Red Dirt Poetry Festival 2020 logo

The Red Dirt Poetry Festival 2020 is going digital!

We’re creating a live, interactive, immersive experience with carefully curated events, workshops, performances, showcases and competitions.

Keep an eye on our website for updates and changes as we navigate this new space for our festival going live on the 30th of July 2020.

Check out previous years’ programs here: 2014 | 2016 | 2018

Latest News

Red Dirt X Yellow Peril: Andrew Cox

July 31st, 2020|

Andrew Cox is a proud Filipino/Australian, based on the Central Coast of NSW. 2018 saw the release of The Space Between the Words, Andrew’s first collection of writing, and making his mark as an important voice for Spoken Word in Sydney. A regional APS champion and state finalist, his poetry has taken him to stages the likes of Sydney Town Hall & Parliament House, Canberra. He has been a featured act for Sydney Writers Festival & Sydney Contemporary Art Fair. With a desire to see people experience the power of poetry and engage deeply, Andrew’s live performances are memorable for intensity, honesty and abstract storytelling.

Here, he talks with Peril Chair, Eleanor Jackson, about his work, 500 Native Tongues, for Red Dirt Poetry Festival, which speculates about the role of the migrant in the colonial experiment of “Australia”.

Originally published by Peril.

Andrew Cox is a proud Filipino/Australian, based on the Central Coast of NSW. 2018 saw the release of The Space Between the Words, Andrew’s first collection of writing, and making his mark as an important voice for Spoken Word in Sydney. A regional APS champion and state finalist, his poetry has taken him to stages the likes of – Sydney Town Hall & Parliament House, Canberra. He has been a featured act for Sydney Writers Festival & Sydney Contemporary Art Fair. With a desire to see people experience the power of poetry and engage deeply, Andrew’s live performances are memorable for intensity, honesty and abstract storytelling.

Red Dirt X Yellow Peril: Deborah Emmanuel

July 30th, 2020|

Deborah Emmanuel is a Singaporean poet, performer and professional speaker. As a slam poet, she has won in Singapore, Germany and Australia. Her work has been privileged to be at the Barcelona International Poetry Festival, Q Berlin Questions and TEDx Singapore, and she has been invited as a resident to esteemed places like The Watermill Centre in NY and Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Deborah has written When I Giggle In My Sleep (2015), Rebel Rites (2016)and Genesis Visual Poetry Collection (2018). When not writing or performing poetry, she makes music with Mantravine, Wobology and Kiat, teaches workshops, paints/illustrates, devises independent theatre and travels to other dimensions.

Here, Deborah speaks with Peril’s Chair, Eleanor Jackson, about her work Unidentified Object, which grapples with her sense of place and placement and experiences of the particular in-between-ness that is a hallmark of Singaporean identities.

Originally published by Peril.

Deborah Emmanuel is a Singaporean poet, performer and professional speaker. As a slam poet, she has won in Singapore, Germany and Australia. Her work has been privileged to be at the Barcelona International Poetry Festival, Q Berlin Questions and TEDx Singapore, and she has been invited as a resident to esteemed places like The Watermill Centre in NY and Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Deborah has written When I Giggle In My Sleep (2015), Rebel Rites (2016)and Genesis Visual Poetry Collection (2018). When not writing or performing poetry, she makes music with Mantravine, Wobology and Kiat, teaches workshops, paints/illustrates, devises independent theatre and travels to other dimensions.

Red Dirt X Yellow Peril: Shu-Ling Chua

July 29th, 2020|

Shu-Ling Chua is an essayist, critic and poet. Her work focusses on femininity, self-narrative(s) and image and has appeared in Meanjin, Triangle House Review, Rabbit, Sine Theta and elsewhere. Her current writing obsessions include fashion, lineage, memory, glamour, pop songs and old Chinese singer-actresses. She writes with the aim of making at least one person feel less alone.

Shu-Ling sits on the board of Peril Magazine and has completed writing residencies at the Wheeler Centre and KSP Writers’ Centre. She was shortlisted in the 2018 Woollahra Digital Literary Award and highly commended in the 2017 Feminartsy Memoir Prize.

Here, Shu-Ling talks with Peril Chair, Eleanor Jackson, about her work, Commute, as a part of a collaborative series of interviews for Red Dirt Poetry Festival. Compressed and elegant, Commute, takes note of the habit and ritual of the daily journeys to work we all once took for granted. You can follow Shu-Ling on Twitter @hellopollyanna.

