Overland Overloaded reviewer Alec Patric visited Glitch Bar and Cinema in Fitzroy last night to check out the Voiceprints “But…is it poetry?” event, featuring poets Steve Smart, Santo Cazzati, Jo Truman, Carmen Main and Eddy Burger. Patric emerges from the experience not quite convinced that the question has been answered.
I talked to a poet last night who told me she’d written three thousand poems over the last few years but she never reads anyone else’s poetry; ever. I nodded non-judgmentally. Blinked politely. It reminded me of a German woman I worked with many years ago who said, ‘I like to have the massage, but not to give the massage.’ I did some polite nodding and blinking then also. There are these astounding admissions of solipsism that take my breath away. And there were a few of those last night at Glitch Bar. But… is it Poetry? 1: Voiceprints. It wasn’t a rhetorical question.
As a poet I sometimes wish I could answer why poetry has so little appeal to the general population. Those few that attend a poetry event or read poetry oblige themselves with a sense of refinement that the masses simply lack. Out of the thirty or so people at Glitch last night I suspect that if you weren’t a poet about to perform, a friend or loved one of a poet about to perform, you were a reviewer for Overland.
The ideas going into the event are great. I was looking forward to ‘Atmospheric meditations’ and ‘Erratic, operatic exhalations.’ But interesting ideas can often translate into idiocy and madness. Function as an excuse for a childhood phantasmagoria of disintegrating daydreams and persistent unformed cognitive connection or development. If that sounds psychological it’s because I often wondered whether this is what insanity sounded like. Then there is the sounds of the natural world transformed into the threat of its pointless impact on a concrete existence. Brief moments of insight into the human experience, lovely revelations of inner bird song, blown away by existential shrieking. The art of laboratory experiments and the handicraft of animal testing.
During intermission people offer each other the expression ‘something different,’ to describe the night. Others simulate the sound of small dogs barking at each other. When introducing themselves to each other they intone their names with ironic irony. And everyone seems to be wearing the Emperor’s new clothes. One man’s genius here is another man’s poodle. A snow machine is a valid expression of the weather. That’s an abstract answer to the vague question of the night.
The highlights of But… is it Poetry? were Carmen Main, who has that natural theatrical gift of being able to do almost nothing, and still draw your attention. Yet she speaks clearly, and her words open up worlds you want to know about. And then there’s Santo Cazzati. Dressed like an insane funky pimp from the seventies who has the delivery of a prestigious five star Las Vegas stripper. I mean that in a nice way. The man is a heavy-weight delivering punches you want to feel hit right through you. Especially after a night like yesterday evening at Glitch Bar.
Pictured above, poet Santo Cazzati, and Steve Smart with Carmen Main on the ‘Glitch’ reading stage.