Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Salt Room interviews - Sarah Rice

For the September 2017 edition of the Salt Room at the Gorman Arts Centre I interviewed each of our three performers, Joshua Bell, Sarah Rice and Tahi Atea. The interviews were to provide insight into their practice and themselves. 

The questions were taken from A Conversation with Allen Ginsberg, by Harvey Kubernik. My first interview is with Sarah Rice.

An interview with Sarah Rice
(Interview by Andrew Galan)

Q: Didn’t you see The Beatles play, and there’s some poem you wrote about the event?
A: Yes, in fact I am the walrus – really. No, not really. But I could imagine doing it. Theatre was in fact one of my first loves – probably because my mum was an actress in her early life, and my sister and I were brought up doing acting classes – and I even studied a year of theatre in Norway which I loved. I also used to teach music theatre programs for kids in Canberra. Theatre is one of the best ways of combining all the Arts in one place – music, song, dance, spoken word, poetry, action, design, etc. So in a way it is a good starting point for my life now – which involves art, poetry, music, song, craft etc etc.

Q: You still read from text on stage, from a book or typewritten.  Do you ever read from memory?
A: Actually most of the time I ‘read’ from memory. For one, my eyesight is very poor and it is tricky to concentrate on the words on the page as well as performing them to the public. The other thing is that once the words are a part of your body, your breath, your very cells, you can focus on the expression and the connection with your audience. When I am reading work I haven’t already recited, I try to do a mix of memory with bits of prompting – and in a busy schedule and with more and more readings to give to keep the work fresh, I can’t always take the time to memorise the works – but that is my ideal.

Q: Subject specific answer required:  You write something on a piece of paper.  Other people, musicians, come invited to participate and collaborate.  Does the original intention become a different trip once there is music and other elements involved?

A: Definitely – I have learnt this over and over in many of the collaborations I have taken part in – particularly with visual artists. Perhaps the most recent and most concrete example of this was my collaboration with a glass artist to turn my poetry into neon (for the You Are Here and Noted Festivals last year) – that was certainly a fun trip! – but it was also a marvellous lesson in minimalism and round-the-corner thinking – I had of course assumed at the start that I would write a poem and she would simply work the magic of turning the words into little lit glass tubes – that is until I tried it myself! Just making one letter was impossible – I had to completely rethink the structure of the poem, the content, the visual mode of it and work with simplified repeated elements. I think that for a successful collaboration, each person’s contribution needs to remain quite loose and open in order to have as many possible ways of intersecting. That way what is created is a completely new ‘third’ thing.

Sarah Rice won the 2014 Ron Pretty Poetry Award and the 2014 Bruce Dawe poetry prize; co-won the 2011 Gwen Harwood; and was placed third in the 2014 FAW Shoalhaven Literary Awards. She was also shortlisted in the 2014 ACU, 2014 Axel Clark, 2013 Montreal, 2013 Tom Howard, 2013 Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman, 2011 CJ Dennis and 2011 Michael Thwaites poetry awards. Her limited-edition, art-book of poetry Those Who Travel (prints by Patsy Payne, Ampersand Duck 2010), is held in the National Gallery of Australia and other institutions and libraries. Publications include the Global Poetry Anthology 2013, Award Winning Australian Writing and Best Australian Poetry 2012, Long Glances: A Snapshot of new Australian Poetry 2013, The House is Not Quiet and the World is Not Calm: Poetry from Canberra, Island, Southerly, Contrappasso, and Australian Poetry Journal.

You can find Sarah's latest book, Fingertip of the Tongue, at UWA Publishing.

The Salt Room
The Salt Room presents poetry in its many forms. Featuring national, international and Territory poets alongside performers from varied disciplines. Organised by BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! and curated by Andrew Galan, the event is supported by the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres and runs from March to November.

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