Somewhere, somewhere else, things are ending. In small ways and in big ways. This is always the way. Remembering this is one of the nicest elements of being alive, it wakes you up to the real delight of existence and the pain of loss. In no small way, and in no small matter, Betsy Turcot wakes me up to the delight of existence and I am thrilled to be able to profile her here as the first of our features for Words or Whatever.
In the name of full disclosure, Betsy is a poetic collaborator and friend of mine – and relating to her in both those ways has been pretty special. She’s kind of chosen family.
For those who don’t know Betsy as well as I do, she might describe herself as “a nectarine, floating somewhere on the fuzzy line between a peach and a plum”. Although I think she has a little mango in her too. As with many poets, writing for Betsy is as necessary as water. She says, “if I don’t swim, I dry up”. Once a teacher, she has been inspired by such measured voices as Robert Frost, who captured her heart when Levar Burton read “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” on Reading Rainbow. Since then, she has had poetic infatuations with Langston Hughes, Dorothy Porter and Andrea Gibson.
Her advice to other poets? “Read and listen to other poets but don’t mistake other voices for yours. It’s too easy to be a copy-cat in Spoken Word poetry. No one else has your voice, so introduce it to the world.” Collaborating with Betsy has been an interesting insight into what this means. Despite collaborating, sharing, working to forms and formats together, the work we produced together was reflective of our own voices, even in the way that we can learn to blend those voices.
In case you’ve missed the advertising, we’re featuring women writers this time around. Sometimes this just happens (but rarely) although I often attend events where all the featured performers are men. Usually, that fact goes unmentioned. So when asked if she considered her gender to be an important part of her work and the perspectives she takes as a writers, it was interesting to hear her say:
My gender is undoubtedly important to me as a writer. Performing poetry is often challenging and confronting as a woman. I feel equivocally bullet ridden and super-heroic. But more than anything, I feel like it is my duty to keep writing and keep sharing.
What can you expect from Words or Whatever with Betsy Turcot?
“The audience can expect mountains and butterfly wings, but mostly, letters to my unborn daughter.”
You’ll wanna see the follow up to this collaboration with Doubting Thomas, I can tell you.
Betsy hails originally from the United States and since relocating to Brisbane, she has contributed her words, her heart and her passion to the city’s vibrant spoken word scene. Betsy featured at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival as a member of The Broken Records Collective show “Just Like Me” and was co-author of the poetic play “She Stole My Every Rock and Roll.” With her fresh delivery style, Betsy was a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup. With a BA in English literature, she brings a considered measure to the performance poetry genre.
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And this little tale too might entice you to come to Words or Whatever.