Friday, February 23 @ 6:30pm
63 Johnston Street Fitzroy
Has an Open Mic?
$100 open mic comp. Sign up on the door.
Melbourne Poets Union would like to invite you (and everyone you know) to the first event of 2018. With a $100 prize for the best poem on the open mic! Featuring two fantastic, widely published, super experienced, highly respected poets; Grant Caldwell and Jennifer Compton!
Grant Caldwell’s poetry has been published widely in Australia since the 1970s, as well as in Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and U.S.A. His latest book of poetry is Reflections of a Temporary Self: New & Selected Poems (Collective Effort/Trojan Press, 2015) his eighth book of poetry, covering 40 years of writing. A new novel, Love and Derangement (Arcadia) was released in November 2014. He was awarded Australia Council for the Arts Established Writers Fellowships in 1992 and 1994. He has represented Australia at international poetry festivals in China, Colombia, Japan and New Zealand. He is a senior lecturer in the Creative Writing program at University of Melbourne.
Jennifer Compton lives in Carrum out on the Frankston line. She is a poet and playwright who also writes prose. Her stage play, The Goose In The Bottle, was shortlisted for the Lysicrates Prize last year and Verity La published a piece about Koo Wee Rup called Famous For Asparagus. When it comes to the poetry side of things she likes to have it every which way. She very much likes winning the Newcastle Poetry Prize and being given the big cheque. And she also very much likes the hurly burly of the open mic. A new book of poetry (working title Next) is a third of the way there, and several stage plays are being intermittently recalcitrant.
You could win money, you could win the raffle, you will see some seriously good poetry.
Pay-as-you-feel restaurant, Lentil As Anything, located in the old nuns dining hall at the Abbotsford Convent, is hosting a monthly open mic poetry night based on a changing theme. An inclusive space for seasoned and amateur poets alike. Sign up on the blackboard from 5.30pm, the event begins at 6pm with 5 minute slots during dinner service.
I’m sitting down for an interview with Waffle IronGirl, me on one end of old faithful (Facebook Messenger), her on the other. I’ve – somewhat unwisely – started off proceedings with a list of ‘suggested’ questions from my partner Lexi, all of them uniquely bizarre. For instance:
“How adaptable is the waffle iron as a printing technology?”
Waffle IronGirl shoots this one down:
Waffle Iron isn’t a printing technology.
It’s very adaptable personal weaponry though.
Things are off to a cracking start.
We’re here to talk about performing in Singapore (she was recently a support act in the Singapore poetry slam) and chapbooks (she’s running a workshop on chapbooks for the Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival). But I can’t resist. Where does the name “Waffle IronGirl” come from? ” I once wrote a flash fiction story about a vigilante called Waffle IronGirl,” she explains. “She used a waffle iron to dispatch with those who would violate her boundaries or the boundaries of those she cared about. When I started performing I needed a stage name, and it seemed like she could impart a courage and frankness that I felt I was lacking personally.”
I could pause here to note that Waffle IronGirl is one of the most original performers I’ve seen, and when she featured for us at the Dan, I felt like the top of my head had been taken off and I had a whole range of new weird and wonderful ideas poured in. Instead, I ask about the Singapore slam; what differences between Singaporean spoken word and Australian spoken word did she notice? “What struck me wasn’t so much the difference in style”, she says, “although that was certainly there. From a style perspective, there was certainly a more natural use of multiple languages and accents and dialects within the same
What does your name mean?
Thabani means “be happy”.
What makes you happy?
Connecting with people. I enjoy consuming art in all its forms. Art is one of the most connective things in which we can participate.
What made you leave Zimbabwe and come to Melbourne? Is Melbourne home now or is there more to your journey?
I left to study in the US and South Africa and finally Melbourne because I have family here. I just thought it would be beaches and people in swimsuits all day but had a rude awakening!
There is so much more to the journey. The project I’m working on now is about the sense of identity displacement. Even in Zimbabwe, I was not culturally accepted because I went to a lot of “white” schools. I’m still searching for a sense of belonging.
Do you know what this place looks like?
No, that’s why it’s so hard to find. But it’s not about the finding, it’s about the journey towards finding. In fact, I’m content to continuously search and not find it because it’s in the search that the most meaningful interactions are to be found.
You’re a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow. What that does mean to you?
It is a great opportunity. Connecting to other writers and becoming a part of the literary world – that is the most valuable aspect. The biggest growth for me is the discipline – working on one full body of work thematically linked, where the content needs coherent narrative. I’m usually very sporadic and volatile in writing, so it’s been an interesting challenge to get into the frame of mind where I’m still authentically expressing myself but it’s a controlled expressing. Not writing to the feeling, but bringing the feeling and writing to it.
You’re part of the Slamalamadingong National Poetry Slam Team. How do you feel and what are you expecting at the event?
A lot of poetry! It’s great to see people workin