Christopher Bantick Responds to my ideas...

As a result of the article in The Age (see below) Christopher Bantick wrote this 'response' in The Australian. I have since given a talk in 'response' to this article at The Wheeler Centre for books writing & ideas  during the Lunchbox/Soapbox series as well as delivering the same talk at The National Australian Poetry Symposium just a few days ago. I will publish the full transcript here shortly, but for a lookie of the talk you can watch  the live stream of the Symposium here for part 1 and here for part two...

Only greatness, not popular appeal, can restore poetry as the nation's memory

IN case you didn't know, Australian performance poet Emilie Zoey Baker is the international poetry slam champion. Slam is a form of spoken-word performance and competition. But to assume that slam is poetry is enough to make the muse mute

Still, it's not Baker's slam success we should be worried about. It is her suggestion that poetry should be on prime-time television and replace programs such as MasterChef. What Baker and her fellow versifiers have failed to understand is that celebrity poets do more harm than good.

According to Baker, poetry needs to be slammed into us: "I would love it to be on prime-time television. It is such a fantastic way to get into people's lounge rooms. Imagine having your soul unravelled like a ribbon at 7.30 on Thursday night, rather than learning the contents of Matt Preston's stomach."

Whether you like MasterChef isn't the point here. The Baker vision of a show, perhaps So You Think You're a Poet or Master Poet, is about celebrity, impact and not a lot more. But poetry will not regain its place in the national conscience by our reducing it to a public mosh pit.

According to Baker, Australia rejects poetry and hence her evangelism for pop poetry extravaganzas. But the problem with poetry is not that it is overlooked. Rather, it depends what kind of poetry we're talking about.

Those who know what great poetry is covet its place in the culture. Pop poems may pull the punters to pubs, but that's all.

In the same week that Baker was awarded her slam title, arguably one of Australia's finest living poets, Christopher Wallace Crabbe, was awarded an Order of Australia. This was, so the citation noted, "For service to the arts as a leading poet, critic and educator."

What needs to be grasped is that not all poetry has the capacity to move us. Great poetry does. To this end, American poet Randall Jarrell was right when he said: "A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times."

In his 1996 Boyer lectures, The View from the Bridge: Aspects of Culture, Pierre Ryckmans observed: "That a man may survive for quite a while without food, but cannot live one day without poetry, is a notion ... we tend to dismiss too lightly, as a sort of 19th-century romantic hyperbole."

How can we explain that, when the new app for T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land - which had Eliot reading the poem - was, according to the eBookNewser site, "The top-grossing iPad book app in the Apple App Store," earlier this month? What this tells us is that great poems live and last.

Poets such as Baker who want to give us wham and slam need to face this reality. Their poetry depends on personality pyrotechnics, but as poetry it does not scan. Good poetry takes time to understand. It takes emotional and intellectual investment. The buy-in is something more enduring than a bright flare of words.

This goes some way to explain why, on a wet and miserable June night, the University of Melbourne's Newman College oratory hall was packed as people came to listen to Peter Steele read and reflect on his verse. It was an evening of illumination and edification, but there were few young people. Part of this is due to education - even so, I defy any spotty 16-year-old not to be arrested by Sylvia Plath reading her poem Daddy - but part of it is also due to the poverty of the poetry post-baby boomers know. Gens X and Y are impoverished and have no storehouse of verse to call on.

The art of committing great poems to memory is lost. Whether one likes A.B. "Banjo" Paterson's The Man from Snowy River is immaterial. Many of us can recite the first verse at least. After the devastation of floods and fire this past summer, Dorothea Mackellar's My Country was suddenly entirely apt with her references to "flood and fire and famine". But who knew it?

There is more than a passing truth in the acerbic comment by poet Bruce Dawe in his essay Recent Trends in Australian Poetry. He notes: "If our poetry is indicative of the life-force of our country, then we're moribund."

What has been lost is the place of poetry in national memory. While Dawe may say that the Henry Lawson and Paterson bush tradition's "creek bed's panned out", where is the wellspring of our knowing the verse of James McAuley, A.D. Hope, Judith Wright and Les Murray, among others?

The loss of a once vibrant oral tradition of knowing poems in the heart, and not just by heart, has been devalued. Indigenous Australians can tell us much about the importance of knowing the song lines of a culture. Yes, it's education's role, but also a cultural responsibility.

Why should we know great poems? They can be a comfort and inspiration, not to mention sustaining when we hunger for meaning and solace.

Christopher Bantick is a Melbourne writer and senior English teacher at Trinity Grammar, Kew.

I'm inside your Age

Oh Hai world! I was in The Age talking about how poetry should be on TV, and ya'know what? It just may be...

Rhyme time Michael Short June 13, 2011 Comments 37

There is much to be gained by having poetry competitions on television. Photo: Justin McManus [WHO] Emilie Zoey Baker, poet and international slam champ [WHAT] Australia neglects poetry, depriving young people of a powerful outlet [HOW] Launch performance poetry competitions on prime time TV

Forget MasterChef, Emilie Zoey Baker says there is much to be gained by having poetry competitions on television.

POETRY can be one of the simplest, most malleable forms of writing. It is accessible art, for composer and consumer alike. It is a ready, rollicking outlet for many of the emotions and ideas and feelings that flay us or fling us into joyful trajectories.

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Emilie Zoey Baker. Photo: Justin McManus There can be rules, if you want, or none, should you prefer. The form presents no barriers to writers, readers and listeners; there is no monster at the gate to the poetic universe.

