Distant Voices Finding Home

It is done. The tech gremlin rebellion has been thwarted *steps gingerly to block the bodies from view* which means that hopefully *glares around in case of surviving gremlins* we can get back into the review-mines over here.

The glitch-ageddon also meant that my posts about an upcoming event have had to be somewhat condensed here, so we’re going to have to make do, okay, because BIG news. Epic news. Top tier happy-making news.

Queensland Poetry Festival is nearly here!

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Accurate depiction of Kylie’s levels of hyperactivity about this.

It’s writing festival season here in Queensland, which pretty much makes this word-nerd Christmas for a lot of us. And like all hyperactive children in the lead up to the best day(s) ever, there’s a lot of flailing and ridiculous grinning in this corner of the ‘verse.

We don’t always get a lot of attention for our cultural scene here in QLD. Competing with Sydney or Melbourne is hard enough, but both? It’s… complicated, and it’s far too easy for our efforts to get overlooked. But the truth is that our writers, and our festivals, punch well above their weight.

QPF is one of our festival forerunners, kicking ass and taking names with the kind of reckless abandon that makes for a hell of a weekend. Don’t worry: this isn’t a bunch of old guys riffing about lost love, and the beauty of ye olde worlde speak. QPF is poetry with bite.

This is the festival that happens when you combine a belief that poetry is more than what we’re taught in school, and a staggering array of poets from around the world. Not just the big names- though they’re certainly here- but a collection of poets and spoken word artists from all walks of life.

This year’s theme, Distant Voices, is more than just some pretty words, it’s a promise to festival goers. This is not a festival about selling books and rubbing shoulders with the stars of your fave genre (though you totally can buy books and will meet ridiculously talented folk). This is an act of activism, an act of rebellion, and a no-punches-spared reminder that poetry is and always has been more than waffling love declarations or piteous wishes for sex. It’s political. It’s dangerous. And it’s one of the best and most beautiful ways of cutting through the layers of balderdash to speak to the realities of the world around us.

This year, QPF is showcasing a wealth of talent that don’t always get enough time on the festival scene. There’s poetry from First Nations poets and activists (including our very own Ellen Van Neerven!), LGBTIQ artists, Maxine Beneba Clarke (be still my fangirling heart), Omar Musa (no, really, heart, calm it down already), poetry from Words On The Street (a staggeringly talented part of Brisbane’s School Of Hard Knocks– a group devoted to creative opportunities for disadvantaged community members), Writing Through Fences (a writing and performance group of people who are, or have been, incarcerated within Australia’s immigration detention centres), poets and performers with mental illnesses… honestly, there’s too much amazing talent on show here for me to do any of it justice.

I cried a little when the Joy Harjo workshop sold out before I got a ticket. It’s *that* kind of lineup, the one where you know you’re going to be missing once in a lifetime magic. There are performances, readings, panel conversations, workshops- anything a word-nerd could need (with coffee available. And a bar. And a bookstore). If you’re a fan of poetry, you’re sorted. But if you’re not… this is the festival that will probably change your mind. Festival Director Annie Te Whiu said it best when she spoke to us earlier this month: Come, grab a seat, find your home, find your place, find your poet. You never know, it might just be a new literary love to last a lifetime.

Most of the events are free, which means there’s honestly no excuse for anyone in Brisneyland to not head into the Valley (or Brisbane Square Library, or the Brisbane Multicultual Arts Centre, or the offshoot events throughout the region) and party with some poets.

And if you see a hyperactive blue haired idjit, feel free to stop and say hi. Or remind her to lay off the coffee.

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