Poetry chill-out tent

August 28, 2011  |  Uncategorized

Dangerously Poetic brought our poetry “wish list”  to Candy at the Northern Rivers Writers Centre back in January based on our experience of the past 15 Byron Bay Writers festivals.  It was amply fulfilled. We applied for and received a grant from The Sidney Meyer Foundation to pay for a tent and musicians as  we have found the marriage of music and poetry important to its enjoyment.

The Poetry Chill Out tent offered what we dreamed it might, an intimate space for poetry to flourish.  One poet called it a “sanctuary” and another an “oasis”.  Featuring guitarist, Robert Ood on Friday, flutist Paul Kimmel on Saturday and guitarist David Ackerman on Sunday,  the gentle live music offered a welcome short break from words for many of the participants as well as the poets and writers who presented elsewhere.
We had many unexpected surprises.  Poets  stopped by and were eager to be slotted in for a half hour reading. Alison Wong, Teresa Bell, Robyn Rowland, Lorraine Marwood, and Libby Hathorn each did half hour readings to audiences that ranged from 15 to 35. One highlight was Teresa Bell’s impromptu decision to launch her book from the tent instead of the launching pad as she preferred the cozy ambience.
At times, the tent was spilling out into the sun and other times were quiet.  It was a pity the Chill Out tent wasn’t in the program as many found it difficult to find us.  However, we printed flyers and handed out as many as we could which brought people in.

Many enjoyed the free shoulder massages, aromatherapy and a place to write passion poems.  The winning passion poem, haiku by Angela Helen Smith, captures the mood.

in the tent
passionate voices
canvas flapping

Most popular was our 3pm Open Reading each day and the quality of poetry read was refreshing.  We encouraged visitors to the Chill tent to attend Saturday night and many who had stopped by were there at the theatre.  The Sat night event was fun and different and touched many new to poetry events.

Sunday morning we offered our session at the Performance Tent, A Passion For Nature. This attracted more people than expected with all the competing events at those times.  There was great feedback about The Songbirds led by Alison Mackay. The chance for 3 festival poets, Susan Bradley Smith, Edwin Wilson and Robyn Rowland to read more extensively than elsewhere was much appreciated.  Also our 2 award winners for the DP/BB Writers Festival prize were there to read their poems.  Our time was a bit short so they were rushed which was too bad but they were good sports about it.

All in all, our vision which was to give poetry a bigger profile at the festival was well and truly manifested.

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