Category Archives: Updates

The SpeedPoets Open Mic Champion For 2011 Is…

Vanessa Page!

Congrats to all who got up and let their poems do the talking on Sunday September 4, with an extra special shout out to the six poets who, along with Vanessa, gave it their all in the finals round – Sally Ross, Cindy Keong, Nick Powell, Joe Sri (3rd place) and Michael Cohen (2nd place).

Here’s the elegantly simple poem Vanessa read int he final round and a photo (courtesy of Cindy Keong) of our September feature, one of Melbourne’s finest, Matt Hetherington.

Gone #2

I travel north
to be in the places
where you have been

drinking alone in the surf club

lying awake, listening to the
ocean making conversation

missing you
missing you
missing you

Don’t miss the next SpeedPoets gig on Sunday October 2… features will be announced here soon.

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SpeedPoets Open Mic Championships – Sunday September 4

SpeedPoets keeps the poetry flame lit post-QLD Poetry Festival, with their annual Open Mic Championships and feature sets from Melbourne spiritualist, Matt Hetherington and our very own guitar-slinging-poet, Sheish Money.

This is the 7th year of the SpeedPoets Open Mic Championships. Previous winners include Suzanne Jones, Nerissa Rowan & Benna Zennabomb.

The rules of the Open Mic Championships are simple:

1. Sign on will commence at 2:15pm sharp.

2. There will be a maximum of 25 performance slots available on the day

3. Once these slots are filled sign on will close

4. If there are more than 25 people at the venue ready to sign on at 2:15pm, all names will be placed in a fish bowl draw.

5. In the first round, each poet will read one original poem

6. Poems should be no longer than 3min in duration

7. The judges will then select 6 poets to read a second original poem in a final round

8. From the final round, three place winners will be selected

9. First Prize is $100, Second Prize is $50 and Third Prize is $25

10. The three runners-up from the final round will be awarded a book prize

* Judges’ decisions on the day will be final and no correspondence / discussion will be entered into.


This is always one of the gigs of the year, so make sure you are there to mix it up behind the mic or just watch the poetic sparks fly.

Date: Sunday September 4
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Place: Brew, Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City (
Entry: Gold Coin Donation

The venue has a strict capacity of 60 people, so make sure you are there early to get your seat in the room!

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SpeedPoets July Feature: Santo Cazzati

SpeedPoets has made itself at home at Brew and are looking forward to powering ahead with a massive July event. For those of you out there who have not yet been to the new venue, Brew is located in lower Burnett Lane (between the 7-11 and the Duty Free store on Albert Street just after you cross the Queen Street Mall heading toward Adelaide St. View a map here: and is one of Brisbane’s exciting new venues.

In July, Brisbane will be treated to the whirling spoken word stylings of Melbourne’s Santo Cazzati. Santo was a massive hit at the 2009 QLD Poetry Festival and must be seen to be believed. In fact, do yourself a favour and check out this performance:

 Santo will perform two 15 min sets, so make sure you are there to catch one of this country’s most innovative performers.

And as always, there will be live sounds from Sheish Money, raffles & giveaways + Brisbane’s hottest Open Mic Section, so make sure you are there to make your mark on the mic.

Date: Sunday July 3
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Place: Brew, Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City (
Entry: Gold Coin Donation

And don’t forget, the venue has a strict capacity of 60 people, so make sure you are there early to get your seat in the room!

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SpeedPoets June Feature #2: Phillip Ellis

SpeedPoets rolls back into its new home, Brew (Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City) this Sunday. Alongside the delightful Mardi Lumsden, who will be strapping on her acoustic guitar and lighting up the room with her songs, we are also thrilled to have Phillip Ellis bringing his words with him from just across the border for the very first time.

Phillip is a freelance critic and scholar, and his poetry collection, The Flayed Man, has been published by Gothic Press; Gothic Press will also edit a collection of essays on Ramsey Campbell, that he is editing with Gary William Crawford. Phillip is working on another collection, to appear through Diminuendo Press. Another collection has been accepted by Hippocampus Press, which has also published his concordance to the poetry of Donald Wandrei. He is the editor of Australian Reader, Melaleuca, and Breaking Light Poetry Magazine.

