MVI_1688

Koraly Dimitriadis launches project of poems put to film

Words by Koraly Dimitriadis

Pozible banner

When I received Australia Council ArtStart funding, and set out to create short films of my poem, I had no idea how they would turn out. The only videos I had ever made of my poetry was putting a camera in front of myself and performing how I would on stage.

It was a struggle finding a co-director to work with. I have pretty strong views about my art but in reality (contrary to my art!) I can be really shy and hesitant to express my opinions in a group setting. I had a few directors I tried to work with, but each time I didn’t feel they understood my direction and I didn’t feel confident enough to speak my mind. Directors like to control and I am also a controller when it comes to my art.

me and christos
With Christos Tsiolkas, photo by Kaliopi Malamas

I had been acquaintances with Nathan Little before it was suggested to me that he could possibly be ‘the one’. Nathan and I clicked instantly and my ideas, which were only seeds, began to flourish and evolve. For the first time I could see my films as cinematic, taking on lives of their own. Performing a poem in front of a camera is one thing, creating a story out of a poem is another. Sometimes I was stuck, and I didn’t know where the next scene should go, and Nathan put forward ideas which expressed exactly what I was feeling but i didn’t know how to articulate. Nathan and I were essentially a creative team, and there is no way the films would have turned out how they did without his creative input. Finding the right people to work with is a key element in creating your art to the standard you want it to be.

me and nathan

During the production stage, I sent some rough cuts to Profile talent management who were instantly interested in signing me. Their clients consist mainly of high profile celebrities, your Neighbours and Home and Away people as well as radio personalities. When I got signed with Profile I realised that if a mainstream management company was interested in me – in poetry – as something which could possibly be taken to the mainstream, I was onto something.

What interested me the most about creating the films was not only creating a story-line with the visuals but also the ‘acting’ of a poem. I see this as different to ‘performing’ the poem. This is where the poet actually acts like they would in a film. The visuals can be acting out the words of the poem, or in other cases they can be showing deeper meanings to the poem which a poet cannot possibly show when they are performing a poem on stage. This ‘embodiment’ of the poem, which a poet would do on stage, is taken to the next level. Essentially the poem is packaged in a way where it can be delivered to the audience from the comfort of their home via YouTube or via a Cinema Screen or Television. These films can also be embedded within an ebook, or, as I did in my 2013 La Mama Explorations show, Good Greek Girl (which will have a premier season is 2015), can be incorporated into a performance of show, where the poet is interacting with their poem. As poets, we all know that when we write a poem, we grow out of it and move on. I was interested in the dialogue between the old poet (in the film) and the new poet (performing). I took the films one step further creating a film trailer for my current book, Love and F**k Poems, using footage from two of the poems from the book, ‘Best Friend’ and ‘How to get a f**k’

I was also interested in the idea of working with other poets and writers but not just because I wanted to work with them, but creatively I liked the idea of putting well known poets and writers ‘inside my poems’. Performance poets can be very distinct characters so I liked the idea of playing around with this and seeing what they could bring to the films because I believe all performance poets can also act because it comes with being a performance poet. By doing this I was able to bring in the unique character traits of these poets into the films. I also invited some of the poets in the films to respond to the films on the launch night, as well as a few other poets. I want to create a dialogue of poetry between the films and other poets. I will also be responding to the films on the night with newer poetry I have written recently, addressing the poems of the films which were written a few years ago. Most of the poets are from a Greek-Australian backgrounds as I am interested in the cultural dialogue we can create with the films and the poems as a creative whole.

Everyone thinks poetry can’t sell, but I beg to differ, and I have always held the view that it can. In this digital age where less people are reading and more people want things fast and accessible, could poetry be the medium that pushes through?

Koraly Dimitriadis will launch her Good Greek Girl Film Project at Loop Bar on August 10th. She has also invited poets in the films and other poets to respond to the films.