Poetry is painting with words. The palette is a possibility picnic laden with images, metaphors, screams, sighs, verbs, nouns, adjectival strings, intimation, exclamation, exasperation, delight. Words unshackled, words unleashed in pursuit of perfection.

All it takes to get started is desire - or encouragement. We lack not the means to create a little time and space in which to create; that, after all, is what our schools do so well. And it is young people who stand, perhaps, to gain the most from a few facilitated encounters with poetry.

Teenage years can deliver wonderful times, but they can also be littered with trauma, confusion, trial, turbulence, emotional volatility, dilemmas. Expressing such things is a way to help understand them, to instil resilience, to negotiate the route to maturity, to promote awareness of self and others and the resonances of life.

So it seems curious that such a potentially powerful partner in cosmic comprehension is not made more available, particularly to young people. Some teachers have a passion for poetry and an ability to inspire interest, and the pupils of such educators are lucky. But most of our students, primary and secondary, generally do not get much exposure to this timeless form of literature. They are not being led to write poetry.

Perhaps this is because poetry in its classical form can seem difficult and daunting, a little turgid and opaque, foreign and irrelevant. Certainly, traditional publishers find it devilishly difficult to profit from poetry books.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We might just be thinking about poetry too narrowly. The classroom is but one arena in which poetic exploration could be happening more. Another is mainstream media.

One of Australia's most active and successful poets is Emilie Zoey Baker. ''Poetry is a great stage for your voice. It's a vehicle for what young people need to say. Poetry is a fantastic way of saying it. You can really experiment with language. You can draw from yourself. You can draw from outside of yourself. You can express yourself using poetry.''

Poetry can be presented on the page and on the stage and Baker does both. She was a star act at the Emerging Writers Festival, which has just ended in Melbourne.

She is an international champion of slam, a form of spoken-word performance and competition. Slam started in Chicago more than a quarter of a century ago and is huge in the United States, Britain and Europe, stuffing venues with raucous, celebratory gatherings.

But it is almost unheard of here; there is a thriving underground slam movement, but in mainstream media it is all but mute.

Here's how slam works: 10 poets are invited to present a piece. There are generally just a bare stage and a microphone - no props permitted. Members of the audience are selected to be judges. Each recital is scored.

''It's just them and their voice. And the audience, the random judges, give them a score out of 10. It's immediate. It's live. It's raw. There is booing. There is cheering. There is jeering. And at the end the poet with the highest score is the winner.''

At the end of the 2010 International Slam Review, part of the Berlin International Literature Festival, Baker had the highest score. She is also a former winner of the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup. She is a slam champion from festivals the world over, performing in the past two years in Paris, London, Singapore, Bali, Montreal, New York, Chicago and elsewhere.

Emilie Zoey Baker has a slightly subversive idea to help move poetry from the cultural shadows into the glare enjoyed by, for example, cooking or dancing or gardening.

Her idea is to get slam onto prime-time television. Australian television audiences evidently relish competitions and reality settings. Think of the culinary combat of MasterChef, the excruciating encounters of So You Think You Can Dance and The Biggest Loser, the voyeuristic inanity of Big Brother, the serendipity and cruelty of Australia's Got Talent.

''I would love it to be on prime-time television. It is such a fantastic way to get it into people's lounge rooms. Imagine having your soul unravelled like a ribbon at 7.30 on Thursday night, rather than learning the contents of Matt Preston's stomach. Imagine young people's voices, having that explode into people's lounge rooms. That would be magnificent.

''Let's have something real, not just something you can sink your teeth into, but something you can rip a bite out of. Poetry has the ability to cut through the bullshit, like soapsuds on oil. I want to be challenged, touched, moved, shaped and changed.

''How about a talent show where it is about original ideas and new, fresh voices, not just reciting the lyrics of dull pop songs for douche muffins like Kyle Sandilands? Let's make art. Let's explode our hearts at 7.30pm on a Thursday evening, take risks, wake up and shake this reality TV black hole.''

Maybe it would work. It would not be an expensive experiment - film a gig at a venue. Comedy festivals do it all the time. SBS created a wonderful hit with a similar format, the spoken and sung live-performance-based RocKwiz. The Melbourne Writers festival is doing its bit by holding a Poetry Idol event.

Baker would like to see at 7.30pm a show called something like So You Think You're a Poet, or MasterPoet.

Poet and Age poetry editor Gig Ryan fully agrees that poetry needs to have a bigger place in our world. She feels the education system is to blame. ''It is shocking it is not taught more in schools,'' she says.

Baker is trying to fix this, too. As national education officer at Australian Poetry and co-ordinator of Out Loud, Victoria's first teen team slam event, she goes into schools. She goes alone, or she takes a troupe with her, the Superpoets (see link below). At first, she often meets resistance, but not for long. Once the young people start experimenting - often by having to turn a cliche into something with considered meaning - they can become enthusiastic and more.

''They were almost angry that they didn't know this existed at all, all this potential to express themselves, but they didn't have it.''

The thing is to just get started. Explore online (see links below.) Write down some thoughts and feelings. Dictate them into a smartphone. Poetry is not a rule-bound, forbidding morass. Are not song lyrics poetry? Is not rap? What about graffiti?

Baker cites as poetry a sign photographed in a paddock that, for some marvellous reason, was strewn with tyres cut in half and planted into the soil. The sign read ''Used Rainbows''.

