I was one of a number of people who provided a live ‘voicing’ for the exhibition, which in my case meant thirty minutes of spoken word poetry. Visitors were free to wander in and out during the voicing, as you would an artwork in a gallery.
I’ve performed at spoken word events around Sydney, but never for thirty entire minutes; it was an epic feat! I had to memorise a lot of material, and I had to learn how to ‘read’ an audience within a live setting. I ended up changing my set every time I did a voicing, to keep it feeling fresh and spontaneous.
The best part of the experience was getting past those initial nervous jitters and settling into the performance peacefully and joyfully. When you have thirty minutes to fill, you can’t just race through everything in a bid to ‘get it over with’. You have to pace yourself, take deep breaths, and allow the silences in between the lines and stanzas to ‘speak’ for themselves. I believe that poetry is really just an intricate frame around silence, and for the first time in my life I became comfortable with simply standing before an audience, with stillness and presence.
I am incredibly grateful to the Program Producer David Greenhalgh; thank you for putting Australian poetry in a museum!
Here is a photo of me in action: