The Adelaide Fringe season is well and truly here, bombarding us with a wide selection of shows including performances of comedy and cabaret.
However, for you poetryfiends out there, I’ve got you covered as I sat down with Floral Peroxide’s, Alison Paradoxx, to discuss her fringe show centred around performance poetry.
She talks about what inspired her to create this show, the challenges of living with deformity and the cathartic nature of performance poetry.
You can listen to a snapshot of Alison’s interview below.
[ME] How did you first discover poetry and when did you begin writing?
[ALISON PARADOXX] Well, my whole life I’ve always been a writer/reader. As a child, obviously with all the hospitalisation and surgeries, I spent a lot of time on my own. Fortunately for me, I was one of those kids that loved reading and creating stories in my head. So it didn’t bother me that much. And I always wanted to write but you go through life with various things happening to you and you just end up going through various jobs and finding yourself in jobs that you never envisioned as a career.
Eventually, in 2014, I was offered a job with BeyondBlue, and for some reason it didn’t feel right and I couldn’t work out why. I went up to my parents for dinner one night and we were talking about this opportunity and I just burst into tears which is unlike me. And my dad asked, “what’s wrong Al?” and I said, “I don’t think I want to do this job,” and he asked, “well what do you want to do?” and I said, “I just want to write.” And he said “you know what, you’ve always wanted to be a writer, it’s what you feel and you should just do it.” Up until that point I felt that I was letting my parents down and this job was to show them that I could be somebody but then I realised that they didn’t really care about any of that, all they wanted was for me to be happy.
So I started studying at the Adelaide College of the Arts, I was doing a Professional Writing Advanced Diploma, but half way through my second year we got to choose electives and I always thought I would be a dark humour writer and one of the electives was poetry and I thought I don’t know anything about poetry, I don’t understand it, I have no idea what makes a good poem, what makes a bad poem. I never studied any poetry at school, so I thought I want to challenge myself, I want to do this, I’m probably going to completely bomb out, but that’s okay, I just want to learn what this poetry thing is about.
It so happened to be the thing I could do which was really surprising for me. My lecturer at the time prompted me to go to some Open Mics, so I started doing that and I did a couple and the Australian Poetry Slam was coming around, so I thought I’m going to enter a heat just to get the experience, so I entered my heat and I won my heat and I honestly could not believe it, I think I was bawling my eyes out. So I went to the final and won the final and two weeks later I was standing on the stage at the Sydney Opera House just completely beside myself, like how the hell did I get here?!
It was what launched me to go, this is my thing now.
[ME] So who are some artists/poets that have inspired you?
[ALISON PARADOXX] Definitely, David Bowie, hence the [lightning bolt] tattoo on my neck. Huge fan of David Bowie, I consider him a poet, I consider him an all-round artist in every sense.
And of course, Leonard Cohen, an all-round poet and musician.
Poetry wise, Sylvia Plath, a huge fan of Sylvia Plath obviously because of the familiar territory she crosses in her work and the power she conveys.
Also, with the multimedia approach that I’m taking with my performance art now, people like Laurie Anderson and Alison XYZ and spoken word artists that incorporate electronic music and other elements into their performance work.
[ME] What advice would you give to upcoming artists/poets especially those that are considered ‘disabled’ or ‘broken’ in traditional society?
[ALISON PARADOXX] I would encourage anyone who feels that they have something they want to say, to say it! I would also encourage people in general if they want to get their words out there to go and experience as many types of poetry and spoken word as they can. Writing as much as you can, taking workshops and studying because you can be the greatest performer on a mic but if you don’t know how to write those words it’s always going to come across as a half-performed act. So, there’s always value in learning the boring skills behind poetry.
[ME] Is there anything else you would like to add?
[ALISON PARADOXX] If you are a disabled artist, Access 2 Arts, are just phenomenal, the workshops I’ve done with them and the way that they have supported my work has been incredible. I have learnt so much from them and I think in making this show, I wanted to make a show that was accessible to the deaf and hearing-impaired community because why would you go see spoken word if you couldn’t hear anything, there’s no point. There’s a whole sector of the community being cut out here, so I wanted to do a show that had either AUSLAN or video captions. We had video captions in the end.
And as always, if you liked this post or have any feedback for me, I’d love to hear from you.