Sunday, May 31, 2009

Poetry Slam Review Or There Is So Much More To Be Done

Went on Friday night to the regular poetry slam at the front cafe. This evening had a different format than usual. A woman's only reading. The night was very, very cool. Indeed one of the most interesting, exciting poetry events i have seen (heard?) in many a dreary year.

I was able to see my town in a new light, indeed it was as if a entirely new Canberra, shiny and bright, was unrolled in front of me. An entirely different feel to the normal events.

Mixed up with these feelings of newness and excitement was a certain sorrow and disappointment. It seems the vast majority of the same old crowd could not be bothered to show up. Sexism? Quite likely on one level, but let us be generous and define the no shows as narcissistic. (if I can not read my tired arse poems I will do nothing).

There is also an undercurrent of this sort of activity causing men to feel as if such an event was unfair to men. Poor middle class white men! I can feel your pain NOT! One woman's only reading in four years of these events, such a burden to the men! <sarcasm> How can such inequality be explained or tolerated </sarcasm>

Or this rather lame attempt at humour

"I cannot condone this harsh discrimination towards woman who are women on the inside, as opposed to women who are women in the pants."

Speaking with some of the regulars, who could be bothered to show up, during the evening there did seem to be an opposition to the attitude that performing is far more important than art.

As always with poetry slam/readings the evening was a mix of good works and not so goods works. I got to hear a poem from Carol Ann Duffy England's new 'Poet Laureate'. A poem from e.e. cummings. A half forgotten rap which the ending rhyme, (something very much like)

You may think that we are good friends
But we are really lesbians

And then there was more of Helena's terrible beauty. Which makes me ashamed to call myself a poet.

Julia from Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens played and sang. There was an exhibit in the gallery for the Art for Aid auction.

(Sorry for leaving many poets out, but i did not take notes, so am relying on my notoriously fickle memory)

And then after a while I realised I was nothing more than a big graceless oaf, so I caught a cab home. Still it was a most enjoyable evening and one that, if given the opportunity I would encourage the organisers to repeat at least on a quarterly (that is 4 times a year) schedule, as enjoyable as it is to read one's poetry real understanding only comes from listening, and experiencing the new.


Julian Fleetwood said...

Thanks Tom. It was really good to see you there.

Another reason regulars might not have shown up was the Baterz tribute gig.

Tomás Ó Conghalaigh said...


We are our choices.

ric_man said...

Sorry to say, but "women's only events" and "men's only events" are a reflection of a narrow view of segregation from a long time ago, and I don't support them. I do believe that women for a long time have been oppressed, and in some societies today, still are, but I do not support that either.

If we are truly going to appreciate people based on their intellect and creativity, and the value that each individual brings, then we should stop separating them based on their genitalia.

Mary McCartney said...

ok, so I read your post and I thought it clever and summed up what basically needed to be said! Well done :)

One poem that did the night justice was the lovely one that noted that our slams are male dominated events, and that it was important for women to be reminded that they are insightful artists (it seems that being preoccupied with being mothers, wives and lovers - as well as the neverending pursuit to be acceptably pretty - has gotten in the way of our inner artist).

Nevertheless. I did leave worrying about the missing male consideration. Something I admit I had never worried about before. Has feminism reached its goal? Do the men of Generation Y see women as their equals? Did we need to have a womens only slam?

Men are beginning to be targeted by the beauty marketing moguls. Statistically more women attend university than men do, although there continues to be more scholarships available for women. The stay at home dad is a concept that is becoming more and more commonplace.

Going from Ric_Man's comments, gen Y males see little difference between us girls and themselves that is outside of our genitalia.

But it wasnt about segregation. It wasnt about women vs men. It was about women finding themselves, we who have lost ourselves in the expectations and demands that we unconciously place ourselves under every day. I think about my body, my hair, my clothes, my skin, my general appeal to the male human person everyday. You didnt ask me to do it. It's probably not really even your fault. But its happening and I'm not alone. It's up to us to remove ourselves from that oppression and you know what? it took a womens only poetry slam for me to realise that.

ric_man said...

I'm not Gen Y. I just expect everyone to bring value to me, regardless of their "bits".


Tomás Ó Conghalaigh said...

thanks mary.

to me the night was summed up when i thought to myself, "why should this event feel new and exciting?"

70% of the work
10% of the wealth