Anthony O’Sullivan’s poetry is jazzy and mellow, soft and soothing, cutting and caressing. The Melbournite, along with poet Jon Garrett, is the able and hilarious MC of weekly Melbourne poetry venue The Spinning Room. You can catch him tonight at Southpaw at 9.30 for session two of Takin it to The Streets, the 2009 Overload pub crawl. Hope you’re still hearing right at this stage of the night, because damn, this cat can chant it.
The Overland Overloaded team caught up with Anthony O’Sullivan:
When and where is the poetry night that you MC?
The Spinning Room. ET’s Bar, 211 High st Prahran. Every Tuesday, 8pm.
I know, right? Every week! And all while trying to be a writer, hold down a job, maintain personal relationships and successfully circumnavigate the globe in under 80 days using only a Razor Scooter. Busy, busy guy.
People really want to hear poetry in Melbourne that often?
Seems like it. We get healthy crowds week in, week out. But we do feature only the best and we’ve got a tight open section which is hosted by a man of genuine wit and charm.
Yeah, I’ve got buckets of wit and charm! It flows through me! Who are you to judge me? Huh!?!
No, seriously. How do you make them rock up?
Ok, seriously. We, being myself & Jon Garret, my co-convener, we are massive word-nerds. Truly insatiable when it comes to great writing read well. We find and feature the brightest literary minds, we give the audience an entertaining evening that can be funny, touching, emotional or all of it. But always engaging. We do it with warmth in a beautiful space. We are welcoming and passionate. We rule!
No other bribes?
Our featured poets are paid well and we choose a call-back from the open section to help us close the evening. The night is free but we run a raffle to cover costs and the prizes are always good quality books and quaffable wine. No bribes, as such, merely the promise of a fine night in a good pub with nice people. Could you ask for more?
How long has it been running for?
Jon began running The Spinning Room in London 15 years ago. It was imported, along with himself, to Melbourne in 1998. It began at the now-a-pizza-bar Duke of Windsor and we moved to ET’s 5 years ago. That’s where I came in. Wow, that’s where my life went…
Why is it even still running?
We can’t stop! In all truth, we both still see so much promise and potential swirling up from the younger generation and the new writers finding form. We thoroughly enjoy giving people a space to perform their work and acquire feedback and support. Plus, each week I get the chance to pick over dozens of great lines to ‘appropriate’ for my own purposes. And it’s a bar, so were it not for the whole poetry gig, we’d be sitting in some other bar, mildly bored.
When will it ever stop?
Aside from the onset of a biblical plague, which is neither unlikely or wholly unwarranted, we have no plans to stop until forced by some omniscient being. Poetry is my life, I speak for Jon when I say we know of no other endeavor worthy of our time. Dear God, I’m a wanker.
It’s very difficult obtaining the appropriate permits to host a Foxy Boxing night. Plus, as I’ve oft been heard to say, true poets know that any writer working in a longer form is, in some sense, kidding themselves. We want for nothing but the thrill of the perfectly placed word, the killer line, the heartbreak and sweeping joy of every experience condensed to a phrase. We are word-addicts.
Are you insane?
Certifiable. And damned proud of it.
Are you sure?
Yeah. I’ve got a framed certificate from the surgeon-general of Tinky-La-La land. I got it online, only US$175.
I heard you once wore size 3 Bob the Builder underpants on your head whilst MCing. What was up with that then?
Aside from my general madness? Well, there was a casual remark made by my mad self at the end of last year that I’d host the night wearing whatever the audience wished. And so, week upon week, members of said audience bring any item of clothing or zany accessory and I don that garment. Dresses, feathered head wear, wacky ties. This last week it was a peroxide wig. I looked the ghost of Kurt Cobain. Those particular Bob the Builder undies belonged to the toddling son of one Maxine Beneba Clarke. On occasion I wonder if she’s ever been game enough to let him wear them again, lest he catch poet in is pants.
Plug your venue
ET’s a fine and friendly bar with great food and wine. We have an upstairs room all to ourselves, no rowdy locals or pool tables to compete with.
Plug it harder
It’s a great pub. And truly, a pub. Not one of those “didn’t this used to be a pub?” – “Yes, but now it’s a wine’n’tapas bar so that glass of tap water will be $3.50”. A pub. Good meals, plenty of cold beer, cheeky house red, beer garden. A pub.
Plug your event/s
During Overload, We’ve got a truly massive night. Our headline reading is by the great and deservedly celebrated Barry Dickins. Sue Stanford overcame a crowd of talented open-stage competitors to snag a spot supporting Barry, she is one of a kind. The witty and musically gifted Ryan Coffee will inject his comedic songs throughout the evening and there is a first-time collaboration by members of Les Enfant Terribles, a title bestowed by Jon on some of the young writers tearing the town up over the past few years, in this incarnation Steve Smart, Josephine Rowe, Meaghan Bell and myself, Anthony WP O’Sullivan, reading pieces we love of each others. And rounded out by an open-stage. 8pm on the dote!
Anything else you want to plug?
I’ll be performing on the opening night Takin’ It to The Streets Session 2 at Southpaw on Smith st with Jenny Toune, Kimberly Mann and Sam Byfield.
Break it down:
This may well be how God felt,
that first absurd moment in absolute darkness,
when he waved his hand
flippant as a faux-pas
and hacked a hole in his surrounding solitude.
A slice of light bled through.
“What have I done?” He said
to The Nothing,
“And where will it go from here?”
Then, with a sparkling palm emblazoned with wonder,
He spanked the light hard on the arse.
It cried out. Alive.