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

 

Week 9: 26 Aug-1 Sept

The poem that magically appeared on the residency whiteboard this week resembled a communal effort! I had started it off with two lines instead of one, and chose the Ditty Approach: a silly rhyme with a little alliteration. People got into it and responded with two lines each, following the sentiment.

Perhaps the coffee-soaked environment at The Bean Barn encourages frivolity. Or maybe it just means at the core we’re all big kids who like to play. No doubt about it, this residency is bringing up the big questions…

Despite the little lumps in it, I’m proud of our communal effort. Don’t forget – every two lines of the following ditty were written by a different person:

Poor old Pete was in a pickle,
his plans had gone astray.
He picked a pair of pears but hadn’t
planned on them being prickly!
Or being so sweet and sickly
or the skin being so tickly!
Old Pete didn’t mind a tickle,
just not in a prickly way.

Thanks to those who contributed! Can’t wait to see what is created from next week’s two-line scenario.

$1,000AUD for 40 lines

I don’t know about you but the prospect of being given $1,000 for just 40 lines of poetry makes my mind race. It races off to trawl my mental archives of poem titles and line counts, past those already published to those freshly minted (are they ready, are they really ready?). You know the ones – they still zing with newness and flash possibility. Then there’s always one last revision before releasing it on its way.

But back to this $1,000. If I told you there’s a poetry competition open right now that is offering a first prize of $1,000, would you race off and count your lines? You ought to.

The competition is the Martha Richardson Memorial Poetry Prize, administered by my good friends, Ballarat Writers Inc (we are in cahoots, I’ll admit). I happen to know how many entries have come in so far, and let me just say your chance of scoring the prize is high… for now at least. You have until 15 October 2012 to get online and submit, submit, submit!

Nathan Curnow is judging the competition this year, so your poem/s will be in the presence of greatness. But there can be only one winner. May it be you (or me, definitely preferable).

Download the entry guidelines and entry form here.

***

An Oscar Wilde quote:

‘I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.’

Week 8: 19-25 August

You may recall I started a ‘communal poem’ on the whiteboard at the Bean Barn in a bid to get the visiting coffee fiends engaged in a round of poetry badminton of sorts. Then I waited. And saw.

Interesting result. Rather more on the scary end of the Interesting Spectrum than I’d have hoped, however. The communal poem concept of many people adding one line each to create a single poem didn’t eventuate. Instead it was apparently commandeered by one individual who rather liked rhyming. It was by no means a disaster (in spite of accessional bumps in the rhythm); it was just not particularly communal!

If I can find where I wrote the lines, I’ll update the post…