So, what is poetry? You might want to generate your own definition. Perhaps in free verse. This is what Baker reckons it feels like:

Poetry has the power to shift the way you see the world with a single line.

To twist what you know, mince what you believe in a couple of stanzas.

It uses words like paint, making pictures you can swallow, art you can eat.

It's music, literature, theatre, sculpture, all in a single bite.

It's the things you really want to say, and it's making words into shapes, making donkeys into dolphins, parking inspectors into princes, stones into castles.

It's what you are really saying, the pointed point, the underscore.

It's like life's hashtag.—4u3dk—slam

Read more:

We Were Told It Was A Party

This piece was originally published in A View From Here, 19 Perspectives On Feminism as part of the 2009 Next Wave Festival commissioned by curators Victoria Bennet and Clare Rae.  The publication went with an exhibition exploring modern feminism which was held at West Space in Melbourne. I re-published here just before Slutwalk as it explained perfectly why I was attending. As Part of the project an Australian Feminist Art Timeline was also set up as a Wiki, this may be my first wiki. I like being inside a Wiki.

We were told it was a party,

that there’d be heaps of people there. We were stoked ’cause they said the whole team was putting it on. Me and Michelle follow Carlton.

We went with Brett and Joe. We’d seen them at the beach that day. Michelle thought Brett was pretty cute, I kinda liked Joe. He had a sandy smile and a freckled nose. They weren’t from town, you could tell. At the pub that night they said that there was a party back at the house. We were playing pool and it was pretty dead for a Saturday. Michelle said, Great. I gave her a look, an I-wish-you’d-consult-me-first-before-you-agree-what-we-are-doing look. The boys had rented a house on the beach, just near my dad’s old place. I knew it, one of those massive family places where different towels always hung from the balcony. With a new packet of cigarettes and a six pack each of cider, we went through the glass sliding doors into the lounge room. There were about sixteen boys sitting round watching ’70s porn, laughing at the pubic hair. Girls don’t look like that anymore. Me and Michelle had spent ages getting ready for the pub that night. We were kinda hoping the boys would be there. I dyed my hair fresh, Michelle got a wax. Girls don’t look like that anymore. It took ages to decide what to wear, Michelle turns up the song Let’s get this party star-ar-ar-ted. We didn’t expect to end up at a party. The boys whistled when we arrived. The one with facial hair said, Snout to tail, not one bit of fail. Michelle asked, Where’s the rest of the party? Brett said, This is it. We sat down and lit cigarettes. I could feel the couch under my legs, rough, sandy and rented. I touched Michelle’s hand with my little finger. They didn’t turn off the movie – it was pretty hilarious, she’d be someone’s gran by now. Michelle said, You got any music? Maybe upstairs, said Brett. Most of the crew got up and a few went into the kitchen, which was full of stubbies and pizza boxes. They took us on a tour of the house. There was hair in the bathroom Gary shaved his ‘fro, Joe said. The top bedroom had a big bed with a floral bedspread. It looked like something the woman in the movie would sleep on – the pillows were a dirty beige, like Barbie doll skin. There was a balcony with a view to the beach and a BBQ with a rusted lid. Michelle sat on the bed and bounced up and down. When I turned around her dress was off, all the boys came into the room, my hands were held and my skirt dropped to the floor down near my new pumps. I’ve started to call heels pumps; it sounds better. It wasn’t that we screamed or anything, it all happened in silence at first, till they blocked the doors, then we knew this was happening to us. This was happening. Taking it in turns. The one with facial hair standing on the BBQ with the rusted lid, watching through the window.

Later that night it was over, like a storm. Michelle and I left through the glass sliding doors into the wet darkness. Brett watched us go, Joe watched TV. I wanted to collapse, to vomit, I was limp with confession but Michelle didn’t want to say anything to anyone. It wasn’t raining inside her eyes. She just looked hard and colourless, like a government building, a bank vault in a movie. The next night she wanted to go out again. Don’t let this ruin the whole holidays, she said. I was sore with disbelief. Wrapped in a blanket in her kitchen while she did her hair. I’ll text you if it’s any good, she said. At the same pub at the same time on the next night they were there playing pool. I heard two beeps It’s aright, Brett’s here, they didn’t know what they were doing. And the rain stopped falling for a moment. Anger exploded into my throat like an airbag in a crash. I dialled the number.

The police asked so many questions. They wanted to know what we were wearing. My top was new. I got it on sale. It had blue sequins in the shape of a bird. Its wings were spread, which made up the neckline. I got my skirt online. It was gold with green beads sewn into the hemline. Michelle had worn a dress she got for her birthday. We all put in for it. I was there when she first tried it on; it was short and ruffled at the back, and it was blue too. It had gold trim around the neckline, which, when you looked closely, was actually tiny little flowers. We matched.

The house looked different in the paper, with arrows pointing in the windows. Two girls. Incident. Football team. Shamed. The BBQ with the rusty lid was in the picture. It wasn’t raining inside Michelle’s eyes; she didn’t press charges. There were letters in the paper for days afterwards. Take it easy. They didn’t know what they were doing.

Liner Notes #9 Fleetwood Mac's Rumours!

Fleetwood Mac at the Melbourne Writers Festival!

Thunder only happens when it’s raining, and nights like this only happen in Melbourne.

