The Octagon Poetry Collective readings at Circadian Rhythm Cafe, St Andrew Street, Dunedin, have started up for another season. These are free for all; and usually have a guest poet, who is bookended by two open mike slots. The atmosphere is convivial and collegial; the audience made up of the general public and many local poets; the food is good vegan or vegetarian fare, with a homely-but-high-quality savour.
Cy Mathews gave an excellent reading last week, taking us into a hypnogogic, eerily insightful landscape of hybrid creatures and darkly carnivalesque urban moments. The work shivers between comedy and melancholy. His patter in between poems was as seamless and professional as anything I’ve seen in the big literary festivals overseas. Hats (and black cats?) off to Cy.
The schedule from now runs:
April Thurs 21 MC Emma Neale (Guest poet: Lesley Wheeler)
May Wed 11 MC Richard Reeve (Guest poet: Michael Steven (or another) )
May Thurs 19 MC TBA Rhys Brookbanks Memorial Reading
May Wed 25 MC Sue Wootton (Guest poet: David Eggleton)
June Wed 15 MC Kajsa Louw (Guest poet: Judith Cowley)
June Wed 29 MC Diane Brown (Guest poet: Michael Harlow)
Some quick biographical information on Lesley Wheeler: Lesley is an American poet and a lecturer in twentieth-century literature at Washington and Lee University. This year she is in New Zealand on a Fullbright Scholarship to Victoria University in Wellington. Her most recent collection of poems, Heterotopia, won the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and was published in 2010. In her research she is especially interested in the various ways poets connect with each other and with audiences: through reading series, online groups, workshops in and beyond universities, and many other mechanisms. As a scholar she has also written about poetry in performance and women’s poetry, with an emphasis on U.S. traditions. Her blog “The Cave, The Hive: Poetry and Community” tracks this work in progress (http://thecavethehive.wordpress.com/).
Come along and make the cafe bulge at the seams, and the windows steam up with the condensation of a happy crowd.