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On Wednesday after work I went to hear poets Rachael Mead and Jill Jones read at The Treasurer’s Wall in Adelaide’s State Library, one of many regular poetry events organised by Friendly Street Poets.

Treasures Wall State Library

Rachael’s work I am familiar with, and she recited a wonderful piece called Lake Eyre Cycle that was published in the Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2013, Now You Shall Know.  Split into eight sections, it describes Rachael’s round trip to the lake with her husband in beautifully absorbing imagery, giving you a real sense of ‘there’.  Rachael also read from her first collection The Sixth Creek published by Picaro Press in 2013, which is an insightful assortment of poems about the place she lives in, the surrounding area and the wildlife she shares it with.  Rachael reads with a warmth and passion that takes you in, making you feel like you’re old friends.

The poetry of Jill Jones, I must confess, I am not so familiar with and thus have added her to my list of ‘poets to research’ (although I do recall Jill also being one of the Adelaide-based poets published in Australian Love Poems 2013). Jill also read a lengthier piece comprising six sonnets that get you to think about the planet we inhabit and the way it is falling, followed by a number of short pieces delivered with a wonderful quiet strength.

And then I did the inevitable – brought more books!  So mental note to self: more shelf space required… 

I have recently received a copy of an anthology containing my latest publication.  Memory Weaving, published by Poetica Christi Press and edited by Carolyn Vimpani, is a thought-provoking collection of dementia journeys that describes the loss of a person to this debilitating disease.

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There are poems about anger, confusion, love, grief, acceptance, sometimes humour and surprise, all of which have been thoughtfully grouped together under one of three headings – frayed at the edges, unravelled and threadbare – to denote the gradual lessening of the self to dementia.

The call for submissions was sponsored by Manningham City Council to promote awareness within their community of those living with dementia, their families and carers. To purchase a copy of the anthology contact the publisher directly, otherwise here is my poem to give you a sneak peak between the covers…

Visiting hours

 

Her hands don’t belong here

bewildered starfish beached on the table.

She wants to put them away

with the napkins and knives.

 

When the doorbell rings she answers the fridge

confused and then thrilled

to see her teeth grinning back.

 

She thought it’d be her daughter

nods polite to the woman who’s stolen her name.

 

Later she remembers the time

shuffles in slippers to find it again.

            Copyright © J V Birch 2013

Now I admit, I have only seen a few slam poetry performances over the years so my comparisons are not the broadest, but this group of young dynamic poets was amazing!

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The show “Aotearoa Speaks – Chewing your Ears” definitely needs to be heard, delivered by some of the best spoken word poets from New Zealand, including national and international slam winners.  In a collaboration of stories from New Zealand, Samoa, Africa and Egypt, these 7 artists deliver a fusion of song, movement and poetry with poignant cultural and social themes that will get you thinking and reflecting long after they’ve left the stage.
 
Having performed 3 nights in Adelaide at the Brighton Performing Arts Centre they are now in Melbourne, so if you can get tickets I can’t recommend them enough. Here’s a little taster…
 
Writing something that means anything.
 
Rule 1: Don’t make it beautiful. Your metaphors are as pretty as an induced labour. Ideas swaddled too soon, let them sit in themselves like a soup.
 

February and March is a busy time in Adelaide – the annual Festival, the Fringe and of course, Writer’s Week.

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And what an eventful week it’s been! Last Thursday I attended a workshop by the inspiring Mark Tredinnick, a non-fiction literary master class that explored the process and influence of writing from fact.  The workshop generated a few ideas, thoughts and writers to research, so a very worthwhile investment I felt.

And then I went to a few sessions at Writer’s Week, conveniently taking place in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens just around the corner from where I work.  There was a poetry reading on Monday with the likes of Lisa Jacobson, one of the poets shortlisted for the 2014 John Bray Poetry Award with her verse novel The Sunlit Zone and David Malouf, who’s collection Typewriter Music was one of my many purchases from the frequently visited book tent.

On Tuesday evening I attended the monthly meeting of Friendly Street Poets (FSP) at the University of Adelaide where I read two pieces as a first time reader, for which I received a welcoming round of applause that managed to calm the nerves a bit (that and the free glass of wine I had beforehand!).  I have submitted both poems for consideration in the new annual anthology being finalised by the FSP editors so we’ll see how that goes.  I enjoyed the company of fellow poets Pam Maitland, Louise Nicholas and Nigel Ford, all of whom read extremely thought-provoking pieces, some not without humour, and were very supportive of my own performance.  Another noteworthy act was delivered by a group of New Zealand poets over to participate in their Fringe event taking place on Saturday night, Aotearoa Speaks – Chewing your Ears.  If their outstanding performance on Tuesday is anything to go by, this will be a fantastic and memorable evening so very much looking forward to it.

The final Writer’s Week session I attended was another of Mark’s where he was interviewed on aspects of love, birds and nature in his work by Mike Ladd, series producer of ABC’s Poetica.  This insightful chat prompted me to purchase another of Mark’s collections Fire Diary, which I have yet to indulge in.

So now I will take some time to breathe, reflect and do the thing that must be done following any whirlwind of words and wisdom…write, and then write some more!