I always cry when I hear a poem read: Barbican Young Poets 2014


Damilola Odelola, 2014

Kareem Parkins-Brown (no obvious relation) invited me to the showcase for this year’s Barbican Young Poets Programme, run by Jacob-Samla Rose.

It was phenomenal.

25 poets, all under 25, all crazy skillful and electric.

The evening, a recital of sorts, switched between individual works and group poems.
I’d never seen group poetry before and some of them were phenomenal. One in particular – about families and homes, used the form of the group itself to highlight the range of disparity in a family as in the group. Astounding.

Aome individual stand-outs included Emily Harrison, who spoke of falling in love with strangers in T-cut; Shoshana Anderson‘s cool American delivery that reminded me of a young Patti Smith mixed with a young Lily Tomlin; Greer Dewdney and her work Meant to Be – a cutting work of a social situation, using a form invented by one of the other poets Ankita saxena; Kareem was amazing – got the only ovation – with his work about his mother and the way he described her sighs and posture of sadness (I may or may not have cried); Antosh Wojcik showcased his well-crafted gonzo/surrealism and Cameron Brady-Turner‘s Living Alone: An Experiment, is a crushing story of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that had us all gasping on a bus with him.

Dami Odelola had the line of the night in her work And the stuff that comes before a fall (see above).
Seriously, all the ladies in the house were clicking and showing appreciation like mad, and probably a stack of men too. I can’t quite remember because I was hit.

It was a line that still hasn’t left me. I couldn’t really hear the three poets after that line, because my mind had hit a glitch and was just skipping back and forth over that line.

Aside from the lyricism itself, it was a line that struck me squre. And I knew from then on, for the first time in my life, that being used by men was not my fault.
But it wasn’t entirely theirs either – I was a solution to a gnawing hurt.

It still makes me cry.

I’m sorry you all couldn’t hear that line, because although I’ve posted the image of it up there, taken from the anthology they produced, it’s not quite the same.
In fact, it’s not even close to the experience of sitting in a room, hearing the energy, timbre, rhythm of performance; seeing the gestures and the fire inside, and being in a group of people for whom 16 words hit them behind their eyes at exactly the same time.

listening poem

i never thought of what i did as poetry at all. until i had to explain to DHS what i did.

saying it was a ‘poem’ was the quickest, simplest and easiest was to talk about the list of sounds i hear. 

 then i went to electrofringe and the peeps from australian poetry and the new young writers festival said it was totally poetry.
interesting.

 on tuesday i started writing up the list of sounds i’ve been listening to on the glass in the foyer at 240 wellington street. i did another installment of it this morning and two people came up to read what i was doing. and aesha, a girl who lives in the wellington street block said that it was a poem and she liked reading it.

 when i talked about how i came to the words, she agreed that when you break it down like that, we listen to a lot, don’t we.

 in fact, she liked the idea so much she’s going to join me listening tomorrow afternoon!

what a great result that is. cross-posted at aura project blog

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mathematics, poetry and sound

red numbers

yesterday afternoon I went to Sticky to see ∏O (Pi O) speaking about his mathematical poetry – a maths class of sorts. I had seen him ‘perform’ once before – with a couple of other shit hot poets in Wollongong (namely my gorgeous friend Alana who is the rockinest poet/writer this side of Excene Cirvenka).

But today it was a far more intimate affair and we got to hear some of the machinations behind his works – generally geek out to poetry, mathematics and sound – all so interwoven through rhythm and patterns.

There were some quotes that I would love to include here, but stupidly didn’t write them down, so apologies if they’re misquoted:

“If there is a pattern in a number, the mathematician always seeks to find out why – to discover the hidden function, its meaning”

“..we can imagine small numbers, but it takes a poet to imagine the huge numbers. Whilst the world becomes more complex, the numbers become more complex. But they are never infinite. Mathematics and poetry helps make sense of these huge numbers.”

One of the works I loved hearing about was his Ode to Arthur Eddington.

Eddington was a ballsy astrophysicist from the early 20th C who was one of only 3 to fully grasp Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. He’s been famously quoted as saying ‘so, who are the other 2?’. swoon!

∏o’s work was based on a quote of Eddington’s, which stated that “you can’t square root a sonnet”.
Which of course prompted ∏o to prove him wrong.

It is a work about a vast nothingness – an existentialist equation, where the final number also equals but a tenth of a sonnet.
We listened to ∏ read the poem and heard the ongoing rhythm of nothingness (as a train passed overhead) and, as he said himself, it was like some strange appropriation of John Cage’s 4’33” – a mathematical formula of a silent composition.

Believe me, I was geekin’ out hardcore.

And then we talked about Pythagoras.

Whoa, nelly! I haven’t done a whole lot of research into Py, but based on what I do know, in my book, the man is king. He influences a whole bunch of stuff I do – my secret crush on mathematics (and my subsequent day-job), my psychogeography stuff, through the rebellion of the diagonal in traversing the straightened pathways through the city. And of course being the father of music and composed sound, through his research into harmonics. Put it this way – without Pythagoras, we wouldn’t have Slayer. And, if we didn’t have Slayer. Well, that’s just too much to grasp in one day.

As ∏ said, there is more poetry in Archimedes than in Homer.

I would have loved to hear more of his works and to chat more about the relationship between mathematics, patterns, art, poetry, sound, but I had to catch a sodding train down south and had to leave after the debaucherous Office Banquet (x3).
But if you get a chance to see his work, or get his books, please do – the man is a legend in Australian poetry and as tech-punk-rock as they come. Nice work Sticky.

UPDATE: and then the Plump performance, at Liquid Architecture was all sound and tonal responses using angular tubes and wires.. straight outta the early atonal stuff from Pythogoras! awe….

red number planet image by sidelong. on flickr.

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sweet djehuti deal

thanks to teenangst from flickr

matt moore is a poet and a smart guy (they’re not always mutually exclusive, you know). i met him at interesting south. he taught us how to make zombies. and last week, or sometime recently, he decided to amp up his lyrical content and put out a call.

i’m a sucker for cross-discipline collaboration, so i put my hand up, did the homework required and here’s what he came up with, and some random notes about it, to boot.

the poem is going to be part of my exhibition at allan’s walk later in the year. don’t you just love transferrence?

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