Koraly Dimitriadis presents the Good Greek Girl Film project featuring Koraly Dimitriadis, Christos Tsiolkas, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Randall Stephens, Amy Bodossian, Anthea Sidiropoulos, Jim Koutsoukos & Cam Hassard, plus live poetic responses to the films by Angela Costi, Helena Spyrou, Komninos Zervos, Peter Papathanasiou (Canberra), Des Skordilis (Brisbane), Randall Stephens, Amy Bodossian, Kaliopi Malamas and maybe more!
Sunday, August 10 @ 6.30pm / Loop Bar, 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne / $15-10 (Limited Tickets. Please book in advance)

scottwings1-michael-cohen-pic-1

Review: Scott Wings previews Icarus Falling in Melbourne before Edinburgh Fringe

Review by Armand Petit

Pozible banner

Scott Wings’ one person (yes person, not man) show ‘Icarus Falling’ is a magnificently crafted, abstract exploration of both the ancient Grecian myth and the field of mental illness. Right from the beginning it was made clear that this was going to be a generous performance as Scott quite literally launched himself into the story. With a pretty demanding pose as well. The stage was virtually naked and the props, which consisted of a hip flask and chair, were rarely used. And despite the minimalism of the set or its contributing tools – the visual sparsity was all compensated for by the physicality and willingness of the performer embracing his characters and painting his world into existence. Icarus, Daedalus, the tower, the labyrinth, the sky, the ocean – it was all there. All easily imaginable through Scott’s description, his fantastic exploration of space and unabashed use of his body and voice.

There is a certain liberating whimsy that a viewer gets to experience when seeing Scott spin a yarn. It is not all highly polished, perfected elocution and traditional stage methods. It’s more like watching a kid at play, building a universe in their bedroom with such conviction that it’s really hard to not just buy into it. Their enthusiasm is infectious and you follow without question. However, with the added touch of seriousness this performance involves, Scott has managed to strike a pretty solid equilibrium between that fancy-free playfulness and the often self-destructive introspection of those who’ve outgrown LEGO and Play-Doh.

Side Note: For those of you over 20 that still play with LEGO and Play-Doh! You rock my world, but I’m sure you get my point.

Those who haven’t seen him on stage before may find the switches between character and narration a little jarring at times. There are also some relatively confronting lines and themes some may find offensive. Be it because they were insensitive or maybe a little too close to home – some cringes were definitely present in the room. When a performance poet delivers something this personal that is structured in a format of real life meets myth (and has no costumes, make up, backdrops or other cast members) it can be difficult to segregate what portions of the content belong to which character. Or whether it is a perspective of the poet themselves. Or if an emphatic and obscene gesture/comment was an absolute belief of the narrator or simply used to draw a reaction and provide the characters with more personality.

For the most part, and I would say about 95% of the show, these things were pretty evident. But I’ve got the upper hand of being theatrically trained and having gone to quite a number of these kinds of shows over the years. I’m just saying there may be a few odd punters, having just wandered in or been brought by a friend, which might take stuff personally because the seams between narrator, characters, folklore and personal observation/experience may blur now and again. And by “now and again” I mean very rarely. These blurs however, can make observers feel Scott is an asshole and some of his views are callous, misogynistic, homophobic, selfish and remorseless. Just know that if you take it that way and leave feeling pissed off with Scott, than you’ve forgotten the theme of this performance. Which is a young man at odds with his world, in a mode of self-discovery and haunted by his past mistakes. Could Scott do a little more to make that clearer? Possibly. But then the art becomes obvious and formulaic and we would no longer be entitled to a wider scope of interpretation and possibly, more individual response.

Leaving the transitions aside, I felt that the selection of his pieces and how they were interwoven into the set, along with the clear juxtaposition of the narrator’s opposing attitudes, managed to pull us through so many altitudes of the complexities of human emotions. A wonderful intersection of both harrowing yet hopeful was found where Scott set himself a seemingly impossible task and soared through a series of intimate and gripping moments.

As a sufferer of mental illness, this is an area that constantly sparks my interest. I have witnessed a number of performers take on this subject and provide something either vague or somewhat narcissistic and just a bit alienating. Speaking to them afterwards, a lot of them initially set out to make the audience feel included but did feel that the focus failed to communicate links between the two worlds. Scott Wings’ particular production was one I found incredibly raw, unapologetically honest and deathly accurate as to what it is to carry the burden and wear the stigma of manic depression.

To see ‘Icarus Falling’ is to witness a man that removed all defences and invited perfect strangers to have the potential to trudge through a highly personal landscape of shadows and reality, conflict, doubt, mistakes, self-loathing, anguish, love – and be left to judge. Such things take immense courage to not only create, but to share. And Scott has blessed us (and soon the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) with a gift of truth and beauty that is so otherworldly yet often unknown, unexplored and within us all. I will be seeing it again when he returns from Scotland. And I urge you all to do the same. If not for the mind-bending alternate take on the story, then at least to observe the possibilities of performance theatre and poetry delivery when limitations have been dismissed.

The author of this review would like to acknowledge; Hares & Hyenas (venue), Ebony MonCrief (MC Duties), Kudos (talent), Jacky T (talent) and Jamie Kendall (talent). All of who played an integral role for the event and are most definitely worth checking out.