A stellar cast will take on Fleetwood Mac’s colossus of cool, Rumours, as the literary cabaret night Liner Notes returns to the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Following last year’s sell-out tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, producers Babble turn to the 1977 classic for their latest instalment of one of Melbourne’s best-loved spoken word events. Special guests Charlie Pickering, Clare Bowditch and Hannie Rayson will join Emilie Zoey Baker, Sean M Whelan, Alicia Sometimes, Ben Pobjie, Omar Musa, Josh Earl, George Dunford, Eva Johansen and host Michael Nolan to poetically re-interpret Rumours, track by track.

In the late ‘70s, to what use could hirsute chests and permed ‘fros, flowing gold locks and wispy lace, drug binges and three marital break-ups be put, other than to take too long to record the greatest AOR album of all time? Beloved of Boomers, listened to secretly by Gen X and now karaoked by Gen Y, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is the quintessential overblown masterpiece, where the money spent on getting the hi-hat sound just right could have fed millions.

With a live band ripping through the likes of Go Your Own Way and The Chain, and a line-up of stellar guests joining some of Melbourne’s finest spoken word performers and comedians, Liner Notes: Rumours promises to be an unforgettable night of words and music, as the Writers Festival lets its hair down and whips out an air guitar.

It’s tambourines and tule at the Toff so don’t stop thinking about tomorrow – it’ll soon be here!

Side 1
1. ‘Second Hand News’ JOSH EARL


3. ‘Never Going Back Again’ ALICIA SOMETIMES


5. ‘Go Your Own Way’ EZB

6. ‘Songbird’ GEORGE DUNFORD

Side 2

7. ‘The Chain’ HANNIE RAYSON

8. ‘You Make Loving Fun’ BEN POBJIE

9. ‘I Don't Want to Know’ SEAN M WHELAN

10. ‘Oh Daddy’ EVA JOHANSEN

11. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ OMAR MUSA

Liner Notes: Rumours
Melbourne Writers Festival
Saturday 4 September
Toff in Town Deakin House, Swanston St

Recent Festivalitiy

It's festival season and I'm feeling very festive. To kick off I started with The Australian Poetry Centre's national festival in the SA town of Goolwa.
There was alot on and it was great to fill my ears with as much poetry as humanly possible,it's never a bad thing to fill a town ENTIRELY FULL OF POETS.
I ran the Goolwa slam where PIO was named The-Greatest-Poet-In-All-The-Land. Video coming soon.
Check out this podcast filled with recorded highlights taken by the uber coolJenJen. It's a poetry postcard to stick to your ear fridge.
Next Was the Next Wave festival where I was part of The View From Here, 19 perspectives on feminism. I contributed a piece about sport players and rape (happy, happy, joy, joy) to a publication that went with an exhibition.
All the writers from the book were paired with an artist, it was a great project seeding discussions on feminism in 19 exciting new voices.
I worked with artist Jessie Scott
The festival was brimming with ideas and made me feel sweaty with possibilities. Next was The Sydney Writers Festival and the Emerging writers Festival in Melbourne, they are on at the same time and I managed to squeeze in a performance at both.
I was really impressed with the SWF, there were large buzzing crowds, crispy sunshine, the Sydney biennale was on! They put us up at the Sofitel on the wharf, smack bang inside all the action.
I performed on the Sat night with Morganics, Charlie Dark (UK) Miles Merril and Sarah Taylor. Winner of the 2009 Australian Poetry Slam. I then made it to Melbs for the end of the EWF performing in Wordstock, a poetic tribute to AC/DC. Wordstock is kinda like Liner Notes in that it asks performers to respond to a specific track however they see fit. I got Hells Bells and wore a Collingwood jersey to perfect my 11 year old bogan character. I have never looked so horrid in the name of art. * yells dramatically*I did it for poetry!

Discaliamer *I do not, and will not, ever say the words 'go pies'*

Crowds at the SWF

The very cool Charlie Dark

Being interviewed for the telly!

The pointy thing

performing ACDC poetry at the EWF

The fabulous Clem Bastow dressed as Bon Scott complete with package...

all the beautiful people of Sydney

'It's Sandra about the Biennale'

A shot from Cockatoo Island, noice.

Sean M Whelan performing his AC/DC poem

little red ridin'in tha hood

Sydney stuff

Downtown Goolwa

An impromptu poetry performance in the rotunda, Goolwa, 1am.

Moving Galleries

It's that time again, time to move your gallery Victoria! It's train poetry time, art replacing advertising, making commuters eyes pretty on the inside:Submit here


Also vote for your favorite poet and win five hundie! Here is a vid featuring my haiku from last season. If you vote for me it will make you prettier.

Nothing Rhymes with RRR

I am the host of a new podcast with the Australian Poetry Centre and RRR called Nothing Rhymes with RRR

It's now in it's fourth episode on the theme of sex: the poetry of lust and the language of erotica. It features Sean M Whelan, Michael Nolan and Ben Pobjie in the 'season finale' of Poet Want's A Wife, an interview with poet and prose writer Melissa Ashely author of The Hospital for Dolls along with a dip in at Sexpo. There are readings from Ezra Bix and special guest Alan Brough with excerpts from The Australian Poetry Centre's excellent publication Blue Dog. So swish your ears over to the RRR website for an oral...I mean aural poetry experience.


explode your day with this:

The Year's Most Amazing Scientific Images

This striking image actually shows part of an ox's eye, and the capillaries in it. Capillaries are small blood vessels, which act as the connective network between arteries and veins. The capillaries have been made visible by injection of an insoluble dye into the artery that supplied them.

