The Queensland Poetry Festival is done for another year and I have resumed programming as a shy introvert and have spent the last week catching up on sleep after four memorable (and intense) days of reading, listening, and absorbing everything poetry.
What I love most about QPF is the atmosphere of camaraderie and community it creates. The festival is a place where (most) people can leave their ego at the door and contribute in a positive way to our poetry community.
Below are some of my highlights from this year’s festival:
- Ali Cobby Eckermann’s opening night speech
- The queer representation across the awards winners and shortlists
- Reading some new poems at the QUT Lit Salon with my fellow QUT poets: you’re all amazing! Also, the fabulous Sarah Holland-Batt telling us at our post-reading photo op that we looked like a boyband (new future aspiration)
- The mental health and chronic illness panels/readings at the Brisbane Square Library which were full of honesty, courage, mutual respect and a sense of community
- The Literary Cabaret: just all of it. And afterwards when I excitedly told Hera Lindsay Bird about the Friends reference in my poem and she wrote ‘how you doin’ in my copy of her book
- The launch for Shastra Deo’s debut collection The Agonist–a truly special moment seeing a friend and brilliant poet break into the world in such an assured way
- The Queer Lit Salon: just all of it, so much love and talent in one room! Special mention for the new poetry from Betsy Turcot–especially loved the poem that started with a line about Jenny Schecter (I won’t misquote it because my memory is rubbish)
- The ‘Deep North’ session with Zenobia Frost, Tamryn Bennett, and Bronwyn Lea: my favourite ‘reading’ session without a doubt, especially loved Brownyn Lea’s poem ‘Australia’ and the line about avo on toast (I won’t misquote it here)
- ‘Losing the plot: Poetry and mental health’ panel: each poet was admirably open and vulnerable about their lived experiences of mental illness and (Co-Director) David did a beautiful job in gently guiding each poet through this. This session really highlighted how important and necessary it is to not only talk about these experiences, but also to have spaces where one can feel safe enough to do so
- ‘Viral Verse’: what a lineup! This was the last session I went to and I spent it equal parts laughing, crying laughing, and sobbing which is probably a good indicator of my mental state before, during and after the festival.
- Spending time with friends, old, new and virtual. And having many meaningful and open conversations with fellow poets/humans about mental health, and feeling safe enough to do so.
Until next time!