'La Poetica' Performance Review

La Mama reopen's with it's latest live poetry reading, 'La Poetica'. Images courtesy of La Mama.

It has been a tough year for those in the creative arts, so it feels fantastic to enjoy live theatre again with La Mama opening its doors and staging its first live La Mama Poetica since lockdown in March.

In a year when new experiences have become common place, as we have all adjusted to what is now known as the “new normal”, it is the first time that I have attended a live poetry reading. So, this is yet another “first” for me and one that made me realise and appreciate the wonderful world of Australian poetry and its world-recognised poets featured in this latest La Mama Poetica, showcasing the works of Ali Alizadeh, Anne M Carson, Peter Bakowski and Thuy On.

Curated by Amanda Anastasi, the La Mama Poetica series have been presented every five weeks since 1967 and even continued online during lockdown. First on the bill was Thuy On, a newcomer to the world of poetry with her first collection of poetry Turbulence published in 2020. Her poetry is sharply reflective and based on personal experiences of separation and loss, as well as desire and rejection and describes their impact on the disorderly world of human relationships. A taut and gripping yet sometimes humous reading, however very softly spoken (and hearing her over the air conditioners whirr was problematical), a microphone could overcome this problem for future readings.

Ali Alizadeh with his eerily prophetic work Towards the End, presents us with a dystopic world and reflects disillusionment with the ideals of capitalism and our socio-political systems. The poem ponders their disintegration, however through reflection on his own life - and maybe a belief in the good in humanity - Ali steers us to envisage a better contemporary world, rejuvenated through resistance and revolution.

Pictured (left to right): The four live readers for La Poetica - Thuy On, Ali Alizadeh, Anne Carson and Peter Bakowski.

Anne M Carson’s poems also focus on the good in a society where human culture strives to overcome adversity in all its forms. Beautifully and intricately embodied through her poetic description of our extraordinary biodiversity, that often contrasts beauty with harsh reality, her poetic style has been described as the “art of attentive inspiration”. Anne’s poetry draws an intricate picture of an ecosystem abounding with animals, birds, trees, rivers and its impact on the human spirit.

Peter Bakowski has seven solo full-length poetry collections (and could be regarded as a Peoples’ Poet) who revels in taking his poetry into the community. He is noted for his poetry road trips travelling thousands of kilometres to give poetry readings to those living in regional Australia. His clear, concise, and accessible writings resonate effortlessly with his diverse audience and have been translated into seven languages. His poetry readings truly embrace the spirit of Horace’s Ars Poetica and the importance of delighting and instructing audiences.

This is one show to look forward to with the upcoming 5-week cycles of La Mama Poetic in 2021 and experience first-hand poetry readings from Australia’s established and emerging poets!

Rating: 4/5


Dates: Tuesday 15 December 2020

Location: La Mama Courthouse - 349 Drummond Street, Carlton 3053

Time: 7.30pm

Duration: 120 minutes

Prices: $15 Full Price; $10 Concession

LaMama Website

Special Notes: To ensure the comfort and safety of our audiences, artists and staff we have put together a COVID-Safe plan.