I can’t tell you how excited I am to be bringing SpeedPoets to The Hideaway for its 13th year. It’s venues like this that make Brisbane the amazing city it is! Just in case you have forgotten, details of the first gig are:
Date: Saturday February 23
Venue: The Hideaway, 188 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Time: Doors at 1:30pm for a 2pm Open Mic Start
Entry: Gold Coin Donation
And to add to the excitement, SpeedPoets will launch Vanessa Page’s debut full length collection, Confessional Box. Vanessa has been a regular at SpeedPoets for many years now, so I had a chat with her to see how she was feeling about the launch and her memories of SpeedPoets.
You’ve been a regular ‘Open Mic’er’ at SpeedPoets for many years now Vanessa. What is your first memory of coming along to a gig?
My first memory of SpeedPoets was during its Inspire Gallery period at West End . I came along, mostly just to listen because I’d never performed a poem before in my life! It was really my first foray into the poetry scene here in Brisbane , even though I’d been writing for a bit and trying my hand at a few competitions around the place. On that day, it was my then 8 year old son who signed on to read a poem he had written called ‘Nature’. With some gentle encouragement from Graham and my son Harvey I signed on to read as well. I’ve regularly attended SpeedPoets since then and it is a real highlight of the month to be able to gather with other Brisbane poets and share words together. I’ve made some terrific friends along the way and it really has become a ‘must-do‘ on the calendar each month for me. I’m pleased to say that very first poem I read at SpeedPoets – ‘Postcard’ features in Confessional Box and I will be making sure it is on the list to read at the launch!
Has reading in the Open Mic and listening to other poets each month helped shape your work?
Reading in the Open Mic has helped teach me the importance of reading my work aloud – even if it is only to myself. It helps with achieving great cadence with your writing. The other great thing is that you can gauge audience reaction when you perform – and when you know your poem has hit the mark or resonated with someone it is a wonderful thing. I always love listening to my contemporaries read – it is always inspiring and I love how each session there is always at least one poem or one line or one moment that really works for me and that I take away home with me. Listening to others is also a great way to look at things differently, try different styles and just broaden the horizons a little. So in terms of my own work, I think constant immersion in poetry whether by listening, reading or performing is an ongoing process that helps me shape my work.
You are about to launch your debut full length collection, Confessional Box. How are you feeling about it all now that it’s printed and ready to go?
I am feeling good about the book because it is the culmination of a few years’ worth of collected poems. It is nice to see them all in printed form…the process is like ‘putting those poems to bed’, turning out the lights and starting with a fresh page again. I think that is the most satisfying thing. Those poems are done and complete and I can walk away from them happy that they have found a permanent home. I have to say that moment when you hold your book for the first time is pretty special. It is a real thing of beauty and I was lucky enough to collaborate with my talented friends – artist Maryanne Oliver and designer Jessica Fazakarley on the cover art. I just hope the poems in the book bring others as much happiness as they bring me when I read them.
Getting a publishing contract for a debut collection is a wonderful opportunity. How did this all happen for you?
The poems in the book are drawn from my entry manuscripts for the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. I entered this competition in 2011 and 2012 and was named as a runner up in this prestigious award both years. At last year’s Queensland Poetry Festival I got talking to Ralph Wessman from Tasmania ’s Walleah Press and he expressed interest in publishing my two shortlisted manuscripts. So really it has become a ‘best of’ those two manuscripts. I realise that I am extremely fortunate to be offered a publishing contract ‘out of the blue’ like that and I hope that it is a reflection of the hard work invested in the collection. It certainly helped balance the disappointment of being ‘bridesmaid’ two years in a row for the Shapcott Prize! Working with Walleah Press has been extremely enjoyable, and the books are really lovely.
What are you most looking forward to about the SpeedPoets launch?
I am most looking forward to sharing some poems from the book with my friends from the Brisbane poetry scene. It is nice to launch it at the new home of SpeedPoets and quite fitting seeing as my first foray into performance poetry was several years ago at SpeedPoets. SpeedPoets is almost like a ‘family’ so I am very much looking forward to it.
Vanessa Page is a Brisbane-based poet who hails from Toowoomba in Queensland . Her first manuscript, Memory Bone was shortlisted for the 2010 Press Press Prize and in 2011 and 2012 she was named runner-up in the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize for an unpublished manuscript. In April 2012 she launched her first micro-collection of poetry Feeding Paper Tigers through Another Lost Shark Press as part of the Brisbane New Voices series. Confessional Box is her first full-length collection of poetry.