
when you speak to my heart of its heaviness
the soft facts of erosion
when you whisper in that
infinite tongue all that the world allows
all one could wish for
though it can’t be
we both know
QPF has yet again provided some life changing moments for me (and many others). Moments that will fuel me, until we do it all again in 2010.