Tuesday, February 28 @ 6:00pm
33 Saxon Street,
$20 (or $15 for Patreon Patrons: https://www.patreon.com/melbspokenword)
Has an Open Mic?
Book tickets @ https://www.trybooking.com/OOQL
As part of our Spoken Word Night School series presented by Melbourne Spoken Word.
In February, we bring you Komninos Zervos, where he will take participants through a 3-hour writing-based workshop, getting you back to basics, letting the words stand on their own and using language economically. He will also guide you in how this may be used to teach poetry in schools and community groups, as he did for ten years before teaching poetry at uni.
Komninos Zervos was born in 1950 in Melbourne. He has been writing poetry on a professional basis since 1985, taking his poetry to schools, community groups, hotels, music venues, prisons, coffee lounges, universities, radio, television, and now the internet. (http://www.komninos.com.au) He has published two collections of poetry with the University of Queensland Press (Komninos, 1991, and Komninos by the Kupful, 1995); a collection of poetry for children illustrated by Peter Viska and published by Oxford University Press (The Baby Rap and Other Poems, 1992); and a hardcover illustrated children’s picture book published by Harper Collins in 1991. In 1992 he received the Australian Human Rights Award for literature, and in 1993 he was awarded the Australia Council’s Ros Bower Award for outstanding achievement in community arts. In 1995 he completed a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland, and authored a cd-rom of cyberpoetry for his dissertation. In 1997 he travelled to London to be writer in residence at Artec, a multimedia training and resource centre in Islington, where he authored a cd-rom, Cyberpoetry Underground. He also convened the Cyber Studies major at the School of Arts, Griffith University, Gold Coast campus, from 1999 to 2007. Komninos’s poetry is taught in schools and is on the syllabus for year 12 HSC Standard English in NSW.
A night for the poetic sweepings of the inner north to degenerate into sleaze, vitriol, and confusion. And rise into revelation, liberating confession and poetic wisps of the sublime. A feast of clashing waters. All in a cozy artsy pup. No features, no list, no limits. Just put your hand up and come on up. Is your piece not really ready? It is for this gig.
Eleanor Jackson and her infant daughter graciously hosted me for this interview. Over tea and cake, we had a wide-ranging conversation about spoken word and its revolutionary potential.
One of the things I love about poetry is that it is deeply transgressive, precisely because of its anti-capitalist tilt. We live in a system that assigns a utility to every person and their time. To do something that is a ‘waste of time’ and makes no money — it is a revolutionary act.
I was listening to your performance of “Shave and a Haircut” at Slamalamadingdong. I was struck by the musicality, how it evoked the sounds and rhythms of jazz. I wanted to ask about musical influences. Is that a conscious thing for you?
Yes, spoken word and poetry is about musical language. There is so much resonance between the way that musicians and poets use language: for its rhythm, tonality and song. My earliest musical loves were discovered scrounging through my dad’s vinyl collection of 70s classics, including all of Joni Mitchell’s work. She is an incredible lyricist, a beautiful painter and writer, a phenomenally talented musician. Her sense of story and lyric form is just exquisite. I loved the standard folk troubadours like Bob Dylan or Elton John. The 70’s rock-folk classics almost seem daggy in their sincerity, but I think they are still really beautiful. They continue to influence me at some level, although I don’t use end rhymes the way that musicians seek to use them in their songs.
The other striking feature of your work is pacing, your modulation of both pace and emotion.
If there’s one thing I miss in Australian spoken word, it is space and silence. Pace is about finding the beauty that happens in the pause. The pause allows for contemplation and absorption, allows for the time and space to sit with a thought, to then decide if the words truly resonate. Poet and spoken word artist Anthony O’Sullivan said he thought m
Your most recent collection, ‘The Courage Season,’ opens with ‘Portrait of a teenage boy wandering the CBD, Melbourne.’ In it, you are observing a young man navigating the city and all of the possibilities. There is a sense that this may also the younger Peter. What were you like as a young person and how did your journey in poetry begin?
The main character portrayed in ‘Portrait of a teenage boy wandering the CBD, Melbourne’ is partly autobiographical, as I worked and wandered (during lunchbreaks) around the Parliament end of Bourke Street for 30 years. I remain a habitué of Pellegrini’s, The Paperback, and the Hill of Content bookshop. The poem is about restlessness, choices and searching for nourishment, stimuli and connections within and also beyond one’s stomping ground/hometown.
I was an extremely unhappy teenager who loved books, the map of the world and the idea of going on the road as soon as I could manage. I wrote my first poem on the road at the age of 28, still an unhappy young, questing man.
You have written many ‘portrait’ poems. ‘Portrait of Frida Kahlo’ is written in first-person, while ‘Portrait of David Bowie’ is in third. How do you approach inhabiting the world or character of someone else, and is a certain level of commonality between yourself and the subject needed in order to take on that first-person voice?
My portrait poems come out of empathy and research. Given my own medical history, major surgery and health crises, I can relate to the sense of body violation and salvation Frida Kahlo faced. In regard to David Bowie, his investigation into the multiplicity of identities one could adopt and discard is an ongoing investigation of mine, as I feel I am multiple selves within any 24-hour period. I’m always imagining other lives – the lives of total strangers and passers-by.
Your short poem ‘Self Doubt’ is very much about procrastination. How do you avoid the rut o