I’ll be here all week (and next)

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Last night was the opening night of Not Much To Tell You at The Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts. It was a wonderful start to the season with a really great crowd and a good feeling in the room. I’m looking forward to doing it all again tonight, and then Friday, and then Saturday, and then Wednesday-to-Saturday next week! Tickets are still available from metroarts.com.au, or you can buy at the door tonight.

Here is a picture of my super hi-tech set:

I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sally Browne for yesterday’s Courier Mail:

‘Scuse me while I go laminate my copy. #sorrynotsorry

Not Much To Tell You is a part of the program for the most poetic weekend in Brisbane’s calendar – the Queensland Poetry Festival! QPF has its opening night tomorrow at the Judith Wright Centre, to usher in the greatest poetry festival in the southern hemisphere! LET’S HEAR IT FOR POETRY.

I’ll be giving my top picks for QPF on Metro Arts’ Instagram, so keep an eye out for that. Or you could just pick up a QPF program and throw a dart at literally any part of it, and I guarantee it will be good.

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Newsletter time!

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Last year I started a monthly newsletter about storytelling and performance poetry things in Brisbane. I decided to start it in answer to people who often come up to me at gigs and ask what I do, and how they can find out about more events.

(Click here to read the latest newsletter.)

The January edition is out, and it includes a charming photo of my latest crop of Yarn storytelling workshoppers. (They were a pretty charming group.)

I’ll be pretty flat-out over the next few weeks as I fly to Perth for Not Much To Tell You‘s first fringe festival appearance/interstate premiere. But I’ll be tweeting and instagramming the whole way, and I’ll try to update this ol’ blog as often as possible.

Please subscribe to my newsletter if you’d like to keep getting updates on how to get involved with storytelling and performance poetry in Brisbane. People are always saying “I love events like this but I don’t know how to find them” WELL HERE YA GO. 🙂

It’s JAMuary – as in JAM-PACKED WITH STORYTELLING GOODNESS. (I’m sorry.)

 

Twelve glorious hours

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So, last Wednesday was epic. It kicked off with a seven-hour film shoot, and ended with a glorious night of storytelling.

The film shoot was with Brisbane filmmaker Ezz Wheadon, who I’d met only a couple of weeks earlier at Clare Bowditch’s Big Hearted Business morning tea. All Ezz and I knew was that we were both passionate about working on a creative film project. But on the shoot, we discovered we had more in common – GEEKDOM. Ezz’s surname corroborates her geek credentials. We talked Whedonverse and Wil Wheaton and all things in-between. This lady is cool. (Oh and her daughter is, too.)

Here's one of the stills Ms Wheadon took on the shoot. I heart you, Roost Coffee!

Here’s one of the stills Ms Wheadon took on the shoot. I heart you, Roost Coffee!

The film shoot was a grand adventure indeed; we traipsed through beautiful Kelvin Grove sharehouses and funky cafes and the alleyways of West End. (Ezz did a nice write-up of our adventure, you can see what Ezz said about it here.) As I set up for one of the shots, I had delicious flashbacks to my halcyon days as a film intern in Denver, Colorado, many years ago. (I was a nineteen-year-old backpacker and a family friend’s film company took me in; I worked as an unpaid intern at the company and babysat the director’s small daughter, and in return they let me live in their attic for a month. It was pretty awesome … Except for the ghost. But that’s another story.) On location, it was my job to rearrange ferns, adjust furniture, hold up reflectors and get releases signed. I loved it. It should have been boring, but it wasn’t. The company I was interning for was a not-for-profit, dedicated to representing marginalised voices in the Denver community. They were motivated by passion. It was an inspiration.

I felt that same inspiration yesterday, working with Ezz. I find it intrinsically satisfying to work on a project that is motivated by passion. Even the moments that might seem dull if you were working at a job you didn’t like – those times when the lights won’t change, or you have to do the washing up – are a pleasure. Or at least, that’s how I feel.

