Image Source: The New Daily
By Zoe Kassiotis | @ZKassiotis
Some of Adelaide’s best poets gathered in the city’s west earlier this week to take part in a poetry reading series at the Wheatsheaf Hotel.
On the first Wednesday of each month, poetry and pints are married in the melting pot of ideas and expression that is NO WAVE.
Unlike popular slam poetry competitions, which often have a tense atmosphere, this relaxed spoken word reading provided a platform for poets who shared ideas about identity, politics and relationships.
Established early last year, NO WAVE is the brainchild of Dominic Symes, an acclaimed South Australian poet and English and Creative Writing tutor at the University of Adelaide, who identified the need for a safe space that would raise the profile of poetry in Adelaide.
Each month NO WAVE looks for a selection of new, emerging and established poets that read to an especially broad audience.
This comprises of female identifying, Indigenous and young poets.
Mr Symes said NO WAVE played an important role in the development of local poets whose ideas enhanced the sense of community surrounding poetry in Adelaide.
“This reading puts you in the proximity of established poets, and if you’re young and you want to go down that path this is a really good place to bump shoulders with those people,” he said.
“We really want to get a young person every time and make sure there’s more women, so that we’re not just propping up straight white guys in their 50s.”
Mr Symes said the regular readings resulted in a familiar audience, which created a supportive space where poets felt safe trying new material, launching a book or even reading for the first time.
“When you write poetry, you get to tell people who you are and what you like instead of people telling you,” he said.
“By shifting the agency, you can be like ‘this is me and this is who I want to be’, so I think when you’re young that is such an important experience because we get few opportunities to be like that.
“Now there’s a community of young people who feel like it’s ok to come to a poetry reading.”
The Wheatsheaf Hotel, affectionately known as the ‘Wheaty’, has long been a supporter of the arts scene
Over the years it has offered a platform for local artists from a range of disciplines to share their work in an inclusive space.
“There’s an awesome community of poets in Adelaide, but naturally we are all introverts,” Mr Symes said.
“The good thing about the Wheaty is it’s such a safe space and everyone is so comfortable in it.”
“You can actually have a room that’s adjacent to a bar, but not in a pub, and it doesn’t feel scummy or you don’t have drunk dudes walking in and heckling,” he said.
Scottish-born poet Alison Flett, who also read on the night, best summed up the shared experience of the series when she shared a poem she wrote after the first NO WAVE reading in April last year.
“It’s so fucking beautiful this sadness we feel and how we all bare it,” she said.
Established Adelaide poet Jules Leigh Koch, who is the author of five poetry collections and a regular reader at NO WAVE, said having the whole genre of writers in a room made it a special reading.
“There’s no ego here because there’s only three or four guests who will read and I’m here to hear the guests. There’s no one here for me and I like that best,” he said.
Emerging social issues poet and educator Geoffrey Aitken, who attended his first NO WAVE reading last week, said the Wheatsheaf was the perfect venue for the variety of writers.
“I love the fact that young people want to express themselves and use their voices here, and I especially love the predominance of younger females,” Mr Aitken said.
“This ambience is absolutely fantastic; the lower lighting and the proximity to the stage really suits the event.
“I’ve never really been a beer drinker, but there’s something special about mixing south Australian poets with local boutique beer and wine.”