Matt Hetherington talks to Amanda Anastasi about For Instance: a haiku & senryu collection.
Many consider a three line poem with any reference to human life to be traditionally a senryu, rather than a haiku. However, your poems seem to be a combination of the two poetic forms. Do you find this merging of human nature and the world of nature inevitable?
Everything is inevitable.
Why the title For Instance?
I think haiku and senryu are essentially about capturing something of an instant in experience, as an example of events in the world that are beautiful/sad/humbling/funny/poetic/enlightening etc…so they are all dedicated to the instant[s].
Have you ever started writing a poem of length and ended up reducing it to a haiku, or vice versa? If so, is this a frequent occurrence?
No, but I’ve sure written plenty of very short poems. And not very many long ones. I think the odd early haiku of mine might be a bit long, too. I have a different attitude when writing haiku/senryu than other poetry, more based in the senses, and envision them as a kind of snap-shot, which is why the first part and third part of the book are written overseas – I purposely didn’t take a camera, in order to write them about what I observed. It’s also a really nice way to remember those things, and in a way makes the memory of them more vivid than a snap-shot with only a camera would.
Ants feature a lot in your poems. And snails…but mostly ants. Why?
Someone once asked some old Zen master, ‘Where is Buddha?’, and he replied ‘In the ant.’ I just really love insects, and ants are easily observed, maybe…Grant Caldwell writes about ants a lot, too.
Which one of your haiku do you most want people to read, if you had to choose one?
Notice how I chose TWO…I think my favourite overall might be
a snail begins to cross a highway
and from For Instance, maybe:
drunk again the m
Alakazam! featuring Amy Bodossian and Robert Drummond Wednesday, April 1 @ 8pm / Dane Certificate’s Magic Tricks, Gags and Theatre, 859a Sydney Road, Brunswick / $3 / Open Mic
Poet Paul South has launched a new monthly spoken word gig and open mic in a magic shop, Dane Certificate’s Magic Tricks, Gags and Theatre. The new gig, run on the first Wednesday of the month, is called Alakazam! and launches next Wednesday, April 1, with feature poets Amy Bodossian and Robert Drummond.
Host Paul South said, about why he started a gig in this little magic shop on Sydney Road after launching his book Little Book of Birds there in February, “As my Dad said after the launch, the venue reminded him of Jazz clubs from the early sixties. If you ask me, it’s a jazz club designed by Dr Seuss! I was having a cider and talking to Amanda after the gig that night, and she said it was a crime that there wasn’t a regular poetry gig there. Later that night, mentioned the idea to Dane, and he said that I should host it.”
South hopes to inject something different in the space that’s sure to enrich the landscape of live poetry in Melbourne. “The gig should be spoken word in it’s broadest sense. There will be two features per gig, and we’ll try to contrast their styles as much as we can. Comedians will feature alongside poets and storytellers of all descriptions. There will be an open mic section. Dane is happy to sprinkle some of his magic throughout the night too. I’ve always complained about the lack of variety in the spoken word scene. Now I have the task of trying to do something fresh and interesting. It’s kind of scary, but it’s also very exciting.”
Audacious Issue One, released in April 2015, features a wide range of voices, from suburbs spotted around Melbourne, plus a visitor or two.
Buy: Physical CD via our Online Store Digital Download via our Online Store iTunes Google Play Spotify Amazon Brunswick Bound From Benjamin Solah, in person at various gigs Melbourne Spoken Word events
Editor: Benjamin Solah Assistant Editor: Anthony WP O’Sullivan Mastering: Armand Petit Recording Consultant: Jacky T Cover image by Di Cousens.
