Book Slam

Tonight went to see Book Slam, part of PIAF and the brainchild of Patrick Neate.

Book Slam heads down under for the first time to humbly hand over the ashes of English literature. We will be joined for the ceremony by: –
ANTHONY SWOFFORD, author of Jarhead and now Exit A
– Award-winning poet SAMUEL WAGAN WATSON. Renowned for his humour and wry take on contemporary urban life (Brisbane News)
– Plus, singer-songwriter FELICITY GROOM and DJ BEN TAAFFE of the mighty Underground Solution radio show. [all of that from the Book Slam website]

It was packed upstairs at the Leederville Hotel, a seedy, shabby old fashioned hotel, the kind you might find in a country town. The stage was small, the lights too bright for some of the readers, the audience attentive and prepared for something new.

Now the deal with Book Slam is that Patrick Neate and his mate Ben (from everything but the girl – incidentally one of my old faves), decided that book readings in libraries and cafes were BOR-RING so why not have one in a pub. And because most people seem to have the attention span of a gnat – and besides want to talk to their mates as well as be inspired – why not offer literary excellence in bite-sized pieces? Good idea?

The first author was pretty good I thought. Tony writes action thrillers I think with a US Marine flavour – if you get what I mean – I’ve not read any of his books but he read about ten minutes from his latest and that was the feel I got from it. I don’t mind action thrillers with a US flavour. He read it well. I thought – yeah okay.

Then after a break we met Sam Wagen Watson, a poet from Brisbane. He read four of his poems. My favourite I think was White Stucco Dreaming. I thought he was brilliant. Funny, compassionate, great writing. I bought the book as you do.

A couple of phrases from his book “Smoke Encrypted Whispers”. (This is for you travellers out there)

a pre-flight environment stirring
to the waking groans of a cappucino-making slave
and an honour guard assembled for the dearly departing;

I just love that dearly departing phrase…. and this from “white stucco dreaming”

front yards studded with old black tyres
that became mutant swans overnight
attacked with a cane knife and a bad white paint job

He was really good. And afterwards I asked him to sign my copy and he was really sweet about it.

Then came Felicity Groom who was wearing a fabulous red and black frock, strapless, lacy underskirt, fishnet socks to just under her knee and a guitar. She’s a local girl and sings rather depressing songs IMHO. After she started the fifth (which didn’t sound much different to the first four) I’m afraid I left. Hey I have to work tomorrow… er today!

Anyway it was quite a good night – if I’d got there early enough for a booth we might have stayed longer… or if Felicity hadn’t done such a long set… who knows. In the meantime I’m the richer for being exposed to Sam’s poetry.

Oh and I had better review The Trouble With Don which I saw last night at The Blue Room. What can I say? He was funny – I laughed out loud. Unashamedly West Australian references which I thought were hilarious. Especially all the school references. It’s a cheap night out at the theatre and the intimate atmosphere of venue will charm you.