Sunday, April 29, 2007

Three Shades: Poetry Thursday Homework!

Image by Leonie: Guitar Case fit for a Poetry Reading

Late last year one of the Poetry Thursday assignments was to go to a poetry reading. Leonie and I found a list of readings in Wellington, but with both of our schedules being rather hectic at the time we never got to any of them.

Well, tonight we finally handed in our homework! And with only two days left before half of the Welly 4 leave on their terribly big adventure, what a better way to spend one of our last evenings together.

The performers tonight were (excerpts taken from the programme):

Mika: A Samoan acoustic flamenco guitarist.

Lewis Scott: An African American jazz poet.

Lindsay Rabbitt: Described as the "Kiwi Irish poet", influenced in the 80s by the American minimalist poets. Reinvented himself as an arts journalist, essayist and mixed-media artist, and began writing poetry again 18 months ago after a 20 year break. Currently exploring the 'bardic/performance poetry tradition'.

Apirana Taylor: A Maori poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, painter, actor and story teller.

I'm too tired now to comment too deeply, save to say it was a wonderful evening. I was left with a lot of impressions that I will elaborate on in more detail some time this week. The themes I would like to follow up on include:

  • "Travelling in cemeteries" - the ethics of tourism in countries that have seen warfare, and where, even in this country, can we travel without walking in blood? Is it possible to travel to such places with awareness?
  • Does talking about politics or activism really change anything? This is a theme already toyed with in Bright Room Called Day. So we sit around talking about Iraq and Bush and blah blah. Are we really making any difference? Are people of our generation, as John Smythe says, really so cynical about our ability to change anything? Is that why we form our communities online, plug into iPods, take mind altering substances? Do we choose to disconnect from that which is real because what is real has simply become too hard?
  • Do some of us, in contrast, clutch fast to this earth and plant our souls in the land, because that seems solid and understandable?
  • The art of performance itself. The choosing of a work, the speaking of it with a passion that connects you to the audience.
I will make one observation now though. It takes a huge amount of concentration to listen to poetry for two hours. As an exercise in mindfulness it was far more difficult for me than any breathing meditation. I missed delicious slices of poetry tonight because my mind decided it was suddenly more important to think about what I was going to eat for lunch tomorrow, or what I was going to wear to work. Full credit to the performers tonight for taking us on a journey with them that was worthwhile reining our grasshopper minds in for.

But that's another post!

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