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reaching for the allstars

geoff-lemon-picThe Overload Allstars gig, featuring African American jazz poet Lewis Scott, indigenous poet Ali Cobby Eckerman and Melbourne’s Maxine Clarke and Geoff Lemon, will kick off at around 8.30pm tomorrow night at the Northcote Social Club. The Overland Overloaded team looks forward to catching up with Eckerman and Scott to chat during the evening. In the meantime, however, we bring you some words from heavyweight Melbourne slammer, convener of Wordplay, and author of Sunblind (Picaro Press, 2008), Geoff Lemon:

Who are you?
Geoff Lemon. Poet, performer, rapper, raconteur, raccoon, tycoon, typhoon, typhoid, android, andromeda, dromedary, dairy farmer, dairy queen, daquiri, Lote Tuquiri, Tanqueray, Bacharach, back in black, I’ll be back for some Whack Attack.
No, who are you, really?
Secret agent literary all-rounder, with a mission to get a finger into as many pies as possible. Maker of bad patisserie-related sexual innuendo. Writer equally of quiet structured page poems for high-end lit mags, and performance pieces for bellowing at hundreds of hip-hop fans over a 5000-watt in-house sound system. Co-editor of harvest, the prettiest literary journal in the country. MTV journalist, music writer. Gig organiser. Festival tourer. Breaker-downerer of boundaries between all the writing styles. Maker-upperer of new words to describe the phenomenon.
What are you doing at the Overload Poetry Festival?
Hosting a gig called Wordplay, which is tipped to be a festival highlight. Performing at the Overload All-Stars line-up at the Northcote Social Club. Looking for inspiration.
No, what are you really doing at the Overload Poetry Festival?
Honestly, I’m in it for the ladies. Maybe occasionally for the men. Also for the pandas and polar bears if I can get them. Talk about snuggling – they really keep you warm at night. I want to find new words, new phrasings, new ideas. I want to hear my fellow poets and get the magic out of what they write and what they say. I want that sudden in-rush of breath when a new idea just up and smacks you in face and you’re left wondering how the hell you never thought of that before. Like when you get out of the car at night in the middle of the country and find yourself amazed at just how many stars there are in the sky.
Poetry. Why?
Because it’s the most naked a performer can ever get in front of an audience. Except for that play Daniel Radcliffe was in. Harry Potter and the Cache of Horse-Porn or something. Poetry strips away everything. There’s no guitar to hide behind, no costume, no character, no ensemble. It’s one person in front of a crowd, and it’s raw and vulnerable and living, like a freshly-shucked oyster on its shell. There is no more directly emotional experience, linking the heart of the performer to that of an audience member, than poetry. It’s the most direct, ancient, and powerful form of communication – the storyteller, the griot, the bard.
Are you crazy?
A little. Most poets are. Some think we’re crazy to believe that poetry can be mainstream entertainment. But let me ask you this. Have you ever seen 150 people come to watch poetry on a regular basis? We do.
Plug your event.
Wordplay will be the most entertaining and accessible event at the festival for those unfamiliar with poetry, and the most diverse and interesting for those who are. Any spoken performance is descended from the bardic poetic tradition. So we’ll have some a cappella hip-hop from Sydney rapper The Tongue, one of the best in the country, coming to Melbourne for just this one gig. We’ll have one of the most amazing and respected poets around, Tom Joyce. We’ll have the comic brilliance of The Bedroom Philosopher, winner of the Director’s Choice Award at this year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival. We’ll have the exciting and precocious talent of Zoë Barron.
Plug it some more.
Wordplay and Liner Notes are basically the only gigs in town that attract large audiences of regular punters, rather than just poets and artists. They come because they’ve heard it’s a great show, and it is a great show. We only ever have the best of the best, and we balance them out into line-ups that complement each other as perfectly as possible. Every detail of these gigs is considered, and nothing is left to chance. And this is reflected in the quality of the shows. Aside from this, it’s probably the cheapest gig at the festival – five bucks donation requested, but we’ll take whatever you’ve got.
Break it down:
I came from a land where the heat is monotonous –
welcome to Melbourne, the frozen metropolis.
Back to an icebox fillin’ with pig flu
to find that my housemates are building an igloo.
The tropics were a song with a rhythm that cuts off –
something went wrong and now I’m freezing my nuts off.
Two months of airports and rushing to bus stops
and back home I hardly finished brushing the dust off:
thirty-six hours since I flew in from Perth, hey?
Still ain’t my third day
but kick it at Wordplay.
Olympian firsts ain’t
as big as this Thursday –
with you guys it’s like every gig is my birthday.
And I’m the one asking to start the party,
with a bit more class than the Gras that’s Mardi.
Now ya better ask Grandma to pass your cardy
‘fore we chill the fuck out like a glass of chardy.
We’re back with a crash at the Dan O’Connell,
where every lucky lady has a man to fondle.
Just down Alexandra from the jam at Hoddle
and we’ll hand you a dram from a random bottle.
We got no tracks but the beats that I rapped in,
we got no gaps cos the people are packed in,
we gotcha kickin’ back in your seats, and you’re strapped in,
so let’s call a wrap and start seeing the action.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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