Who better to catch up with, on the eve of the Overload Opening night and Pub Crawl, than Steve Smart? If you check out anything at all this Overload, make it one of Steve’s events. You can find him this coming Saturday evening at Poetic Riffs, Sunday night at Voiceprints, or Tuesday evening at the Spinning Room.
Steve Smart is the former Lord Mayor of the City of Overload. Sadly he never got to wear silly robes and medallions like Robert Doyle. He did get to work with tons of interesting people though, and some of them are still speaking to him. Since then he’s gone back to being a full-time male erotic dancer. And poet sometimes, too. He’ll be performing (poetry) at this years Overload festival with some dear friends before heading off to Queensland to perform a whole brand new show!
Steve, somebody told me you are Overload’s real Daddy. What do you say to that vicious rumour?
Yeah, I’m the Pa and Sandon Mcleod was the Ma. In terms of a genealogy I guess Eric Beach is Overload’s grandfather, Shelton Lea was the godfather, Meg Dunn and Maurice McNamara are the drunken uncle and aunt and I’m guessing Thom Roker is the prodigal son. Lots of brothers and sisters and cousins too, Overload’s a big family. Yes James, that makes you the wicked stepfather ; )
Do still pay child support?
On a poet’s wages?
So you’re a deadbeat poetry Dad…
Yep. I’ll proudly wear my ugg boots to court. And I swear in front of the child. And smoke.
How did it all begin?
On a whim and a prayer, with many phone calls. Actually it was a TAFE project that got way out of hand. Seriously. I didn’t think it would take over my life for 6 years. The first festival was pretty small and then it spread its wings and tried to eat us like some demented half-pterodactyl, half-bush turkey. Somehow we got funding, and Yarra Council in particular put up with all my nonsense and have been eternally supportive of the festival over the past 8 years. The main support though has come from within the poetry community itself. It wouldn’t happen without that.
What has it all come to?
A cinema near you! If you live near ACMI at Fed Square that is. Or Glitch Bar and Cinema in North Fitzroy. It’s a cinematic opus. Overload is doing an International Poetry Slam at ACMI this year, via Skype. Very exciting. Over the years Overload has played host to many amazing poets from around the world and many bizarre events. Poetry and pro-wrestling? Check. Poetry and pole dancing? You bet. A poet scrawling poems in chalk all the way up Brunswick St? Absolutely.
This year is a pretty fantastic showcase, which I proudly take no credit for. It’s an exciting, diverse line-up of poets and musicians, and that’s as should be.
Where the fuck does Overload think it’s going?
Down the pub for a couple of quick ones before the gig starts. Of course the gig will be in another pub. Festivals drink way too much. My hope is that Overload will continue to evolve and develop into one of the world’s great poetry festivals, but will keep it’s anarchic spirit. We’ve always taken the festival, and poetry in general, very seriously, but it should also be fun. A celebration of Melbourne poetry, that’s always been the heart of Overload. We throw the best parties.
You are everywhere there is poetry in Melbourne all the time. Have you sold your soul to Satan for some kind of poetry time machine?
Well at least the rumours that I am actually Satan have abated. Anyway, I don’t need a time-machine, the present gives me plenty to occupy myself. There’s never been such easy and immediate access to poetry around the world, and I like to play my small part in the global conspiracy. And I’m not Satan; Steve Grimwade is Satan. We really look nothing alike.
Should we all be afraid?
Are you not already? I’m terrified of him.
As afraid as any rational adult faced with a beast that will not die. By ‘beast’ I mean poetry not Steve Grimwade.
Should we get guns?
Guns won’t help you. Nor will knives, whips, catapults or Jedi mind-tricks. Succumb – it’s the only way.
What’s the nicest thing about watching little baby Overload grow out of toddlerhood?
I like not having to change nappies. Overload can wipe its own arse now. And my nipples are no longer sore, as you can see on at least two of the videos on my Youtube page – www.youtube.com/olbollocks. Man nipple, oh yes.
Do you look back with fond memories or were the early teething tantrums too much to bear?Oh there will always be tantrums when you’re a bunch of poets dealing with a bunch of poets. On the whole, I still think the festival is an amazing thing. I’m very much looking forward to being punter this year.
Have you ever published your poetry in Overland?
Not yet. Overload used to often be mistakenly called the Overland Poetry Festival. I felt we were getting somewhere when I heard someone mistakenly call you guys Overload Magazine.
Are you serious?
Very occasionally serious I am. On the Queen’s Birthday and at the opening of a new Hayden Christianson movie. Oh how I loathe you Hayden; let me count the days of pain I wish upon you. Who told that boy he could act?
Why are you laughing so hard?
I just thought of something funny. Funny in an ‘unrelated to Hayden Christianson playing Bob Dylan’ kind of way.
Is it really that funny?
Not really, no. A man walks into a bar; the barman says there’s a poetry gig on. The man says ‘what, no drag queens tonight’? The bartender say ‘no, that’s Fridays’. The man leaves looking sad. Actually that happened to us at a gig once, only it wasn’t one man, it was a group of pissed Uni students. I hope they found their drag experience. I told you it wasn’t that funny.
What will you stand up and say about Overload at her sixteenth?
Keep your legs together and your wallet closed. Don’t trust men, especially not poets. Your mother loved you, but she never really wanted you. Don’t chew gum; it makes you look sluttish.
At her twenty first?
Why didn’t you listen?
Will poetry even exist any more then?
I can’t see it going anywhere. As long as there are angsty teenagers there will be poetry.
How can you be so sure?
I was an angsty teenager myself once or twice.
Plug your events at Overload
I will be performing with the delightful Carmen Main at Glitch on Sunday 6th of September, doing a piece we like to call ‘This Sickness’. That’s part of an event that is part of series of experimental poetry nights called ‘But . . . is it poetry?’ hosted by the adorable Sjaak de Jong.
I’m also part of the all-singing, all-dancing poetry troupe ‘Les Enfant Terribles’, which will be debuting at Spinning Room @ ET’s, Prahran on Tuesday 8th Sept. And I’m MC’ing ‘Poetic Riffs’ at Bella Union (Trades Hall) on Saturday 5th of September. Poetic Riffs features Jenny Toune (SA), possibly the world’s only tap-dancing poet, the rock ‘n’ roll poetry that is Graham Nunn’s (QLD) storytelling and Sheish Money’s (QLD) electric guitar backing, plus Melbourne’s own Sean M Whelan hitting the stage with an exciting new musical collaboration – The Interim Lovers. Yeah, I got lazy and ripped that one off the website.
Plug them harder
Carmen and I are bringing the filth and the fury back to Overload, like the twisted little poetry monkeys we are. You won’t walk out the same as you walked in. You may not walk out at all. And as for Les Enfants (AKA Josephine Rowe, Meghan Bell, Anthony O’Sullivan and myself), well, we’ll be twinkling like the little stars we are of course. That night also features Barry Dickens and Sue Stanford, so it’s all kinds of big. Barry Dickens!!!
I’d like to extend my apologies to Steve Grimwade for calling him Satan and congratulate him on the new job as Director of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. Sincerely, we’re all so proud.
Break it Down:
Imagined First Meeting
you say you don’t like my poetry
I say I don’t like your hair
we fuck like rabbits
don’t speak for another six months
that’s how I imagine our first meeting would be