Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Melbourne 1997 - and the (background to ) the worst ever poetry night in my memory

Warning - this is only part one of what is turning into a VERY long spiel. So much I have had to leave off today's episode and will hopefully finish tomorrow...)

Thank Jay for bringing forth a memory I had thought banished into the black hole of my mind.

To expunge, you must all live through vicariously the worst night in my whole poetic history.

The good news is - the odds are good that you weren't there. Very few were.

The year - 1997.

The town - Melbourne.

Now, Melbourne and "bad poetry" is actually not often said in combination.

Melbourne is such an excellent town for poetry, in fact, that the Melbourne Age (the local newspaper - in those days a broadsheet and not some freebie pamphlet) used to print a listing of all readings every week.

And in the main the readings in Melbourne were fantastic and worthwhile and a great time was had by all. The Dan O'Connell, the Art of Mother Love, the Brunswick - all venues etched favourably upon my memory of great poets, great poetry and great times.

But this memory is not any of that. This memory has very little the adjective "great" could possibly attach itself to.

In 1997, I was embarking on my dream - to be the sort of hippy poet who could just hop into her van, Rigg (named in honour of Diana of The Avengers), and be free-spirited.

Unfortunately, I also have an unfortunate star-sign for such a quest. This meant my jaunt clockwise was stopped at the bottom right corner, and my bovine tendencies (to get a job, to put down roots) had ensured my stay in Melbourne to be somewhat longer than I had intended.

In 1997, I also entered a relationship. One that led to my eventual departure from the city, not for its unfortunate habit of being absolutely crap on the weather front (it wasn't Winter that blew it for me, either - it was the nasty way it did any season, any day) but because, apparently, a city of over 1 million people was not enough to buffer me from constantly repeating a cycle of interaction with Mr Wrong.

Selwyn (and I have changed his name, because that is what I do with real people on this blog, not because I actually think he would ever read a blog) did have some points in his favour.

I mean, he pursued me quite avidly - when we weren't together. He wasn't always on best behaviour when I relented, however.

He also had an unfortunate addiction to alcohol, the establishments that served it and the behaviour that attended to imbibing it in large quantities quickly. Luckily, he was generally far too broke to give his addiction full reign - always a quality to look for in a non-recovering alcoholic boyfriend.

So it must have been in one of those heady few days in our relationship where I had some shekels and he didn't, when our delight in each other was still so fresh he was still wanting to impress me with his new leaf (oh those beautiful first two days of any reconciliation) and so he deigned to join me in going to a poetry venue.

Now, those of you who don't know Melbourne, is it true that every great city is split into two, generally done so by a body of water?

Because Melbourne was (and is). And for great poetry readings, I lived on the wrong side of the Yarra.

Generally three or four evenings (or afternoons) a week, across the river I would go to get my fix of great performance (see how wonderful Melbourne is?) and I desparately wanted to find a local venue.

Several times I had seen advertised a reading in St Kilda.

Always the evening that it fell on clashed with something or other else (cough - generally reconciling with Selwyn, hanging out with him at some dive drinking and playing pool OR lamenting with my flatmate the disappointment that was our love-lives) but came the auspicious date when the stars aligned, Selwyn relented and we were all set to get some local culture.

(just realised this is a darned long post already, so I am going to make this the intro and continue the story tomorrow).


Jen at Semantically driven said...

Selwyn - I'm sure that name really suits him even though it's not his real name. I look forward to reading the rest.

Jayne said...

He's not Tarquin's half-brother from Hawksburn, is he ?

Debby said...

See you back here tomorrow, hippie woman.

BB said...

Oh boy this is fun... specially when you kinda half-recall the participants!!!

On a completely unrelated matter: isn't Selwyn the name of a really naughty pony? Hmmm.

Ps WV is "droodes" ... Yo dropkick dude!! Heh.

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in what happened. I'll be checking back to see.

Thanks for visiting me too! You are always welcome to come over...but I'm afraid I'm not good at poetry...sorry!

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

very interested ...hope the wait is over soon.

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading here!

jeanie said...

Jen - the name suits him about as much as his real name did - two syllable, old-fashioned and begins with S.

Jayne - no, he had no relatives in Australia (apart from an ex-wife (or two - those rumours were not confirmed) and an ex-girlfriend (again denied) who I went on to become good friends with).

Debby - its up!

Bush Babe - I only know that Selwyn through repute - but it could be apt. How well does he hold his beer?

Sweet Cheeks - as you will see now, the whole "good at poetry" thing isn't an issue.

Trish - as I said to Deb, it is now.

Cosmetic Tattooist - Lord, I am hoping you are not here because you WERE THERE that night!!! Thanks for visiting.

MissyBoo said...

The choice of Selwyn as a name, has me imagining all sorts of strange men!

Woman in a Window said...

Ooohhhh! I read the second post first. I thought I was going to be rewarded with two stories. D'oh!

I'd love to have the opportunity to see a reading. Maybe I'll get off my ass and hunt something down.