That’s how I felt last Wednesday night, at Yarn: Man vs Wild. It was the latest in the series of storytelling nights held by Yarn: Stories Spun In Brisbane. We were in a new venue this time – Black Bear Lodge, in the Valley. And what a night it was! The place was wall-to-wall with storytelling enthusiasts. There was even a Greens candidate telling a story in amongst the wilderness-themed decorations, even though she admitted to not being the outdoorsy type (“Worst Green ever – I haven’t even been to Tasmania”). I have to say, I love the audiences at storytelling nights. I’ve always found them to be warm and generous, supporting those poor bastards up on the stage with the shaky hands. Yarn brings this kind of a crowd in, and as an event it is going from strength to strength.

After a day and night like this, I felt a buoyancy that I couldn’t properly express. So I wrote a tweet:

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 10.32.51 PM

“Home, exhausted, after a 12 hour day – every minute of which was spent on work I’m wildly, madly passionate about. This is. Just.”

Yep. That’s all I can say.

… But I’ll say one more thing! You can see the first video in the poetry series I filmed with Ezz Wheadon, as it is now live on my YouTube channel! More to come. Stay tuned.

Newsletter! September is for storytelling

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I have started a newsletter! I will be emailing it out about once a month. It’s a nice, tidy summary of creative projects and events I’m involved in, which other people may enjoy also. This idea sprang from the Big Hearted Business morning tea I attended a couple of weeks ago, where Clare Bowditch gave her best advice for being a creative type. (It was an amazing day; Clare asked us all to write down our career goals, then sang to us while we were writing. It has spoiled me – now I can’t write lists without an ARIA-winning singer/songwriter playing live for me.)

Anyway, quite often people approach me at events and ask me when the next storytelling night is, or how they can find out about live poetry in Brisbane. I feel like I have so many answers to those questions that I need to find a more expedient way of letting people know. Thus, newsletter!

Here is the link to view the September edition: http://eepurl.com/D2P2D
You can find out about storytelling workshops, basement poetry, and some festival shows where I’ll be sayin’ words. There’s also a subscribe button on the top left-hand corner of the newsletter, if you’d like to receive the emails.

PS. Hope to see y’all at Yarn: Man vs Wild on Wednesday! Yarn: Man vs Wild

 

My first stage show is officially funded!

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My Pozible crowdfunding campaign has reached its target WELL before the deadline! Watch me inelegantly try to say thank you using props and old footage of a cat.

Massive thanks to all my supporters!! You make my heart feel hurty in a good way. The campaign still has 10 days to go before it closes, so I will be doing an official tribute video and social media blitz when it closes, to show my gratitude.

Pledging is still open! http://pozible.com/kaitlynsfirstshow

Not Much To Tell You (Photo credit: Jonathon Hancock)

Developing my first show – and Pozible campaign!

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Well, this is pretty exciting. This year, a pretty big dream of mine is coming true …

I’m putting on my own show!

The Show

I’m creating a full-length stage show – a one-person performance, written and performed and produced by “this guy”. It’s a fusion of poetry, storytelling and stand up, and it’s called Not Much To Tell You. Thanks to the lovely folk at Metro Arts, who are including me in their 2013 Jul-Dec program, I’ll be putting on a public performance of NMTTY in their main theatre this October!

The Campaign

In order to do this, I have to raise some funds to cover production costs. I just today launched a Pozible campaign to crowdfund the costs of developing the show and putting on its first public performance.

Here’s my Pozible video (which was somewhat stolen by a visiting neighbourhood cat):

 

The Stakes

In case you’re not familiar with crowdfunding – you can go and pledge an amount of money (say, $20) to my campaign, and the money won’t get taken out of your account unless I reach my target amount of $700. So, it’s all or nothing. I either raise the full amount by the deadline (the 18th of July), or I get zero funding. High stakes! But there’s something in it for the pledgers – each pledge receives a reward from me (from poetry zines to a personal performance in your living room). Also, you get the warm fuzzy feeling of being part of my show’s journey.

The Place To Pledge: http://pozible.com/kaitlynsfirstshow

Thank you to all the people who have been supporting me – whether it was by reading my blog, or coming to my gigs, or urging me on with my creative practice. You are all wonderful! Creating this show marks a new chapter in my creative career, and having your support behind me makes it possible. And fun!

You’ll be hearing a lot more about this campaign as I flog it over the next three weeks … I’ll post another video soon as I work on writing the show, keeping you updated on my progress. (I’ll try to find a few more interesting hats, to keep the vlog fresh.)