Emily Weitzman writes artichokes and eats poems. The recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, she is spending the year traveling the globe, teaching, performing, writing, and learning about communities and cultures through spoken word and poetry. Raised in New York, she graduated from Wesleyan University, where as a competitor and coach, she was a four-year member of the award-winning Wesleyan University slam poetry team. The team won awards, including “Best Writing” at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in 2012, and Emily won individual awards such as “Best Female Poet,” “Funniest Poet,” and “Best Persona Poem.” The first half of Emily’s yearlong journey as a Watson Fellow has brought her to New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. As a teacher, performer, artist-in-residence, or observer, Emily has collaborated with various spoken word organizations across the globe.
Brendan Reed Dennis
Brendan Reed Dennis has been turning heads and blowing minds in Melbourne since his arrival in January 2014. From dingy Melbourne bars to the Sydney opera house, Brendan has left audiences in a poetry induced state of existential crisis. As one of the younger writers in the Melbourne poetry scene he prefers the term ‘prodigy’ to ‘young poet. He is the the man with the golden tongue and it has earned him the title of Victorian State Poetry Champ
Geoff Lemon performing ‘Gutter Run’ at March’s The Poetic Lab.
Produced by Melbourne Spoken Word Filmed by Freeman Trebilcock.
As a poet, at some point you will of course have to tackle the subject of nothing, writing about the fundamental nothingness of existence, or the basic nothingness of something (or something), and what to do when that horrible event comes along that we’ve all been dreading and nothing much happens. Obviously it is very important for you to take this all incredibly seriously, and wear black, scowl gloomily, and sit about doing…. well, nothing. Good.
So, writing about nothing is the most important thing you can do as a poet. Basically, nothing is really something, or should I say, you should be able to make something out of nothing, or maybe writing something about nothing should make you really feel…. something. I don’t know, you’re a poet, I’m sure you’ll be able to get round to it. Point is, writing about nothing is so incredibly urgently mindblowingly important, that you shouldn’t be on an empty stomach when you start. You need to get some food into you. But what?
1. Donuts. Donuts are an excellent food to eat when writing about nothing. You need to take those donuts out of the bag, one by one, and admire their wonderful shape, their smooth curves…. and most importantly, the little empty hole of meaninglessness at their centre that makes them look like a zero. You really need to get those donuts into you, straight away, so you can have that little empty hole of meaninglessness at your centre and you can start writing about nothing. But make sure they’re hot, fresh out of the oven and dusted with cinnamon sugar! Otherwise it won’t work.
This food is so important for poets that I’d go so far as to say that you should eat it every day.
2. Also good: Cheezels, Toobs, Burger Rings, and those types of breakfast cereals that have holes in them. You could even try a little DIY project at home and make pancakes with a hole in the middle, but this subject is so incredibly
Words by Benjamin Solah
A question I often get asked at gigs by people new to poetry and spoken word is how to you become the ‘feature’ poet? The ‘feature’ or guest poet, or poets, is something almost unique to poetry events in that alongside those on the open mic, some poets are asked to do a longer set and the event is advertised as ‘featuring’ them so many in the audience are there to specifically see their work, on the premise that they’re a quality of poet. Some events don’t have open sections and just have feature poets, people invited to perform. To go from open mic to a feature slot, I’ve compiled some useful tips, but by no means are final.
The Open Mic
The open mic is there for everyone to get a chance to show the audience and event organisers what they’ve got. It’s there for people who just like to read their own work for their own benefit but also to develop your work and get noticed for potential features. Aside from the quality of your poetry, there are other things, such as not going overtime, that help or hinder your likelihood of getting features. See my open mic tips for more.
Your work on the open mic should show that you have a body of work long enough to sustain at least a 15 minute set, so reading new work and reading often is a good idea, as well as trying out different venues and events. Different places have different tastes and styles, so whilst you might not get a feature at one venue, another gig might like your style enough to ask you.
Do I ask for a feature?
The general advice is you shouldn’t ask an event organiser to feature for them, unless they put an open callout for features. It’s best to wait until they think you’re ready and you don’t want to put them offside. There are some exceptions though, usually made easier if you’ve featured before, such as if you have a specific pitch for a show, a certain kind of set, or if you want to launch your book. I w