Here’s a recent poem from Phillip:

Point Danger

When the waves break, upon the boulders
under the point, the clouds from the east
they have called towards the land form
a resistless sea of darkness, covering
the ocean, the shore, the land to the mountains
that will claw all the rain from them, rain left
after the storm has clawed the coast
a miniscule moment towards the ocean.

Yet Point Danger faces the ocean,
its flanks dazzle-wet in the light
of late evening, that fades to a night
of clouded stars, and inclement drizzle
that ripples on light, and washes down
the lengths of windows shut to the darkness.



And as always, there will be live sounds from Sheish Money, raffles & giveaways + Brisbane’s hottest Open Mic Section, so make sure you are there to make the mic sing with your words!
Date: Sunday June 5
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Place: Brew, Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City (
Entry: Gold Coin Donation 
The venue has a strict capacity of 60 people, so make sure you are there early to get your seat in the room!


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SpeedPoets June Feature #1: Mardi Lumsden

Brisbane songstress, Mardi Lumsden has been likened to the stray kitten that shows up on your doorstep:

Too cute to ignore, you usher it into your life with the briefest intentions: a saucer of milk … a cursory, inquisitive listen. Slowly but surely with repeated exposure, it becomes so familiar it’s hard to remember a time before your paths crossed.

Matt Connors, The Courier Mail

 And so it is with great joy, I can announce that Mardi will be bringing her sweet alt-folk to SpeedPoets on Sunday June 5 as we roll back in to Brew (Lower Burnett Lane). We chatted recently about poetry, lyrics and the creative process. This is what tumbled out…

Ezra Pound famously quoted that ‘Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music.’ What relationship do your lyrics have with poetry?

My lyrics happen quite organically when I’m writing music. I’m not sure that I would call them poetry because I have only ever hear them sung. Saying that, it is really important that lyrics can stand on their own. I’m certainly inspired by great writers, poets and lyricists and try to use techniques I’ve learnt over the years to capture meaning in a poetic way while fitting it into a song’s structure.
What do you look for in a lyric?

Something with meaning. Something that is not predictable, yet makes sense. Something that naturally tells a story that people can relate to. A way of saying something that everyone connects with, but hasn’t been said yet. Something that can be interpreted in different ways depending on the listener.
Who are the songwriters that have influenced your work?

I have really been inspired by songwriters who try something different and can tell a great story in 3 and a half minutes. People like Sufjan Stevens who can completely capture you and transport you to the world inside his head, only to deliver you back to earth 4 minutes later with an altered sense of understanding. Paul Kelly’s writing does the same thing but perhaps in a more earthy way. I was really inspired by all the protest music (from the 60s to the 90s) because it proved that music can change the way people think. I love Australian songwriters like Grand Salvo, Clare Bowditch, Holly Throsby and Darren Hanlon for their storytelling ability. I love musicians like Glen Hansard (The Frames / The Swell Season), Bon Iver, and (brisbaneite) Alan Boyle for the passion and energy that comes through their music. I love Iron and Wine for the calmness in Sam’s songs – they take you to somewhere else. There is nothing that can be faked here. It is all very real and human. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it makes you laugh, but it always makes you feel.
Tell us about your creative process…

I write music first and lyrics tend to come with that. Usually if something is hard, for me, it is probably not the direction it should be going. I am not a prolific writer but when I write it usually happens very quickly. Then I go back and look over the lyrics and work out if that is the best word or phrase. Sometimes I will change large sections, cut whole verses out, but usually what came out first is what I keep. There is something subconscious about that.

What do you love most about the Brisbane music scene?

I love the variety in the music in Brisbane at the moment. It seems like most people I meet seem to make music. Encouraging that at every level will continue to form a rich and appreciated arts culture in Brisbane.


