Helium by Rudy Francisco REVIEW

Helium by Rudy Francisco REVIEW

Yes I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a review or a blog post for that matter but I’M BACK WITH ANOTHER REVIEW! This time it’s Rudy Francisco’s “Helium.”

I decided to review “Helium” as his use of repetition specifically anaphora, first person and personal stories combined with factual evidence in his work is both confronting, heart-warming and enchanting.

I have selected 6 poems (which are in no particular order) and provided my own interpretation/analysis for each of them.

1. Silence

Pretty self-explanatory. Simply put, Francisco outlines that noise does not always equate to being “seen” as “silence” has its own unique “rumble.”

2. Complainers

There’s a reason why so many people resonate with this one and why this poem made my 10 Sensational Slam Poetry Performances post.

Francisco begins by confronting the reader with raw recounts of personal upheaval experienced by himself and others, juxtaposing these situations with the pragmatic responses of those who experienced them. By doing this, he positions us to reflect on our “bad days” with more optimism. He emphasises through his use of repetition of “tell me” and alliteration of “stole the keys to your smile” that despite the unpleasantness of early rises and daily routine, it’s a blessing and shouldn’t be complained about as it is “so small it can fit on the tips of our tongues.”

“Tragedy and silence often have the exact same address.”

This line stood out for me as Francisco describes that whilst difficult situations can be dealt with pragmatically, they will always be accompanied by tragedy and silence. Here, he personifies these two words highlighting their simultaneous nature.

Francisco ends this piece on a positive note through his use of a simile and alliteration describing that “life is a gym membership with a really complicated cancellation policy.” He demonstrates that although some days are awful and unforgiving, one must continue persevering. This is further reinforced through his use of second person as “you are still alive” and thus must “act like it.”

3. Roulette


For those in the back and the front who don’t believe in climate change, this one’s for you.

Francisco uses a metaphor to describe the limitless nature of water during his youth as “it seemed endless.” This is further reinforced through personification as regardless of “where [they] were”, water “would always come running.” He contrasts the idea of the abundant nature of water with his now shock of its scarcity, through reflecting upon a childhood memory as he had read about “dragons and droughts” but never imagined he would “have to deal with them.” This shock is emphasised through alliteration of the hard ‘d’ constant.

Francisco confronts us with the uncertainty he now feels about the limitless nature of water by personifying the Earth as he wonders “how long it will take the planet to tell us we can’t live here.” He reinforces this idea by juxtaposing the simple pleasures of water and how it ran “through his figures” with the doubt he now harbours as he is unsure whether his “grandkids” will ever “hear [water] splash.”

4. When People Ask How I’m Doing

For those of us who say ‘we’re alright’ and continue through each and every single day just to avoid flooding our emotions onto someone else.

Francisco explores how debilitating his depression can be at times by personifying it as an “angry… jealous God.” He highlights its power through figurative language as it “wrings [his] joy like a dishrag and makes juice of [his] smile.”

However, he refuses to “ruin someone’s day with his tragic honesty” and uses a simile to explain that he combats his depression by treating his face “like a pumpkin.” He “carves it into something acceptable” and musters up an “I’m doing alright.”

5. Rifle II

This poem seamlessly connects guns and toxic masculinity to showcase the beauty that will arise if they are eradicated. Francisco explores the different uses of a gun, highlighting the similar effect they have on people by juxtaposing the ways in which they create these effects as a gun can be used to “take peoples lives” or repurposed into “musical instruments…that puts life back into people’s bodies.”

The second half of this poem deals with how violence equating to masculinity has been ingrained into young boys through his use of of a metaphor as his “bloody knuckles” are his “first piece of artwork…hung on the fridge.” Francisco expresses the confusion he feels for being awarded for his violence through an analogy as he knows he is “passing” but has “no idea what class.” He further reiterates his confusion as men “don’t even know” what the imperative “man up” really means. Francisco realises that violence and masculinity are not connected through a comparison of the heart and the fist as they are both the “same size”, but have “different functions.” He concludes this piece with another powerful comparison explaining how he has learned that the “difference between a garden and a graveyard” is only what is “put in the ground.” Here, he reinforces that destruction can be reversed.

6. Museum

“Museum” explains how vulnerability is unavoidable when being a writer especially a poet and that a spoken-word poet. Francisco emphasises using a metaphor, the limbo a writer dwells in when sharing their work as “patrons” are asked “not touch” but “only half of them respect the signs.” However, he ends this poem on a positive note, explaining that poets and their work stand as a lyrical refuge where one can “walk through” and “leave when they are ready.”

If you liked this review or have any feedback, please let me know!

Also, if you’re interested in purchasing Helium, you can do here.

Local Focus w/ Floral Peroxide’s, Alison Paradoxx [INTERVIEW]

Local Focus w/ Floral Peroxide’s, Alison Paradoxx [INTERVIEW]

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.

5 Blogs to Check Out if You’re into Poetry!

5 Blogs to Check Out if You’re into Poetry!

1. Australian Poetry Organisation

If you live down under or just want to know more about Australian poetry, you have to check out the Australian Poetry Organisation’s website. They give you information about poet residencies, book launches, gigs happening around Australia, reviews, competitions and so much more!

 

2. Poetry Foundation

A Chicago based blog that caters to everyone. The dedicated team at Poetry Foundation have created a website thapoetry foundationt is easy to manoeuvre and provides you with poems to suit kids, teenagers and adults. Not to mention it covers a diverse range of poetry and poetry-related news. It allows you to listen to poems and provides you with a learning station to fully understand the literary techniques used in poems (because let’s face it, who remembers or even knows what anthropomorphism is, I surely don’t!).

3. Eat This Poem

Food and poetry combined. Yes please! Nicole Gulotta’s blog shares her love for poetry and cooking. With each recipe, she provides us with personal anecdotes and pairs it with a fitting poem. Her blog has also been featured in Poetry Foundation and The Guardian.

alex-6728-unsplash

Photograph by Alex on Unsplash

 

4. Button Poetry

button poetryAll about intriguing, contemporary, slam poetry! Yes, Button Poetry, probably one of the most well-known modern poetry organisations, has a blog. The team behind Button Poetry’s blog, provides you with reviews, writing prompts (for aspiring writers), a recap of their most watched poems, essays and even a merchandise store!

 

5. Poets United

For poets, by poets. Poets United is for those poets who have a blog and would like to share their work in an accepting environment with other like-minded writers. The blog doesn’t have a sole owner but works by poets all over the world contributing their time and expertise to run the site.

poets united

 

If you have any poetry blogs that I should check out, please let me know, I would love to hear from you!