13 March 2012

Even more secret!

Now, what followed was seriously secret: “Secret gig that is even more secret than the secret gig before it”. So what were we in for? Not music, but poetry and readings. Poetry is pretty underground these days, so I guess it’s apt. I enjoyed it. Four presenters: Miranda Lello and Mathew Abbott from Canberra, Zoe Norton-Lodge and Pip Smith down from Sydney.

Miranda’s poetry was straightforward and eminently under-standable. She spoke of men and women and passion and personal battlegrounds in daily language and with street expletives. She spoke of cities and of failures that are not big enough to be art. She responded to Charles Bukovsky’s poem “Swingers” with her poem “Women who sleep with too many men” that spoke to me with eminent truth (eg, speaking about swinger sex: “the bed is a battleground / that measures only losses”). She stood for another poem dedicated to Walt Whitman that again spoke a woman’s view with clarity and intelligence. I liked her poetry: this was a woman speaking proudly and true.

Mat is a PhD and a punk bassist. Perhaps this all shows in his poetry. I felt there was more literature and history and symbolism in these words, and it wanted another listen. He spoke of waking from sleep and of the nature of twelve surfaces. He played on impersonal constructions “it’s raining” for one poem and on 10 maladies for another. I truly understood souvenir collection as a malady. This was rich and complex and difficult, and that from a punk bassist!

Zoe followed with a performance of a scene from a play she had written. It was lively, rhyming, auto-biographical and punny and poetical in style. It was really very well written and I enjoyed that aspect, but as a father of two boys, I can understand now why lots of parents have said girls are more difficult. Here’s a quote: "I’m not supposed to have fun, isn’t that right, Mum?” and “I feel so, so, so, so, so … sorry for myself”. I wasn’t young enough to appreciate the humour and not understanding enough as a father of boys. Nicely done, though.

Pip presented a series of poems. One on the Sydney skyline and the manic business happening therein. Several on animals: whales and the end of the world; cows and their love for us; snakes that you can fear and that you cannot reason with. She told a story of an office plant that gives purpose to a disappointed office worker. Capable and lively writing presented with vivacity.

Miranda Lello, Mathew Abbott, Zoe Norton-Lodge and Pip Smith presented poetry and stories at the YouAreHere Festival.

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