21 May 2009

mother Qs

Asked by Scott-Patrick Mitchell, the editor of MoTHER [has words...], to answer a few questions for the upcoming issue...

* who / what is the antipoet?

Ha! There are myriad reasons. The term antipoet is a play on the way I write and perform poetry. To be honest I don't really like poetry - at least most of the poems I hear and read in the "scene". I think poetry should be bold with language usage, poetry should challenge the dominant cultural paradigms we're born into - and most poetry I'm exposed to does not do this. The antipoet exists to take on the contemporary consumer-driven culture we inhabit - to rip into the oppressive institutional constructs we wake up to every day. I'm also an anarchist and anti-capitalist and a staunch ecosystem defender...

* when did you come out of the 'woodwork' on to the perth poetry scene, and what influences led you here?

I'd been dabbling with poetry, and other artforms as a kid, but the hardcore poetry stuff started at Curtin Uni, where I studied Creative Writing in the mid 90s. Exposed to some pretty radical writers, challenging texts, and faced with the bland nature of the "normal" readings I decided I wanted to create and perform work that I would personally want to consume. I've been organising poetry events ever since. Reading the so-called "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets", whose every word drips ideological reality, listening to sound poets, in particular Melbourne's Jas H Duke and having as a friend Ashley J Higgs - whose work is perhaps the most out of the box stuff you will ever hear. Also the post-Beat "Last Poets" (a form of pre-hip hop) rhythmic political poems, as well as the little known Australian poet: Raymond J Bartholemew - who performed regularly on Hey Hey its Saturday many years ago!

* tell us about openmouth and woodwork.

Openmouth was the poetry reading I organised from 1995-2001. We had a blend of performance poets, normal readers and a band every month. It became quite popular, with around 75 punters each month. It seemed everyone wanted to get on the bill and kept me so busy I dropped my uni to concentrate on the project. Woodwork was a zine in which I'd publish those who read at the Openmouth sessions.

* you're wrapped up in a lot of music - magick trousers, mitey ko - what's the go go go with all that at the mo'?

Magick Trousers was an extreme experiment in noise-poetry and sound. We existed for a few years, before being banned from every venue we played at. Our goal was to destroy melody and meaning at every turn. MiteyKo still performs every so often, we have 4 CDs out there, and are slowly working on another one. Kevin Gillam, who plays cello in the band, and I often collaborate and perform together at various events. Currently I'm fronting the activista-driven, post-punk/post-hardcore band: Blac Blocs - we have a CD out and play regularly around Perth, as well as dabbling in a new project: The Antipoet Band - a ramshackle, improvised rock-poetry band which is proving to be challenging.

* you seem to pioneer and love a mash up of language, sonicism and images - explain your style and end products.

I think its important to experiment at every moment. Poetry is one place we can play games with language and meaning. I strongly believe that there is constant "struggle" at the site of meaning. Embedded in language is the ever-shifting consumer vs producer battle. I like to bring this idea out in all my art. Indeed I think that is what poetry does well - it is the most concentrated form of text - and those of us who realise that all poetry is political, that all art is in some way inherently challenging all that which has come before, will play with this notion.

* guerilla poetry - is this something you've indulged in? if not, what would you do if you did?

Me personally, I've performed my poetry on trains, in the street, standing on tables at art festivals amongst other things. A group of us poets once took over the Speakers Corner in the centre of Perth where I did my "consume mantra" - which is just me repeating the word "consume" over and over for as long as I can - in this case over 5 minutes. By the time I'd finished, hundreds of Sunday shoppers had stopped shopping and stood draped and gaping-mouthed over the Forrest Place balconies staring at me in awe. I'd actually intervened in capitalism for a moment and succeeded to some extent in halting their mindless rampant pursuit!

* explain poetry slams and your role in bringing them to perth.

A "Slam" is the competitive art of performance poetry. Poetry Slams started up in Chicago in the late 1980s in an effort to bring punters to poetry readings - an attempt to make poetry popular. Each poet performs to a set time limit (2 minutes) and the audience judges them out of ten. The winner of each heat goes on to the next until a final realises the "best" poet of the series. It's fun and boisterous, and very challenging for the poets. I was asked by the organisers of the inaugural National Slam in 2007 to help out - it was a massive success, filling venues at each heat. This year I started the Perth Poetry Slam - which was also overwhelmingly successful and a shitload of fun.

* do you have a book out?

I have a few zines floating out there in the world, including my Antipoet Manifesto, and I have a blog - but nothing formally "published". Indeed I'm not really keen to be a "published poet". I live for the transient moments. My poetry, I think, works better on the stage than on the page. Having said that I'm pursuing the idea of self-publishing a full-colour coffee table book of my image-based poetry one day! If you want my shit you better come to a gig.

* what's the hottest happening stuff in the poetry scene at current in your opinion?

The Cottonmouth sessions are good in exposing the diversity of new words, but nothing particularly stands out, just anything that challenges meaning and reality, art and economics, poetry and ecosystems... No nothing comes to mind!

* if you could change the way poetry was taught, what strategies would you implement?

I'm a teacher at Curtin Uni, and the thing that students love is when they are asked to experiment with language. We need to introduce more silly exercises, eg - write a sentence with each word in alphabetical order, write a sentence without using the letter "e", etc. In my experience students really do want to fuck around with language. There is a sense of power and control when you create new words and fuck with tradition. We also need to give up the notion that there is such a thing as "High Art". We live in a post-modern world motherfucker! Wake Up!!

* final words? i'll give you 23 and 1/2 max....

testing yr well-trod pathos
i'm braver than uniformed cock
i'm uncircumcised bitter
this truncheon of meaning
we eat well here
in box(es)


Check out MoTHER here: MoTHER [has words...]


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