Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wrap-up of Overload (and the rest)

What a festival that was! Wish I could've caught more of it, but what I did catch was inspiring. My faith in the Melbourne poetry and spoken word scene has been renewed.

First up there was the launch at the Fitzroy Town Hall. Myron Lysenko MCed and read excerpts from Blake and Auden to get our minds in the frame. Or out of the frame - isn't that what poetry's about? Great selections, Myron! Mayor of Yarra Amanda Stone (who was my Year 8 English teacher!) gave a fitting speech. Jennif
er Harrison gave the perfect tribute to the late, great and dearly missed Dorothy Porter. Then the Heart Chamber (Matt Hetherington, Lia Hills, Tom Joyce, Michelle Leber and Marian Spires) performed love poetry which ranged from the flippant to the full-flight ecstatic. It was almost like seeing a group of poet-friends performing as if they were the only ones in the room: it seemed they were freely bouncing poems/fragments off one another. The segues were natural/unexpected rather than contrived. Cool idea... didn't see anything else quite like it for the rest of the festival. Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for the infamous pub crawl (thereby bringing infamy upon myself!).

On Saturday the 5th I went along to the (non-Overload-related) Frame Lines party at Loop. Was great to see photography/artwork from the magazine up on the projector screen, and to meet the staff and artists involved. I read 'chapel st'. Thanks to Sarah and Jeremy for opening up the stage.

Then there was Tripping the Light Ekphrastic at Glitch on Tuesday the 8th. What can I say... great gig, great poets, great performances, great crowd, great souvenir chapbooks (thanks Fee!). As promised, I read 'Sharps' by Nathan Moore and 'Suite' by Dana Guthrie Martin, along with my remixes of those poems: 'Sharps' (Warding Remix) and 'Suite' (Sour Remix). Thanks to everyone who came along. It was an honour to share the stage with Anna Fern, Ahmed Hashim, Fee Sievers, Maurice McNamara and Kristin Henry. All the poets ble
w me away on the night, and everyone I spoke to said they really enjoyed the performances and concept. Something I should've mentioned earlier is the pre-gig interview I did for the Overland blog. Thanks to Maxine Clarke for organising that.

The following Thursday saw the launch of the first edition of [untitled] at Watsonia library. Kalinda Ashton gave a fantastic launch speech, reminding everyone of the importance of magazines and journals that publish stories and poems by new and emerging writers. Then we were treated to readings by some of the featured writers (I gave a reading of 'hands/office'). Thanks and congrats to Blaise, Les and the rest of the [untitled] crew. A well-attended and memorable launch, for sure. All bodes well for the future of this publication.

On Saturday night I went along to Poetry in Motion at ACMI Studio. David Rozetsky's short films based on poems by Elizabeth Campbell, Philip Salom and Luis Gonzalez Serrano were alluring examples of videopoetry, marrying the short film aesthetic with poem-as-voiceover and music. There was also a series of video poems curated by Sydney's Wordjammin' collective, which were more experimental/avant-garde, in some cas
es unashamedly lo-fi, but all fascinating in their own way. Sjaak de Jong curated a brilliant selection of vispo and audio-visual pieces from Australia and around the world, including the likes of Warren Burt, Eddy Burger and Richard Tipping. All things considered, with the possible exception of the Surprise Showcase (see below), Poetry in Motion was probably my favourite part of the festival - because it pointed to the future. It promised to be 'a truly innovative session', and for me it definitely delivered.

I stuck around for the Skype Slam, which has been discussed at length on the Overland blog. Despite the technical hitches, it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed all the performances. Although maybe I would've been more disappointed if I'd just come along for the slam and hadn't already been blown away by Poetry in Motion? Still, I figure the Skype Slam concept was a risk worth taking.

Sunday night's Surprise Showcase at Dante's closed the festival in style, with some
captivating performances. Josephine Rowe, Maxine Clarke, Lewis Scott and Felix Nobis were magical. Congrats to all the award winners, who were definitely deserving - especially Michael Reynolds. Again it was great to see such a large, up-for-it crowd... mainly made up of poets, but this was a night for the poets to celebrate what we have.

Thanks to everyone who made Overload what it was: from the festival committee and staff (James Waller,
Jon Garrett, Luis Gonzalez Serrano, Sjaak de Jong, Tim Hamilton et al), to the venues, the audiences, and of course the poets.

If there's one thing I'll take from the festival it's that I should get out
to at least one gig every week, because the scene is so rich, and should be supported. And because Melbourne's poets are worth hanging out with. Cheers to you guys!

Ok, now I need to lie down.

Below: Tripping the Light Ekphrastic at Glitch Bar. Group shot (L-R): Maurice McNamara, Brett Ditchfield, Kristin Henry, Fee Sievers, Ahmed Hashim, moi, Anna Fern.


  1. nice one, stu. a lot of the people i talked to have similar postitve feelings about this one, and very much so for me. the best overload of the 8 i've been to! after what for me has been a pretty dull year of poetry performances in melb (exceptions of course, it was just gorious! and youmissed some great shows too (naturally, as did i, by the sound of it...) james and all did an amazing job this year...

  2. Yeah, next year I'll have to take time off work so I can go to more shows, I reckon.

    And yep, agreed: I take my hat off to the organisers.