Perth Poetry Festival Finale
Poets Are The Best People

Perth Poetry Festival Workshops

PPF 2023 Poetry Workshops

While I was in Perth for the Perth Poetry Festival 2023, I attended every workshop that was being held while I was there as well as teaching my own workshop, Beyond Words, a Liminal Spaces workshop.

Western Australian poet and spoken word artist, Scott-Patrick Mitchell, summed up it nicely when they said that attending workshops is an integral part of their poetry practice. Mine too, SPM, mine too! Being in a room with other people, all writing our own pieces to prompts provided by the facilitator is heady stuff indeed. I find it so inspiring. Not just the content provided by the facilitator but also hearing the poems written by the other people attending the workshops. There's a real synergy that happens when people get together to create something new, even if they are working independently.

The first workshop I attended for the festival was Healing Through the Power of Poetry with Samantha Melia. It was held at the WA Poets Inc office on the third floor of the fabulously rickety and run down Bon Marché Arcade on Barrack Street in Perth's CBD. Samantha is a psychotherapist and poet with a fast wit and so many interesting stories. As well as writing poetry, I learnt so many useful tips for doing with stress and trauma.

Later that afternoon Arianne True, the Poet Laureate of Washington State, shared Hermit Crab Forms in Poetry with us all. The previous evening after I performed at the Gala, Arianne had complemented me on my Recipe for A Poem which apparently was a hermit crab form. I was very confused about that comment until I attended her workshop and discovered that a hermit crab form is one that takes on the shell of something else, like a recipe, to protect itself.

On Saturday afternoon I was at the Centre for Stories to learn about the Poetry of Human Suffering and Politics with Juan Garrido-Salgado. He told us about his life, growing up in Chile under the brutal regime of Pinochet and being inprisoned and tortured. We were invited to write a poem of protest and then ended with the group taking it in turns to read a poem by Pablo Neruda. Juan and his friends had travelled around Chile, performing this poem when they were students.

Sunday saw me up early again. This time it was to attend the Dramatis Personae workshop with Caitlin Maling. We looked at the origin of personna which literally meant mask in Ancient Greek and represented the masks worn by actors when they were performing. I really enjoyed leaning into myth and trying to bring to life a story about a historical woman my father told me last year when we were in Sri Lanka.

The last workshop I attended for the festival was Inherited Treasure with Jean Kent. Jean started us off with a metaphor warm-up to get our writing muscles in prime form. She then read us one of her poems and handed out little boxes filled with intriguing objects. After selecting an object, we were invited to write a poem using our emotional response to that object as well as a detailed physical description of it.

So many prompts and poems and people crammed into the space of a long weekend! I have to admit that by the end I was flagging. Five workshops in three days was a huge ask. Especially since it's been a long time since I was a full time student! But I gained so much from all the workshops that it was well worth the effort. A huge thanks to WA Poets Inc for curating such a wonderful range of workshops!