Vasudha Harte has performed her poetry locally and overseas in venues and festivals, winning various slams, the Geraldine Bigelow Cup, and has thrice been a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup. She is launching her first book of poetry You near verse, a selection of works from the last few years.
Vasudha, tell me about how you came to write poetry?
I was about 19 and sitting at a tram stop in the Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne late at night and the guy next to me asked if I was looking glum because of a bloke. Indeed I was, as I had just found out my ‘boyfriend’ already had a girlfriend.
This random stranger told me not to worry, because one of these days he’s gonna die. I thought that was great so I went home and wrote a poem about it and many years later turned it into a song.
Do you think it informs your work as a musician?
Poetry and music are very intertwined. I often turn a poem into a musical piece (like Tom’s Waitress, so that I can give it more of an airing than a poem would ever get, and because it’s fun. Sometimes I’ll recite lyrics to a song I wrote at a poetry gig. I love rhyme and rap and enjoy experimenting with those elements in both music and poetry.
It’s an interesting question and I think it’s true the other way around… I like writing poetry about music: The Music of Cuba, Alan Browne at Bennett’s Lane.
What are the subjects that you tackle in poetry?
Anything really: from the personal to the universal. Sometimes I look through what I’ve written and am taken aback at how controversial or confronting the subject matter can be! Nudity, social justice, politics, women’s stuff, indigenous issues, the environment, local culture, and of course love. Poetry allows for deep exploration of a feeling or subject and provides permission to be outspoken or cheeky.
What do you love about poetry as an art form?
I love the sharing of it, which always feels so intimate and real, both as a poet and a listener/reader.
How did it feel seeing your work nestled together in a book?
Nestled: that’s a sweet word. Yes they’re all nestled in there together keeping each other company. Given a new life out of the decaying scribbled scrapbooks and released from the faceless computer. I love that they’re wrapped up in my dear friend Kellie O’Dempsey’s artwork; thanks to her it looks gorgeous. The front cover is a painting she did while lounging on my verandah as I played my grandmother’s piano in my shack in the hills many moons ago.
Now there’s a poem…
Special guest poets will read from Vasudha’s new book, including Gina Lakosta, David Allen, Tanya Delys Mandorla and Christine Strelan. Bring your poems or just your listening ears to Pizza Paradiso at Suffolk Park for what is sure to be a memorable
night this Wednesday from 7pm.