Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide

I’m frozen in my seat as I watch Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide unfold. Tears swell in my eyes as I listen to the poetry and my heart thumps at the pace of the ECG sound effects. There is no word I can speak and I struggle to take my eyes off the performance to write notes for my review. What I have just witnessed is by far the best show I have seen at the 2019 Fringe yet.
Held at the Libertine by Louis, Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide is a show that is about the life of 2016 Poetry Slam Champion Alison Bennett. Floral Peroxide speaks of her health and disabilities over her life and the pain of silence over the years. It is a poetry performance which incorporated technology and interpretative dance to create a multimedia experience which is accessible to everyone.
I found myself completely consumed right from the moment Alison sat in the wheelchair. This experience only continued as her story appeared in writing on screen. As the words appear, she slowly raises her head from the wheelchair and starts to dance as dramatic music and sounds played. Then when she stood up to read out her poetry, my eyes were fixed on her, listening to her every word.
The poetry Alison spoke to me unlike any other poetry before. Her poetry speaks of identity loss, incredible pain, depersonalisation, discovery, and acceptance. Having a disability myself, her poetry to me was both confronting and empowering, especially the themes of the pain of silence and society’s views on disability. It has empowered me to want to no longer be silent too.
The show structure is nothing short of phenomenal. Alison’s costume design was both stunningly freaky and beautiful. It complements the performance and really brings out the intensity of her disabilities. The sound by 5000AD too was captivating, capturing the emotion of the poems effectively. The lighting and use of screen to tell some of the intense themes of the story were gorgeous. I could feel the pain and the suffering she had gone through as they rolled, taking it all in.
Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide is the must see show of Fringe 2019. It is captivating from start to finish and is one of the most confronting and beautiful performances I have ever seen. If you still can, stop reading this review and go buy a ticket for this show. It is a show unlike any other at this year’s Fringe.
For more information be sure to check out our In Conversation with: Alison Paradoxx article here. For those attending, you can also buy her chapbook, Subtitled Radiology, for $20 after the show.

 


Words by Cameron Lowe

Five stars.

Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide is playing at the Libertine by Louis tonight. Tickets available here.

 

How to be Held

How to be Held

Maddie Godfrey

Burning Eye Books 2018


Maddie Godfrey is an Australian born poet from Western Australia who has moved on to spend time living and writing in both America and the UK. She has won poetry slams across two continents and her work has been featured on a number of international platforms. An astoundingly talented person, How to Be Held is Godfrey’s first book.

There were a number of standout poems in this collection, some being those I recognised from Godfrey’s Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/madfrey22) and ‘Kissing’ which was featured on Button Poetry last year.

Godfrey’s work deals with a myriad of issues including gender politics, self-love, trauma, and self-preservation. She shares with us a deeply personal journey through love, loss, heartbreak, and exploitation, constantly calling into question the expectations of society about gender, violence, and trauma.

Much of Godfrey’s poetry explores the difference between the binary, however ‘Labels are for Jars’ protests this, explaining that sometimes a person might not fit the binary or fit the binary comfortably. As she talks about her father, Godfrey reflects on her own ideas of not fitting the binary and how important that it is to be accepted for who you are.

With a mixture of the personal and political, Godfrey includes her 2016 response to a neo-masculine organisation called “Return of the Kings”. Reading ‘Birthday Parties’ was a pressing reminder of the dangers of being a woman—a reminder that women must think and act in a way that will constantly secure their safety whether they are consciously thinking of it or not.

Godfrey follows this poem with ‘Meeting with Mountains’, comparing the differences between women being taught to take up less space whereas men that they can take up all the space. As the book progresses the poems soften allowing the reader to embrace a sense of warmth and familiarity.

Self-love and self-acceptance is another important theme which is explored throughout this collection. A number of poems read like letters to a future self, a comfort and an acknowledgement that the person you will become is not necessarily the person you are today. In ‘For Days When my Feminism Does Not Include Myself’, Godfrey writes:

“you do not realise how capable you are

of growing into future versions of yourself”

Such a simple sentiment and touching reminder that you are not locked in as the person you are today, instead you, and everyone around you, are constantly evolving as different events and experiences shape you and your future.

Intimate and deeply moving, Godfrey’s poetry focuses on the need and the will to survive, to move on from past ordeals and fight back against the traumatic experiences. Her words hold you captive and at the same time make you feel safe and acknowledged. Godfrey guides you through her book gently while at the same time boldly and bluntly acknowledging her own traumatic experiences. Throughout her message remains clearly positive, reiterating that survival is key to negotiating both this world and her trauma.

