Friday, February 15, 2013

We're getting in the Dan -Saturday February 16th


I'm nervous. Tomorrow for the first time in over two years, I'm performing my first featured-reading at one of Melbourne's regular poetry gigs. I had consciously avoided doing these gigs since then, or going to them altogether for that matter, finding the afternoons/evenings pretty hard to get through generally, even as a spectator.

The quality of the work tends to be pretty uninspiring, and the people there very insular. Something  you invariably end up (having to) apologise for dragging your friends along to.

With previous features I did 2009-2010, as a newly-arrived performance poet, I became increasingly frustrated that the levels of innovation, theme and novelty I was bringing to each new gig (from narrative links, to duets, covers) were being met with indifference or even worse still, open hostility.

However, what I had forgotten over that time is, as much as the open mike slots themselves, what an immense opportunity these gigs can give you, as a canvas to try out a whole slew of new work, in a fairly low-risk setting.

So somewhere between certain die hard open-mike regulars trying to weed tall-poppy out from the grass roots, and me just being an arrogant cock, I figure tomorrow will be a good chance to flex a few muscles I haven't used in a while, and try out a cross section of different material.

I get accused frequently of only going online/on facebook to promote stuff, which I don't choose to wear ~ for the record, the bulk of my activity is posting inconsequential tweets, photos, re-posting other poets' news and lots of inane commentary.

But it's me flashing big-push for events like this that seems to stick out in people's minds, and form their lasting impression, which for my money only serves to reveal how little pride most people take in discussing/promoting their own work.

I mean, in standing up and saying "OI! YOU! YOU LIKE STUFF? YEAH COME LOOK AT ME THEN. YAY!" versus not having the courage/confidence/chutzpah  to invite people to come share your art, of those two parties, I ask you, which indeed is the one that needs to get over itself?

I guess because it's self promotion it seems more crass, inauthentic and egotistical. At this point I'm supposed to have either found people/organisations/publishers etc to back me, or just pipe down, admit defeat and give in to some flagrantly-false modesty, while player hating with all the jealously you can glare into someone's back.

Well... not yet. I'm still here, still believe I have something utterly unique-yet-universal to say that's worth the time-taken of yours to share it. I got something you might like to hear. Tomorrow, we're gonna have a ball.

-Randall Stephens
February 15th, 2013


....and shameless promo follows in 3,2- 

He’s been called “The Michael Caine of spoken word” by Geoff Lemon, referred to as “a rock star poet with daddy issues” by Anna Fern. John Garret has said “I just can’t understand why anyone likes him”. Cam Black once called him “flaccid, two-dimensional and insincere

Shane Koyczan’s been quoted as saying “That guy should really be more careful what he says about people

Les Murray on the other hand, has never heard of him, but they once glared at each other across the buffet table at the Newcastle Poetry Prize ceremony. Les blinked first.

His name is RANDALL STEPHENS. He is a poet –laureate chip on the shoulder of the Australian poetry community. He's gotten too big for his boots, and he's got feet covered in broken egg shells. He's got hands covered in cheap jewelry, and he's gotten his hands dirty getting here. He's got a big fucking mouth, and he ain't afraid to use it.

...Yeah, you should all come along tomorrow.  You'll hate it of course, but at least you'll have more ammunition this way.



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