The Adelaide based poetry group Friendly Street Poets has long been a strong influence on writers here in South Australia. They hold regular monthly readings in Adelaide. In more recent years they have ventured out into suburban venues and continue to grow in both influence and importance. The meetings are usually open mike reading opportunities for poets and often feature a guest poet who is invited to a longer reading of poems. The open mike readings usually have a time limit of about 3 minutes.
Over the last few years the group is also venturing out into country areas. Two years ago I attended the inaugural meeting here in my home town of Murray Bridge. I particularly appreciated having only a 5 minute drive to the venue on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Normally I can’t attend the meetings in Adelaide due to other commitments on the regular nights on which they are held.
On that occasion I wasn’t brave enough to take along any of my poems for reading, and last year I had another commitment. Two weeks ago, however, I managed to attend – and read two of my poems. It felt good – and I enjoyed the rest of the poetry read during the afternoon. The poems ranged from the hilarious to the deeply serious through to the cheekily risqué. Reading one’s poems during the open mike sessions usually allows one to contribute the poems read for consideration in the annual anthology.
- Friendly Street Poets – click to view their website which has details of meeting times and venues as well as membership, publications and plenty of other information.
This afternoon I went to an afternoon of poetry. Normally I would have to travel for a half hour or so into the Adelaide Hills, or for about an hour into the Adelaide city itself. This time the poetry reading session came to my home town, Murray Bridge.
The special afternoon was organised jointly by the Friendly Street Poets group in Adelaide and the local district council, who funded the event. I didn’t quite know what to expect, not having been to such an event, though I had heard some things about readings like this. What I didn’t expect was the enormous interest in the event. Over 80 people chose to ignore the lovely spring weather and the fact that it was Father’s Day in order to attend. This must have been most encouraging to the organisers.
About 15 people used the opportunity to use the open mike to read their poems. There was a vast range of themes covered by the poems. Some people read confidently, while others were a little hesitant. One thing that stood out was the prominence of rhymed poetry. According to one of the organisers, this is something that is unusual in their normal reading sessions.
At the last moment I chickened out and didn’t take any of my poems to read. In retrospect, many of my poems would have stood up very well against those that were read out, something I find encouraging. It was announced that this was to be the first of several more such events over the coming year. This is encouraging. The good attendance at the inaugural event ensures successful readings to come.
After the readings, there was a book launch. An acquaintance of mine, Max Merckenschlager launched his first collection of poetry, Lifemarks. I’ll do a review of this fine little book when I’ve read all of the poems and savoured them for a little.