Angry Ma’am at Slam

The ebullient Nigel Ford organised, for the second year, the excellent Goolwa Cup Poetry Slam last Sunday. There was a great turnout, a fantastic workshop by Robin ‘Archie’ Archbold and some top class performances in the slam.

I didn’t prepare anything special for the competition, but decided to take advantage of a large, captive audience, and to read my ‘adaptation’ of Billy Collins’s “Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes”. My version is called “Taking off Tony Abbott’s Clothes”.

I’ve performed this piece three or four times in Adelaide, and it has been well received. The audience cringes, and laughs uncomfortably and then picks up the political message of the poem. Goolwa (a lovely river / coastal town about 90kms south of Adelaide), however, is a different demographic – older, more conservative, in fact a Liberal (that’s Australian Conservative) stronghold.

So I should have foreseen that it might not be quite as receptive an audience, and should have known that conservatives tend (broad generalisation I know) not to have a great sense of humour.

At half time in the slam, I was confronted by an irate, older woman, and had the following exchange:

“That was truly disgusting” she says.

“Why thank you” I say (thinking that she was being complimentary!)

“We’re not all lefties down here” she says

“Clearly not” I say

“It’s disrespectful to the office of the Prime Minister” she says

“Not my Prime Minister” I say

 “I’m glad it got through to you” I say

“No it didn’t” she says

“Clearly it did” I say.

Woman storms off, dragging her adult son with her, muttering all the way out the door, and does not return for the second half.

I await her letter to the Victor Harbor Times, and her complaint to the Alexandrina Council. As a friend of mine said, “You haven’t made it as a poet until someone’s reported you to the local council.”

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014

13 thoughts on “Angry Ma’am at Slam

  1. Bahahahah….this is gold. SOOOO wish I could have been there to witness that exchange. I knew I’d made it when i did one of spicier poems at a fairly conservative reading group and was declared on social media to be disgusting and inappropriate. “Yes”, I thought. “You rang?” Nice one Mike.

  2. Actually, like it or not he is your Prime Minister! On a serious note, and to state the obvious, one of the primary roles of poetry is to provoke, whether subtly or with a sledgehammer. So, where’s the problem?

    • Absolutely David. Poetry is not up to much if it’s not either weird or provocative, in my view. And despite what you say, I definitely do not regard him as my P.M. He does not represent me in any way. My Irish passport is close to hand 😉

  3. Good morning young Mike, I see you have upset the natives of Goolwa – well done you I say. You know I am working in Local Govt Relations here and so may get to hear about irate letters in the local press ha ha.

    More importantly, I have not read your ‘Taking off Tony Abbott’s Clothes’ – Where would that be in the archives?

    Has the house gone through settlement yet and all that separation stuff over – it must be close. What other escapades are you up to? I do like the stories of your relaxed life but mine is too relaxed to the point of mind numbing boredom. Have an interview in 2 weeks so send out all positive thoughts for me.

    Be good.

  4. Great to hear you’ve made it, Mike! As for that piece, well, I think the horrendous visual of Tony Abbott has completely eclipsed the delicate Emily Dickinson imagining! xo

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