Parting words

I’ve decided. After some inner wrangling over the benefits of continuing with this blog, at this particular juncture the best thing is for me to stop.

With the poetry residency over, I had considered segueing into a broader consideration of poetry, to include the musical kind, for example. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that I am also a concert pianist. Four days after my end-of-residency poetry reading, I played a concert in Ballarat with a dear clarinet-wielding friend. Not sure of the intelligence behind the decision to hold a poetry reading and a concert in the same week, but that’s how it happened.

Contemporary clarinet and piano

Presented in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition ‘Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art’

No surprise really – I’ve been squeezing things in around the edges of my days for as long as I can remember because choosing between writing and music was never an option. To do so would be akin to lopping off my left arm in preference for my right: not good for overall coordination and well-being. Any attempt I’ve made over the years to restrict one in favour of the other has resulted in diminished capacity all round – as though someone turned off the oxygen tank.

But I have hit my limit as far as fitting it all in goes. You see, a big incentive to stop has arrived: the impending birth of my child. Any day, they say.

So while there might be more poetic adventures to share in the future, this is it for now. THANKS to you who have followed this blog, I’ve appreciated it. Take care, write on, and I’ll read you around another time.

Bronwyn Blaiklock

 

Flora captured

And not just flora, it seems. Hearts. Minds. Enthusiasm floweth all round in the poetry project. You may recall me mention a gaggle of poets involved in a collaborative venture between the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the University of Ballarat and Ballarat Writers Inc. Well, we’re now at the celebratory end of the project, having workshopped and written and revised and polished and rehearsed our new works over the past six weeks.

The anthology of our words is now on the designer’s desktop, our shiny new pieces being set next to the art works that inspired them in a 48-page full-colour wonder. The booklet will be available free to recital-goers with their ticket, and also for sale in the gallery shop. A collector’s item for sure.

Book your ticket here. Because it is a roving recital – one that will move around in the exhibition space – numbers are strictly limited in each performance. You won’t see this anywhere else.

'Flora Captured' poetry recital

New works by local writers recited alongside the object of their inspiration.

It’s exciting to think that in two weeks today, the group will have the first recital under its collective belt and will be looking forward to the second.

For me however, the chance to speak my words in the roving recital would be a bonus: the birth of my first child may intervene…

They came in their thousands (Week 12: 23-29 September)

Or maybe just a couple of handfuls. The poetry reading made for an enjoyable afternoon at The Bean Barn out of the wind and rain. As usual on AFL grand final day, the streets were deserted and I got a park right out the front of the cafe. A rock star park, some would say.

I arrived at the same time as Nathan Curnow, co-reader and poetry demigod, and the handfuls followed not long after. In the throng were community radio legends Dave and Myles, great supporters of the arts scene in Ballarat. Where would we be without them and Voice FM?

Great to hear Nathan’s new words, so beautifully bound by Walleah Press: a cover that feels like fine wax. Naturally I got him to sign my new copy. I read some of my anthologised poems, and a couple of new ones finished during the residency. All in all a relaxing and inspiring afternoon. It isn’t often one gets to sit around and talk about poetry.

The winner of the Residency Prize was Beatrice, otherwise known as BJ, who had taken out the week 2 quiz back in July. She had correctly (and quickly) re-assembled my childhood favourite by C.J. Dennis, ‘The Triantiwontigongolope‘. She won a small mountain of poetry anthologies, including the latest Australian Poetry journal, a magnetic poetry kit (for the fridge – where else?), a bag of special Bean Barn coffee and a spoken word CD featuring Victorian Emilie Zoey Baker among others.

Big thanks to the others who came to the reading – a small but appreciative crowd always beats none.

Congratulations also to the week 12 community poets (you know who you are)! They did it again, taking my lead to create this week’s communal poem. Albeit a little shorter than the previous three, a farewell ditty emerged, and my hat comes off to the four who added lines to it.

**
Farewell my friends, the end is nigh – one week and I am gone
To seek adventure near and far, from breakfast I am torn.
I pack my bags with sense of fun and style to which I was born,
to an adventure with no end, I pedal so fast with legs shorn.
Long into the sunrise I ride with lovely memories adorned.

**
My sincere thanks go to The Bean Barn for letting me litter up their place every week since July. Have loved the hot choccies as part of the weekly routine – there are none better in Ballarat. As for those iced chocolates – let it be known that Tanya is the Iced Chocolate Queen. Also, thanks to Australian Poetry for giving my the residency – much valued TIME to write (or at least think about) poetry.

So is this the end? Of the residency, yes. Of the blog?

I started it to document my residency; to mark the time as a cafe poet. Do I unplug, now that it is over?

 

Poetry reading this Saturday

This is it. The final fling of my poetry residency. The last hoorah. My last day as Poet in Residence (note capital letters) at The Bean Barn is Saturday 29 September 2012 and to celebrate, I invite you to come along for a poetry reading from 3pm to 5pm.

It won’t be just any reading. Joining me will be poetry royalty, Nathan Curnow, who will treat us to some poems from his latest book, Radar, which is now available from Readings. He might even sign your new copy!

