13 August 2008


Overload Poetry Festival -August 2008

Overload festival was a cool blast - again. Was the quickest trip to Melbourne I've done, with only 2 gigs to do over the weekend. This was my 4th Overload festival and the weather was sharp, cold and gun-grey snap. As usual the Melbourne sun is nothing more than theoretical. But this is always more than made for by the warmth and generosity of the Melbourne poetry scene inhabitants.

After teaching my creative writing class very early on Friday morning, then playing a blistering Blac Blocs set on Friday night (image above) at the Rocket room in Perth, I arrived utterly exhausted at Melbourne Airport on Saturday night.

Following a rambling, frenetic poetry/art discussion over some wicked rogan josh and Japanese beers in Fitzroy with long-time performance partner (hyper-impro-singer-poet) Ashley J Higgs, then much later over one Bacardi and Coke with my good mate Steve Smart, I finally crashed in the wee hours of Sunday morn.

Consequently, I performed tired and sparsely at the J Studios (a very cool converted primary school/artspace in North Fitzroy) at midday on Sunday. Benito De Fonzo from Sydney and Nathan Shepherdson from Brisbane also performed at this event - an interstate showcase entitled: "Rave."

Benito, who I've seen many times before was in good form with his bunch of always entertaining post-journalistic poetry. Nathan was also in good form with several short works involving a kind of surreal ode to spoons and full stops. Good stuff. Love to hear more of Nathan's work.

The cold but brightly lit performance space was hung with the works of an international stencil art/poetry exhibition, and as a stencil-artist, it was a buzz to read poetry amongst some fine examples of poetry meets spray collaboration. Inspiring art.

I opened with a spoken version of Refused's NEW NOISE, a seminal post-punk/hardcore song, did the Superuser poem, Consume and Heroin before testing out a brand new piece (this microphone) to a small but appreciative mob...

The other show was later on the Sunday evening "surprise showcase" - the final festival event.

I was scheduled as the final act, which meant a lot of waiting to perform - with many (perhaps too many) Carlton Draughts consumed freezingly al-fresco - before I finally got in front of the packed and eager audience.

The night's organisers, Steve Smart, and Maurice McNamara had chosen a fine selection of festival performers and open-section stars, with a micro-slam embedded into the event. A diverse and dynamic night indeed.

The venue (Dante's - Gertrude Street in Fitzroy) was microphone-less, but has great acoustics for poetry - even with the more quieter poets.

Ashley J Higgs, who I've performed with since the late 90s collaborated on my last piece: this microphone (see post below) - which I'd mostly written on the plane the night before. In order to put myself on the edge a little, to this Overload I had brought nothing but a notepad - no laptop, no backing CD, no gadgets, nothing.

Ash, who is a master of site-specific improvisation used chair-scrape percussion, strange mobile-phone recordings, some uber-vocal-musings and finally a wooden barrel, culminating in a frenzy of mad acoustic beats and words. Was a lot of fun and had some great responses - including one woman who "hated" my Heroin piece. (The poem is a repetitive "You can't buy much heroin for a dollar" with emphasis on a different words as the sentence is spoken).

After the gig, much festival chattery and many many many refreshments later (til the magpies spoke dawn tunes), I awoke a frazzled-nasty-hazy heap on a lounge in a random Melbourne poet-house on the Monday morning, then crawled to the airport...

A very rapid and rampant couple of days.

There a bunch of good photos of both events on Michael Reynolds facebook: link here.

Thanks go out to all involved.

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