Much love,

KP

 

A crazy couple of weeks

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There was no blog post last Sunday, and I’m very sorry about that. Between study, travel, and illness, I haven’t had any space in my head for this ol’ bloggy blog.

Blog posts are probably going to be a little sporadic for a while – I’ve just started a very intense Graduate course, and it’s kicking my arse. It’s made me its punching bag and is throwing right hooks like it’s mad at me. So, it’s a shame but, when everything gets mental, the blog is the first to suffer. (Actually, that’s a lie – the hygiene of my flat is the first to suffer. The blog comes a close second.)

However, I WILL be posting a new story here this Sunday, I promise! Photo courtesy of Yarn

And, if you’re in the Brisbane area, you can come and see me perform a story, live! I’ll be one of the storytellers at Yarn: stories spun in Brisbane on Thursday 16th August. 6:30pm @ Dowse Bar, Paddington. The theme of the night is ‘In Transit: Stories of Going Nowhere’. Gee, I think I can relate!

Right. Back to study …

Inua Ellams: ‘Musical and delicious to the ear’, March 2012

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As part of Waxings blog’s coverage of the Perth Writers’ Festival, I had the opportunity to interview poet Inua Ellams. Here is the feature, as published on Waxings.org, March 2012.

Performance poetry is gradually finding its way out of the grunge-covered back rooms of dark pubs and catching the attention of wider audiences. One of the poets carrying this contemporary artform into the mainstream is Inua Ellams, a Nigerian-born Londoner who recently travelled to Australia to feature at the Perth Writers Festival.

Ellams was invited to the PWF to perform his play The 14th Tale, a one-man show combining poetry, performance, and personal narrative.

I ask Ellams if he had done any theatre before The 14th Tale. “The 14th Tale was my first theatric outing. My first collection of poems was published in about 2009 and I tried to stage the poems with a little bit of banter in between, but it didn’t quite work. There wasn’t a strong narrative, so I scrapped that and wrote The 14th Tale.”

Ellams’ poem-play is autobiographical, following the foibles of his mischievious childhood in Africa, weaving in tales of the men in his family. Ellams describes himself as a born trouble-maker, although he tells me over the phone (and you can actually hear the twinkle in his eye) that now he is making a different kind of trouble.

“Poetry for me walks the line between lyrics and finely, tightly written prose. I think that’s how I try to cause trouble – well, regarding work specifically, that’s how I try to cause trouble. By being aware of the line and walking it and constantly trying to redefine it. That’s one of the ways I cause trouble.”

Walking that line often means not fitting neatly into any one genre. Ellams is an accomplished poet of both the page and the stage but he still feels that he is not quite accepted by either.

“In London, I am often described as a performance poet, sometimes as a spoken word poet, sometimes as a page poet …” Ellams muses. “And sometimes I find that I am marginalised by both groups. There is this line that I seem to walk. And I continually try to further blur the lines, and even at performance poetry sets I just read my page poems. And when I write page poems, I just make them sound as musical and delicious to the ear as songs do.”

Speaking of delicious to the ear – Ellams’s voice is like a song itself. Soft and lyrical. Even when he talks casually, he sounds as if he is riffing on ideas for a new poem. And I think that is exactly the effect this poet is going for. Ellams speaks about poetry with a self-conscious pride, confident in his abilities as a wordsmith. He lacks the self-deprecatory humour that I personally can’t seem to shake off whenever I tell people I write poetry. For Ellams, poetry is not an indulgent activity. It is his craft. And it has held his life together.

Ellams tells me about a close friend of his from Dublin, Stephen Devine. They went to school together as teenagers, and the two boys had a friendship built on a love of language. “He and I would sit down and argue about the colour of the sky. We would just sit there for hours.” Then one summer, Ellams received a phone call telling him that Devine had been found dead, hanging from a beam in his garage. “I guess my world became very destabilised and the part of me that excelled with language, with Stephen, was no longer there. And I started writing to keep that part of myself alive, really.”

Since Ellams often performs his poetry, I enquire as to whether he takes the audience into consideration when writing. A debate that keeps coming up within the performance poetry community is whether a poet compromises their artistic integrity by writing to entertain the audience. Purists say one should perform for their own pleasure only; at the other extreme, entertainers seek only to win over the crowd. Ellams’s philosophy is an elegant compromise. “I always write for myself, of things that complicate me on a personal level. And then I edit it knowing that other people will have to come to this.”

