Boy Renaissance takes five with the Bunker
This year's feature artist,
Ahead of their grand final feature September 3rd, we caught up with multi-artform performer Boy Renaissance to see how the last year has shaped their art.
Can you take us through the first time you performed your poetry on stage?
Our drama group needed to make up an extra two minutes of performance time to hit the minimum for our end-of-year group performance, and I took the opportunity to offer my poetry services. At the time I had been religiously listening to Levi the Poet, the only spoken word artist I knew. The performance was about American politics, and so I wrote a piece about media hypnosis and the moneymakers of war. I performed it in the middle of the stage with my ensemble walking around me like angry business people just wanting to get by. We performed the piece to the school at a lunch-time showcase. The next year I moved to Melbourne to start my spoken word career.
What inspires your writing?
The desire for LGBTQIA+ folk to feel seen, the desire to reach through the surface and connect to something deeper (call it God, Truth, or Home), the desire to understand the things I don't. In the words of Percy Shelley, poetry 'strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty which is the spirit of its forms.
How, if at all, do you feel the pandemic has changed the way you approach your art?
The pandemic, in its brash encouragement of slowness and stillness, has forced me inside more often, and has given me the opportunity to feel okay with embracing solitude, which can be good for creative practice. On the other hand, some lockdowns have been tough on my mental health, and no amount of solitude could encourage creativity as much as time with friends could. As well, with the swirl of how fast the pandemic has moved, I have also developed a taste for wider reading and research, which has fed into the way I develop sets.
Do you see poetry as an artform unto itself, or does it have a role alongside other mediums?
Both. Poetry is the breaking open of language, and in that way, it is its own dialect with its own rules. It's living, and sacred on the page without anything else needing to touch it. I claim that for spoken word too. However, music, drama, and film do give poetry the ability to transcend its limitations if it wants to. Sometimes the simplicity of a singular artform is what's required for the piece to reach its ultimate form, and sometimes it wants to climb off the page and become something else. One poem can turn into a film, a song, and a play, all while still being breathtaking as its original piece on the page.
Where do you see the future of poetry in Australia heading?
I see that minority voices are rightfully being lifted up more and more in Australian poetry. Refugee voices, Bipoc voices, Queer voices. I'd personally also like to see more neurodivergent and differently-abled voices lifted up, and for all these groups to continue to get platformed, and to reach wider audiences that don't just fall into the poetry-audience niche.
If you weren't a poet you would be…?
Boy Renaissance is the feature performer and guest judge for the Bunker Spoken Word, September 3, 2021.
For all tickets, competitor registration and event info click HERE