Poetry finds a welcoming hearth in Alice

Metal gig upstairs, poetry downstairs, crowds for both!

 

Last Friday’s poetry evening at Soma restaurant drew an unexpected crowd of over 70 people. At one point there seemed to be standing room only! The cold and blustery autumn night did not deter throngs of people seeking the pleasures of poetry in the warmth of Soma. As the new project officer for the NT Writers Centre in Alice Springs, Kelly-lee Hickey brings an enthusiasm and passion for the job that can only be found in a poet or writer. She was inspired to see so many people turn out for the first Off the Page event of the year. As Michael Watts said on the night, poetry has an important place in our society.

The experience also showed how even as adults we love to be read to. Perhaps the opportunities outside of the young child age bracket are limited. A new lover reads aloud from their favourite books as they reveal themselves to you, or you do as you read in your turn to them. It got me to thinking about how popular audio books are now. I’ve always loved listening and still being able to do something with my hands. I’ll bet the busier our lifestyles have become so too  the popularity of audio books has risen.

I also wondered about the starts to our lives with wondrous tales and sleepy time stories told to us as vulnerable children, only to end our days with the same. I imagine little old vulnerable great grandmothers being read stories by grown up great grand daughters. As I imagine it, it looks nice.

Back at Soma though with glasses of red wine and hot toddys, the readers, Penny Drysdale, Blair McFarland, Jenny McFarland and Michael Watts, demonstrated the wonderfully authentic quality of writers in the Northern Territory who at times chose to tackle substantial matters and at others, delight with humour and wit. Laurie May, Kym and Ben McIntyre were the poetic souls brave enough to step up to the open mike. Laurie May’s reading was lyrical and rhythmic, recounting blunt truths of a woman’s experience and held the room captive through all four or five pages.

The double bill of poetry readings downstairs and a metal gig upstairs on the roof shows the lively and incredibly diverse arts scene that for many is a major part of Alice Springs’ appeal.  And so it was with poetic phrases all jumbling away in my brain and the bent and grinding sounds of the metal gig kicking off … that a very satisfying evening concluded for some and for others was only just beginning!

 

Pictured: Poet Penny Drysdale in action. Photo by KIM HOPPER.

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