Oh and before you ask: yes, I know that’s the day of the footy grand final. This will be the best non-footy entertainment you’ll find in Ballarat that day. And I’m proud of that fact.

Poetry reading

Poetry reading in Ballarat 29 September

A gaggle of poets

Back on 8 September, an eager group of writers gathered at The Bean Barn to take part in a new project called ‘Artists inspire artistry’. It’s based on an idea that has been buzzing around in the Ballarat Writers Inc. box of ideas for a few years: a roving recital of new works written in response to art. Roving because the works are read in front of the art that inspired them – in this case, selected from the soon-to-open exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, ‘Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art’.

When earlier this year I was approached by the gallery to offer suggestions for events that could run in conjunction with their exhibition, up popped the idea. I figured we could spread the love even further still, so invited staff from the University of Ballarat’s School of Education and Arts to participate. I recruited passionate academics in literature and spoken performance. So now the project involves the Art Gallery, the University and literature/arts students, and members of Ballarat Writers Inc: a fine developmental opportunity  for local aspiring writers and a ripper cross-arts collaborative endeavour. Fabulous.

From mid-September to late October, 11 writers and poets are learning about and practising ekphrastic writing, workshopping ideas, visiting the gallery, and writing writing writing. They will also be treated to workshops in presentation. Their brief: to produce a new piece of writing in response to something from the exhibition.

The project culminates in two public recitals in the exhibition space on Friday 9 November and Tuesday 13 November. You’ll even be able to buy a copy of the totally unique, limited-edition anthology of new writing that will include full colour plates of the artwork associated with each poem, vignette or story. Just a little exciting!

Given the exhibition title, perhaps a more appropriate collective noun might have been a ‘pod of poets’. Maybe?

 

Week 11: 9-22 September

There’s no stopping them now. The momentum has built with each communal poem – they have sprouted an air of confidence. I rather like the tangents this week’s communal poem takes, albeit surprising (and still a little bumpy rhythmically). Again there’s a morbid fascination, and dark humour – possibly from the same coffee hound who contributed to last week’s effort? This time there were 10 different sets of handwriting.

***
Pretty Polly was a pest, she’d be a pain on purpose
but pretty Pam on the other hand was part of a travelling band.
Pretty Peter was a twit, social media was his thing
but little did he realise, his tweet had broke his wing!

Amongst the many other things he was still a dickie bird
just trying – oh was he ever trying! – to be heard.
Taking a step back and with a big breath
he jumped off a cliff to fly but instead fell to his death.

But just before he hit the ground, life flashed before his eyes
he was proud to be president of the Vic Bears…
    Yeah mate… WHO CARES!
***

Poetry competition closing soon

If you don’t submit a poem into this competition, then you must have rocks in your head. Closing on 15 October, the Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry prize is a thumping $1,000 for up to 40 lines of original, unpublished poetry. You are a click away from downloading the full guidelines and entry form.

The judge is award-winning Victorian poet, Nathan Curnow, so send your finest.

Submit your poetry now to the Martha Richardson poetry competition

Week 10: 2-8 September

They did it again! The caffeine fiends at The Bean Barn didn’t just follow the line I left on the residency whiteboard, they led it down some seedy lane ways and back alleys.

Nine different sets of handwriting appeared on the board over the week, with some truly alarming word selection and a bit of a racy sentiment (that’s a warning to the underage folk reading this). The rhyming scheme was was changed after the first stanza which shortened the rhythms and to my ear chopped it up somewhat.

**
Silly Sam moved to Sydney to see the lights and delights

He kept to himself through the days but found trouble in the nights
You see, the seedy side of Sydney caught his fancy by and by
and a ‘lady’ of the night entrapped him like a fly!

She delighted him like a jam fancy but unexpectedly her name was Clancy
She led him up the garden path and lay him on her hearth
She plied him with some grog for she was after more than a snog
However his endowment was not as foretold so she kicked him out into the cold!

This only made his problems worse – poor Sam fell asleep in a hearse.

**
Now I know it came down to a rhyming conundrum but really, did nothing other than ‘hearse’ come to mind at the end?! That’s just morbid, whoever wrote that line. Still, I enjoyed it for its silliness, and for the proof that communal poems are possible – unpredictable – but possible.

 

The end is nigh

Ironic isn’t it? Just as I’m closing in on reporting the residency antics with this blog as they happen instead of a million weeks behind, the end of the residency zooms up to meet me. Things don’t last for ever. Especially the good things.

It’s all supposed to be over by October because another brood of cafe poets will then be ushered out into their respective cafes by the kind folk at Australian Poetry.

This means I have some organising to do: the long-awaited drawing of the Residency Prize for starters. Remember way back at the beginning – in July – I ran some quizzes to reassemble sections of some well-known Australian poems? One of those winners will win again, and this time they’ll scoop more than a free coffee at The Bean Barn. I can’t tell you what they’ll win though – that would ruin the surprise. For now though, put aside 3-5pm on the 29th September for a final hoorah at The Bean Barn. One thing I can tell you though, is that there’ll be a very very fabulous poet reading some of his newly published works of genius as a special treat.

And don’t give me any excuses like the footy grand final being on, because it just won’t cut it!

ap

AP’s Cafe Poet Program