Mardi Lumsden is an alt-folk singer–songwriter from Brisbane, Australia . In 2010, Mardi Lumsden & the Rising Seas recorded their long-awaited second EP with producer Magoo  (Operator Please, The Gin Club, Regurgitataor, Kate Miller- Heidke) at his Applewood studio, a converted church.

The Brisbane 5-piece, comprising Andrew Pennay (banjo, banjo-mandolin, piano, melodica, and backing vocals), David Callanan (lead and slide guitar, glockenspiel, and mandolin), Jane McEniery (double bass and bass), and Joachim Alfheim (drums), released a cassingle at the Brisbane Powerhouse in April 2010 then the EP, called Wherever you go, there you are, at Queensland’s Old Museum on 29 May, alongside the group’s new video clip, filmed by India-based cinematographer Mark Lapwood (Evermore).

The EP’s closing track, Classified (WVTM), won the 2010 Q Song award in the Folk/Ballad section and was a finalist for the 2010 Song of the Year.

Live, Lumsden has been described as “a sanguine and superb songbird. Her voice has a delightful, whimsical lilt, as do her lyrics, which are about intimate, urbane experiences of late twenty-somethings. Her songs would complement, as a soundtrack, any Nick Earls or Rebecca Sparrow books.” ( 12 July 2009).


SpeedPoets, Sunday June 5 from 2pm – 5pm at Brew, Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City. Entry is a Gold Coin Donation. 
The venue has a strict capacity of 60 people, so make sure you are there early to get your seat in the room!


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Photo’s from the May Gig

SpeedPoets re-launched in fine style yesterday at Brew, showing just why they have been keeping poetry fast in Brisbane for the last ten years. Here’s a few shots from the day, taken by Cindy Keong. To read a write up visit:

Welcome to Brew


Carmen Leigh Keates reads from Second-Hand Attack Dog


Charity Carleton from Ichabod's Crane charmed us with her sweet acoustic folk


Michelle Dicinoski reading from her forthcoming collection, Electricity for Beginners


Sheish Money made the room rumble


Graham Nunn celebrating the Buddha Birth Day Festival with a reading of Buddha in the Woodpile by Lawrence Ferlinghetti



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SpeedPoets re-launches at Brew in May

It is very exciting to announce that SpeedPoets has found a new home at Brew, right in the heart of the city. Brew is an exciting new venue, located in Lower Burnett Lane. Here’s a map for all you visual types:

The space has great potential and will soon also act as a gallery, promoting the works of emerging artists.

And to celebrate, we have three features to re-launch SpeedPoets in their 10th year on Sunday May 1.

The music feature comes from Brisbane songstress, Charity Carleton from Ichabod’s Crane, who will be playing songs from their latest album, Honeydew (listen to tracks from the album here) and the poetry features will come from two dynamic Brisbane ladies, Michelle Dicinoski and Carmen Keates.
And as always, there will be live sounds from Sheish Money, raffles & giveaways + Brisbane’s hottest Open Mic Section, so make sure you are there to celebrate our move across the bridge, into the heart of the city. 10 years, 5 homes, too many poems to count… See you there!
Date: Sunday May 1
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Place: Brew, Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City
Entry: Gold Coin Donation


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April SpeedPoets Event Postponed

Sadly, we received news just after the 10th birthday celebrations that InSpire Gallery Bar was closing its doors. This is a real shame for the Brisbane Arts Community as the space that Marcel and Jacqui had established will be sorely missed.  I would like to thank them for hosting us in 2010 and in March this year. InSpire has been our finest home to date!

But the SpeedPoets show must go on… throughout March we have been busily searching for a new home with the hope of kicking off in April, but things have moved slower than what we would have liked, so there will be no SpeedPoets as scheduled on Sunday April 3.

We will however be back on Sunday May 1 with a new home… stay tuned for an exciting announcement soon!


