Catch the podcast below, including some intimate live recordings of Laurie’s recent works or have a geez at the written interview below
CORINNE: What is The Dirty Word?
LAURIE MAY: Well, The Dirty Word is an open mic spoken word and poetry evening for local people, Alice Springians, Alice Sprungans and anyone visiting if they wanna come along to get together and share their work, listen to other work. Basically, what we wanted to do was provide a platform for local performers to get more skills and more comfortable in being in front of large audiences
CORINNE: And can you tell us about your personal projects Laurie?
LAURIE: Yeah.. I’m a local spoken word artist, poet, performance poet, writer of all kinds of jibberish. Last year I represented Central Australia in The National Poetry Slam Finals in Sydney, made it to the final round, and placed in the top five, scoring in third – so not too bad for someone from Central Australia. We have a long history of really good poets performing at national level, so I was really happy to make it there, and came back here and I’ve just been trying to increase the reputation of poetry and get more spoken word happening throughout the centre
CORINNE: Can you tell us about the residency you’ve been undertaking?
LAURIE: At the moment I am the Australian Poetry’s Poet in Residence as part of The Café Poet Program for Australian Poetry, which is a national organisation. So I am at Page 27, which is an amazing café in town and I have spent quite a few lunch hours there, in particular Saturdays, for quite a long time, writing my own poetry and reading over other people’s work. If anyone wants someone to look over their own poems and give some advice or just have a read of it, I’m definitely available for anyone who’s willing to come in… just trying to give the café a little bit more poetry, so if you’ve been there you’ll notice the salt and pepper shakers and the little zine and some other things around there.
CORINNE: And part of that residency is a video anthology you’re working on?
LAURIE: Yeah, the video anthology is a project I’m putting together filming local and visiting poets reading some of their works and talking a little about poetry in general and putting that together in a nice little video…In the first week, I think of September, I will be airing that and people can come along and watch the video and see some amazing live performers. There should be some, I’m hoping, big names there from around the country
CORINNE: What kind of performances we can expect at The Dirty Word?
LAURIE: Well, The Dirty Word is such an amazing place, it’s becoming a little bit of an institution and I’m certainly really enjoying how it’s gone down. We started in February of 2013 and the last Thursday of every month we get together at the Totem Theatre and we’ve got bush poetry, we’ve got feminist poetry, we’ve got a lot of slam style poetry coming out, we even have some improvised pieces that come along. It’s really everything and anything, there’s such a variety and every month is so different, I can’t honestly tell you that it’s going to be one thing
…I’m hoping one night we’ll just have a night of haikus or something [laughs] but I don’t know what people are going to do…Every month it’s very exciting and I think if you come down one month, you can’t judge it on that night alone, you’ve just got to keep coming, because it’s so different and the performers are always different. There’s never the same people there, except for me, you can usually find me [laughs]
CORINNE: and you have a rotating MC kind of roster going on?
LAURIE: Yeah, well the rotating MC system came about because I didn’t want people to get sick of me every month and I’d probably run out of things to say, if you can believe that, but it’s also about giving different people the opportunity to run an event and to MC an event which is a really important skill to have in any industry – being able to get up in front of people and not just perform your pieces but actually talk to people on that sort of level and that sort of scale… and I think the more months, the more skill I think people are going to gain on stage in that MC role, myself included. If people want to become an MC they can talk to me about it on Facebook, come to me in the café, talk to me on a Thursday night at The Dirty Word itself at Totem Theatre, you know there’s so many various ways to talk to me about it, just come and find me
CORINNE: And what about your experience in Alice Springs? Has that rubbed off in terms of what you’ve been writing lately?
LAURIE: I think, definitely. Alice Springs is such an amazing place. There’s so much inspiration here and moving down from Darwin was probably the best thing I ever did creatively speaking, if I can put it that way, because I’ve just had so much inspiration and there are so many amazing people here and everyone is so nice and I love living here. I think it’s a place that’s very accepting of everyone, and that, I think, comes out a lot in my work.
CORINNE: Any future projects on the radar?
LAURIE: Well, I’m working on a little book at the moment, it’s got a working title, it’s called ‘Under the Line’ and it’s a collection of poems about growing up under the poverty line, skating along it, then slipping under it, then skating along it a bit more and then, eventually, sort of moving over it a little bit and now sort of a working poor but not under the poverty line anymore but hopefully that should be an interesting collection. I’m still working on my Poet Residency at Page 27, that’s gonna to be ongoing for a little bit longer, I hope. As well as the video anthology…Other than that just writing new poetry is very important to me, to keep going and stay busy and stay focused which is hard sometimes when you’ve got work and study and everything else going on, you sort of just want to curl up with a glass of red wine and not do anything but there’s always something happening that I think needs the story told, and hopefully that’s the role of poets and I hope that I can continue to do that
The Dirty Word happens the last Thursday of every month at the Totem Theatre, Alice Springs. Artist sign-ups from 7pm and the show kicks off at a comfortable and casual 8.
The August edition of The Dirty Word will be happening in Tennant Creek as part of the Desert Harmony Festival details of which can be found here
The Dirty Word archives can be accessed here