The Grand Prismatic hot spring is a deep thermal spring, richly colored by growths of exotic heat-loving micro-organisms. Some believe they offer a glimpse of what the first life on earth would have looked like.

Elemental at the Melbourne Planetarium

Our Melbourne Arts Festival Show Elemental is in full swing! We had opening night Sunday and our next shows are on the 15th, 18th and 22nd of October.

Elemental is a unique exploration of science, mind and the infinite universe showcased under the spectacular dome theatre of the planetarium. Poets, musicians, sound and video artists – and world renowned science writer John Gribbin – have collaborated to present the world of the most literary, dazzling and passionate stars.

For centuries, poets have looked to the skies and attempted to scribble meaning into the galaxies. The novelist Peter de Vries once wrote, 'The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination, but the combination is locked up in the safe.' What if we had a key, even if only for a moment? What if we could measure, in words, what we have only imagined? Einstein took the view, 'the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.' What if he is right?

The artists involved in this show explore four different theories of the beginnings of the universe: The Big Bang, The Theory of Everything, Dark Matter and M Theory. Are these the lost poetic lectures of the beginning of time?

The show has many exciting components: Legendary UK experimental musicians Nurse with Wound have contributed a new piece commissioned especially for Elemental, based on the theory that the resonant frequency of the Big Bang was F#. The memorable voice of the late Dr Carl Sagan – the writer and creator of the award-winning series Cosmos – is on loan for one of the works. And Martin Bush, the curator of Science Communication at the Melbourne Planetarium, uses his astronomical artistry and skill to guide us through the night sky to where the poets, sound artists and video artists await you, the audience member, alone with Science in the Dark.

Artists include:
Alicia Sometimes, Emilie Zoey Baker, Sean M. Whelan, Paul Mitchell, Ai Yamamoto, Mim Whiting, Nat Bates, Ruben Hilario, Lawrence English, Rob Kennedy, Andrew Watson, Chris Nelms, Alice Garner, Claire Fischer, and costume design by Sootie Barczak.

The North American Tour recap part 1

Well it's been an amazing 6 months, a long time in between posts and a really busy next six months coming my way! I am involved with a pretty exciting new project for this years Melbourne International Arts Festival along with a brand new spanking Liner Notes for this years Melbourne Writers Festival as well with being the Victorian coordinator for the Australian Poetry Slam. Whew! More info to follow on all those super things.
I wanted to post some pictures from our amazing North American Tour where myself, Sean M Whelan and Alicia Sometimes traveled to Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, New York and Chicago. We saw so many wondrous things including snow covered mountains, the famous youtube otters, tons of stages and microphones, great poetry and mangoes, lots of mangoes. We traveled icy train lines, met a stunning array of Canadians and Americans and performed bucketloads of poetry.

First Stop was Vancouver. We were there for two nights and read at the The Spillious Speak n Sing. It was a beautiful city and one I would visit again. I was hankering for a little island adventure I really want to go back and explore the whole state!

some shots of downtown Vannie

The wonderfully talented Warren Dean Fulton

Alicia's book 'Soundtrack' next to a flyer from a Vancouver reading.

The incomparable RC Weslowski great poet and co-host of Wax Poetic 102.7FM (same dial as RRR woot.)

Second stop: Ottawa. In this stunning city we ran around twirling in the sparkling snow, everywhere you looked it was like a Meg Ryan movie. The locals thought we were bananas, excitedly grinning and jumping, making snow angels. We performed as part of the AB series at on The National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage and it was a wonderful night. Max Middle did some super cool sound poetry and it was hosted by CBC Radio’s Alan Neal. The Ottawanians were amazing, Glenn Nuotio and Kevin Matthews (who taught me how to skate on the canal)were particularly generous and hosted us Aussies with flair.
We also received an invitation from The Australian High Commissioner, his Excellency Justin Brown, we had snacks and a dangerous amount of day-wine meeting all the interesting poetry people of Ottawa.

Alicia and Sean, thrilled in snow.

Max and Glen at CBC Radio

Snow covered tables at the University.

Max Middle on stage at the Arts Centre

Downtown Ottawa

The next morning after the gig we woke up at an hour I'm not comfortable to say and took a long snowy train journey to Toronto...

Sean modeling my travel pillow.

Unfortunately I was sick in Toronto so I missed that gig but Sean and Alicia said it was electric! Doh! Next stop was Montreal... TBC...


Us US tour monkeys have been featured on Indifeed! New York's coolest Podcast showcasing the best poetry and spoken from around the states and beyond check it Sean M Whelan, Alicia Sometimes and mee!

It's usually hosted by the devastatingly cool Mongo Bearwolf. But this week it's hosted by the wondrous effervescent lemonade bubble poet fantastical Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz(pictured)

She talks about the Australian spoken word Scene in Melbourne and relays her experiences performing both there and at the Sydney Opera house. We are silly excited to be sharing the stage with her and Shappy for our gig at the Bowery Club in New York on the 15th Feb!


North American Tour!

Myself and my two poetry bosom buddies Sean M Whelan and Alicia Sometimes are about to go on tour!
We have been invited to perform at the Festival Voix d’Amériques in Montréal so our dates are shaped like this

Wednesday Feb 4 2pm Wax Poetic 102.7FM
Co-op radio
Then at 7.45pm
The Spillious Speak n Sing
Cottage Bistro 4468 Main street


Friday February 6
An invitation from The Australian High Commissioner! His Excellency Justin Brown
the High Commissioner's Residence, 407 Wilbrod Street.

