Saturday, July 31, 2010
Fed up with Australian election spin-doctoring? Come and hear poetry and politics collide tomorrow afternoon:
Extending Our Community with the Australian Greens
1 August 2:00-4:40
284 Brunswick st Fitzroy
Aboriginal elder Uncle Reg Blow will conduct a cleansing ceremony to precede a heat of the invitational Melbourne Believer Slam.
Slam MC: Michael Reynolds
Competitors: Ben Pobjie, Laura Smith, Luka Haralampou, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Graham Colin, Dandelion Jackson, Rhys Rodgers, Koraly Dimitriadis, Joel MacKerrow and Eddy Berger.
Introductory words by Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn.
Closing remarks by Greens candidate Brian Walters.
Admission $10 / $5 concession.
A fundraiser for the Australian Greens.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Mark: What, or who, got you in to poetry?
Maxine: Poetry always just seemed to be around. My favourite book as a kid was a picture book called Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp. I remember being amazed that writing could be so lyrical and poetic. Instead of Church clothes, there was Sunday-go-to-meeting-finery. Instead of being careful, plucky little ittle afroed Lou was told ‘mind you keep your wits about you’. The rhythm of it all was spell-binding. In my early years, my mother was a sometimes-actress. Sometimes, not because she wasn’t formally trained, but because she was a young, black actress in seventies and eighties Australia, with three young children. When we were old enough, we helped her with her lines and I remember then, loving the repetition and rhythm of calling out the line before hers, hearing and checking her response. I guess I never started writing what I’d deem to be real poetry until I was a teenager though. And predictably, most of what I wrote in those early years was cringe-worthy...
Read the rest of Mark William Jackson's interview with me over at the Black Rider Blog.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Being slam-skyped across cyberspace was pretty amazing, though the cross-cultural judging was at times perplexing and the screen unfortunately quite pixelated. Poet IQ (aka Benjamin Theolonius Sanders) slammed the final round for Melbourne, with a baffling yet amusing account of how the asylum seeker and refugee problem could be solved through the utilisation of his enormous tongue, which would be rolled out like a giant red carpet across the oceans.
Can't wait to watch the next two rounds - another against Singapore and one against STANZA poetry festival in Scotland, during Overload in September (assuming, that is, that I'm not otherwise occupied).
This slam was only my second since my very public and possibly disgruntled vow to give poetry slamming a break (which took place almost a year ago today). Oh, there was that one famous relapse just days later, which I tried so hard to justify, but apart from that I swear I've been clean.
So am I back on the wagon? Not sure yet. I didn't get the buzz out of it I used to, though it was a lot of fun. So we'll just wait and see. I'm not going to get all my name is Maxine Beneba Clarke and I'm a slam poet on you quite yet...
Monday, July 26, 2010
boat people are heading for our waters!
WE WILL STOP THE BOATS
black men are heading for our waters
black men are heading for our waters!
PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTERS
Saturday, July 24, 2010
& said dad
you got no idea
this fire i got inside of me
i will be king one day
i am as ready to face the giant
as i will ever be
bt king saul fell to his knees
he woulda been about thirteen
why does this story
sound so familiar to me
our little davids walk the western streets
goliath carries tasers / truncheons / guns
& stalks the beat
we slay goliath & get life
way back then
a whole army cheered
& drained beer barrels through the night
goliath can't be killed
by a brown boy with a single stone
goliath has guns / & tanks / & spies
& fighter drones
& still our little davids
walk in to fight alone
you got no idea
this fire i got inside of me
we will be free one day
& i am as ready now
as i will ever be
does the whole country not hear us
collectively fall to our knees
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Drop in to have a squizz and also to read some amazing poetry by, and interviews with, Australian poets Andy Jackson (Amongst the Regulars, Papertiger Media, 2010), Alec Patric (Music for Broken Instruments, Black Rider Press 2010) and Tiggy Johnson (First Taste, 2010).
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I think I've mentioned here before that I'm sworn to secrecy as to specific contents, but let me just say the half-finished (I know, better hurry up and get my poetry on, huh?) piece is currently evolving in a surprising way. For a taste of the sounds to come, check out the 2008 audio podcast of my poem Original Human Trade over at Wordplay.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Weighing in for Australia in Sunday's slam we have myself, Emilie Zoe Baker, Steve Smart and IQ (aka Benjamin Theolonius Sanders), with Ezra Bix as a more-than-able MC.
Just in, we have the bios of the formidable Singapore team that the four of us are up against this coming Sunday evening:
Marc Daniel Nair is a poet, teacher and photographer whose first book of poetry, Along the Yellow Line, was published in 2007. In between, he has done various chapbooks, including a photo-poetry compilation and a collection of 101 Haikus. His next book, Chai And Other Travel Poems on July 17th. As a slam poet, he has done readings in Malaysia, the UK as well as numerous schools in Singapore. He was placed third in the Indian Ocean Slam Championships in November 2009 and is one of the sixteen poets taking part in the World Cup of Poetry Slam, held in Paris, France in June 2010.
