Review: Rats Live On No Evil Star by Paul South

Review by Amanda Anastasi

I was born for the journey. Want me to tell you who I am? Am I Who I am?

I have read Rats Live On No Evil Star three times now: the first time as a draft, the second after the Passionate Tongues book launch and now again as I attempt to review it. Each time I digested it cover to cover in one sitting! This has much to do with Paul South’s accessible, conversational style. This and the easeful honesty that is evident from the unassuming opening lines of AM radio. The words enter quietly and humbly in lower case letters:

well i’ve had my day out walked a bit seen some things…

This book is divided in three sections: Short Trips, Bridge and Rats Live On No Evil Star. In Short Trips, Paul gives us anecdotes about putting a dead crow in someone’s front garden, eating a chocolate sundae, a guy chroming on the train and a bargain store misunderstanding – among other things – on suburban walks and train journeys. These acts of simple observance are full of small moments of epiphany that surprise, delight and occasionally take you off guard! The purity and simplicity of the voice has a way of injecting a kind of magic in the ordinary, and this really is the mark of a good poet. The most memorable moments in the first section for me are Hurtsbridge Train, Bat, Amber and I Am Laughing With You. I particularly enjoyed the lines:

Listen Until you are deaf

Ask why Until you fall asleep

And in Get Used It:

This is our life and this is how we share it; eyes that meet only in sly passing, none of us where we want to be.

Some of the poems, in their unveiled honesty can catch the reader off guard in confronting ways, like Toilet Phobia and In My Cage. Then there are those poems that are genuinely light and funny like Things To Do In Moreland, I See The Light and (in the last section) Right To The Personals and The Things I Live With.

In Dirge Of Myself there is a hin

Meet the Regulars: The Melbourne Poets Union Monthly Readings

Melbourne Spoken Word will now introduce you to the Melbourne Poets Union. We love the MPU because, disclaimer here, they gave us some money, which isn’t really a problem or conflict but if you want to balance it out a bit you can fix that by also donating some money to us. We plan to spend it on promoting the site (we’ve ordered stickers!), therefore promoting the scene as a whole but especially the gigs we sponsor ourselves, which we can do more of when other people generously donate. You will receive in return warm fuzzy feelings, hugs from poets and a special mention on our site if you are especially generous. But now I’ll give the page over to Randall…

Words by Randall Stephens: MPU President, 2013

The Melbourne Poets Union. We’ve been on strike for thirty five years. According to the legendary Sydney bard Tug Dumbly. We can’t afford Tug Dumbly. In spite of that we do monthly poetry readings anyway. Except December and January. Then we’re for-real on strike, I guess. Tug Dumbly didn’t answer my email. He must have been on strike too.

Anyway, Benjamin Solah asked us to tell you about our regular readings, which is good because there’s one on tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on when you’re reading this. Or it was last night if today is now Thursday, and you missed it. It was good too. No seriously, we had Amy Bodossian. More about that below) …can I start this over? No? Okay.

Well yes, the Melbourne Poets Union is a grass roots organisation that began life in 1977, an association currently under the auspices of Australian Poetry and the Victorian Writers Centre. So I have to be nice to them now. I also have to run these damn monthly readings.

If you’ve heard of us at all, the MPU has a reputation of being a little stodgy and conservative, and in 2013 we’re determined to help change that attitude by broadening our involvement in the local poetry community (including sponsori

Meeting the Regulars: Word SLAM

Our next post in the series looks at Word SLAM held at Hares and Hyenas, like Mother Tongue, it’s a slam that really celebrates and encourages words from a specific group that needs their stories told.

Words by Maeve McNelis

The Hare Hole WordSLAM?! is a little bit different. Not just open to poets, we encourage all writers to get up and show us what they’ve got.

It’s a competition.

Six writers perform in three rounds, competing for top place and a chance to enter the GrandSLAM. In the first round writers perform for up to 3 minutes, in round two they have up to 4 minutes. After two rounds the judges confer and choose the top two performers who go on to a final battle of up to six minutes each. First prize is a cut of the door plus entry into the GrandSLAM where there will be GRAND PRIZES (yet to be announced)

It’s queer.

Performances are often intimate and bold. Writers lay open their hearts with stories of love, life, the joy of bicycling, being trans, bringing up kids, sex, internalised homophobia, books they read as a kid, growing up in japan, abortions, racism, the wonders of dating librarians, & cannibalism.

You won’t believe it ‘til you see it.

The WordSLAM?! is on the second Thursday of the months with a GrandSLAM planned for October, at Hares and Hyena’s, 63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. Tickets on the door, $10 full / $8 concession. Doors at 7:30 for an 8pm start. Come down and check it out, or contact Maeve at [email protected] to perform.

