Melbourne Spoken Word’s Benjamin Solah had a chat to Joel McKerrow about his recent Pozible campaign launch, where alongside his band the Mysterious Few, they hope to launch an album blending spoken word and music.
What inspired you to form a band and collaborate with musicians? How does it enhance or support the poetics? I have been performing poetry for years now and I absolutely love the synergy that happens between a poet and the audience in that moment of delivery. When the audience is right there with you and you feel as though you are on a journey together. Well, a few years ago I had the opportunity to do something with a musician and the same thing happened. Synergy. Connection. A fusion that surged me on in my performance and brought it to a whole different level. I have performed and collaborated on and off with muso’s since and in the last year found some that I just absolutely gel with and ‘Joel McKerrow & the Mysterious Few’ was born. The music, sets up a foundation for the poetry to sit upon. If its too overwhelming then it drowns out the poem, but if it is levelled just right and given the right tone to match the feel of the poem then it really adds another emotive punch to the lyrics. If poetry is about evoking a response and touching emotion then musical backing does the same, just as it does within a movie. It sets the feel that the words can then ride upon.
The other thing is that bringing in a band complete with muso’s and female vocals into a fusion of spoken word with acoustic, folk, rock type sounds is really not an expression that many others in the world are doing. There isn’t really a genre for it. Shane Koyczan would be the person doing this the best with his band, ‘The Short Story Long’. So its quite a pioneering field we seem to have found ourselves within.
What’s inside the poetics? Are these new pieces developed or older pieces with music mixed in? Wh
Amanda Anastasi talks to Andy Jackson about The Thin Bridge
A bridge is an object that connects and provides passage, and you have combined it with a term that denotes fragility and perhaps constraint. What does the image of “the thin bridge” represent for you?
Fragility, constraint and connection are exactly the sort of things I’m trying to capture with “the thin bridge”. The title of the book is the last line of one of the poems, and it’s a literal thin bridge, but of course, it’s also a metaphor. I’m thinking of that visceral sense of risk, anticipation and uncertainty which you feel in your bowels when you cross a bridge over a deep ravine or river. The bridge for me is poetry, but also our own bodies – a link between the way things are and the way things could be. A thin bridge is small, intimate and its success isn’t guaranteed.
The title to me seems fitting as your poetry is also so finely crafted. One of my favourite poems in the book is Elephant. What is the great ‘elephant in the room’ for you (individually/personally or collectively for us as a society)?
It feels like collectively there are many – the situation of indigenous people, the plight of refugees, the marginalisation of people with various (visible and invisible) disabilities. Sure, they may not seem like “elephants in the room” because there’s a lot of talk going on. But I’m not sure we really know what these imposing presences really are or mean. As in the poem, we’ve adapted to the presence and to our own silence. Perhaps we’re just holding the trunk and thinking it’s a snake (to paraphrase a Buddhist parable).
When do you know the sculpting of a poem is complete?
Ooh, tricky question. I think it’s when that slight wince I feel in my forehead whenever I read the poem has disappeared. Of course, sometimes I’m w
Review by ReVerse Butcher
Zenobia Frost’s debut collection of poetry Salt and Bone bricks out a space for itself and builds from ideas that Brisbane as a place is not usually instantly linked to. Death, longing, love, the risks of being intelligently unconventional, the chafing of history, and the act of contemplative observation are very far outposts from the sunny, sporty, beachy, conservative town its official facades decry. Frost’s verse balloons and gasps with an overwhelming sensitivity and sighs out a fog of metaphor that cloaks only to reveal the harmony and fragility of human life.
The Brisbane that Frost has conjured from the salt circle of her pages is not the Brisbane that you or I are likely to see unaided. It is one that has been stripped down to its skeleton and wholly examined. Salt and Bone, true to its title, is like an emotional autopsy, but not one in which the spirit seeks to escape the body. It is calculating, methodical, naked, and wholly beautiful. As a poet, Frost has placed its very heart in our warm palms, gifted us a twin city borne of her own capacity to see beauty through layers of history, regressive politics and meaning. And the sharp accessibility of Frost’s writing kindly lifts the veil for the rest of us to get a glimpse.
In Brisbane in Pictures (pp. 22-23), Frost floats short stanzas describing the inner-city after the floods in 2010-11, dredging powerful images of what was lost, changed or damaged from what was left behind, in both the massive:
“in car park basement lake of sludge a nurse shark drowns…”
and in the short, quick shocks of returning to the devastation of (un)familiar mundanity:
“…from the oven, a second flood of unscaled fish…”
“…a wheelie bin trapezes from a power line…”
Also included in this collection is The Hobby (pp. 4-5), which won second prize in the John Marsden Pr