Before we wade into the nitty gritty, let me begin by stating my respect for poets; those skilful wordsmiths that delicately weave a tapestry of words and phrases to portray their unique perspective of the world around them. I too, took a stab at poetry, during the days of my undergraduate degree … unsuccessfully. My attempts are still the favourite form of ridicule for many of my friends and family. Long story short – poetry is no small feat.
The Soul Box has been graced with the presence of the powerhouse contenders of the Adelaide poetry scene; Tracey Korsten, Kerryn Tredrea, and Ian Gibbins, accompanied by pianist-songwriter Cindy-Anne Macdonald. The Word Box took the form of a sequence of poems and songs around the theme of the “bitter sweet sounds of love and loss, redemption and revenge”.
The Word Box, simply, was unique. It was a stand-alone of the musical/poetic performances I have attended in my time. Each artist had their own distinctive form for each piece: Gibbins used audio-visual effects and emphatic gesturing to augment his verses, Macdonald composed original songs, and Korsten and Tredrea exposed their raw emotions and experiences on the various themes of the evening.
Macdonald is a talented songwriter and possesses a pristine, virtuous voice. It was unfortunate that a few songs used what sounded like a ‘polyphonic ringtone-esque’ keyboard tone which impaired the mood of those songs. A few songs were also too lengthy. Tredrea’s gritty, enigmatic versing was by the far the standout of the show. She favoured repetitions of phrases but, on occasions, this was used too frequently. Korsten’s natural diction and mastery of prosody and intonation made all stand to attention in the venue. Gibbins’ use of gesture was brilliant and perfectly encapsulated the mood of his writing.
Suffice to say, this performance catered for the niche that is poetry. The overall pace was a little choppy, but it delivered on what it endeavoured to achieve: to showcase the poetic and musical talents of these four individuals.
If you’re a poet and you know it, you shouldn’t have missed out on The Word Box.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Venue: The Soul Box, 252 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Season: 12 June
Duration: 1 hour