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SpeedPoets 10th Birthday Feature #3 – Baron Field

Rounding out the trio of birthday features and bringing a little music to the show is Brisbane troubadour, Baron Field. Baron and I caught up for a chat recently and here’s what transpired…

It has been a while coming, but your self-titled, debut album was released this year. Tell us about the recording process…

Yes it took a while. I wanted to record myself. I wanted to buy some gear, set it up, learn how to use it and make an album from what I’d learned. I’ve never been fast… at anything ( though I could be smartarse in the schoolyard). In fact, I’d say I am spectacularly flat-footed, both physically and mentally, in no small part due to the carefree excesses of my youth. But as far as this record is concerned, it meant I could take my time, record a part, listen back, let it percolate, change it, scrap it, re-record it, start again etc. and all the while I was becoming more familiar with the gear and the processes… and the song, and with what I wanted from the song and what (I thought) the song needed from me. Some of the tunes may still be traumatised by the evil wrought upon them but I’m happy with the results overall.

The bulk of the album was recorded across three houses, two of them in Ipswich where I recently lived for eighteen months. The houses were old and wooden. One had a view of the twin spires of St Mary’s Catholic Church from the back door. The yard of the other was paved with recycled concrete from the old railway platform of Sadlier’s Crossing Station. Ipswich is much quieter than Brisbane and this made recording easier since the houses obviously weren’t soundproofed. We could walk to the pub and there are country markets around the district to visit when a break was called for. Oddly, fish and chips are generally of exceptional standard in Ipswich and this sustained us through a lengthy session or two. One joint even sold canoli. 

I was very fortunate to have some wonderful contributions from great musicians like Sue Ray, Mick Elliott, Kieran Waters, Toby Gifford and Joel Wilson. They brought out characters in the songs that altered and enhanced the original vision and their fine, fine, creative musicianship proved truly inspirational. I cannot thank them enough for their talent and support. 

Your lyrics always carry a strong narrative. How do you approach the writing of a song?

The process changes from song to song really… and probably comes down to what purpose is to be served by writing. I recently read a piece on Cold Chisel’s album East in which Don Walker said that he’d made a conscious decision to try to write a hit song. Those kinds of decisions are probably made by certain people in certain situations and I’m certainly in no position to think about gold records. But it’s indicative of a certain attitude towards work with which I can identify. I mentioned I lived in Ipswich. At one point I wanted to write a song about the place. Maybe to mark the fact that I’d spent time there, I’m not sure. But it was reason enough to write a song so I did. I did some research and found a story and re-told it and maybe, if I ever make another album it’ll be on there. The point is I found a reason to do it or maybe I just kidded myself I had a reason. You can’t discount the notion that half of it is bluffing yourself into believing you’ve got something relevant to say. I’ve written songs purely for wordplay. Just to muck around with words and rhythm. ‘Fallen Lighters’ from the new album came about because I hadn’t written anything for a while and needed to put pen to paper. A good love song is a difficult thing to write but it’s the most fulfilling if you succeed I think. I’ll be working on those as long as I can for sure. Still think the Ipswich tune will make the cut for the next record though. Just not sure about the gold record comin’ Baron’s way any time soon.

Who are the people you love to listen to? Do you have an album that you always go back to?

Well today I listened to the David McComb (The Triffids) album ‘Love Of Will’. I’ve owned it for a long time but have grown more fond of it over the last couple of years. ‘Born Sandy Devotional’ from The Triffids means a great deal to me as it does to many. ‘Post’ from Paul Kelly. Archie Roach’s ‘Charcoal Lane’ is a phenomenally powerful record. Cold Chisel and Don Walker have been a part of my musical life since I was seven or eight years old. I discovered King Curly a few years back have found myself routinely playing their ‘Familyman’ and ‘Doomsday Piano’ albums. These are records made by Australians obviously. Like many of my generation, I heard a lot of North American popular music as I was growing up. We sang ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ in the second grade at school. ‘Modern Times’ (Bob Dylan) came out 2008 maybe? It’s a gem. Something from Gillian Welch I will take with me when I go. Barroom Girls from ‘Revival’ is as good a song as I’ve heard. Townes Van Zandt and through Townes, Guy Clarke- Old No. 1 & Texas Cookin’. I just watched a video of Dolly Parton do ‘Down From Dover’ in London in 1983. Wrote it when she was eighteen years old and if she’d done nothing else she’d still be way up there in gold class. I could go on… Leonard Cohen (The John Lissauer albums), Tom Waits (my first album was ‘Blue Valentines after a friend played me ‘Heart Attack & Vine’)… and on… 

