Story by Benjamin Solah
The Brunswick Hotel was full last night for the last Passionate Tongues poetry night for the year and it was for a special reason. Melbourne poets Richard Smolarek and Amanda Anastasi used their open mic spot to surprise MC Michael Reynolds with a gift, a cheque of over $1,200 raised by donations from poets around Melbourne and beyond as well as a collection of haikus about the MC.
It was an exciting night and a long time coming. Michael is much loved by poets around Melbourne. He has done a lot for everyone, encouraging new poets to continue having a go on the open mic, and giving many of us our first features. He has run Passionate Tongues poetry for a long time, turning up each fortnight to MC the event, arranging feature poets, collecting prizes for the raffle. All of this whilst working shift-work. He has been very generous and wholly deserves the money people raised for him.
Review by Amanda Anastasi
When Koraly Dimitriadis released her first edition of Love & F**k Poems last year, it was in the form of a zine complete with handwritten poems and drawings. Now we have the ‘deluxe edition’- an impressive perfect-bound revamped production by Out Of The Box Press. For the purposes of this review, I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I must admit I felt exhausted afterwards, like I’d been through a kind of war: Koraly’s tug-of-war between empowerment and passivity, love and well…f**k.
In Love & Fuck Poems, Koraly takes us through the highs and lows of her relationships and family life with cutting frankness. Coming from a similar cultural background, I couldn’t help but be floored by the boldness and honesty of the poet’s voice. I immediately understood the level of courage involved in Koraly’s choices both in life and in her mode of expression, and the cost of it. The quote of her mother in Best Friend demonstrates this plainly: “Me evales ston tafo. You’ve put me in my grave.”
Koraly once described the writing and performance of a poem to me as ‘a quick fix’. These poems are exactly that, but to say they are just this would sell many of them short. The brazen nature of these poems – particularly the ‘f**k’ poems – in themselves are a protest to the repressive culture from which she emerged. Then there are those poems that go beyond a mere emotional purge, and are quite introspective and reflective as in Starting To Learn and My Words, where Koraly steps out of her immediate emotion.
The language is plain-speaking, unpretentious and very accessible. I confess I like my poetic language somewhat layered; for it to imply rather than tell and to leave much to the imagination. However, I also react against poetry that tries to be too clever and appreciate that which is natural, lucid and communicates directly…and Koraly is certainly direct! With Koraly’s poetry, the