As I walked home last night


I stood in a giant pile of purple vomit, which promptly flicked itself all up my left ankle and, even more strangely, no less than five minutes later, I managed to have a bird crap on my right ankle. So yeah. Walking home, various expulsions of various creatures, cooling weirdly on my bare ankles.

I think this was probably a very important thing to have happen, since I was in way too good a mood after Beer and Bards @ Yulli’s in Surrey Hills.  I mean, what’s not to like?

Vegetarian delicious foodies x 6, free beer on arrival (which, wow, oddly did taste like a garden, like the guy said it would…) and the honey-warm-voiced Blake, the Marianne Faithful evoking Squizzy Rider, and myself telling stories. Jade Oldfield, with a lil bit of Salt’n’Pepa voodoo channeling, as our lovely host. The crowd was gentle and welcoming, listening and smiling, and filling the room to capacity.

Without a little bit of vom vom to bring me back to reality, I think I may have been at risk of being a little bit smug.

The photo above is included only because I feel compelled to tell you that this was the most attractive poetry crowd I have ever experienced. The photo in no way captures this. Literally, the most attractive people in one room that I have seen for a good long time. I was worried they should all go home and start breeding so we could raise the national beauty quotient. I don’t mean this as a backhander, really, people were just astonishingly attractive. I have no idea what this means. Potentially, nothing, because it was just a coincidence.

However, I digress, because it was also a chance for me to tell The Very Best Story That I Know, and those poems inspired by Mirerva, that I’m now kind of titling “a woman who’d never known him”. Both of which are a pleasure and beauty for me to be able to read to a new audience, it’s rare to find ones with the lovely attention spans, so I’m thinking/hoping that it was just a nice beauty mirror for the night all round.

On Sunday, it’s all going to be a bit less beautiful, or at least in terms of what I’m bringing.

At the Slam on Saturday, Luka Lesson introduced the crowd to the American phenomenon of yelling “new shit” at a performer when they announce that they’re doing a “new poem”. I kind of hate this little cultural appropriation, mainly because I think it’s rude to yell that kind of thing at people, and often times it can be women who feel compelled to announce sheepishly that their poem isn’t very good/well-tested and then I feel like yelling at them seems a bit extra lame. But that’s just me. It seems like fun for others. Crowd participation and stuff. I’ve never actually seen it happen in America, so I can’t tell if our derivation is authentic or exciting.

Anyway, the point of that segue is also that “new shit” and our cultural obsession with it, is also a matter of curiousity for me. Do we always need there to be new? a. Rawlings is fond of quoting Gertrude Stein (“there is no repetition, only insistence”) and I am always interested in those stories that I can hear again. I write a lot and so when I perform, especially in Brisbane, I like to do “new shit”. But equally, I would be honoured to tell She Stole My Every Rock and Roll again – even if it’s just in your goddamn lounge room, and DJ Thought Fox vs MC Lady Lazarus opens up newly for me each time it is shared with an audience.

In no small way this is due to the richness of Ted Hughes’ and Sylvia Plath’s language. I think I could sit with this stanza of A Modest Proposal for a long time. In fact, I already have. It’s a delight in the mouth to say it.

There is no better way to know us
Than as two wolves, come separately to a wood.
Now neither´s able to sleep – even at a distance
Distracted by the soft competing pulse
Of the other; nor able to hunt – at every step
Looking backwards and sideways, warying to listen
For the other´s slavering rush. Neither can make die
The painful burning of the coal in its heart
Till the other´s body and the whole wood is its own.
Then it might sob contentment toward the moon.

All of which I guess is a very long way to say that I had a great time last night, thank you so much to Jade for hosting the event, Yulli’s for its stomach delighting support, Blake and Squizzy for their stories, and the audience for the generosity of their ears.

And the street for its vomit.


By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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