The 2006 Montsalvat Festival of Poetry & Song took place on Sunday the 10th of December. Montsalvat is a picturesque artists' colony situated in Eltham, 26 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. For more info on Montsalvat, check out the Wikipedia entry.
My wife Monica, our good friend Lisa Dempster and my good self made the long trek out to Eltham on a day when the temperature reached 42 degrees celsius! Lisa did a reading just after 1pm, as part of the University of Melbourne's section of the program, which was organised and MCed by Kevin Brophy. Lisa bucked the trend by reading a short story rather than poetry, and later in the day was treated to mock derision from several poets for her efforts! ("Don't talk to her, she writes prose!", etc.) Her reading was captivating, and I was also impressed by several of the poets in the group, including Ed Moreno and Francesca Haig.
Other highlights throughout the day included bill-topper Geoff Page, Dean Frenkle's harmonic overtone singing (which held me totally entranced), and the charismatic Dublin poet Iggy McGovern, who won the audience over with entertaining poetry interspersed with colourful anecdotes. Admittedly I didn't get to witness all of the poets I wanted to, as there were clashes in the program, and to be honest listening to poetry for 8 hours straight is a tall order! Thankfully there were art exhibitions, a book stall, vegetarian delicacies, good company, and the beautiful surrounds of Montsalvat to break things up! Plus quite a few of the poets listed in the program didn't make it out to the festival, no doubt owing to the oppressive weather conditions. Thankfully a cool change came through around 4pm.
At around 8pm I read three poems as part of the "And beyond..." reading, which was devoted to the memory of Melbourne poet Patrick Alexander. I read Inscriptions, which I dedicated to Monica; cashed; and How to be hungry got its first public airing. Thanks to Nick Powell for agreeing to MC the session at the last minute!
All up, it was a brilliant day and night. You can count me in for next year!