Sunday, November 25, 2007

a home for the 'job' poems

For my performance at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2007, I was allocated a 15 min session in Saturday's line-up and another 10 min session in the closing Sunday line-up. Much thought went into my planning for the sessions and a little bit of risk, (maybe a lot of risk) - as I wanted to include the 30 poem sequence Holding Job's Hand in full and worried about the impact of allocating my entire 15 minute session to doing so. What if I blew my chances with an audience by tackling a long poem in my first session? What if people didn't get it and what if it wasn't any good? Should poets read new work at festivals? Should long poems be explored at festivals, when selecting a sampling of shorter poems would give an audience a better overview of my work?

Deciding what to do, in the end, was relatively easy. My roomies for the festival were Sue Stanford, Karen Knight, Jules Witek and our visiting roomie Lyn Reeves. Over a nice bottle of Janz and some fine conversation, we shared our work, timed it amongst ourselves and with each encourageing the positive aspects found in each others performances, the risks were less daunting and we had, at least, the opportunity to preview our performances in a less intimidating way. So, it was after the affirmation of my peers, (special thanks to Sue for her timing and advice) that I went forward with the reading of the 'job' poems in full for my first festival session.

Taking the risk, believing the poetry will mark itself in some way, trusting the work to speak for itself, this is what performing work is about. I'm so pleased to say, that my anxiety heightened as it was, did not detract me from trusting myself and the new work. I also appreciated the interest and kind words from Nathan Shepherdson and Angela Gardner re my reading of the 'job' work.

The poetry sequence, or as I prefer to call it, the long poem Holding Job's Hand is under offer and due for release in February 2008 with Angela Gardner's newly fomed Light Trap Press

Angela received the Thomas Shapcott Award last year for her book Parts of Speech and she has recently received a Churchill fellowship. Angela is an award winning artist as well as a poet and is looking at launching limited edition artbook collaborations between artists and writers with the focus on high quality production values. Clyde McGill is the artist selected to collaborate with my text. More news on this when I can, but as this is the first of a planned series and both Angela and Clyde are very talented, I am completely delighted that my work will be involved in this new enterprise.

In this instance, the risk I was discussing at the beginning of this post has indeed paid off, if an outcome which sees work getting out into the world in any form, can be considered a pay-off.
I'm deeply grateful for the confidence Angela and Clyde have shown in my work and I'm really proud of the work and myself for getting something done, which I did not think was going to be marketable or popular, but which I felt was worthwhile doing in any case.

I guess that work can often drive itself and with the process I undertook for developing the 'job' poem/s, the ideas and the creation of the work, almost did drive itself. I was much more involved than an onlooker, but at times, was an onlooker wondering how I did manage to finish the poem/s and was happy to know when they were finished, that they were what I didn't know I was going to end up with, but was surprised and delighted that I did end up with them all the same.

Risk is everything, to be aware and to respond and to trust the craft...


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