To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sydney Writers' Festival 2012

Sorry for my slackness last week. I really intended on posting about my glorious week at the Sydney Writers' Festival. Better late then never though!

I had a marvelous week of literary submersion. On Tuesday I went to the event 'launch into poetry', held at the Carrington Hotel, which is a beautiful building. It (the building) inspires in me ideas and themes of history and mistory. The launch was for David Musgrave's new book of poems Concrete Tuesday, Mark O'Flynn's Untested Cures and John Watson's Four Refrains and Occam's Aftershave. The three chose some excellent, well crafted pieces to read, so... I had to buy the books!

On Wednesday, at the University of Wollongong, Metis playwright Bruce Sinclair and Aboriginal author Anita Heiss spoke about their work and how they approach their writing. Sinclair spoke wonderfully about the balance that you must have in your life and how the Cree medicine wheel can help you keep that balance between your emotional self, physical self and work life. I could benefit from the Cree teachings. Anita Heiss spoke about her new book Am I Black Enough For You. I hadn't realised the extent of racial hatred that had been unearthed after Andrew Bolt's article 'It's so Hip to be Black' in April 2009. Heiss had begun writing her book before this article by Bolt questioned her Indigeneity. On the release of her book she has received further racial attacks as well as praise from many in the community who think her book shares an important lesson that all Australians should be exposed to. You have probably already gathered that Heiss's book is about identity. I am only a couple of chapters in, but as always I am finding Heiss easy to read and very entertaining.

Friday and Saturday were spent in Sydney. I attended a poetry reading titled 'Legends', where Gig Ryan and Robert Adamson read some of their poetry which deals with myths and legends. I struggled to follow both of their poetry read out loud. They make so many references in their poetry that go over my head. However, I have been reading Robert Adamson, after purchasing his book, The Golden Bird, and I am enjoying his poetry far more when I can read it in private, just me, the book and the words. I have been told that I have to purchase and read Gig Ryan more closely as well, which I will be sure to do!

'Modern Manglish' was a fun session. I raced to buy the book for my mum. Neil James and Harold Scruby were mostly bagging on politicians and the way they use language so that they can say absolutely nothing in an interview. You know how it is: "That's a great question, I'm glad you asked that... I would like to see a line drawn in the sand, to have an even playing field, a brighter future, it's time to move forward...". It was a great discussion of tautology and slogans.

Barry Spurr talked with Geoffrey Lehman and Robert Gray about their new book Australian Poetry Since 1788. This is a controversial anthology. I have heard the criticism and now I have heard their opinion. While I still think that this anthology has possibly overlooked a lot of important Australian poets, particularly Indigenous poets. I do appreciate the project that these two took on and what they were looking to get out of it. I enjoined hearing these three debate about the anthology and the voice and place of Australian poetry.

Saturday began with Neil Astley and Robert Adamson talking about Astley's anthologies of contemporary international poetry: Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human. I can not wait to purchase and read these anthologies. They sold out at the writers' festival. I have to confess that I am not wide read in international poetry. I read a lot of Australian poetry, but I do believe I should be reading more widely. Astley read a great selection of poems from his series of anthologies.

The Red Room Company's 'Disappearing Walking Tour' was brilliant fun! Johana Featherstone expertly conducted a tour of Sydney streets with four poets sharing their works of 'the disappearing' of Sydney. Martin Harrison, Astrid Lorange, Nick Bryant-Smith and Lorna Munro performed their poetry with ease and charm. I look forward to reading / hearing more of all of their work.

Mark Tredinnick, Ali Jane Smith and Julie Chevalier read wonderfully at the Rocket Readings in Wollongong on Sunday. I have been a fan of Tredinnick for a fair while. I enjoyed the poetry of Ali and Julie as well. The open mic section was also mind opening. There was a great display of local poetry on show.

That was my stimulating week, which has inspired me to scratch out multiple draft poems. I shall work on some of these tomorrow share them with you.

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