As I’ve not really performed as such for over six months, I of course went into last night’s ‘feature’ gig at Babble, Melbourne’s premier spoken word event, with grand plans and unpredictable outcomes.
A small but generous crowd witnessed me limping through some old poems and some new pieces from my time overseas.
First up was a risky gambit: a reading of my poem “There’s A Wild Jack Russell In the Moon” featuring a piano soundtrack I recorded years ago, with me miming playing the piano and trying to remember the words to the poem. It was probably a bit long for an opening piece but it felt good to challenge myself to improvise the poem, and it got a few laughs.
Next was “the Sprawl”, my poem for Bruce Springsteen, and I was happy with my ability to remember the words (it’s quite long).
Next, another risky move, a new poem set to the tune of an Enya song, which started out funny but got sadder as it went on. Weird.
Next, I read my poem “The Boys Who”, using cards to recite each line (“the boy who was a nut …” and so on).
After that, I felt that my energy levels were fading a bit. It’s hard to keep them up sometimes but I guess this is something any performer would know more about than me. I read “Pigtails”, then a couple of poems from Korea: “Makkolli Moon” and “Snow Grocer”.
Part of the reason for the change of pace was the fact that these were newer poems and, being less prepared that I perhaps could have been, I was forced to read these poems from the page.
But in another way, I don’t really see anything wrong with reading poems from the page, as long as you’re mixing it up … anyway!
I ended with a reading of “Mokochukcha”, featuring a guest appearance from a bottle of soju I’d bought at the Korean grocer on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
I took a swig from the bottle every time I said the word “mokochukcha” (Korean for ‘drink and die’).
As this word occurs nine times in the poem, I was fairly tipsy by the end.