Pooja Nansi born in Gujarat, India in 1981, but brought up in Singapore, moves ably from the performer’s stage to the literary page with her first book of poems, Stiletto Scars. Her work pays homage to the rituals and incense of tradition, the generational ladder of family life and her sometimes ambivalent position climbing up that somewhat precarious ladder. While carrying within her a firm Indian consciousness, she, like other urban-educated members of her generation, has grown up in a fast-paced, multicultural South-East Asian city. Her poetry is also notable for how it grapples with forging an identity as a woman in such a rapidly changing society.She has been a leading figure in the Singapore Slam community and has represented Singapore in Malaysia and in the UK though a recent British Council tour. Pooja teaches literature in Singapore junior college.
Rahimah Rashith: A passionate young poet, Rahimah enjoys exploring emotions through poetry in all forms. As a theatre actress and a poet she believes in the power of creativity to express life and lessons. Her work includes themes of love, death and everything in between. She hopes to be able to publish her own poetry. Rahimah first started writing in the turn of the millennium and has never looked back since.
Benjamin Chow: A performing artist, Benjamin also takes a great deal of pleasure in writing his own poetry and short fiction. He has performed for young people and the general public. As an actor as well as a singer, his writing is often expressive, lyrical and always aims to be contemporary and honest. He makes it a point to keep in mind that there will always be another way to tell a story. Some of his performances include: Poetry Slam 2010, SMU - 1st, Singapore Idol Season 3 Top 24, Dunman High's Fusion Concert 2010 - Guest artist and Lasalle's Sweet Charity - Guest Artist. Some of his stories and poems have been published with Create Le Voyage, 2008.
I gotta say, despite our killer team, I’m getting more worried about our prospects by the minute! But in any case, I’ll be shooting the breeze about the slam, (and Overload Poetry Festival in general tomorrow) on Aural Text, and maybe prancing around with a bit of Mohammed Ali style poetic bravado...
Sunday, July 11, 2010
What in the hell did I think I was doing?
Despite the knock-out introduction from MC Raina Peterson ('I’m really excited about this next writer because, actually, I have a massive, massive writers crush on her – I mean seriously, she’s totally awesome!') I was, for the first time in maybe three years, a little unsure of myself on stage.
The reason? For the first time in about ten years, I was about to read my prose in public.
Poetry is, and always will be, my first love, and it’s really startled me since I started publishing my prose how much people enjoy reading it. I wouldn’t say prefer reading it, but I guess it’s probably, for them, a side of my writing they haven’t seen much before. But reading prose in public? Well, it’s a different thing. My prose is written for the page. Ninety five percent of my poetry is written for the stage (despite the two collections I’ve published, which were mostly, I must confess, published as milestones/ tick-boxes). In fact, up until about two years ago (when I started this blog), a lot of my poetry went unscribed and was just held in my head for performances. And here I was, reading prose, off paper.
I got through it, eventually: trying to look up at the audience as often as I could, speeding through some sections to reach the end faster.
The feedback was fantastic:
I could tell you were pretty nervous, but y’know, you shouldn’t have been: you read your prose with the same kind of rhythm you read your poetry.
After hearing you read that story, I think I have a little bit of a writer’s crush on you too.
I loved the prose. Even though it was probably the most disturbing short story I’ve heard for a while.
But will I be reading prose again anytime soon? Not sure. It was good to be out of my comfort zone, and great to get instant feedback, but poetry is still what I do, and dig, best.
You can read Shu Yi, the short story mentioned in this post, over at Peril magazine.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
i hear you saying
nobody ever cooked for me
i wz always alone in that house with the bread money
nothing i cd do wd drag that woman from her studio
i thought one day i/d understand
bt this is me
twenty five years on from that shit
& i am telling you now
i am saying to you in all lucidity
that being alice walker’s daughter
sure wz not so fucking rosy
now rebecca may be angry
or even a tad prone to hyperbole
& any lawyer knows
one person’s version
cannot be the only
i can’t help thinking
will my daughter disown me
This is an extract from my poem 'Being Alice Walker's Daughter'. Tune in to Aural Text (RRR radio) next Wednesday at 1pm to hear the poem broadcast in it's entirety.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
One thing I just couldn’t say no to, though, was an invite to perform in the first heat of the Overload Poetry Festival International Skype Slam, which will take place at the Wheeler Centre on July 18th, against a literary festival in Singapore.
Those who followed the Overland Overloaded blog last year would have been aware of the Overload vs Bristol skype slam, which was reviewed by Overland Overloaded’s Simonne Michelle Wells, and heavily debated on the site. Well, this year the tradition continues.
Unfortunately, I thought it unwise to accept an invitation to also perform in one of the later skype-slam heats as part of the festival in mid-September (though commencing labour live in a Skype Slam to Singapore would have to be a fitting arrival into the world for the daughter of a slam poet, surely?).
Hope to catch you there.