The Poets take to the Streets
“There was an ancient Mariner,
He stoppeth one of three..” -Samuel Coleridge
The Reverend Hellfire plays Pied Piper
to a pack of Water-Rats
on the streets of West End
to celebrate World Poetry Day.
Spreading the Word/s
Usually I abstain from participating in the Census, but I do recall one year filling in a census form (under the name of “Big Lizard Number One“) in which I (correctly) gave my principal occupation as “Tarot reader at local markets”, and when asked to describe my principle activities whilst at work, I confessed it was;
“prostituting the Sacred Mysteries and debasing myself in Public.“
For some reason that long forgotten jest came back to mind last Friday, 21st of March, as I prepared to lead a crack team of Cultural Terrorists from the Kurilpa Poets, in a daring guerilla assault designed to bring The Muse back to the streets of West End.
Yes, we would be well out of the Poetic “Comfort Zone” that poets mostly inhabit. The cosy world of comfy bars and bohemian cafes, with the polite applause of our peers protecting the fragile ego. We would be out in the Real World! On the Mean Streets of West End! Who could tell how the Unsuspecting Public would react when confronted with the Word!
fresh fruit and poetry. Cam spruiks his wares!
Indeed, we managed to provoke the full gamut of reactions from said Public with our antics that day. Everything from perplexed and bemused, to delighted and amazed, right on through to aggression and outright hostility. There was also complete confusion and some office-drones’ robot-like programming to ignore our very existence. It was all very gratifying.
Meeting the people
The Plan was the twisted brain-child of Kerrod Trott, the mad genius behind the defiantly Independant local magazine, The Westender. Keen to maintain West Ends Bohemian tradition, the Kurilpa Poets agreed to provide the shock troops neccessary to make the poetic assault on bland Cultural Conformity
Taking Poetry to the streets..
Aside from yours truly, the Reverend Hellfire, the team consisted of Kurilpa Poetry Cup winner, Cameron Logan, the multi-talented Sasha Cuha, and veteran cultural agitator Tony Kneipp, who graciously agreed to reprise his “Old Sarge” character for the day. Dressed in a uniform suspiciously resembling that of our beloved Queensland Police Force (or is it a “Service”?) Tony lent a reassuring, or posssibly perplexing, air of Officiality to the proceedings.
Documenting the whole affair (and providing a bit of muscle should it be needed) was KICI’s “Visual Arts Director” Shane Kneipp, who took the photos accompanying this review.
Nothing to see here folks, keep moving..
So we started at High Noon in West Ends heart, next to the Big Lizard under the big fig tree, spruiking our Art to passers by and a line of taxi-drivers on the other side of the road. After having warmed up a bit we wandered along the length of Boundary street, setting up temporary camp at suitable locations like a band of gypsies. Indeed, at one street corner Sasha demonstrated his lively violin skills whilst others declaimed. His playing is sometimes said to be in the style of the late Sherlock Holmes.
Somewhat in the style of Sherlock Holmes
At times we were reading poems directly to only one person out of three who stopped to listen, sometimes we gathered a small crowd.
People lent from windows and balconies to listen. Pedestrians would be recording us on their Iphones and tablets.
At other times there was only us, shouting out our words to an empty street.
“You’re spinning me out, man,” said the chap wearing only a towel and a straw hat
But that didn’t seem to matter. It felt good to be out there, taking back the streets for poetry. It felt good to be a mad Jeremiah on the street corner denouncing the modern Babylon, or whispering tender sonnets to the wind. The whole experiance was empowering overall. The mere act of standing in a public space and declaiming whatever you damn well felt like.
Wandering bard Asheroth
Somewhere along the way we picked up an extra poet, the red-dreaded Asheroth who proved to be a talented Wordsmith and performer. Newly arrived from Olde England, he became a valuable member of the team, as we walked the length of Boundary Street, declaiming as we went.
The Poetry Police move in
It was at Archive Beer Boutique that the Rev finally went too far and the Poetry Police were sent in with a complaint from Management! Sensing trouble, the Reverend quickly escaped through the railings with eel-like agility.
Nontheless he was retrieved and we were read the riot act.
No bothering the customers.
No poems about religion, sex or politics.
Reading the riot act
We looked at each other blankly, mentally scrolling through our catelogues for something PG.
Then Cameron Logan stepped forth to save the day with a blisteringly sarcastic jeremiad that must have seared the ears of every yuppie in a five hundred foot radius.
After that they left us alone and we read what we liked.
fiery tounged Cameron Logan
Finally we finished in the echoing smoking-zone pit of the Boundary Hotel,
where we performed in between a table of drinkers who loved us, and a table of bar-flies who buzzed angrily at our presence. It was perfect and we played to both parties.
Sasha Cuha taking no prisoners!
Sasha shared an old Serbian curse for the occasion.
Translated it runs something like;
“May you give birth to a centipede
and spend the rest of your life buying shoes.”
(Someone once told me that all Serbians are poets; that’s how they kept their culture under a series of oppressive regimes.)
No religion, politics or sex..
All in all a successful day. UNESCO, who invented World Poetry day in the first place, should be proud of us. I’m sure Calliope was.
words: Reverend Hellfire
pictures: Shane Kneipp
The Reverend Hellfire is..
ahhh you know the rest.