Thursday, April 30 @ 7:00pm
House of Bricks Gallery
40 Budd Street Collingwood
Has an Open Mic?
Speak to the host and poetry jockey Santo Cazzati
House of Bricks Spoken Word happens monthly around the end of the month. It has been going since 2012 under the stewardship of House of Bricks gallery organiser Crib Millen and the MC of the poetry gig, Poetry Jockey Santo Cazzati. Santo is the only known poetry jockey in the cosmos (insert academic footnote for verification here by authority on cosmological poetry jockeys, Amanda Anastasi). A poetry jockey is like a disc jockey in a bar or night club. Santo controls the aural environment by selecting his four feature artists and ten open mic candidates in any order that he sees fit (insert acknowledgement here to Anthony O’Sullivan, from whom the idea was stolen to then be brilliantly modified by Santo). This creates a particular atmosphere, sometimes scintillating, sometimes profound, poets being listened to in pindropping silence, or being positively heckled during their performance. The emphasis is on the way poetry comes from the voice of the poet, wafts in the air, and gently caresses the listener.
Poets at HOBSW might be very performance oriented or very literary oriented, and the two seem to happily coinhabit the space. And the space is unique in the world as probably the only poetry gig with an open roll-a-door onto the world, allowing smokers to participate without causing passive smoking danger to other participants.
Sjaak de Jong
Sjaak strayed into the world of poetry about 30 years ago from the halls dungeons and cellars of rock and roll, and was founding member of the sound-poetry chorus UQ, a very strange and edgy performance group that managed to be in existence for over 20 years. He has often worked with poets striving to create a genuine hybrid of poetry and music and continues to be the producer/convenor of a number of experimental poetry compilations “Voiceprints XX” that aim to expose local practitioners to a wider audience.
Lawrence Tobius Sampson Greene
Lawrence honed his craft while living by the skin of his teeth in Cambodia, where he spoke for his supper all up and down the bars of Otres Beach. He likes words, he likes rhythm, and likes making people laugh, so he’s not at all bothered that the poem he gets the most compliments for is the dumbest one he’s ever written.
Jeltje Fanoy has been writing, performing and editing poetry since the 1970s. Her publications include the collections “Living in Aboriginal Australia”, “Catching worms” and “Poetry Live in the House”, the collaborations of poetry and music “So Be It” and “Dreaming in English”, and the compilations CDs “Poetry for Peace” and “Heart to Heart” (Reconciliation Poetry at La Mama Poetica). She has also translated works by Netherlands poet Arjen Duinker into from Dutch into English, including her translation of “De Zon en de Wereld” (The Sun and the World). Jeltje was a convenor of poetry performances at La Mama Poetica from 2004 until 2010.
Amanda Anastasi’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies both locally and overseas. Amanda’s first collection 2012 and other poems was named in Ali Alizadeh’s ‘Top Ten Poetic Works of 2012’ in Overland Literary Journal. She also co-wrote Loop City, with Steve Smart and NZ composer Yvette Audain, produced by MSO’s Sarah Curro. Amanda won the 2010 and 2011 Williamstown Literary Festival’s Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize. She has since been a judge for both the Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and the Right Now Human Rights Poetry Prize. She has performed in many spoken word events and festivals in Melbourne.
To the Ends of the ‘Verse is all open mic, all the time, hosted between two venues, The Skylark Room out east in Upwey and at the warm and cozy Open Studio in the inner-northern suburb of Northcote. Hosted by poet Justine Walsh, it began as a spoken word poetry event for Belgrave’s inaugural End Of The Line festival in November 2012 and has been hosting events ever since.
Yoram sometimes has the air of a man possessed when he’s performing. I was interested to find out what drives this dynamic performer. I wasn’t surprised he suggested we meet at the underground bar, E55. When I arrived, he was already comfortably ensconced in a background of drumbeats.
Where did you start with spoken word? I’ve been involved with public speaking all of my life. From an early age I was trained to deliver long speeches without notes and without learning content off-by-heart, but rather, to take a theme or topic and improvise on it, sort of like a jazz of public speaking. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I practiced this kind of speaking extensively, but exclusively within the Jewish community, and almost always within the context of a religious setting. Basically, I was a preacher.
Regarding the Spoken Word form specifically, it began for me in about 2014. I had returned to Australia from Israel where I had been deeply involved in the Arab Spring movement in that country. I had been engaged in everything from street protests to electioneering and when I returned I felt compelled to write about my thoughts and experiences.
I found, however, that when I actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I was writing in a totally new way for me, using loads of rhymes and masses of adjectives and weird assonances and alliterations. It seemed entirely gratuitous for prose. So I sat there looking at my screen and wondered; “Is this was what people call spoken word?” Shortly thereafter I came across Slamalamadingdong and so it began.
Why spoken word? You aren’t explicitly in it for the self-exploration… That’s definitely true, I am not in spoken word for the self exploration per se. I am really in it for the revolution. I see the spoken word stage as a place to talk about political ideas and use the voice to inform and effect political transformation.
Spoken Word serves
You wrote a poem about last year’s tragic Bourke Street incident, which was read at the Bourke Street Memorial Service in January by the Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood. What were you feeling, hearing your poem read by a public official at a major event?
I didn’t watch the poem read live at the venue or on TV. Let me explain why. One of the survivors of the Bourke Street attack is a friend of mine. As the first anniversary of the attack approached I found myself dwelling on those days. It was a difficult month. My father had died a few weeks before, in terrible circumstances. One day I was talking to my friend about what happened to my father, trying to make sense of it all. Then, a week later, I was visiting that friend in the Alfred Hospital, trying to make sense of such a senseless act.
So, a year on, I was thinking about January 2017 when the organisers of the Memorial emailed to ask whether I knew any poems that might be appropriate to read out. That email triggered me. I spent the next three days trying to write a poem about the events of January 2017. Before I sent the poem to the organisers, I told my friend what I’d done. I guess I was seeking his permission. He told me to send it, so I did. On the day of the Memorial I watched a bit on the TV, then turned it off. Once I heard from my friend that he liked the poem, I went back and watched the video. I thought Arron Wood did a great job with the reading. As for me, I was just relieved my friend thought it was OK.
Most of your poems are rather economical and look as though they are suspended and solitary on the blank page. Others are longer, less spaced out, and laid out in neat lines. What dictates the way a poem looks on the page?
I don’t know the answer to that question. The truth is that, for me, writing poetry is all about the process. I only write a poem when I feel something I don’t understand. Once I start writing, the poem shows me its form