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.
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:
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.
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.