If you had to give people a tip on where to catch some of Brisbane’s best local live music, where would you recommend?

People used to lament that Brisbane didn’t have enough live music venues but I don’t think it’s the case these days. Actually, I’ve been somewhat reclusive lately so any tips I have will no doubt be hopelessly passe by lunch time tomorrow. They are renovating the Boundary Hotel in West End at the moment but get down there sometime to see Blind Dog Donnie on a Friday night at least once in your life. Better still get down yr local and tell them your ready to embark on a stellar career in booking & promotion. Book Baron Field and then I’ll be happy to hand out the tips on where it’s at :)


To check out some of the sounds from Baron’s self-titled, debut album head on over to: but more importantly, make sure you are there on Sunday March 6 at InSpire Gallery Bar (71 Vulture St West End) from 2pm, when Baron straps on his guitar/banjo/mouth harp and delivers you his sweet country blues. The album will be available at the gig! I know I will be bringing one home…

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SpeedPoets 10th Birthday Feature #2 – James Waller

Next to step on the virtual SpeedPoets stage is the second of our 10th Birthday poetry features, former Director of Melbourne Overload Poetry Festival,  James Waller.

James Waller is addicted to shadows and reflections. As a painter, sculptor and poet, he finds himself forever swinging between the demands of the word and the image. When unchained from shadows he is known to produce festivals and curate exhibitions. His visual work has appeared in the Sydney Opera House, St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Kasmir World Music Festival. His poetry has appeared in Page Seventeen, Eureka Street, Stylus & Melbourne Reflections, as well as on RRR (Aural Text) and Channel 31 (Red Lobster).

I caught up with James last week and here’s what we chatted about:

The writing process…

There is a book inside from which lines fly; preformed, authoritive and strange. They come like a command: ‘put me down’! When there is flow they follow one after the other, like birds migrating together. When there is no flow, when the lines have ceased, ordinary words maybe crafted in counterfeit, but they are just ordinary words, lacking weight and beauty.

Poets that excite me…

Strangely, many poets in translation, so I should say certain translators: John Felstiner’s versions of Paul Celan, Louise Bourne’s translations of Justo Jorge Padron, Bernard Meares’ renderings of Osip Mandelstam. I have also been deeply moved by the words of Tom Joyce, Jordie Albiston, Ian McBryde and Lewis Scott. There are many others, including poets of my own generation who are a great inspiration!


The elixer of language which stirs a cauldron of forgotten things, others who stir the pot, and the numinous beauty of nature, art and time.

And here’s a sample of what tumbles out when the arrow of inspiration strikes deep:

Your Voice
          for Ian McBryde

Softly burns
The stillness of your voice
Softly as a rain
Of shadows
Falling upon a fire
Softly as a grave
Of floating words
Dreamt for the departed
And softly as a slow emergence
Of fresh blue lightning
Traveling between frost and flame.
Your voice is a monument
Of fallen ruins
Cast into the sea,
Absorbed into its emerald gown,
Into its quiet, fuming mass,
And disappearing into its ageless body
Of mysterious, golden loss
Your words are embers
Flaring in the darkness,
Your words are coals
Blackening the light
Your words burn softly
As new born fires
And dying
In your palm


Want to hear more? Make sure you pop on your party hat and head to InSpire Gallery Bar (71 Vulture St, West End) on Sunday March 6 at 2pm to be part of the 10th birthday celebrations. You can also find out more about James at:

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