Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leaving Lincoln Alive -22/12/2009

(The end of Wordplay)

You'll hear it on the podcast ~an awkward silence after the applause with a whine of hinges swinging on a door as someone escaped the room. It's at the end of Briohny Doyle performing 'I want to die in a Caravan', a great piece and the listening experience would be much improved by editing out this five or so seconds of crap.

However this was the final poem from the last featured performer, of Wordplay, and it's deliberately been left in there.

See, what happened is: I had this Ken Burns-type moment. Ken Burns is an american documentary film maker who made the outstanding series The Civil War. In an interview he talked about doing the final sound mixing on the film and stopping, just as they were about to apply the gunshot sound that kills Abraham Lincoln in the theatre. This surreal moment where they held that narrative in their hands and paused, and for those few moments he said it was as if they we're keeping Abraham Lincoln alive.

Sitting there on my PC in the dark at stupid-o'clock, eagerly approaching the end of a marathon editing session, I suddenly became stuck in that moment right before Wordplay ended, and sat there listening to this non-event of sound on loop for at least a few minutes. In the end, I decided to leave it in this unfinished state and as silly as this may sound, I felt like Ken Burns not letting Abe go, that with this squeaking door, Wordplay would somehow still be 'alive' too.

Okay, granted this is a grandiose and melodramatic comparison, but Wordplay has meant a lot to me (besides, as a dabbler in poetics myself, melodramatic comparison is my business, after all). I remember the first Wordplay night I went to in September 2007 and for the first time really experiencing poetry as an enriching, engaging and entertaining experience.

It opened a whole new and exciting world simultaneously setting the bar very high for standards of writers and performers while also getting me really, really excited about writing myself -which I hadn't really done prior to that.

Wordplay was the only regular gig in Melbourne I ever experienced that I would not, and did not, hesitate to invite non-poets along to, always feeling confident they would get something enriching and accessibly-entertaining.

It was a major factor in getting me interested in poetry, Geoff Lemon showed us how it should be done, and he did it for three years. Now it's gone, and we're here at the point where we only get to remember the phenomenon.

Look, I can't really write anything effective within a few paragraphs to give you a vicarious understanding of what these nights meant to me. I'm not that good of a writer ...yet.
Though fortunately for us both, I don't have to be, and I have something better to offer you instead ~ these afore mentioned podcasts.

Having started from the end, we're working through recordings that Geoff had made of the gigs, and we'll be putting them up to the Wordplay site as download-able mp3 regularly over the next several months.

So... help me keep my Lincoln alive friends.

For all my international peeps out there, as well as you slack-fuckers in Melbourne who never made it along, and for the rest of us who were there and now are going to miss this gig "like a front toof", you're invited to follow the below links and listen.

There's many more great performers/performances yet to come, I'll keep plugging away on the editing, while Geoff and I will keep you updated when we get a new batch up. So listen in and let the words take you away.


May that squeaking door never completely swing shut on us.


PS. The big man had a thing or two to say himself (it being his gig and all), check it out at:




Geoff said...

Thanks for the thoughts, man - it's rewarding to hear exactly what other people got out of it too. Making something that means something to someone - that's a pretty vague concept, but I guess it's what we're all striving for.

Maxine said...

Gret post. Have linked to your post from my place.