Saturday, October 13, 2012

BRISBANE POETRY

From late-August into early-September I spent just over two weeks in Brisbane.

While there I featured at SpeedPoets and the Jam Jar Poetry Slam. I also took part in two events at the Queensland Poetry Festival: a workshop run by L. E. Scott, and a poetry slam run by Scott Sneddon. And I got to assist Ghostboy in his MCing of the Page vs. Stage poetry slam at the Brisbane Writers Festival where I was also the sacrificial poet.

The poetry workshop
L. E. Scott’s poetry workshop was jazz poetry; it didn’t involve studying, writing and/or workshopping jazz poetry. No we flowed with the workshop, interjected and interrupted or were confused, and we all performed at least one poem during the few hours we had.

The core of the workshop was L. E. Scott’s improvisational exploration of the writing that accompanied the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and he clearly often lost himself there. But, when I got past his calling it “the Black Arts” and me imagining cackling witches around a cauldron, the workshop gave insight into a poetry movement I had not considered and led to writers I had not previously known.  

While I think at times the workshop struggled to come to grips with his method and language, all the participants shaped the workshop through verse, questions, and puzzlement.

“VI
The poetry of life?
NO, the picture of my dreams
Flashing on my heart.”

SpeedPoets
I featured at SpeedPoets with Trudie Murrell. Set at the deepest end of Brew in Brisbane’s Central Business District the SpeedPoets venue is a great spot for poetry.

This performance meant a lot to me: 1) I was performing to strangers in a strange city; 2) Graham Nunn, who runs the gig, is an accomplished poet with many publications, books, and performances; and 3) he is close friends with one of the poets who inspired me to perform, David Stavanger aka Ghostboy.

And I got to hang out with Hadley who stole about two-thirds of the cider I thought I was drinking over the afternoon and evening.

SpeedPoets has a full open mic that gives a piece of Brisbane’s poetry, and the website and monthly associated publication that Graham produces for it contain a great many poems to read. As part of being features Trudie and I decided who would be the call back poet, that poet has the opportunity to perform more poems on the night, plus go into a final competition at the end of the year. We decided on Cameron Logan, his poem IPSWICH grabbed the entire room. I have seen Cameron perform often in Queensland and always enjoyed his work.

Jam Jar Poetry Slam
I could say this is the other end of the poetry spectrum in Brisbane, but it isn’t and that is a cliché. Jam Jar Poetry Slam is another piece of Brisbane poetry, this one run by Darkwing Dubs, also known as Scott Sneddon. Darkwing Dubs, side-by-side with Hadley, is one of the best poets I know to have gone to the Australian National Poetry Slam in Sydney and prove the saying that “the best poet never wins.”


So Darkwing Dubs running it is part of what makes this slam special to me. The other is that I reckon, as with Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit!, it belongs firmly in the Genus Poetry Slam due to a basis in what “So What!” should mean to a poetry slam. To me this is the most important rule of a poetry slam because a poetry slam is just “a performance space, literally a demarcated and dedicated chunk of space/time" where you can’t have too much fun.

A lot of poetry was performed, two rounds starting with twelve poets, and I really enjoyed the poem and performance of Tim Lo Surdo.

Featuring here meant a lot and I lost myself in the gig, as I did at SpeedPoets, and came out of the performance haze at dinner about an hour later. The slam runs without a mic which I found gave me the same freedom as walking the streets of Canberra memorising poems. Hopefully I thanked Scott and said goodbye. If I didn’t then it was because I was somewhere else after that performance and it was a good place.

Page vs. Stage poetry slam
Page versus stage is an engaging concept, and getting to take part in haranguing judges in the crowd about what they made of a poem was great. My favourite judge, the two-headed judge, stated content didn’t matter, they said it is all in the delivery and who cares what the poem is about. I performed The Dark Horse of Poetry as the sacrificial poem and the personal high point of this night was getting to help Ghostboy run a slam.

Thank you to everyone in Brisbane who made the trip a poetry and food filled expedition, particularly Harry, Hadley, and Tessa.


When I was in Queensland
I got this photo for you.

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