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PHILIP SALOM

Poet and Novelist

 

Poetry and the Festival

 

Melbourne Writers Festival is here again and as usual poetry will get short shrift unless it's more competitive ranting and slamming - just so the punters can recognise it – in the form of bad jokes, comic strain, shouting, cliched and clumsy imagery and, for a quiet variation, whispering kitsch. A few guest poets, this year, more Emily Zoey Baker with performance in highlights? One day they will remember how it used to be and schedule poets to sit among other writers on panels and also simply read and discuss their poems.

Still, the last poetry sit-down-and-listen session I attended in 2011 was hardly encouraging. Called Poetry and Music, and what a waste of money time and talent it turned out to be. Anna Goldsworthy the pianist was on the panel and shouldn't have been, even if her father is a minor poet; PiO was doing his usual thing of getting progressively louder and should have been let loose in Federation Square. They should have retired the too-polite and utterly inappropriate non-poet chair  and just...  let...  Les Murray and August Kleinzahler read their poems. But in 2012 we have Sir Andrew Motion. He's not old. Just an Establishment Poet from England. Oooh.