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Monday, January 14, 2008

What a Party!

The invitation came by email, and read:

Greetings Chums!!!
THIS COMING SUNDAY 13TH January from 5.30 PM you are invited to
daevid's 70TH BREATHDAY PARTY Party at EWINGSDALE HALL turn right immediately (approx 50 metres after the exit roundabout) once you have turned off towards BYRON BAY from Pacific Hwy coming from the north.
There will be yum vegie food for sale but bring: intoxicants, YOUR POETRY(for the poets open mike from 5.30-6.30 and in between acts) songs, drawings, brilliant ideas, crazy costumes, instruments, & a pal or two and kids if you like!
The line up:
5.30 poets open mike
6.30 the molotov with stefanie petrik
7.30 Kirtan & acoustic songs
8.30 Trypswych (Sound Art )
9.30 Vashuda & friends
10.30 GONG 70.
This means 1970's gong set played for the first time live in Oz with ORLANDO FURIO drums GREG (Hunter.S.Thompson 2) bass DAEVID EL ALIEN guitar GILLI SMYTH: chaoswhisper MICROCOSMIQUE additional surprise soloists. YASSS!!!
MC'd by Willie of the Zinnias!!!
Hope you can make it rain or shine!!
HUGE hugs!! LUV Y'all!!
daevid & tribes

Let me translate a little. I met Daevid Allen in 2005 through Thom the World Poet, I met Mick
("Microcosmique") last year through his wife Parvati, and knew Gilli Smyth back in Melbourne days when we were both around the poetry scene in the eighties. She was working with Daevid back then too, but I didn't get to meet him at that stage. They are wild and wonderful performance poets and "space-age rock" musicians. Daevid is part clown, part elf: sweet, clever, funny and irreverent. His energy would be amazing in anyone, let alone a man just turning 70.

I threw on my purple Goddess gown, grabbed my latest book of poems, some intoxicants of the alcoholic variety, my husband Andrew and a couple of pals, Raeline and Dan who are visiting Australia at present. Raeline's an old friend, an Aussie who's been living overseas for 12 years but gets back here now and then. This is the first time here for Dan, who lives in the Florida Keys. So far he's seen Melbourne, Sydney, and a rather wet and dreary northern New South Wales, where he did at least manage some surfing at Byron Bay a few days ago.

'Love your frock,' said a woman in jeans behind me, when we stopped to raid the ATM.

The Goddess gown

We got a bit lost on the way to the party – which allowed us all, and Dan in particular, to observe the stunningly beautiful scenery in the Byron hinterland. When we arrived, Daevid greeted us with warm hugs and shouts of, 'Hello darling, I'm so glad you could come!' Other poets I knew came up to kiss me too and tell me how good I looked. (The Dress is always a winner!) And then I couldn't wait to find Stefanie.

She's been my friend on MySpace for a while, and wrote my favourite celebratory poem about our recent Federal election. And she's off to Austin soon for the April poetry festivals, like me a couple of years ago and Bob Mud last year (he's going again this year too). Great to meet each other in person, and she promptly put me down for the open mike she was organising. Then she opened the proceedings herself with a rip-roaring number about 'Maracca Man'.

'Who's the man in the hat?' I whispered to her during the subsequent performances.
'Archie, from Nimbin,' she whispered back. I knew it! Another MySpace poet friend I was about to meet in person; great! But before that could happen, Mick (yes, the muso – also sound and lighting engineer) came and snuck me away to give him a Reiki treatment. His house was in the recent floods in Murwillumbah; the water came up to his chest and a lot of stuff was ruined, including his equipment for gigs. He was pretty stressed.

Stefanie put me on last to accommodate the Reiki, but I got back in time to hear a number of other performers, including Ghost Boy – yet another MySpace connection – who delighted us with a poem to "Your Anus".
I did two birthday poems in honour of the occasion, although not written for the occasion. Thom had sent through two by email that morning, which were written for it – one of which you can now find on the Gong website (click on News in the sidebar) – and I thought, 'I bet he wants someone to read them'. But I looked at them and saw they relied on a lot of shared history with Daevid so I didn't think I could do them justice. Instead I did these:

Birthday Poems

These two poems, Rosemary and Magic, were written in 1984 when I invited Carmel Bird to my birthday party. She recalled the time when we were children in Tasmania, and she came to my party.



If I come to your party
Will there be a cake
With green jelly
Dark green jelly
Deep pool jelly
For the frogs?
Shall we go into the summerhouse
Underneath the willow
Our smiles revealing
The gaps between our teeth?
Will the butterfly cakes
Filled with the red jelly
And the cream
Leave icing sugar dustings
On our noses?
Are we going to look
For a fairy ring?

Or has there been some alteration to the plans?

© Carmel Bird 1984

When poets have events, they tend to do it with poetry. Some time earlier, Carmel and I had been in the entourage for Melbourne poet Ken Smeaton's wedding to Marita, and recited poems onstage. I refer to that in my reply to Carmel:


For Carmel

Behind the summerhouse
under the willow,
do you remember
there was a swing?

I used to drift,
leaning against the ropes,
toes ruffling the dirt,
watching the sky through leaves.
I trailed the stems’ transparent green
around my hair and fingers.

I’ve read somewhere
that willow casts a spell:
it turns us into poets.

When you came to play
on my birthday,
did you sit in the swing?
I know you went into the summerhouse.
You must have gazed hard
at the sky through slats
and up, through curtaining fronds.

Now, when we play on stages,
it’s not for elocution, not for school.
This power, these words, are ours.

Last week, you wore white frills
and flowers in your hair.
I was dressed in glitter.
There were balloons.
We showered our audience
with rose-petals, lollies….

You ask,
if you come to my birthday this year
will there be magic?

first published Women’s Studies Journal Vol. 1, Nos. 4 & 5, Special Section on Celebration. Also published in my Secret Leopard: Selected Poems 1974-2005. Paris, Alyscamps, 2005.)

It was particularly appropriate as, in their youth, Daevid and Gilli were proteg├ęs of Robert Graves, in whose book The White Goddess I read about that property of willow.

Raeline urged me to recite my C**t poem. When some other readers came back for a second go, I asked if I could have an encore too, and Stef obligingly announced me again. It brought the house down as always, and Ghost Boy told me afterwards he thought it was an excellent response to his Anus poem. Some of the women thanked me for it, and when I finally introduced myself to Archie he told me I'd stolen the show.

Love it, love it, love it! I'm such a ham, when I actually get to do any performing I wonder why I don't make the effort to attend spoken poetry events much more often.

And then the real show started. There were some stupendous women musicians as support acts – Mohini who sings in the Beach Hotel at Byron Bay, Yashuda who is also a well-known local performance poet – and finally we heard Daevid, Gilli and crew. Their music was psychedelic and wonderful. I'd never attended a Gong concert before. I joined the swaying throng in front of the stage. Quite an experience – an alteration of the senses for sure.

"Imagine if you were stoned!" I whispered to Raeline. It was such a buzz even without that.

Driving home, I told Dan he hadn't done too badly: "You surfed at Byron, and now you've attended a hippie party and heard a Reiki Master recite obscene verse!" But he was studying an interesting car we passed, and I don't think he heard.


  1. I love your 'Goddess gown'. I'm thinking every woman should have one. And the poems, I loved them too!

  2. Thanks, dear Pomgirl! Glad you enjoyed.

    The gowns are made by my friend Marieah at - but her website is under reconstruction. I hope it will be back up soon. She calls them "wearable art" and they have indeed been displayed in art galleries.