Review by Benjamin Solah
Technically, this website is meant to discuss poetry written by Melbourne poets, but Ken Arkind has been here enough so we can kind of adopt him. Plus, if he likes this review maybe he’ll jump on a plane and move here and we can smell his honey badger beard all the time and the poetry will be really great.
But in lieu of him not coming to Melbourne, I’ve always wanted a collection of Ken Arkind’s since seeing him perform here a few years back alongside a whole bunch of cool poets from The States. They all blew me away but especially Ken. Maybe there was something about this cadence and tone that reminded me of the poetry I was striving to write but just falling short of like making an awesome jump above a gorge and just missing and falling to my death.
Coyotes contains a bunch of those first poems that got me hooked like ‘Maggie’ and ‘An Experiment in Noise.’ As you get to those pieces in the collection, they orient your reading, you read them with his voice in your head and add clarity to the new pieces. They are also just as strong yet different in how they’re read on the page. The way he plays around with the placing of the lines, sometimes shifting the font, goes someway to capturing the way it’s spoken. Like when it opens with ‘An Experiment in Noise,’ with lines like ‘Remember that refrain when the waves come. they will come‘.
But ‘David’ is clearly the standout piece. It’s the one that makes my insides stand in silence and it was an interesting experience when the lines ‘When I looked down the screen read, / I live you I live you I live you I live you‘ hit me like they always do. Usually, you can sit there as the lines collectively hit everyone around you and react naturally, but this time I sat on the tram, the passengers around with no real idea what I was reading, and I had to hold it all in, be
Words by Benjamin Solah
Poetry gigs come and go. It’s always so exciting when a new gig comes up, in a new venue, or if we see someone taking the initiative to keep our scene chugging along by setting up their own gig. I’m in awe of some of the gigs and their organisers that have kept gigs running for so long, for their hard work and determination but also convincing venues and organisers to keep supporting spoken word when it doesn’t always seem like the most booming art form. Some gigs have survived many venue swaps, as one pub decides to shun poetry, that convince another to keep it alive.
It’s also especially sad when a gig has to wrap up. Dimitris Troaditis has been running [email protected] for the past two years, where he hosted a monthly poetry gig, inside the Atrium at Fed Square or upstairs at Beer DeLuxe, and was especially encouraging of poetry in other languages, himself writing and performing poetry in Greek. Melbourne Spoken Word was very happy to support this event, publicising it along with all of the other gigs, and doing our little bit to get people along. I hope some of you got the chance to make it along one Saturday. I had the pleasure of performing alongside some refugee poets there one Saturday afternoon, and it was always a pleasure to meet the regular open mic readers that had called this event home.
Unfortunately, Fed Square have chosen to discontinue to the event from this year and so we’ve lost this treasure. Like Australian poetry as a whole lost ABC Poetica, and everyone remembers losing The Spinning Room due to the venue being refurbished, we hope that Dimitris continues to host a new gig at a new venue when he’s ready. As one venue decides to not support poetry, we’ll find another that does and continue to find people to support it so we can keep on performing.