Poetry Fridays: Power Dynamics

No power drills in sight last night, but I did get to dine on performance poetry and spaghetti at Hawthorn’s Caffe Sospeso. As mentioned in an earlier post, Laura Smith organises monthly poetry nights at Sospeso, and it’s a chillaxing way to cap off the working week. This month was MC-ed by Melissa Delaney and featured guest readings from Vera Di Campli San Vito and Melbourne Cafe Poet Andy Jackson.

Vera pioneered ‘pick a poem out of the magic vessel/hat/thing’, where the audience would pick out titles from a red hat and the performer would read the corresponding poem, and during the second half of the evening, Andy continued with her Dadaist arrangement.

Open mic was short and sweet. My favourites included Michael Reynolds’ tautologist poem, and a narrative detailing the intimacies of the dental chair from a poet whose name I failed to catch*. There was a particularly memorable performance from an older lady called Josephine: she read a beautiful piece inspired by All Souls Day and then sang a capella. A couple of pedestrians walked past during her stint and stared at her back, probably wondering what this woman in canary yellow was doing; they missed out on the opportunity to marvel at the way her lips wrapped around the foreign phonetics of her song ‘Mamma Blues’. 

I also read ‘Husband and Wife Before Dinner’, something I wrote a few years back. Being the first time I had performed anything from memory, I blanked halfway through the piece but still managed to score a Readings gift voucher, which will be put to good use. I also met some artistic types from TINA ’09. who READ MY BLOG and consequently deserve an exclamation party!!!!! Here’s a doodle they left on a napkin:

Napkin doodles left behind @ Power Dynamics (6/11/09)

Napkin doodles @ Power Dynamics (6/11/09)

I’m not sure when the next Caffe Sospeso night will be, but details will be posted by yours truly some time in late November/early December.

*UPDATE: Since writing this post, I’ve been informed that his name is Maurice Mcnamara. 🙂

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Poetry Fridays: People & Places

On Friday, I turned up at the wrong venue for The Bedroom Philosopher, but I did manage to go to Laura Smith’s poetry gig at Caffe Sospeso. When I first heard that Sospeso was in Hawthorn, I got excited. Hawthorn, Camberwell, and Canterbury make up most of Melbourne’s private-school belt; most poets stay clear of such suburbs, preferring to ‘grunge it’ in the inner north and south. Unfortunately, I live in the east, and driving to Northcote or Fitzroy gets old after a couple of trips. Caffe Sospeso is the closest poetry gathering to home and I’m hoping to patronise it many more times.

I came late to the gig, so the only feature poet I got to see was Susan Fealy. I remember hearing Susan’s ‘Horse Lattitudes’ at the Verandah 23 launch; I hadn’t liked the poem during that reading, but Susan performed it well last Friday. I also enjoyed her poem about an elderly woman; I wish I could recall the name of it, but work and wine have turned me senile. Apologies to Susan!

With very little persuasion from Laura, I got up and performed ‘Red Den Beauty’ (published in Harvest) for the open mic. Compared with Read You Bastards, I was much more relaxed for this reading (it helps when there’s at least one friend in the audience). My poem won compliments from a couple of punters; I can see why performance appeals so much to some writers.

Caffe Sospeso runs their poetry night monthly, and the next gig’s happening early November. Details of the when and how will be posted up closer to the date.

Dreaming Highways

Today I was going to write about Sunday’s and Monday’s happenings but I GOT LOCKED OUT OF LA MAMA SO I DID NOT GET TO WATCH ANY PERFORMANCES.

Sunday’s ‘Dreaming Highways’ was good, however. I didn’t know what to expect; I didn’t even know where Albert Park tram stop was, but I found it and I found the poetry, and it was an intimate gathering that had gathered amongst the train/tram paraphernalia to listen to travel-themed poetry. The event was organised to showcase the Melbourne Cafe Poets for National Poetry Week. (Melbourne Cafe Poets write poetry in cafes in exchange for free coffee. For more on Melbourne Cafe Poets, check out the Australian Poetry Centre’s updates or fan ‘Cafe Poets’ on Facebook.) There were some energetic performances but my favourite poems were from Laura Smith. I have never been to India or eaten a mangosteen but I have had my share of rural towns and sullen check-out chicks, so her words resonated most with me.