How to Be Held was released July 1st and can be purchased online: https://www.howtobeheld.com/


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Photography by Kayla Gaskell

The Poetry Slam: An Insider’s View

When I say Slam Poetry, what do you think of? Beatniks in black turtlenecks and clicking hipsters? Or maybe you think of Neil Hilborn’s “OCD” – the spoken word poem that made the rounds on the internet circa 2013. Slam poetry – or spoken word poetry if you like – is experiencing something of a resurgence and for a good reason. If you’ve ever listened to a spoken word poem, then you know that it is a powerful gut-punch of a storytelling medium. More than that, it’s a highly diverse form as well; the content and structure of spoken word is open wide to innovation and interpretation. Highly personalised or highly politicised, spoken word is a glimmering oyster of diverse styles and poets, which makes it a pleasure to listen to every time. It also makes it highly enjoyable to write and to read – because above all, spoken word poetry is designed to be read aloud and heard. There are few better places for this than the ubiquitous poetry slam and it’s sister, the open mic poetry night. As a person who’s performed in several poetry slams, I can tell you the nitty-gritty of what it is like to be involved in one.

I’m going to be real with you for a second. Getting on stage and performing your work to a crowd of strangers is nerve-wracking, especially when there are judges in the crowd who are giving points for your work. But at the same time, it’s also deeply satisfying to know that they’re sitting before you specially to hear slam. Here’s a fact; slam communities want new blood, specifically yours. If you’ve got a poem and a voice to tell it with, they want to hear you say it. They will even approach you afterwards to say they liked your work. It’s humbling and gratifying all at once. If you can get up there to read your poems, you have my respect as a fellow poet, especially if it’s your first time.

At my first poetry slam, I didn’t actually read any of my work. I wanted to suss out how it worked and then ghost out of there after enjoying a night of poetry. Instead I got randomly selected to be a judge (all the judges are randomly selected from the audience). No problem, I thought to myself. Except I had no clue about the standard of work to be expected at a poetry slam competition. Cue me scoring the first two people exceptionally harshly by mistake – I soon wised up, but not without escaping un-called-out. Poetry slams are friendly places with a great deal of camaraderie – expect call outs to people in the audience and call outs about judges who are overly harsh, as I had soon discovered.

My second poetry slam was the one I first performed at and, fortunately, I didn’t make a giant hash of it. I got up on stage, didn’t fall off the edge of it, spoke my piece without squealing feedback from the mic, and then got off the stage. All in all, a success. Since then, I’ve performed in a few and I’ve got ‘performing at a poetry slam’ down to a fine art.

Here’s how it goes:
I rock up to the event a good five minutes before the signup even opens (the signup usually opens about half-an-hour before the slam starts). I then hover like a vulture so I can be first, or second, or third to write my name down on the list. This ensures I’m definitely going to perform at the slam.If the slam is abiding by Australian Poetry Slam rules, there’s a maximum of 20 competitors. The first fifteen names on the signup sheet are guaranteed to be in – any number of people past that go into a lottery to see if they’re competing that night. This is the reason for the vulturing; when there’s a captive audience, I like to
know that they’re going to be my captive audience.

Once I’ve got my name down on the list, I buy myself a cider and claim a seat for myself and whoever has come with me. Some people come in a posse, others with one or two friends or family members. From there it’s only a matter of waiting somewhat nervously while I enjoy the other poets who are slamming that night. While I do this, I usually gnaw my fingers a bit wondering if I’m the next poet up or not – all of the performers are called up in a randomly drawn order, so you never know when you’re up next. I’ve got the luck of a mildly cursed witch; I’m almost always one of the last people to perform, and when I’m not, I’m definitely the first called up. This is what happened at the last slam I was in and I was not expecting it at all.

When I do get called up, I take myself and my poem up to the mic. Sometimes I memorise my poem, but you don’t have to. For poetry slams, the timer starts from the first word so intros aren’t particularly wise. Also, take this advice from someone who knows; pay attention to that timer. For Australian poetry slams, two minutes is your absolute maximum and if you go over, you lose one point every thirty seconds. Poem went for two minutes and ten seconds? That sweet little score of 9.3 has dropped to an 8.3, and with it your chance at placing. Am I speaking from bitter experience? Well, kinda. I’m not particularly bitter. Poetry slam judging is fair even if it’s reasonably unpredictable. There’s five judges, who are randomly selected, and the top and bottom scores are removed. Favouritism is pretty well eliminated but there’s an added element of unpredictability. Once I’ve been given my score, I sit back, drink cider, and enjoy the other poems before waiting to hear the final results. A round of applause to the victors and it’s all done and dusted.

Whether you’re up on the mic or in the audience, poetry slams are always a good time and they happen almost everywhere. If you’re unsure about where to start, a quick google or Facebook search will be able to point you in the direction of your local poetry slam event. If you’re in Adelaide, the Adelaide Poetry Gig Guide on Facebook has an updated list of regular open mic’s, slams, and one off events.

I’ll leave you with this pro tip I’ve learned from experience: don’t perform a poem about someone who’s in the audience unless you really want them to hear it. Otherwise, have fun and if you see me around in Adelaide’s slams, come and say hi.


Words by Taeghan Buggy 

Taeghan Buggy is a writer, a poet, and a performer. Her work tends towards emotional gut punches and dangerous words. Taeghan’s immersion within ‘Arts Culture’ includes the New Wave Audio Theatre project, Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings, and Adelaide’s open-mic poetry scene.