Review by Amanda Anastasi
“[Poetry] doesn’t create, it infests… It is the dark heart The niggling damp The rising doubt”
I’ve just finished listening to two discs worth (that’s seventy-nine tracks in all!) of Steve Smart’s poetry. My head is spinning and I need sleep, but I cannot bring myself to stop listening. So brace yourself folks… Three-hundred and thirty-six features and sixty-eight festivals later, Steve Smart delivers this; his great achievement, his magnum opus. So where to begin? How about here: Steve Smart is the real deal. This is a raw, seething, hardcore poet who makes the rest of us look spineless.
When I took my first tentative steps in the Melbourne poetry scene a couple of years ago, I learned some things. This thing called ‘the Melbourne poetry scene’ covered everything from thinly veiled rants, rhymes, comedy, philosophical reflection, musical/rhythmically-based spoken word performance and all forms of word play. There seemed to be an endless discussion about the merits of page poetry versus stage poetry. I quickly discovered that the aim was not so much writing well in the traditional sense and conforming to a particular style, but composing something honest, original and true and to see where it led. As you listen to Voices In My Head – a retrospective of Steve Smart’s various shows and character pieces – it is increasingly evident that Steve rises above all these categories.
Of course when venturing on to the scene, I also noticed a delicate long-coated creature with unruly hair spouting novel things into a microphone. It was obvious to me that this guy lived and breathed poetry – it emanated from his pores and flashed from behind his glasses. Poets seemed to be drawn to him as though he were the poetry mothership. Michael Reynolds stated at a recent feature that “Steve Smart is the poetry scene”. I often wonder if in fact, after being on the scene for some fifteen