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