“Thank thou God that thou hast stepped into the arena of existence in such a blessed Age and hast opened thine ears and thine eyes in such a Promised Day. The Splendor of the Sun of Truth thou hast beheld and the divine Call thou hast heard. To thine ultimate desire thou hast attained and from the sweetness of the love of God thou hast tasted.” -‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 538
I was happy to have some poems accepted for the Australian Fairy Tale Society Ezine, Bold Heroines and Magical Helpers, a short story to the about to be released anthology, South of the Sun and to publish my second collection of poems, Illuminations!
Looking ahead, I’m working on a new collection in which all these worlds begin to collide: fairy tales, music and soul, and the remaking of a world without racism, where picture poetry books might be rewritten and artists are trail blazers in community transformation.
It’s been 10 months, since a live poetry event for the Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF). So, it was perhaps this that led to such anticipation and a within minutes booked out venue for the first Volta (an Italian term for the ‘turn’ in thought or argument in a sonnet, although we weren’t required to perform sonnets) at the Brisbane Square Library.
Thankfully a move to a larger venue at the same library was possible, and that was again rapidly booked out.
Covid 19 has altered so many art events, festivals, performances and pushed them into adaptations which include an expanded use of online performance and workshops.
Panacea Poets, was one such innovation of the QPF, and involved 46 poets recording their performances and sharing them in an online curated youtube channel.
Yet the yearning for real space, not cyberspace poetry is not completely fulfilled by these adaptations. Why?
Once many years ago, I listened to Anthony Warlow, sing live in Phantom of the Opera. Nothing prepared me for just how powerul and moving his voice in person actually was.
The music resonated through my bones and muscles in a way that an online and recorded rendition could never do.
So, it is with this backdrop that a group of three poets, Kylie Thompson, June Perkins, Samuel Watson were hosted by the Queensland Poetry Festival and the Brisbane Libraries, for the very first Volta (now replacing the couplet program).
The audience were warm and welcoming. Everyone was excited, and ‘pumped’ especially as Sam was to do his first performance in Brisbane for a few years. Margaret, a regular to QPF events, welcomed me and wished me well for my reading. Luminaries such as Shastro Deo who I have known through Instagram and her stellar poetry career and elsewhere, were completely approachable.
Zenobia Frost, herself a venerable poet, was the host of the proceedings. She welcomed us, with good humour and enthusiasm and acknowledged the traditional owners of the land upon which we read our poetry. 50 people attended (the maximum the library allows under still continuing covid19 restrictions).
For Kylie, this was her first live reading (not that you would know it, she did brilliantly!).
‘The thing about lying it’s really easy to get addicted to the … touch of your own genius and so he get’s cocky and starts to assume he’s the smartest in the room no matter what the room, starts to half arse the effort but rev up the execution’ (Five Days & a Gaslight Anthem)
She shared with us 4 astounding poems, ‘Lysithea in Crescent’, ‘Five Days & a Gaslight Anthem’, ‘Hexcraft’, and a recently written poem, ‘Some Days, Your Bed Is A Coffin.’ Some of Kylie’s work will be included in upcoming anthologies.
‘Five Days & a Gaslight Anthem’ and ‘Some Days Your Bed Is A Coffin,’ were particularly potent pieces, especially for anyone who has experienced gaslighting, or those days when you just don’t want to face the day.
Next was myself, reading 6 poems, with a backdrop of slides from illustrators of the poems or to share aspects of culture such as the totem, a Bird of Paradise, of my Mekeo mother.
Zenobia read my biography and explained that she had met me through engaging me for ‘Panacea Poets’, a video youtube project during the pandemic lock downs.
Ivi Ivi na Alaka
Komo oma afa itsima imimi
Ana paiga Ane Kaina (River Song, in Maipa Language)
June Perkins , Translated by Cornelia
I read ‘Dear Artist, ‘Dust’ and ‘Bird of Poetry’ from Illuminations, a collection dedicated to the bicentennial of the Birth of Baha’u’llah; a poem from Tokens on the bushfire seasons in Australia, ‘River Song’ from my children’s collection, Magic Fish Dreaming, but in Maipa village language to honour my PNG heritage.
This was followed by a shout out to young appreciators of poetry to the youngest audience member, a small child. I read a poem ‘Sleipnir’s Children’ (God of Horses) included inCreative Kids Tales Story Collection2, especially for him. Without the young appreciating poetry how can we keep the form alive! I finished with a short piece inspired by Irene Chou’s (1924-2011) abstract art, ‘Universe Within Our Hearts’ also included in Tokens.
The last poet to read was SAMUEL WATSON is a Wunjaburra/Munanjali/German writer.
Feel inspired by tonight by us, the poets. Go home and write.
Samuel Wagan Watson
Samuel is the author of a dozen publications of poetry and short stories, he was the recipient of the 2018 Patrick White Literary Award. He is proud to be labelled as a Brisbane author. An absolute legend to the Brisbane poetry community, and a highly accomplished poet, Samuel treated us to his warm personality, telling us the hilarious tale of his travel into the venue in a taxi with a man who wanted to suggest bizarre and way out topics for his poetry. Still recovering from three strokes, he courageously shared his work. The attentive audience had deep respect for this incredible poet.
We learn, yet forget, in the cataclysm of our birth
the owl songs of Muk-Muk;
the death feather, and reacquainted we shall be
in the sunset of our mortality.
(The call of the strange bird is heard …)
The didjeridu sits in the corner of my room
near the window, ghosts breathe
my frailty of spirit
resonates in the acoustics of this gouged plain.
(… on the pipe of the breathing floor …)
From Samuel Wagan WatsonLove Poems and Death Threats
The evening ended with a short amount time for catching up with other poets, and appreciators of poetry, and some official photographs. I was delighted to find out that the library has now stocked my poetry book and it will be available there for people to borrow. There is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing people with a copy of your book, purchased or borrowed from the library!
A few of the poets and their friends, lingered outside the closed library, just to celebrate the joy of poetry and the thrill of being able to hear it live!
You can find out more about the poets and how to purchase their works and QPF here:
Been digging deep for the next poetry collection. Filling a purple notebook with ideas, often written in prose.
Sometimes lines just spin out like poetry.
Then I type them up. During type up sometimes words and lineation change.
Sometimes metaphors are born.
Sometimes phrases that surprise HAPPEN!
Then I revisit them with what I have been discovering in my mentor texts. These texts suggest experiments. Things to try that I might not have done before. Or I see that I do something that poet does already.
Had some positive feedback from my mentor recently (and a new question) and the journey continues!
This is my reflection on Citizen and I have written some new poems based on this reflection (those are top secret for now).
Volta Poetry: Kylie Thompson, June Perkins & Samuel Watson
VOLTA is co-presented monthly by Queensland Poetry Festival and Brisbane Square Library. It replaces Couplet Poetry, which has been well-loved for more than a decade, to bring you ⚡electric poetry, spoken word, and the unexpected.⚡
Fri Feb 5 2021 at 6:00 pm
Brisbane Square Library, 266 George Street, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 4000, Brisbane, Australia
KYLIE THOMPSON is a poet and writer based in Redcliffe. Shortlisted for the Thomas Shapcott Prize in 2020, Kylie’s poetry will feature in an upcoming anthology from Neil Hilborn, due in 2021. Kylie can be found sharing poetry pieces on Instagram as @wildkatpoetry.
DR JUNE PERKINS is a multi-arts creative born to a Papua New Guinean Indigenous mother and Australian father. She was raised in Tasmania as a Bahá’i and combines poetry, blogging, photography and story to explore themes interesting her—peace, ecology, spirituality, diversity, resilience and…