Smith’s Alternative: Vanessa Proctor and Kent MacCarter

Vanessa Proctor and Kent MacCarter appeared last month at Smith’s Alternative in Canberra (Australia). Smith’s is a fun venue that offers live music, comedy and/or poetry almost every night of the week.

After the usual open mic session, award-winning Sydney poet, Vanessa Proctor, stepped to the stage presenting a selection of her Japanese genre, short form poems plus her delightful free verse poetry.


Vanessa Proctor

You might recall Vanessa and I previously co-authored a selection of haiku titled Blowing Up Balloons: baby poems for parents. Well, here are a couple of stand alone haiku Vanessa presented at Smith’s:


blazing sunset

the farmer sings Nessun Dorma

to his pumpkins


all that I am mountain spring


Vanessa’s longer poems often combine the strong imagery of her Japanese style writing with personal emotion and insight. For example, her poem Orbit which addresses spiralling anxieties that leave you ‘spinning in an irregular orbit’, concludes with the lines:


A Powerful Owl,

all barred feathers and hooked beak,

will land in the heart of a blue gum,

its talons curved meaningfully

over a limb. It will regard

you with deep amber eyes

and muscular wings will test the air.

Launching into flight,

it will head straight for you,

the sheer weight of its body

knocking you right back

where you need to be.


Victorian poet, Kent MacCarter, was next to present. Kent is managing editor of the respected online journal, Cordite Poetry Review, and publisher of Cordite Books.


Kent MacCarter

Kent describes some of his writing as journalistic poetry, based at least in part, on real people and/or events.

For example, Kent’s poem titled Harry Houdini, Famous Magician, Flies for 2 and 1/2 Minutes deals with the flight Houdini made on 18 March 1910 at Diggers Rest in Victoria (Australia). Houdini’s flight, made in his own Voisin biplane, was one of the first aerial flights ever undertaken in Australia. Some lines from Kent’s poem:


                                                           . . . The plane takes

off pushed from behind by several men. It lifts into air


and flies. The hopes of onlookers

include those bred together by wealthy landowners

in from Argentina and seriously considering

             the way Argentinians do

about climbing in to the camel business that’s taking off. And quivering

on the lap of a Madame from Buenos Aires

gawks a Chihuahua named Taco


Vanessa Proctor’s poem, Orbit, won Second Prize in the 2017 Tom Collins Poetry Competition while Kent MacCarter’s poem on Houdini can be found in his 2014 collection, Sputnik’s Cousin. The two poets entertained an appreciative crowd in the bohemian comfort of Smith’s Alternative.