Words flowed as gigs dried up for cooped-up poets

Poet and musician Natalie D-Napolean is glad to be back performing poetry for an audience, finding the whole Zoom thing “challenging”.

RESILIENCE is the fitting theme for this year’s Perth Poetry Festival which runs from September 18-27.

Despite being hit by a “big curveball” in the last eight days with a main venue change, interstate and international guests performing through Zoom and having to organise a pop-up series for delayed events, WA Poets Inc insist the show will go on.

Committee member Jaya Penelope said given the trying year it has been for many people due to the coronavirus, it was important the festival went ahead. 

“Poetry allows you to express something authentic and sometimes something very vulnerable or challenging that might not be able to be shared in another context,” she said.

Side-effects

“In terms of the work we’ve had submitted to us this year, we’ve had a lot of people reflecting on the situation in their poetry.”

Ms Penelope said while Covid-19 has meant people have lost events, gigs and work, it has also had some interesting side-effects. 

“At WA Poets we do a couple of competitions a year and the amount of entrants we’ve had has increased by about a third, so clearly people have had more time and possibly more of a desire to write poetry,” she said.

“There’s also been a lot of workshops and performances online which has actually fostered a bit more of a community across Australia because normally poetry in WA can have a tendency to feel a little bit isolated.”

Introverted

Local poet and muso Natalie D-Napoleon said while online tools allowed her to host a Zoom book launch for a fellow writer locked down in Melbourne and connect with poets she had read but never met, she found the lack of in-person contact challenging. 

“I know some people have loved the introverted time and the ability to stay at home and write,” she said.

“But for me a lot of my work is about connecting with people so I’ve found it very hard to be stuck at home and writing and not being able to go out and be part of the community.”

Ms D-Napoleon also affirmed the theme for this year’s festival was perfect and believed the pandemic had highlighted the importance of the arts.

“I think we will reflect back on this time and realise the creative arts is what lifts human beings, it lifts our spirits, it helps us process the world,” she said.

Further details on the Festival may be found on the WA Poets Inc Facebook page or wapoets.com

by AMELIA CHANNER-HOLMES

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