10254046_807514192596566_5950720997128159557_n

Melbourne Spoken Word presents a workshop with Scott Wings

10254046_807514192596566_5950720997128159557_n

Sunday, July 20, 6-8pm / Under the Hammer, 158 Sydney Road, Coburg / $20 (booking recommended as spaces are limited))

Melbourne Spoken Word is proud to host a workshop with acclaimed Brisbane poet, Scott Wings following his show Icarus, on the Saturday evening.

Scott Wings is renowned for his comedic and energetic writing/performance style, dripping with meaning. Spoken word can be a delicate balance between saying what you feel, yet inviting the audience in to experience it with you. This workshop will explore writing and performance techniques taken from his wide array of poetry writing and physical theatre experience.

Scott Wings is a multi-award winning poet and performer from Brisbane. His internationally acclaimed tour of South East Asia saw him perform in decaying schools in Manila for theatre troupes and immaculate high rise apartments in Kuala Lumpur for spoken word nights. From the cafes of Bangkok to the Sydney Opera House, there is little this spoken word artist has not accomplished. His new show Icarus Falling launches in Melbourne on July 19 before premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

Book tickets to avoid missing out.

friendship-quotes_17497-2

Breaking Down Barriers in the Poetry Community

Written by Carrie Maya

I’ve only been involved in Spoken Word Poetry for about two years. That’s nothing in comparison to many of the poets I’ve seen gracing stages and pages with their words; some of them have been at it since before I was a zygote. It’s for this reason that I am a little hesitant to make the following claim, but it feels necessary nonetheless: there are a few elements within this community that have been detrimental to the creative health of poets of all shapes, and sizes, and genres.

Indie v. Mainstream

This seems to be one of the most toxic attitudes in the community. At least from my perspective. In all honesty, I’ve been guilty of it, myself. If someone takes the stage with a stylised, slam style, they get labeled ‘mainstream’ or ‘sell out’ . I’ve had my issues with slam, for sure. But I also recognise the role it played in creating a platform through which I had the opportunity to build confidence and receive prizes which facilitated my professional development. Things I am genuinely grateful for. But, during the time I was more heavily involved in the slam scene, or if I experienced a degree of popularity and success, it was hard not to listen to self-proclaimed ‘indie poets’ or ‘real poets’ say things like “I’ve been doing this for ten years. You’ve done this for two and you’re more successful than me. That’s not fair.” I’m like: okay, sorry about that.

Then there’s the flipside. There are incredible poets who don’t attend slams, and who stick mainly to readings and page poetry. And because they’re not engaging with slam culture, they get labeled ‘snobs’ or ‘elitist.’ Totes not cool, bro.

Here’s the dealio-yo: there are good and bad poetry apples in every basket. And it’s just not fair to pit them against each other out of some sense of allegiance to a ‘scene’. We are all poets and that is what should count in the end.

But how can we talk about Indie v. Slam without addressing the underlying issues…

Competition and Jealousy

This is where my personal struggle with slams have popped up. Although I have been lucky enough to win and place at multiple slams, the heart of the matter is: poetry, infused with a performer’s heart and soul, is being scored on a scale of 1-10. And, separate from a few special souls, most of us can’t escape the direct hit our self-esteem takes when we don’t do well. Or the inflated sense of our own importance if we’re a crowd favourite. Also: totes not cool, bro.

The reality is: slam is a competition so competitiveness is a given. But, despite the fact that I’ve only been doing this for two years, it’s been enough time to see that competitiveness and loving community cannot co-exist. But healthy competition and loving community can. I am still trying to detoxify myself of that nasty thing inside of me that feels slighted if I don’t succeed. But, gradually, as I train my self to think differently, I am able to feel like another slammer’s win is my own. Because the whole point is that whoever takes the stage is taking their turn to nourish the souls of our listeners. And if we step up to the mic with that intention, there is no room for unhealthy attitudes.

How can we see the breaking down of walls in the Melbourne poetry community?

Well, it starts with people like Benjamin Solah – founder and editor of this here Melbourne Spoken Word website. Through his hard work and kindness he has created an avenue of free exposure for poets; young and old, stage or page. In my experience, I have not witnessed any bias toward a specific genre or toward specific performers. Benjamin is a great ally to poets in this city for the above, and many other reasons.

It starts with conveners like Amanda Anastasi who runs La Mama Poetica. She aims to select a mixture of styles and performers in her quarterly line-up so that there is a diversity in poetic representation.

