Tariro Mavondo performs ‘Black Boy’ at the closing night of the Melbourne Spoken Word & Poetry Festival at Howler Melbourne on June 3, 2018.
Tariro is a Melbourne/Naarm based artist who uses multiple disciplines to connect through creativity. Tariro writes and performs poetry as well as facilitates workshops around Australia. She sees art as a conversation, a dialogue and her practice focuses on creativity as a facilitator of change. She also works as an actor on the Australian stage (MTC, STC, Bell Shakespeare, Belvoir, Red Stitch) and screen (Neighbours, Winners and Losers), has been an actor in the internationally acclaimed, awarding winning web series Shakespeare Republic and has done voice overs for La Trobe, AFLW and Thomas The Tank Engine (UK).
Peter Bakowski performs a few short poems and an aphoristic one at the opening night of The Melbourne Spoken Word & Poetry Festival at The Toff In Town on May 17, 2018.
Peter Bakowski has been writing poems for 35 years, has received the Victorian Premiers Award for Poetry and writer’s residencies in Rome, Paris, Macau, Suzhou and throughout Australia. His poems continue to appear in literary journals worldwide. Peter writes clear accessible poetry. No matter how many books he writes in his lifetime they’ll all be about what it’s like to be a human being.
How can you truly review a piece of art that comes from a close, spiritual place? Specifically, how do you critique a work of art that was created as a medium to critique itself? It has been challenging to put words to how I feel, but only because this long poem truly is something great.
A large part of this is Symons’ understanding of the use of space, and the positioning of the poems on the page. This is helped further through the illustration of Lital Weizman. The impact this juxtaposition has on the pieces at large quite staggering. The stanzas flow from line to line, breathing, and pace back and forth, fall down and crumble, and then are brought up again. This – combined with the images of scriptures, young students, teenagers pairing off at camp, create a wonderful piece of art in itself.
The piece hints at the ekphrastic; a dramatic description of a work of art, the medium in this case being poetry. I say ‘hints’ as the poems aren’t exactly describing the works of art that accompany them. They feel more like a collaboration of ideas and images, worked out via words and ink.
The whole poem itself stands out alongside the art; I loved its natural flow, its even tempo, and satisfying feel to read:
physical contact can make me awkward.
It centres itself on the questioning of a shared faith. Throughout the poem, the poet eventually turns away from an old, conservative religion, to a more open and free spiritual society. The whale is a powerful symbol, and has obviously been used in many famous pieces of fiction, and this is because the whale is an awe-inspiring creature. The whale in this instance is an existential metaphor, one that is gesturing towards something we as a people can have:
out there in the ocean the whale evolved who sings subtle songs that are so much sweeter than even the sublimest human poetry
The personal nature of the poem is another
Winner, Michael Pardy performs ‘One More Moo’ at Slamalamadingdong in August at The Melba Spiegeltent.
Michael Pardy grew up in Melbourne and at university studied literature, mathematics, and computer science. He has spent the last 20 years working on the Melbourne software development circuit. He goes through patches of writing – in the morning or after dark – and has published plays, poems, short stories, and a novel under the pen name: mbpardy.
Morgaine van Wingerden performs ‘My Generation’ at the Slamalamadingdong Grand Slam in May.
Morgaine is an emerging Melbourne based poet and artist originally from the Blue Mountains. She shares stories exploring family, mental health, relationships and womanhood. She travelled to Chicago with Team Slama to compete in the National Poetry Slam this year.
I like to think that every poem or collection has a ‘hook’, or a ‘way in’ that reveals itself gradually to its reader or listener. When reading John Englezos’ collection If The World Were Upside Down, it seemed important to honour that John is a poet whose words need to be heard as he performs them, rather than to be read off the page.
Thankfully, there’s lots of clips online of John performing many of the poems in this collection. I wanted to start with the one that personally ‘hooked’ me in – ‘The Proper Way to Make a Cup of Tea (YouTube)’:
I admittedly giggled cheekily at the beginning words, because I am a tea-lover, and also may still fall in love with not-just-men:
If you wish to learn the proper way to make a cup of tea
meet a girl
fall in love
and get married
John preempts the feelings this might bring up in the reader/listener – perhaps ridicule, amusement, excitement, inward groaning as the poem continues:
Hear me out
In an age where gas was lit and fire burned
a kettle would whistle to you the constant reminder of its boiling brew
Now he’s captured our full attention, and we feel like we need to know what has to follow – he’s mentioned things that are common to many of our everyday lives, and we want to know: what does making tea well have to do with love, with care, with intentional acts shared?
This collection is full of poems that celebrate the wonder in the ordinary, in those things we might take for granted in our lives. I especially like that ‘The Proper Way to Make a Cup of Tea’ can also be taken as an exercise in mindfulness. From a mental health perspective, the act of listening to or of reading a poem that talks to you the way John does is incredibly comforting, or downright amusingly raucous.
An example of his playful, more surrealist take on life is in the title poem ‘If The Worl