Then the next night:

06 Feb 2009, 7:30PM, Hear from Melbourne - National Arts Centre - Fourth Stage
53 Elgin Street Ottawa, Ontario

Hear from Melbourne.
Four of Australia’s Hottest Performance Poets!
The A B Series in association with Kevin Matthews presents four acclaimed Australian performance poets,
Alicia Sometimes,
Emilie Zoey Baker,
Justin Ashworth and
Sean M Whelan,
on The National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage.
The evening’s program will be hosted by CBC Radio’s Alan Neal. Cash bar Reception and book/CD signing to follow
Tickets $18 available at The National Arts Centre Box Office and online through Ticketmaster
also check the website here at

Feb 7th, 08:00 PM @ Cervejaria 842 College. Toronto, Ontario

:A night of Poetry and Poets slammin, reading and jazzin Emilie Zoey Baker, Sean M Whelan and Alicia Sometimes along with Toronoians David Silverberg and crew plus American poet Christian Drake $5

February 8-13, 2009 Festival Voix d’Amériques FVA showcase February 10, 8.30pm
MEL versus YUL ou Melbourne meets Montréal Casa Del Popolo
4873, Boulevard Saint-Laurent
with Emilie Zoey Baker, Sean M Whelan, Justin Ashworth and Montrealers Corey Frost, Puggy Hammer and The Capital of Plastic Daffodils. Hosted by David McGimpsey

Going Down Swinging #27 launch
Lancement de la revue
Wednesday February 11, 5 – 7pm Casa Del Popolo
4873, Boulevard Saint-Laurent with Emilie Zoey Baker, Sean M Whelan, Justin Ashworth, David Prater and Montrealers Ian Ferrier, Victoria Stanton and Fortner Anderson.

New York City
15 Feb 2009, 06:00 PM - The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery Street (Between Houston and Bleecker) New York City, New York

Emilie Zoey Baker, Cristin Aptowitz O’keefe, Shappy, Sean M Whelan and Justin Ashworth Three of Australia’s top performance poets battle it out with New York’s finest, a night of spoken word, sass, vagina’s, spacemen, music and the word moist.

22 Feb 2009, 08:00 PM - The Green Mill Bar in Chicago. Green Mill Jazz Club 4802 N. Broadway Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60640,

Best Slam in Illinois! the Uptown Poetry Slam. Sean M Whelan and Emilie Zoey Baker book: 773.878.5552

Then after that I am heading to Mexico for a writing holiday. My head is already deep in the fascinating world of ancient and contemporary Mexico. maybe see you on the road...

Liner Notes #7 ACDC's Back In Black +Benefit for the North American Tour!

‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’
— Brian Johnson

Babble presents Liner Notes #7: AC/DC’s Back In Black!

The Liner Notes series is Melbourne’s hottest spoken word ticket, a poetic tribute to a classic album. Babble invites a bunch of writers, comedians, artists and poets to respond to each track off a killer record, which they then perform in sequence. The house band, The Crumbling Beauties, perform wild interpretations of the songs in between, with the stupidly charismatic Michael Nolan as host.

In the past, Liner Notes has tackled Madonna's Like A Virgin, The Velvet Underground & Nico, David Bowie's Hunky Dory, Nirvana's Nevermind and The Cure's Head On The Door. A special encore performance of Like A Virgin also attracted record crowds at this year’s Fringe Festival.

On 17 December Liner Notes interprets the ultimate Aussie classic, AC/DC’s 1980 legendary Back In Black. What better way to celebrate the long-awaited new Acker/Dacker album?

This special night is also a fundraiser to help three Liner Notes regulars to take their poetry to the world, à la AC/DC. Alicia Sometimes (of Aural Text on RRR) Sean M Whelan (CEO of Babble) and Emilie Zoey Baker (multi-slam champion) have been invited to perform in Canada at the Festival Voix d’Amerique, as well doing an Australian Showcase performance at New York’s famous Bowery Club and Chicago’s Green Mill bar.

So dress in you finest Acker/Dacker wear to vie for the Best Bogan Award.

Raffles throughout the night with brilliant prizes including a Northcote fun day prize pack with gift vouchers to all the coolest shops like Subterranian, I Dream a Highway, Willow Bar and Meine Liebe plus lovely things from T2, records from Off The Hip and Collectors Corner and loads of books from the book gods.

Track list is as follows:

1. "Hells Bells" – EZB
2. "Shoot to Thrill" – Ben Pobjie
3. "What Do You Do for Money Honey" – Alicia Sometimes
4. "Givin' the Dog a Bone" – Justin Heazelwood
5. "Let Me Put My Love into You" – Paul Mitchell
6. "Back in Black- The Solid Boge Dancers with Helen Wheels and Sandy van Panel.
7. "You Shook Me All Night Long" – Yana Alana
8. "Have a Drink on Me" – Sean M Whelan
9. "Shake a Leg" – Ian Bland (JVG show RRR)
10. "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" – Josh Earl

Hell’s Bells, it’s gonna be grouse!
So shake a leg, pull on your uggies, down a can o’ bourbon & coke, and head to Bar Open. We promise to shake you all night long.

