Community Poetry on the verge of 2012

December 17, 2011  |  Uncategorized

“I am signaling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

Civilization self-destructs. Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for in such an age?

What is the use of poetry?” Lawrence Ferlinghetti from  Poetry as Insurgent Art

We are approaching the long-heralded 2012 and what can we as poets and poetry lovers offer a world on tilt?

Here is what we did this year:

Dangerously Poetic kicked off  2011 with Rumble with the Spirit,  mystical poetry to lift the heart, featuring Kathryn Riding and Elyjah  Mcleod and the choir, Mystica.   This was a benefit reading for the Queensland Flood Relief and we collected $613. for the fund .

And to further nurture the spirit, we offered the playshop, Day Spa for the Soul encouraging spontaneous expression through art, movement and writing.

We also initiated the Dangerously Poetic Writing Circle offered each month on the second Weds. at Wheel of Life in Brunswick Heads.  This has become a popular gathering to stimulate new poems and fine tune ones that are already in process. At just $10/8 for members, it is affordable and a great opportunity to keep the poetry flowing.

Our next reading in Brunswick Heads was on the theme nature and our place in it— exploring our evolving relationship with a changing planet and we called it Mud between the toes. We invited garden club enthusiasts and members of local environmental groups to bring along a poem about nature that inspires and sustains them.  Featured readers were Laura Jan Shore and Elvyn Dear.    With both original tunes and standards,  we enjoyed singer Shelly Hughes accompanied by Dan Brown.

There was an extended open reading  on the theme, so many came forward to share their favourite poem.

Warm Winter Words was another benefit reading, this time for the Mullumbimby Soup Kitchen run by Kristina.  We had a good line- up of music and poetry held at the St. John’s Catholic Hall.

Kristina provided hot soup and other treats for sale.  The Hottentots and Chelle Lynton, Mark Heazlett and Cass and Elyjah all offered their beautiful music. Susan Hayward, Paul Pritchard, Mandy Morris, , Victor Marsh, Christo Barrett-Hall and Sundari  were among the readers.  Close to $2000 was raised in total  for the soup kitchen!

We followed this with a one day retreat, Embracing The Wind, nourishing our connection to nature and our place in it. We relaxed into the sounds of nature, music, and beautiful words. And we enjoyed simple Qigong movement led by Bev Sweeney, with mindfulness moments and journaling. It was a time to sit in a nurturing circle— to breathe the earth.  Inspired by this session were poems that were later submitted to our anthology which will be published in the new year.

Meanwhile, we applied for and received a grant from  The Sidney Myer Fund for a tent to be used as a poetry chill out tent at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival. Our vision which was to give poetry a bigger profile at the festival was well and truly manifested.

As there were no plans for a poetry competition this year at the festival, we asked if we could co-sponsor one with the NRWC.  This was agreed upon and we received a full selection of poems on the theme of Spirit of Place,  nature and our place in it.  This coincides with our anthology theme and we offered to publish the winning poems in the upcoming anthology as well as offering a cash prize of $500 for first, and $250 for second. Robyn Rowland served as our judge.

At our poetry chill out tent, we provided an intimate space for poetry to flourish.  One poet called it a “sanctuary” and another an “oasis”.  The gentle 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 did half hour readings to audiences that ranged from 15 to 35.
At times, the tent was spilling out into the sun and other times were quiet.  Many enjoyed the free shoulder massages, aromatherapy and a place to write passion poems.  We put the winning poem on our site.

Most popular was our 3pm Open Reading each day and the quality of poetry read was refreshing.

We also ran a Sunday morning  poetry reading.  This attracted more people than we expected with all the competing events at those times.  We had great feedback about The Songbirds and the chance for 3 festival poets, Susan Bradley Smith, Edwin Wilson and Robyn Rowland to read more extensively than elsewhere.  Also our 2 award winners for the DP/BB Writers Festival prize were there to read their poems.

In November, Dangerously Poetic co-sponsored the launch of my book, Water over Stone, Interactive Press at the Primary school in Brunswick Heads.  Sarah Armstrong did the launch speech. With guitarist Mark Heazlett, I did a performance of “Family Portrait Poems,” from the collection followed by a feast catered by Kristina.

In December, our Christmas Party reading featured three Interactive Press poets with new books, publisher David Reiter, Geoff Page and myself.  The visiting poets served as judges for our popular poetry lamb.  Ten contestants read their original poems and a winner chosen for a $50 prize.  Again, Kristina outdid herself with delicious food and we toasted with champagne.

So what is next for 2012 which happens to be the 10th anniversary of the incorporation of Dangerously Poetic?

We have been finalizing the manuscript for our 10th book, Wild Honey, poetry from Byron Bay and Beyond, an anthology featuring 20 poets which we intend to launch by early March.

We hope to continue our process of meeting in different locations as we find it enables more people to come along and enjoy poetry.  The popular DP Writing circle will continue in Brunswick Heads.  More workshops and gatherings will undoubtedly be organized and more benefit performances as they are such fun and successful fund raisers.

We have certainly proved over this year that poetry can be a needed solace and of great benefit to the community in difficult times and good times.  Our vision is to continue offering community experiences that nourish and uplift the spirit through poetry.  Hope you will join us!

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