Originally published by Peril.

Shu-Ling Chua is an essayist, critic and poet. Her work focusses on femininity, self-narrative(s) and image and has appeared in Meanjin, Triangle House Review, Rabbit, Sine Theta and elsewhere. Her current writing obsessions include fashion, lineage, memory, glamour, pop songs and old Chinese singer-actresses. She writes with the aim of making at least one person feel less alone.

Red Dirt X Yellow Peril: Joel Ma / Joelistics

July 28th, 2020|

Rapper, writer, actor, artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Joel Ma is recognised as a unique voice in the Australia music scene. Founder of the seminal alt-rap group TZU, after four successful albums, he embarked on a solo career under the moniker Joelistics that opened up a new lane in Australian hip hop.

In 2014, co-wrote and performed in the theatre show, In Between Two, which has toured extensively across Australia. In addition, as a producer and co-writer, he has worked with internationally acclaimed artists such as Haiku Hands and Mojo Juju and he continues to experiment with long form musical works under Film School Collective and The Yellow Peril Symphony.

Here, he talks with Peril Chair, Eleanor Jackson, about his work, Nostromo, as a part of a collaborative series of interviews for Red Dirt Poetry Festival.

Released in 2014 on the Blue Volume, Nostromo is a deeply personal account of loss and memory. Acoustic versions of the track can be found in three parts, here, here and here.

Please note, this interview contains some coarse language and discussion of mental health, drug use and suicide.

Originally published by Peril.

Rapper, writer, actor, artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Joel Ma is recognised as a unique voice in the Australia music scene. Founder of the seminal alt-rap group TZU, after four successful albums, he embarked on a solo career under the moniker Joelistics that opened up a new lane in Australian hip hop.

In 2014, co-wrote and performed in the theatre show, In Between Two, which has toured extensively across Australia. In addition, as a producer and co-writer, he has worked with internationally acclaimed artists such as Haiku Hands and Mojo Juju and he continues to experiment with long form musical works under Film School Collective and The Yellow Peril Symphony.

Red Dirt X Yellow Peril: Haneen Martin

July 27th, 2020|

Haneen Martin is an artist and writer based in the Northern Territory. Haneen’s work is a deeper exploration of what it means to be an outspoken woman of colour in Australia, ranging from existing between multiple worlds, negotiating pride in her culture while recognising and examining the higher standards we hold ourselves to in order to be accepted in our day-to-day lives.

For our collaborative series with Peril Magazine, Haneen made time to talk with Peril Chair, Eleanor Jackson, about her work, Hair Unruly. Structured in three parts, Hair Unruly, considers quotidian, familiar rituals with a careful, loving observance.

Haneen also features in a solo exhibition for Red Dirt called Rindu, starting on July 30.

Originally published by Peril.

Hair Unruly

Hair unruly, yet immaculately presentable like the restless house I was raised in. My uncle spent hours upon hours detangling, washing, conditioning, combing, treating and plaiting my hair. It was an exercise as tedious and painful as when he taught me how to tell the time, and as my impatience grew, I could tell how much time had passed.

Detangling: standing in the shower of comforting warmth. Cold water is relative, hot water is temperamental and usually scalding when it appears. It takes minutes for the water to soak through my hair. It is long and thick and reaches my rear, a symbol of pride and beauty in my family I think.

Well, I never thought so until I wanted to lop it off and my grandmother demanded the hairdresser return it to her in plastic bags. These bags, probably disintegrating in the humidity, definitely filled with secrets and stories locked within the dead cells of my hair from things I probably witnessed but was too young to understand or process. I think these haunt my grandmother’s house along with her spirit. Hair, like clothing, like skin, absorbs scents and sentimentality, it definitely keeps secrets too.

The hair is finally soaked through and I help my uncle spray Johnsons & Johnsons Doremon detangler through this black mat while he gently but firmly combs through the knots, usually yanking my head every time he was successful.

Washing: finally free of my daily trauma, my hair is ready to be washed. It threatens to re-tangle itself in the process and my uncle is patient, methodical. He breathes and I breathe too. I love the smells that are surrounding me and I feel beautiful in this moment. There is care and effort placed upon my hair that some people don’t receive themselves in their lifetime.