And it continues with the broader poetry community waking up to ourselves and stepping outside of our generic bubbles. It would be so cool to see more slammers heading over to poetry readings! And it would be wonderful if people who’ve bagged slams out without even experiencing them to go check one out! Younguns seeking out the older, more experienced poets with humility. Not just to glean from their expertise, but also to truly appreciate styles of work that we aren’t necessarily accustomed to. Older poets taking interest in we younger guys because, hey, we have a unique view of the world from down here.

We are at a tipping point. I totally confess to being one of the grumblers and complainers about the state of Poetry Land. But it gets boring after a while. And I know other poets who are sick of the energy drain that maintaining bad attitudes causes. So, my New Half-Year’s Resolution is: I’m going to cross back and forth across the invisible border in our community until I forget it’s there. It’s high time we start truly supporting each other where it counts: the moment we step off stage. CM

 

sliderimg_book_cover_single_mockup-294x300

Review: Fixing the Broken Nightingale by Richard James Allen

Fixing the Broken NIghtingale

Review by Gemma White.

Fixing the Broken Nightingale is a small, compact, beautifully produced book of poetry divided into seven sections; Prologue, Natural Disasters, Unanswered Questions, Occasional Truths, Flickering Enlightenment, A Scheme for Brightness and the Epilogue.

The preoccupation with artistic legacy is clear from the Prologue “Here we are, you and I, writer and reader/bound together in an eternal timeless dance”. It is later revisited in the poem The Disappearing Soul with a kind of melancholy disappointment in humanity, with the opening lines “I want to say something which makes us believe that the/human race was worthwhile after all./That we left some kind of legacy”.

The speaker in the poems highlights the fallibility of humanity, with personal confession: “if I had been a lesser man/I might have really/fucked up my life/but all I did was fuck up yours” and an psychological insight into the ‘shadow-side’ of the personality, the “dark, selfish, gaping, un/speakable, wordless part of each other/…The great, putrefying deep sea monster/…squatting in the heart of each of us”. The grossness, vulnerability and exposure of sexual relations is also explored in graphic detail in 13 Acts of Unfulfilled Love, with also a sense of searching, of the vain hope of finding a missing piece in the Other: “I have lost something/and am wondering/if I’ll find it/inside you”. But again, this idealised search for meaning is foiled, with a partner who compares sex with “taking candy from a child”.

In Fixing the Broken Nightingale, the creation of art emerges as a singular avenue of redemption for the failed human, as the speaker grapples with the big questions of existence – the intangibility of God in Chimera, the question of “not how to die but how to live” in the poem Flickering Enlightenment. The speaker counsels the reader “don’t try to lock down the mysteries” as even language is not sufficient, with poets mistaking “the prison bars of their minds/for the harpstrings of the heart”. Even so in The Disappearing Soul the speaker admits that “In this dark, my only candles are -/the poets,/who believed with their blood/in the secret potency of words”. So even as the speaker claims the power of art is an illusion, he still wants to believe.

I think this book has particular relevance to a largely secular society where there is still the human need to worship, without the outlet for such a need to be successfully fulfilled. Religions have been exposed, our idealistic search used in someone else’s private agenda. But still there is “the prayer that we may be useful before we perish”. Throughout the whole book there is a persistent need for meaning which I think is characteristic of the times in which we live. Richard James Allen’s work is informed by the struggles of humanity in a contemporary world. Rather than ignoring complexity, or seeking escapism, he enters the void, his words glistening with the many-faceted acts of life, love and creation.

The title of the book, which carries echoes of a whole poetic tradition of preoccupation with the nightingale, could most successfully be related to Shelley’s quote from his A Defense of Poetry: “A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.” Similarly, in Fixing the Broken Nightingale, although the problematic nature of language, of legacy, of humanity and intimacy is explored and admitted, the fixing is in the cheering of solitude, not only for the writer but for the reader as well, so that all might feel “moved and softened”, and thus in some way redeemed, faith curiously restored in an inexplicable transaction of truths between writer and reader.

Fixing the Broken Nightingale can be bought directly from Richard James Allen via his website: www.fixingthebrokennightingale.com

706luka-final-flat-e1395121404793 (1)

Luka Lesson’s new album EXIT released for free

706luka-final-flat-e1395121404793Australian slam poet heavyweight Luka Lesson has released his latest album EXIT for free! The album is available for download for free from his website and features 11 new pieces.