THIS is what we do for money, honey.

and it'll only cost you a tenna

Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 8:00pm, Bar Open

317 Brunswick St Fitzroy

snap walking

Inspired by Gracia Haby and her beautiful Blog I took my camera out walking today and found myself snapping the things that I like most about my hood. I like to travel a different way each day, finding myself in hidden places, finding secret nooks and mysterious crannys, as well as a few grannys along the way.

My favorite laneway

weeping willows in the sunshine

Two lilies in love. As I was taking this pic a wee grandma with a matching wee dog came up and informed me that it's a 'sin' to have lilies in Australia, she said 'They rip em out, but the lilies keep on growing, they have a strong will to live.'

Ducks circle around a drowned shopping trolley

a puzzle piece to someone's life.

Where the wild things are.

and below my knees...

A ghost car parked in the tall grass

Cnr of Gertrude and Smith

Looking over the fences, what's growing down there?

The Confession Files

What does it feel like to witness a crime and stay silent? How can you suddenly snap one day and hurt the person you love? Why ruin everything you have worked desperately to keep? Can there ever be absolution, atonement, forgiveness? The Confession Files is a night of monologues, poetry, passion and lyrical confession of crimes.
Join writers
Sean M Whelan,
Emilie Zoey Baker,
Paul Mitchell
and alicia sometimes
on a search to explain deeds that often defy explanation.
Directed by Kieran Carroll.

As part of the Exploration Series at La Mama.

12th -14th October.
Sun, Mon, Tue.
La Mama Theatre

205 Faraday Street Carlton, Australia
bookings 9347 6948

Ezb in da club

Come on down to The festival club @ The Melbourne Writers Festival!

I'm going to be performing a bunch of classics as well as a few newies and my Twin Peaks poem with a slideshow extravaganza!

It's gonna be well large, starts off at

6pm with 'Blue Velvet Presents', an incredible line-up of Melbourne's best spoken word performers for your entertainment and edification, including: Felix Nobis, Josephine Rowe, Anthony O'Sullivan, Geoff Lemon, Santo Cazzati and Crazy Elf.

7.30pm Josh Earl is one of the hottest new comics to emerge. After sell out audiences at four Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, and having recently returned from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Josh will bring his special brand of librarianship and humour to the festival club.

8.30pm 15 Minutes of Fame – in conjunction with the Emerging Writers’ Festival the MWF presents a short interview, reading and Q&A with one of the city’s newest literary talents. Hosted by EWF Director David Ryding, under the spotlight tonight is Simmone Howell.

9pm Emilie Zoey Baker is a multi-award winning spoken word performer and Fanny-ist whose recent performances include Night Words (Sydney Opera House) and the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

10pm Love TV is a live site-specific video installation that examines intimate conversations presented in public spaces on the universal subject of love. Your host Aphrodite will interview the guests of the festival to elicit the candid confessions you’d never hear in a regular festival session.

Date: 24 August 2008

Venue: Function Space, ACMI (Festival Club)

Cost: Free

Liner notes #5 Nirvana, Nevermind (the bollox)

It's Liner notes time again!
Liner Notes is an ongoing series of events that matches Melbourne's finest writer/performers to the classic albums of our time.
Liner Notes Vol 5 is a spoken word response to Nirvana's groundbreaking 1991 album Nevermind. The record that broke down the wall between 'alternative' and 'mainstream.' Twelve tracks - twelve writers respond.
Their brief is to respond to their allocated song any way they choose. Poem, story, song, limerick! Whatever! The results are surprising, compelling, sometimes shocking and always entertaining.

Thursday, July 10, 8:30pm - 11:30pm
Bar Open upstairs,

317 Brunswick Street,

Fitzroy, Australia

Our line up is....

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Anthony O'Sullivan.
2. Bloom - alicia sometimes.
3. Come As You Are - Paul Mitchell.
4. Breed - Dan Lee.
5. Lithium - Emilie Zoey Baker.
6. Polly - Julez.

1. Territorial Pissings - Ben Pobjie
2. Drain You - Chloe Jackson.
3. Lounge Act - Justin Heazlewood.
4. Stay Away - Kieran Carroll.
5. On A Plain - Sean M Whelan.
6. Something In The Way - Josh Earl.

Hosted by the stupidly charismatic Michael Nolan.

Music by The Heavy Cases (playing Nirvana covers and a set of original tunes.)

Entry by donation.

Previously Liner notes has tackled Bowie, Madonna and most recently The Cure's Head On The Door.

It was an amazing night, I learned so many things about the Cure including the fact that Robert Smith and Morrissey have had a long feud lasting most of the 80's. I was given "Six different Ways and this is my response...

This is the story of Scarlet and Nathaniel.

Scarlet used to go out with Nathaniel, he was completely smitten with her,
she was a goth, white face, red lips, corsets and black nailpolish. She would sing to dead birds and write poems about stabbing rainbows. She was perfect.
Then one day she told him she had to break up with him, she was in love with someone else, this love was deeper and much more meaningful than anything she had felt for anyone before. She had to leave him.
Devastated, he asked who it was?
and she replied;
‘Robert Smith.’

