Last month I went to Poetry at The Fringe and wrote about it – so I thought I’d continue that idea. I went to this month’s event – check out the Facebook page for regular news/updates.
It was a huge feast of words – the regular open-mic session that starts the afternoon featured around 15 performers. And it was everything from haiku to songs, from works that had been published in erotic journals to heartfelt personal works, including many responses to last month’s Christchurch atrocity.
Several regulars flock for the open-mic – including the return of the woman that read a poem suggesting guns are bad, but Michael Jackson is not – she performs this with Jackson’s song Bad ringing out her headphones… (she performed this same poem, with its accompany soundtrack, last month).
I was back too. I read two new poems – You Had To Be There and Theme For A Broken Soul. I felt good about reading these and they seemed to go down well. I’m enjoying the return to the world of reading poetry.
After the break we heard music from The Brooklyns – an “alt-folk” combo of local singer/songwriters and the band’s leader, Mary McCallum, was pulling triple-duty on this gig, given she had also read as part of the open-mic and as the head of the independent publisher Mākaro Press she was the commissioning editor of the works by the featured-guests; she returned to MC the final session of reading.
One of Mary’s clever ideas is the HOOPLA Series – each year she chooses three poets to bind through simultaneous releases. There’s a debut poet, a mid-career poet and a late-career poet. The three books – slim volumes, beautifully designed, created to speak to each other in series – are released on the same day and promoted through shared launches.
So 2018’s Class of Hoopla is debut poet Elizabeth Welsh with a single book-length poem, Over There A Mountain, Reihana Robinson, a teacher, traveler and poet with her mid-career volume, Her Limitless Her and dancer and established – ‘late-career’ poet Jo Thorpe, her slim book is called This Thin Now.
McCallum introduced all and we heard from Robinson first. Fierce, wonderful poems, including a brace of unpublished new works to lead off.
Next was Welsh with excerpts from her throw-everything-at-it mega-metaphor of a poem/book. Actually the excerpts worked very well I thought, hopefully intriguing to people, drawing them in to want to check out the whole work; to purchase the book.
Thorpe was our final reader. A class act. She makes deeply personal, small, insular moments ring out proud, suddenly universal – suddenly so much bigger. She, as with her flanking Hoopla poets, shows control and class in the words and the way they are used. All three were excellent performers and their books are brilliant.
It was a huge couple of hours – and very much a case of something for everyone.