Maybe my hair has befriended my grandmother’s detachable buns in the decades that have passed. Maybe they have shared stories, experiences and wisdom. Maybe they’ve registered so much more than we know we’ve even experienced and they’ve been screaming out for us to listen. Maybe if we paid attention, things would have been different.

Combing: Again, after washing. I hate this part. My hair is being yanked every which way and there are tears in my eyes. My uncle soothes me while I hear my mum and grandmother in the next room and I am craning my neck around the corner to see how they are dressed. Immaculately. My mother in gold and emerald, the colours I have always associated her with. The colours that stop people in their tracks when they see her. As I got older, she’d tell me she’s always been plain. I have never understood. My grandmother, pearls and blue. Calming yet ferocious like the sea. She has never been plain. My hair is down to my butt and I’m wriggling to get away.

Treating: Coconut oil to calm the frizz. Settle my soul and make me sleepy yet I am in awe every night they leave the house. In my curls, trapped in the oil, are whispers of beauty, whispers of power, and of how when you capture the two and find the balance the way my mother and grandmother have, that you can overcome anything. I hope these whispers resurface when I need them the most.

Plaiting: Tedious. I am simultaneously ready for bed but I also want to follow these women out into the darkness of night, from function to function. Watch them captivate everyone the way I get to see every other evening.

By the time we have emerged from the bathroom I am soothed, my hair in two plaits either side of my head and swinging with the slightest movement from the weight behind them. We enter into a flurry of my grandmother adjusting her hair with such finesse while my grandfather dotes over her by zipping her baju kurung and adjusting the silk to sit just so. My own mother in the next room attending to her own make-up, brushes her hair behind her ear so she can focus more clearly.

They both have gigantic matching mirrors, elaborate and ridiculous if not for the significance of their collective beauty and the power it gathers.

The scent of their perfumes fills the entire house, lingering for hours and soothes me to sleep.

There is a flurry of activity at my grandmother’s house and Malay soap operas blaring from a small, square television screen. There are women sat on the kitchen floor weaving coconut palm leaves into diamond-shaped vessels to pour uncooked rice to create ketupat, a process so labour intensive it only occurs once or twice a year. There are no men to be seen, they have been sent away to run last minute errands. They won’t be allowed to appear again until the food is ready tomorrow.

We would visit my Nek Chor (literal translation: Big Grandmother), the oldest of my grandmother’s siblings on the first day of Eid, who had the most incredible house and the best food of the entire family.

I’d often sneak to the kitchen to observe organised chaos. On offer was multiple types of rendang, lemang (glutinous rice cooked in hollow bamboo), ketupat palas (compressed glutinous rice cooked in woven fan palm), nasi impit, peanut sauce, dendeng (dry fried beef in chilli and onion sauce), serunding (spiced, dried shredded coconut and beef) as well as an array of traditional Malay and European kueh (cakes).

No men were allowed here until it was time to eat. Nek Chor’s maid would coo at me in Malay about my face shape and my weight before returning me to my grandmothers.

Back at my grandmother’s house – afternoon tea in the Blue Room, so named for the blue carpeting, reserved for guests and very serious conversations muffled through the glass sliding door, secrets and agreements swallowed by the portraits of my grandparents which overlooked the room, absorbed by elaborate Chinese vases and pewter tea sets. Nothing commanded attention and respect faster than her food. Around the corner, the women are still there with Malay soap operas still blaring. No men in sight.

2020 Artist Announcement #3

July 25th, 2020|

Third and final artist announcement is here!

The festival kicks off in less than a week, so keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the program announcement and event drops!

2020 Artist Announcement #2

July 21st, 2020|

Second artist announcement is now officially out!

Check out the artists listed here as they are putting the finishing touches on their exciting works for the upcoming poetry festival!

Australian Poetry Slam – NT Heats Now Open

July 20th, 2020|

Australian Poetry Slam heats for Alice Springs and Darwin are now open!

This years’ Slam heats will be held in closed studios and streamed live on Facebook.

Click through to the events for more information.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs event sign-up
Facebook event

Darwin

Darwin event sign-up
Facebook event

2020 Artist Announcement #1

July 18th, 2020|

We’re excited to bring you the first artist announcement for the Red Dirt Poetry Festival!

With more to come keep your eye on our Facebook page for more announcements as we get ready to bring you Red Dirt Poetry Festival Digital!

As part of this year’s digital festival you can expect to see innovative and exciting work from the following artists: