pio-j-pegAs part of the Overload Festival, you are invited, on September 9th, to the Glitch Bar and Cinema at 7.30pm to be amazed by a variety of poetic forms: visual poetry, sound poetry, body poetry, street poetry, ceramic poetry, number poetry, symbolist poetry, political poetry, modernist oral poetry and powerpoint. Overload  will be warmed up and in true form next week with an evening at Glitch Bar and Cinema in Fitzroy, featuring Sandy Caldow, Sean O’Callaghan, Carolyn Connors and TT.O. (pictured). Apart from having seen, and read Caldow’s work around, and talented tale-spinner O’Callaghan having narrowly (so I continue to claim) stolen the Doris Leadbetter Poetry Cup from my greedy little anticipating hands in 2007, TT.O continues to be number one on my lengthening list of literary heroes.

As a young poet studying at university under guidance of amazing Australian poet Alan Wearne ( verse novels: The Lovemakers, 2008, the Nightmarkets, 1986) , I was writing a fair amount of experimental, sound and patois poetry, sometimes to the blank and confused stares of my classmates. As I balanced, frustrated, on the edge of resignation. Wearne put me on a plane to visit a friend of his in Melbourne, and that friend turned out to be ‘famous poet’ (self-declared on his business card, as well as in his own right) TT.O.

The visit made me as a poet, though I only remember odd snippets of the trip. I remember wearing flourescent pink hot pants and a bright blue jacket with a grey ‘fur’ collar. I remember the seemingly endless tram journey over to Preston, where he then lived, and being amazed by Sandy’s shed full of sculpture heads, all of them staring down at me curiously. I remember eating chocolate macadamias. Most of all though, I remember finally feeling, as we sat over the dining table talking over some of my early sound poems and TT.O’s own work, that as a poet I had come home. And for a nineteen or twenty year old writer, the feeling was incredible.

Evidently, TT.O’s experience of me wasn’t quite as remarkable. By the fate of the Gods, eight years or so later I moved states and entered the Melbourne poetry scene with gritted teeth. I next met the famous poet at a poetry slam held at Northcote Townhall as part of the annual Northern Notes Writers Festival. I placed second in the slam, and TT.O came up to me afterwards and asked me who I was, and why he hadn’t heard me reading before. The excitement on his face bouyed my soul, his forgetfulness broke my heart. But then again, perhaps eight years hadn’t been as kind to me as I thought they had, and I was certaintly no unforgettable literary genius. There may also, strangely enough, have been a fair amount of red wine involved in our first meeting.
TT.O and I have kept in contact since, and on our second meeting he informed me that his memory had come back slightly, and he now recalled the visit at least. In June 2008, a year or so after our second meeting, Melbourne poet Geoff Lemon, convener of Melbourne’s Wordplay asked me to give a feature reading at Velvet, on the same bill as TT.O. I’m not a sucker for sentimentality, but I almost cried as I dedicated my set to the man. In fact, I think I did.

The Overland Overloaded  team will be talking more to and about TT.O during the course of the festival, and introducing you to his most recent poetry collection Big Numbers (Collective Effort Press, 2008). But please, if you have time next Wednesday, drop by Glitch and meet my literary hero and the amazing poets accompanying him at the mic:

Wednesday September 9
7.30pm for 8pm start
Glitch Bar and Cinema
318 St Georges Rd
Fitzroy North 3068

It’s fitting, I guess, that he and I will have ‘competing’ gigs on at the same time during Overload. Now I shall unfortunately have to poison him.

I’d also be interested to hear comments about the people who’ve made your poetry, or literary, world go round

– Maxine Clarke


Overland Overloaded

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  1. Inspiring recollections there, Maxine. It was your good self that planted TT.O in my consciousness not so long ago. What are the odds for popping in here on Wednesday for a live streaming event? I’ll organise the Whisky!

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