Western Australian poet, Jackson, will be hitting Canberra later this week. We asked her what it’s like, being a travelling performance poet at the moment. This is what she said.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013, 12:15EST.
I send a text to my publisher and tuck into a salad and a slab of cheap lasagna. I’m sitting in a cafeteria on a side street off Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne, just along from Readings Bookshop, where I bought Koraly Dimitriadis’s Love and Fuck Poems and left a sample copy of my second poetry collection lemon oil. Hopefully Mulla Mulla Press will get a phone call. I’m hawking a poetry CD, too, but there was no Spoken Word among the Pop/Rock, Classical and Talking Books, so I left The right metaphor in my bag.
I got the wrong tram from the hostel and had to walk a few extra blocks. A travelling poet needs comfortable shoes. At least I’m not carrying my guitar case today: my Melbourne gigs are done, and today is my one free day here. Tomorrow I catch a V-Line train and coach to Canberra. I love being in the urban jungle, which camouflages me well, but I’m looking forward to the relative peace of Canberra (which could be a bit disturbed this week, I guess, with the political Grand Final almost upon us).
I’m coming to Canberra to feature with Melbourne poet Jennifer Compton at the Canberra Poetry Slam (7:30pm Friday 31 August at the Front Cafe), present poetry writing and critiquing workshops at the ACT Writers Centre on Sunday, and appear on Scissors Paper Pen’s radio show on Saturday.
I’ve been asked to write about what it’s like being on the road as a poet. I feel this calls for a disclaimer. As much as I might prefer to be a 26-year-old male, in reality I’m a middle-aged English-Australian woman. Along with the Irish whiskey and Bukowski, I like Devonshire teas and Dickinson. If poetry paid well I’d have a boutique hotel room with an ensuite and a private balcony.
But it doesn’t, so after each gig I find my way — somehow! — back to my top bunk in a $30-a-night warren smelling of last night’s pho and the pending laundry of Cleo-reading, sport-watching, twenty-something strangers.
Which is just as well, because what the hell would I write about in a boutique hotel? The décor? The wine labels? The silence?
The ridiculous waste of resources, more likely. Besides, I sleep really well between a freeway overpass and a nightclub. Seriously. An elevated railway is even better. I don’t know why the hardcore racket of trains crashing along all night makes me feel so safe and cosy. I guess my mother’s womb was pretty loud.
Anyway, I’d rather spend my ill-gotten gains on decent food. Here are my tips for travelling poets: go to a wholefood shop (or supermarket if you must) for some expensive natural muesli, carry water and fruit, and have salad for lunch. If each day you have a bowl of fruit-and-nut muesli, a banana, a mandarin and some green leafy stuff, it doesn’t matter if the rest of your diet consists of Guinness and bar snacks.
And if the poems start banging around in your head? If you feel the need for literary solitude? In a busy cafeteria, a laptop on the table is all you need.
I’ll see you in a couple of days, Canberra.