So what does Ellams think of slam poetry, where poets are pitted against each other with only two minutes to please the judges? He hesitates. “I like it and dislike it in an equal sense.”

Ellams illustrates his opinion of slam poetry by telling me the story of a slam where he performed a poem that scored high – “it was the best poem of the night” – but ultimately did not win. “This guy, this huge guy stood up and read this poem about accidentally drinking urine which he found in a bottle of gin. And he got a full 30 points for that.” Ellams laughs incredulously. “I thought, this is never happening to me again.” He hasn’t slammed again since.

Whatever his personal feelings, Ellams is charitable as to the role of slam poetry in our culture. “I do think [slam poetry] has done a lot for the appreciation of poetry. Especially in the West, where we do have this competitive environment which champions oneupmanship and the idea of the individual. So, bringing poetry – which is old and classic and sometimes viewed as a dead past-time – bringing that into the twenty-first century I think has been really afforded and helped greatly by slams.”

Since first performing The 14th Tale in 2009, this already-established poet has written two successive solo shows, the most recent of which is currently touring Britain. Inua Ellams is a rising star of the spoken word scene. There is something about the frankness with which he describes himself and his work that borders on arrogance; there’s a lack of humility. But, as I talk to this charismatic young man, I can’t think of him as arrogant. He is simply focused. Poetry is a very serious craft in which he works hard to achieve a high standard. The Romantics would be nodding in approval. And the fact that Ellams is also crossing mediums to bring poetry to more people – that is just gravy.

Three Strikes (Source: The Blue Room)

“Three Strikes could only happen in LA”, Feb 2012

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A review I wrote for Perth Now‘s coverage of Fringe World, as part of the Buzzcuts Perth program. Published in February 2012 on PerthNow.com.au.

Has Jay Leno ever handed you a steak sandwich? Well, it happened to Brian Finkelstein.

Three Strikes is the true story of ridiculous events from Brian’s life, focusing around the American Writers’ Strike of 2007. At the time of his third strike, Brian was a comedy writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show in Los Angeles. He found himself walking in circles holding a picket sign for reasons he barely understood.

Three Strikes (Source: The Blue Room)

Brian’s style of delivering his story is at once coarse and endearing. You can’t help liking the guy. You might feel that maybe you shouldn’t like this guy, since he starts off the show by telling the audience to shove their mobile phones where the sun don’t shine. In the beginning, he paints himself as an apathetic slacker with no beliefs or values. However, as the story progresses, Brian teases out more of his past, and reveals key events that brought him to that writers’ picket line in LA. His growing disillusionment with the world has a universal ring to it.

It is a fascinating story, and not just because he met Jay Leno. Brian compares the American Writers’ Strike of 2007 to the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 (an anarchist violent protest over working hours), and he does so with piercingly funny wit.

This one-man show boasts a cleverly written script (by Brian himself), hilarious characterisations, and powerful use of the stage space. With a running time of 50 minutes, the story never overstays its welcome, and it is a brilliant addition to any night out.

The show takes place in the PICA performance space, which is perfectly located in the beautifully decorated cultural centre. Afterwards, you can wander up to the Urban Orchard to discuss Brian’s story over a beer.

Three Strikes finishes this Saturday, so be sure to book your tickets before this master of storytelling jets back to LA. This might be your last chance to see him perform – who knows when he’ll go on strike again?

I’ll be on Radio Fremantle 107.9fm from 10.30am this morning, reading some of my poetry and having a bit of a chat. Tune in if you’re in the area!

In other news, the Buzzcuts Perth program has been going well! The crack team of writers I’m coordinating have been writing up some fantastic reviews of Fringe World. You can read them on the Buzzcuts blog, or on PerthNow.com.au

Speaking of Fringe World, if you’re in Perth you should definitely be checking out some Fringe shows! There’s 150 shows on offer, with heaps of variety. I especially recommend the story showcase Barefaced Stories at the Blue Room. I might be a bit biased because I’m one of their storytellers (I did the Barefaced opening night on Tues) but seriously it’s a brilliant show! And it’s different every show, so you can go to more than one.

So much to do! Huzzah!

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