Poetic Preface: Waffle Irongirl

You might have seen her perform previously under a different name, but Waffle Irongirl is now the name to look out for, and the face of Audacious Four.

Can you think of a moment, like from your childhood, that was probably a dead giveaway you’d become a poet?

My parents had just politely declined a neighbour’s invitation to a soiree, making a fake excuse to soften the blow. My five-year-old self loudly declared that we certainly were NOT having dinner with grandma on Friday, in fact we didn’t have ANY plans*. I wasn’t judging my parents or the white lie, my brain just couldn’t deal with words not matching reality. I think poets are compulsive truth-tellers – even if they lie in their ‘real’ lives, once they get on stage or page, they can’t help but bring words and perceived realities into alignment.

*I’ve since learnt to collaborate on all manner of lies. In fact NEVER believe anything I say or write if it isn’t poetry.

How’d you discover spoken word?

I signed up for a poetry class with the peerless poet teacher Judith Rodriguez. She lent me an album. Hearing these famous poets read their own words made poetry come alive for me and I went looking for the live version. led me to a wondrous variety of events. “Just one,” I said, next thing I knew I was reciting an open mic and I was hooked. Just say no kiddies!

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?

The thickest edition of Emily Dickinson I can find, and Nathan Curnow’s The Apocalypse Awards. I’m allowed that second one, cause technically, it classifies as an instruction manual for end times, just coincidentally written in poetic form.

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

My poems usually first run the gauntlet at the MSW workshops. As for open mic, Passionate Tongues for the warmly accepting vibe. But if I fear/feel it’s really weird, I might go to Bar Oussou because at BO, anything goes.

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

Some combination of Judith Rodriguez and Steve Smart, simply because they are both so very alive. Neither lets age, convention nor polite society nor the risk of pissing people off get in their way of living deeply and broadly. I think poetry leads to this irreverence. Or it might be a deep love of red wine (another observed commonality) in which case I’m stuffed cause I’m allergic.

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?

Tim Evans. A reticent gentleman and understated performer, which means he doesn’t get the attention he deserves. I enjoy his wit, humour, ability to poke fun at himself and his audience at the same time. Most of all I feel he respects his audience and works hard to balance between stating his truth and keeping us entertained.

What are you working on now?

Exploring the use of stillness and listening on stage and page. A micro fiction cyberpunk series about a data thief for hire. And starting to imagine thinking about maybe one day perhaps putting a poetry collection together. But hey aren’t we all?

Waffle Irongirl is next performing at Mother Tongue and Passionate Tongues, as well as at the launch of Audacious Four.

[Photo by Brendan Bonsack]

Annie Solah