Amy Bodossian ventured out to Passionate Tongues at the Brunswick Hotel on Monday Night thirsting for a poetry fix. On stage, she encountered Koraly Dimitriades stalking the audience in a scarlet red dress, a confronting Mel Hughes, a brooding GM Walker and a no-frills Kerryn Tredea. Spent, but satisfied, Amy emerges to tell her tale:This past full moon, Monday September 12th, Slam Up Overloaded's
A full moon in Pisces. Predicted by various astrologers to be one of the most romantic nights of my year. Hungry like the wolf, I venture out to Passionate Tongues to, hopefully, get f**ked (ahem…romanticised) by some exhilarating poetry. This had better be good. I got a big itch to scratch.
The first thing I notice is that the turn out is considerably lower than previous Overload years, the vibe less ‘crackly’. This could be due to a number of things, but I suspect the main culprit is lack of funding. Come on! Poetry is hot! Nonetheless the crowd is still big enough to generate a warm receptive atmosphere, and they are definitely in the mood to imbibe some serious wordage.
As always, the ever reverent Michael Reynolds, the Mother Theresa of Melbourne’s poetry scene, gives heartfelt, glowing introductions to the poets. He just BURSTS with genuine appreciation for this artform.
First up is Mel Hughes. Mel, who moved to Melbourne from Adelaide not so long ago, (like another poet I happen to know very well) has made quite a splash in the ol’ Melb scene, and it is easy to see why. Upon watching her, it quickly becomes apparent that this woman has seen her fair share of darkness. But she does not whinge. She is not bitter. She IS the light in the tunnel. There is a wonder and naivety to her stage presence that simply lights up the stage. And she manages to maintain this whilst delving into some very confronting and moving material- the recent death of her father, war, mental illness, sexual identity. She claims her ‘Melness‘ with defiance AND delight, hope and humour. Like Ophelia handing out the flowers in Hamlet – she lovingly holds up the mirror to our mistakes with brutal honesty and compassion. But the main thing with Mel is the poetry. Stunning imagery just seems to effortlessly tumble out of this woman. Each line more breathtaking than the last. Glorious.
A hard act to follow? Perhaps, but the next performer is not afraid. She takes that strong and sensual thread and keeps on weaving. The FORMIDABLE Koraly Dimitriadis, claims the stage in a scarlet dress., with Nick Tsiavos and his double bass beside her. The scene is set for some serious theatre, and Koraly does not disappoint. This woman transforms into a ten foot tall Greek goddess onstage, bravely reaching out and pulling the audience in to her candid and triumphant journey. Her struggle growing up as a Greek Cypriot Australian woman is presented with fire and angst and just enough irony to soften the message. Her fight to forge her own identity amidst the expectations of being ‘good Greek girl’ – the perfect daughter, mother, wife (‘it’s better to be dead than divorced.’ ) – is urgent and necessary.
I confess, Koraly is a good friend of mine, but all I have to do is look around at the magnetised faces to realise that I am not the only one under her spell. The raw emotion that comes out of this woman is truly something to behold. Perhaps the set is a little long. Koraly’s passionate onslaught can be a bit ‘one note’, and I wouldn’t mind some breathing space where the music cuts out entirely and it’s just the words. Having said this, the performance IS dynamic and tempered with some very tender moments. The brilliant Nick Tsiavos on double bass is right there with Koraly every step of the way, and this instrument is perfect for her- strong and feminine - with strings. All in all, Koraly’s voyage to self empowerment is deeply cathartic and everyone collectively exhales at its close., resounding applause filling the room after her last piece- ‘I am the queen, make no mistake.’ ‘Yes Koraly! We believe you! You ARE the queen…and…um…so…are…we! We are ALL the Queen!’, think the women. Mission accomplished.
So, am I getting my full moon f**k …ah…romance? Yes, I guess you could say I am. Those astrologers may be onto something.
But wait. There are two poets to go. Hmmm…it would appear that the audience are spent, because during the break the crowd severely depletes, and my heart goes out to the two Adelaide performers who have come over to close the night. I stick around because, frankly, I have to.
The first of my hometown poets is GM Walker. GM valiantly tackles the flaccid remains of the evening, but alas her work falls a little flat after the theatrical extravaganza that has proceeded her. Her set is a more traditional reading. Nothing wrong that, but for me, GM’s work fails to capture my attention. He poems are short, dark, a little acidic, and lack the beauty and imagery I so desire. There are some powerful lines however, and her work has a macabre charm. I find her depiction of the female experience to be slightly hackneyed at times, but I enjoy her courage, and there is real wit and insight there.
The second Adelaide poet to bring home this distinctly feminine evening is Kerryn Tredrea. Kerryn’s direct, no frills approach is refreshing and easy to digest.. Her poetry is simple, strong and effective/affecting. It contains a pragmatic beauty and a wry irony and it holds its own despite the bedraggled atmosphere. Her delivery is stark, unpretentious, and satisfying.
And NOW for the open mic! Unusually, many of the poets who have put their names down have left. Unusual because poets are filthy egotists who cannot wait for their turn to speak. I am among these leavers. I simply cannot take anymore. I am JISMLESS! The proverbial post coital cigarette has been had…and had…and had… A quick word of advice to Overload organisers. CUT DOWN THE NUMBER OF FEATURES. The human brain simply cannot absorb that much poetry!
Nonetheless, it has been a bloody worthwhile experience, and I reenter the night like a used condom, filled with the seed of some very powerful women. I may not have met the lover of my dreams, but I have been wooed and moved by some rather extraordinary ladies. Better? Possibly. Yes. The wolf is content.