He realised that he had been fooling himself all along. She had a poster of Robert Smith’s face blown up so large you could see every pixel in his eyes, and when she told him there were 332 in the right and only 297 in the left, he thought she was kidding. There was no way Nathaniel could compete with this.
He liked reggae and worked in a bakery.
The Cure was touring in six weeks. He knew she would go and declare her love to Robert Smith.
Saddened, Nathaniel declared: If he loves you back, I will let you go.
If he doesn’t, would you consider my love?
She agreed.
She had six weeks to prepare herself to meet the man of her nightmares
She set about preparing six different ways to get inside Robert Smith’s heart.

Week 1.She bought the screams of Edgar Allen Poe off eBay and encased each one in a porcelain pill. She played her favourite six albums and swallowed one every time Robert Smith said the word pain.

Week 2. She wrote all the lyrics on sugar paper with thick black ink then ground up every word in a mortar and pestle, and used the mashed up inky orchestra to tattoo across her heart, the words
‘My door, your head.’

Week 3. She made his portrait out of paper maché, using every page from her childhood copy of Wuthering Heights

Week 4. She counted every tear he claimed to have shed and for each one she pierced herself with a thorn and collected a drop of blood. She filled a fountain pen with this blood and wrote a love poem on the back of a bat and will set it free the minute his plane lands

Week 5. She broke into every supermarket in the city and carved that deadbeat assbag Morrissey’s name into every steak, sausage and
meatball she could find

Week 6. She obtained a vial of Robert Smith’s breath, which came free with the latest copy of Dead Unicorn Magazine, which she wears around her neck. She will open it to her mouth the day that she dies, so her last breath will be his

And then, the day came.

She followed Robert Smith into the cake shop
and stood before him and told him everything she had done.
Six different ways.
He was so genuinely touched he turned into his true form – a white owl – and flew her through the city, her long hair trailing behind them like a black ribbon. They perched upon the top of the Arts Centre spire and he told her all about being in The Cure, and sneakers, and eyeliner and what a prick Morrissey is.

Nathaniel, one bite into his chocolate éclair, had seen them take off and his heart cracked like an ice lake.
He was no shape changer. He had no special powers, just the power to love.
Suddenly he heard a strange sound. The rest of The Cure were hovering above him in their true form – black crows. He recognised the three from the poster, and he assumed the other one was the bass player.
They swooped down and picked him up with their talons and flew him straight up to the top of the spire, where Robert Smith was just about to kiss Scarlett with his small yellow beak.
In a mess of feathers and hooting, the band swept their owl leader away, screeching at Scarlett to stop. They told her that Robert Smith eats those who truly love him. Scarlett was shocked, but pleased that Nathaniel was now there to take her home. As Robert Smith flew off towards the MCG, weeping, the bass player gave Nathaniel some magical powder made from the dreams of Boris Karloff, which he used to fly Scarlett back down to his bakery.

Nathaniel had saved the girl of his dreams and for that he had her heart in his hands. They lived baking liquorice buns, singing to dead birds and writing poetry about stabbing rainbows together, occasionally happily ever after.

photos by Me, Sean M Whelan and Andrew Watson. in the photes, EZB, Sean, Michael Nolan, Chloe Jackson, Dan Lee and the Heavy Cases.

We Don't Stop Here

It's been launched! The New Chapbook from The Private Press, We don't Stop Here, Poems inspired by David Lynch's Mulholland Drive
With poems by me, Juliet Cook, Karen Head, Esther Johnson, Collin Kelley and Daniel Lloyd. A fine bunch of filmic poets.
The next book The Lynch mob are doing is called 'I can't figure out if you're a detective or a pervert.' Poems inspired by Blue Velvet, It's been awhile since I have seen that movie but I intend on soaking in it like a milk bath. Submissions are open till the end of the year.

No hay banda. There is no band.

1. It all starts with heavy breathing, that’s how it always starts.

Expensive cars snake through quiet streets.

A violin sighs.

With her head full of blood and her handbag full of clues she slides through the bushes and sleeps under a pot plant.

2. The man behind the wall is waiting for him.

He makes angels feel guilty.

His eyes are hot sulphur.

The carpet in the room is too still.

3. Sunshine arrives;

she’s a blonde.

Rita is in the shower,

Hayworth is on the wall.

Betty is as sweet as a peach.

4. Black slides out of his mouth.


5. Somethin’ bit me bad!

One suicide, two murders, a vacuum cleaner with a bullet hole and way too much DNA.

Rita opens her purse; she can count out her real name in hundred dollar bills.

6. He swings into Mulholland drive, his wife is covered in ripples but the pool is as still as a skull.

Her jewellery turns strawberry milk pink.

7. The cowboy wants to see you.

There’s someone in trouble but it’s not you, Betty.

The ranch lights up like an electric toothache.

8. The audition.

There was so much breath in the room it would relax an asthmatic.

Betty melted off the wallpaper with her jawline. Action.

9. I guess I’m not Diane Selwyn.

It smells bad in Apartment 17.

By the way, Rita, you don’t have to sleep on the couch.

Four breasts, two women, one kiss.

This is the girl, this is the girl I want.

10. Night winds blow the lovers and they land in red velvet. Everything is a
recording. A silver tear glistens like wet asphalt. Llorando por tu amor.

11. Betty slides her fingers down her pants,

the room falls in and out of focus, she tastes salt in her orgasm.

The sounds of her sins crash around her like falling pianos.

The pianos are only good for ash.

Her breasts are still perfect but her lips are nastier.

Poison love games swill

then the pool is still again.

In every universe, parallel or otherwise, the blue key unlocks death.

The man behind the wall at Winkie’s Diner knew all along.

12. Silencio.