Dates are: May 9th June 13th July 11th August 8th September 12th GRANDSLAM PLANNED FOR OCTOBER

Meeting the regulars: The Dan Poets

This post in our series on regular poetry gigs looks at the Dan O’Connell weekly poetry readings, one of the veterans of the Melbourne poetry scene. We encourage everyone to share around these posts and perhaps visit a gig you wouldn’t otherwise to immerse yourself in the diversity of the Melbourne poetry scene.

Words by Steve Smart

Photo by Michael Reynolds

Dan Poets has been running every Saturday afternoon since the beginning of time! Well, ok that’s not entirely true, but it has been running for many years. Since January 1st, 1994 to be exact. Some of you weren’t even born then. I was still in high school with no idea of any kind of poetry scene in Melbourne. Little did I know…

So there’s Grant McCracken sitting in the public bar of Carlton’s Dan O’Connell Hotel on a summer Saturday afternoon chatting with legendary Melbourne publican Kevin Webb. Hmm, nothing much going on in here eh Kevin? Should have a poetry reading. And so it began.

Now Grant ran it for about a year until he went off on the Oz poets tour of Texas and other far-flung places. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Kevin ran the poetry for the next year until Ted Lord took it over. Now Lord Ted ran it for 16,000 years with the able assistance of Amanda Britton, Michelle Lehane, Justin Godden and Cam Black, until Cam took it over officially at the time of Ted’s passing in 2007. Then Cam ran it until he decided that poets smell funny, at which time he elected a group to take it over. That raggle-taggle bunch consisted of Anne Bowman, Fiona Stuart, Libby Charlton, Norman Jensen and myself.

Currently the organising group is Anne, Libby, Norman and Uncle Smarty.

So what is it, this Dan Poets? The format is pretty simple – open mic / feature poet’s 1st set / break / open mic / 2nd feature set / end of open mic / drinks / drinks. Lately we’ve been playing a l

Meeting the regulars: Mother Tongue

Our second post in our series looking at regular gigs looks at the women’s only ‘Mother Tongue,’ another relatively new gig on the Melbourne scene.

Words by Fleassy Malay

Mother Tongue aims to be more than just a spoken word night (as they all do I guess). It is, as far as I know, Melbourne’s only Women’s Spoken Word night. The set up is simple, 2 feature acts, 10 open mic slots, chai, cake and cushions. Only Women perform but men are more than welcome (and encouraged) to come and watch.

Our catchphrase, if it’s cool to call it that, is “Passionate, Powerful, Vulnerable and Honest” and this really does seem to set the theme of the night, it never fails to bring laughter, tears and a post-show sense of …”wow did that really happen?”

The original idea was to create a space with two intentions; 1. To provide a platform for women to inspire and be inspired, be them first time writers or seasoned performers and 2. To PAY. After years of performing internationally and feeling guilty even asking for expenses, the intention for Mother Tongue was to not only pay our Feature Acts for their passion and gifts but to also remind them that this is a symbol of their worth, and that they are doing important and powerful work… and to keep doing it! It’s a real community event and the warmth and sense of support from it is often felt days/weeks after.

The talent always inspires me and the courage of the women that get up and share their deepest truths in a creative way is amazing. It’s almost like a women’s group and a performance platform joined… There have been whispered plans of a Brother Tongue being set up and I really really hope I get to see that happen. The concept of the “tongues” is not to segregate but to create a space for our vulnerability to be witnessed and supported. The next one is 19th of April and I am super excited for it, so… see you down there!

Meeting the Regulars: House of Bricks

Here at MSW, we’re starting a new series of articles looking at the regular poetry gigs around Melbourne (some that have been going for decades!) and looking at how they run as an introduction to poetry/spoken word fans in Melbourne to see what gigs have been circulating around and what you might like to go check out for yourselves. We begin our series by looking at a new kid on the block, House of Bricks.

Words by Sheridan Mills

The House of Bricks gallery and studio space is a warehouse space in the heart of Collingwood (just around the corner from The Tote Hotel), which hosts a range of arts and cultural events – supporting both local and international artists.

Once a month we hold a spoken word event (typically on the last day of the month depending on our events calendar), which has been gaining momentum over the past year.

Our premise is to support local writers and to offer a platform for both emerging (we welcome first-timers) and established writers and spoken word artists to come together and share their work with a different audience.

We have from 50-100 people attend our events and our audience is not only made up of writers, but also people from all aspects of the arts and the general public.

The event runs a callout once a month for people to put their name down for a ‘feature’ time-slot on the night (which is a 10 minute time-slot) and we have up to 4 features per event.

We also have up to 10 ‘open-mic’ time-slots of up to 3 minutes each.

Santo Cazzati ‘PJ’s’ the event (poetry jockey) who has been involved in the local/interstate writing and spoken word scene for over 10 years and is one of the most colourful, energetic, and accommodating PJ’s around (he is, in fact, the ONLY PJ around, as he invented the concept at House of Bricks!).

We also hand out – free – spoken word zines filled some of the most amazing wo