Each month, I plan to post a feature, introducing the Call Back Poet, so first up to hit the virtual SpeedPoets stage is March Call-Back-Poet, Jo Brooks.
They say the first ten seconds
count the most
the handshake, the suit, the smile
so we’re both thinking
perched in the greeting area
of the reception in some office
on Eagle Street.
Or so I imagine
as I see her checking her stockings
fingers fidgeting with her hemline, eyes
fixing on unthumbed magazines -
Forbes, Financial Review -
hands glossy with salt
and the sourmetal scent of
impressed on her palms
in the elevator ride
to the tenth floor
which I’m sure
she was counting
blinking as each number skipped
across the screen – one, two,
ten, to a full floor of glass and sliver
glinting ten thousand mirrors
to touch up your makeup
smooth out the creases
flash a practised crimson smile
for that crucial first impression.
I haven’t been ‘writing’, in a creative or expressive sense, for very long at all – my first completed poem is not more than 6 months old, and I started scribbling fragments perhaps another 6 months before that. Maybe the impulse of erasure was a little stronger than for others, or more likely I was just so busy with study or not in the right ‘headspace’ until mid last year. My first couple of forays into spoken word were at the Jam Jar slam, which is intimidating enough as a competition, add to that the challenge of spraying your words out loud into a 360-degree space without a microphone, and the volcanic nerves of trying something that is terrifying but absolutely necessary. But it’s a great space, and Scott Sneddon’s done an amazing job creating good energy, and striking a balance between being supportive and inclusive, and challenging poets to ‘make something bigger than themselves’, all while not taking itself too seriously.
I should also acknowledge my debts to Eleanor Jackson and Betsy Turcot, and other recent influences, which include American spoken word poets Andrea Gibson and Sarah Kay, Australian singer-songwriter Holly Throsby and my favourite ‘classic’ poet, Emily Dickinson – all mesmerising women whose unique voices quietly compel.
As a ‘new’ voice, I can’t really present any achievements, or speak convincingly in the third person, or describe what my ‘work’ is about, as it’s still taking shape. At the moment, it’s still skin-pinchingly exciting to be able to see your thoughts take form, born by inky ants marching across the page. It’s absolutely humbling when others approach after a reading to say some of the lines resonated with them. I confess I was a little shocked to receive the call back my first time at SpeedPoets, but I’ll take it as an encouraging pat on the arm to keep at it.
You can read more of Jo’s work at her blog asthecrowlies.