Poetic Preface: Komninos Zervos

Komninos Zervos has been performing poetry since 1980, and doing it professionally since 1985. He’s performed all over the place including the National Folk Festival, Brisbane Livid Festival, had a residency on Triple J and most recently featured at La Mama Poetic and Melbourne Spoken Word’s VCA Slam. He’s released nine poetry collections and can be regularly found at the Dan Poets of a Saturday afternoon.

Can you think of a moment that was probably a dead give away you’d become a poet?

when i registered for unemployment benefits in 1985 after being a research microbiologist at kraft foods, a youth worker for australian greek welfare, a travel agent for jetset tours, a coffee lounge proprietor and a welfare worker trainer, i decided to be a poet with no other job so i put poet as my occupation.

How’d you discover spoken word?

well it discovered me. i had a coffee lounge, tsakpina, in warratah place melbourne (now the wah wah lounge) and in 1982 thom the street poet asked me if they could have a weekly reading on wednesday nights, pio also asked me for monthly readings for his 9to5 magazine. that was my first contact with spoken word events. after listening to their poetry i decided what i had been writing in my diary, mainly about painful relationship break-ups was similar to some of the performance poems i was hearing, so i started reading some of my diary in public.

If you only had one poetry book to take with you in the bunker when the end of the world comes, what would it be?

an empty note-book.

When you write a brand new poem that you just have to read, which open mic do you first think to take it to?

well the dan poets on saturday i feel is the most accepting and critical enough to try new work. in fact a lot of my new work is written at the dan and performed on the same day.

Which legend of the Melbourne poetry scene do you wanna become when you grow up?

that’s easy, benjamin solah.

What’s one spoken word artist or performing poet you wish more people knew about. Do you have a favourite poem or video of them?

well i don’t want people to forget jas h duke, and yes i have many favourites, but sound poem must be my fave. i have audio and video of jas. and i must admit anna fern always puts a smile on my face.

What are you working on now?

facebook. oh and staying visible.

Komninos will present a workshop, Spoken Word Night School: Back to Basics, on February 28 at Siteworks, Brunswick.

[Photo by Brendan Bonsack]

Annie Solah