Saturday, January 25, 2014
Poetry in Pubs?
Schools have poetry being taught to students, both reading the poems of established poets, and the writing of new poetry by the students. Poetry happens in homes, reading and writing too. Where else could you find poetry happening, do you think?
One place, probably my favourite place where poetry happens, is in pubs! There are poetry readings going on in pubs in Australia and in Ireland, and probably other countries too. I know about the Poetry @ the Pub because I'm involved in a monthly event in one pub, and have been for many years.
The Poets@thePub I know about is the event that happens in the South Australian town of Gawler on the last Sunday of every month except December. The action starts at 2pm and goes on until 4 pm. This event has been going on for almost twenty years. It was started by Martin Johnson, a keen poet who has become an icon in the town of Gawler.
Martin has given poetry back to the people, holding poetry readings in a variety of pubs, forced to move on as pubs changed hands or closed down. The last pub Martin had the poetry readings at was the Prince Albert hotel, on Murray Street. Then Martin felt he'd had enough of the poetry game and wanted to give more back to his music.
Fortunately a committee of dedicated attendees of the Gawler Poets @ the Pub got together and took over from Martin. They did a good job, and the numbers of poets coming to the PA once a month kept up. Two of the committee members have had to move on, but the remaining two are still extremely keen to keen the poetry happening at the PA Hotel.
There is an anthology produced every year, with the best of the poems read from each poet chosen published. This anthology is a fine record of contemporary poetry. The quality varies a little bit perhaps, but the standard is still very good. The annual anthology is a great book to add to anyone's poetry bookcase!
The Gawler Poets@thePub often has a guest poet, where the guest is given fifteen minutes to read their works and talk about their poetry. There have been poets from other countries and from interstate too. It certainly looks like Gawler Poets@thePub will keep on going for many years to come!
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Judges comments 2012 'Crossroads' competition
Cross roads: Judge’s Speech
Among the almost seventy poems submitted by adults, nine stood out. Two --- ‘Sticks and Bones’(by Heather Lunney NSW) and ‘Atticus Forby’ (by Terrence Mohr SA)--- dealt with individuals struggling with identity. Both rhymed and were fine poems. I certainly commend them, as I do ‘Blackberry Pies’(by Beverly Lello VIC) and ‘The Wrong Woman’(by Gaylene Carbis VIC) which dealt with cars. The most curious poem, also commended, was ‘Wystan Hughes walks past the Musee de Beaux Arts and drops into a nearby blues club’ [after W H Auden] (by Mike Hopkins SA), an accomplished, witty and entertaining piece which Auden would have appreciated.
Now we get down to the Highly Commended poems of which there are two. ‘Pandora’s Box’ (by Shelley Hansen QLD) is a thought provoking piece applied skillfully to the set topic with an uplifting ending. It is, if anything, an Ode to Hope. ‘Crossroads’ (by Janet Upcher TAS) is a tender, sensitive poem with some original imagery. It depicts that moment that all parents and grandparents know when the child becomes an adult stepping out into the adult world. It is a time of celebration and loss. Conventionally rhymed, it is beautifully and achingly realized.
In sharp contrast we have one of the two equal prizewinners ‘do you take this man?’ (by David Campbell VIC) which reminds me of the poetry of Anna Walwicz .It has a strong narrative drive mingled with stream of consciousness. It is hot and scarifying. This poem hit me from the very start. I knew it would be a finalist. It makes powerful reading.
The other equal first prize winner is ‘The Water Tower, Tailem Bend’ (by Meryl McDougall SA). I have a soft spot for water towers though the writer would not have known this. It is a very accomplished poem which melds current concern for the river with the legend of Ngurunderi with which I am not familiar though the story is sketched in the poem. It is an environmental piece with some clever imagery. The poet maintains full control over its fifteen rhyming stanzas. It never falters.
Now to secondary schools. Of the nine submissions, one stood out and it’s worthy of First Prize. ‘An Offer Not to be Refused’(by Talia Walker NSW) deals with that crossroad moment when one is offered his or her first cigarette. It is the sinewy, conniving, persuasive voice of temptation with which we are all familiar . There are some clever, original images in this macabre, sarcastic piece. I loved it!
There were only two primary entries neither special in any way.
I enjoyed reading and judging these entries and want to thank the organisers for giving me the opportunity. To all those who submitted, the best of wishes in your future writing endeavours.