Luka Lesson spoke to Melbourne Spoken Word and told us “EXIT is an musical album, but I approached everything as a poet. After finding my poetic roots in Melbourne and watching them grow, leaving to tour worldwide pushed me even further into the deep end of words, cultures and finding out more about who I am. EXIT is about escaping our comfort zones, and the person we meet when we are faced with difficult and ‘foreign’ situations, both internally and externally.

“The Melbourne spoken word scene is a place for me that sparked the beginning of something big, and that inspired me to make something different – not hip-hop and not straight poetry, and not even something I would call ‘Australian’. I know when we search we don’t necessarily ever find an end point, but EXIT is a chronicle of the internal and external landscapes I’ve been walking over the past two years. It is personal and vulnerable, I took risks with it and made sure I made things that were honest and powerful.”

Check out his latest video clip below.

Upcoming Dan features

tumblr_l68ov47ILo1qb69qjThe Dan O’Connell is pretty much the oldest running poetry gig in Melbourne, and it happens every week on Saturday afternoon with a feature poet each week and an open mic, it’s a relaxing afternoon of poetry, free entry at 225 Canning Street, Carlton.

These are feature poets at the Dan over the next two months.

May 3 – Emily Manger

May 10 – Lee Kofman

May 17 – Dan Poets Competition Registration Day

May 24 – Eric Beach

May 31 – Dan Poets Competition Day

June 7 – Domenique Hecq

June 14 – Kristin Henry

June 21 – Double Feature New/Young Poet Day with Bridget Loughhead and Brendan Reed Dennis

June 28 – Patrick Boyle

Video Verse: Loop City

Loop City is the spoken word show that wowed Melbourne late last year. In collaboration with former MSO violinist Sarah Curro and composer Yvette Audain, two favourites of the Melbourne poetry scene, Amanda Anastasi and Steve Smart put together a spoken word show that breathes the city we live in, whilst dousing it with some much needed critical eyes. The show traverses tones, with the music underneath lifting the poetry up rather than smothering it, and for you, we have two clips from the show.

You have two more chances to see Loop City in April and May at the Courthouse Theatre in Eltham and a regional show out in Ballarat.

Thursday, April 17 @ 8pm / Eltham Courthouse, 728 Main Rd, Eltham / $5 / Open Mic

Saturday, May 3 @ 7.30pm / The Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard St N, Ballarat / $25-15 (Bookings or on the door)

Right Now looking for poetry and spoken word submissions

Right Now are currently accepting poetry and spoken word for publication on their website edited by Melbourne Spoken Word editor, Benjamin Solah.

Right Now seeks poetic expressions of human rights and social justice. We are seeking poetry of 100 lines or less that fit with monthly themes, touching on the issues of human rights, whether they be in the form of non-fictional poetry, abstract examples or the obscure connections that connect words to the rights of human beings. We are also very happy to accept spoken word recordings as well.

Please send submissions to submissions@rightnow.org.au.

Upcoming themes:

May 2014 – Human Rights and Money
June 2014 – History and Human Rights
July 2014 – Health and Human Rights
August 2014 – Education and Human Rights
September 2014 – Indigenous Rights
October 2014 – Identity and Human Rights

Right Now is an online human rights magazine, published at www.rightnow.org.au. Our vision is an Australia where people have informed and inspired discussions about human rights, equality and justice.

Melbourne Spoken Word presents Laneway Words with US Slam Poet Bill Moran

One Night Only, with local features, a poet’s market

Laneway Words

Friday, March 21 @ 8pm / Toot Fanute, Level 1, Door 1, Globe Lane, Melbourne (off Little Bourke St)

$10 on the door or $8 if you pre-book at trybooking.com

Melbourne Spoken Word presents a very special one-time-only spoken word event hidden in the laneways of Melbourne. We have found this very special venue open for a limited time and we would like to fill it up with spoken word and poetry.

Presenting US slam poet, Bill Moran, also known as Good Ghost Bill, born half-Cherokee, half-Catholic, half-Voodoo, he was part of 2011-2013 Austin Poetey Slam national teams and the 2012 & 2013 Austin Poetry Slam Champion.

Also featuring…

Fury: Australian born, New Zealand spawn. Child to a renegade dentist and a right wing oil painter. Fury’s work revolves around perception, empathy & the sacking of facades through colouring things human.

Andy Jackson’s collection, Among the Regulars (papertiger media, 2010) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award. He has performed at literary events and arts festivals in Australia, India, USA and Ireland. He blogs about identity, embodiment and other hard-to-pin-down things at amongtheregulars.wordpress.com

Your online connection to spoken word & poetry in Melbourne