Yes! Journal


Radical Yes Workshop The School of Life

This February, we launch our series of enlightening workshops at our stunning pop-up space. We are so proud to present the first of our workshops, The Wisdom of Poetry, which is an incredible collaboration with The School of Life - a cultural enterprise offering good ideas for everyday life that opened in Melbourne in 2014.

Poet, editor and printer Robert Wood will be your host. This is our ode to incorporating joy and thought into everyday living. Come and hear Robert's take on why poetry still matters.

Where: Radical Yes Pop Up Shop 99 Therry Street Melbourne, VIC 3000.

When: Friday, 26 February 2016 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Book Now: Tickets are FREE and available from Eventbrite.

Space is limited, please RSVP

We had the pleasure of chatting to Robert, to give you a little taste of what you’ll experience.

Hi Robert, if you could pinpoint one vital idea behind the wisdom of poetry, what would it be?

Poetry can be the linguistic expression of wisdom. The fortune cookie sayings, the fable stories and offhand clichés are all poetic and in them, when we listen closely to them, we can hear the wisdom of poets.

Poets too, as the maddies on the hill or the teachers in the valley, distill for us a whole range of life experiences and reflect back to us what it is to learn and grow. Poets can take us by the hand and lead us from ignorance to a place of knowing, and that is a lifelong journey.

The School of Life is a champion for better emotional health. Can poetry equal therapy?

Poetry can equal therapy. But not therapy as we know it. I think the benefit of poetry is that it is essentially metaphoric, which means we can say things in a different way, that we can sense things without saying them explicitly. It might not be about directly coming at a problem, which therapy usually does, but occupying a new space by saying ‘I have a black dog following me’. Sometimes the best therapy happens in spaces that are poetic and not in a counselling office.

At Radical Yes, we celebrate women with creative lifestyles. Our series profiling local Wonder Women pinpoints females making their mark. In the world of poetry, which female thinkers stir your imagination most?

I read the work of a lot of contemporary female Australian poets, in part because that is where good work is done and partly because that is an ethical imperative aimed at undoing empire, patriarchy and boneheadedness.

To me, there are a lot of people doing great work here and now – Jill Jones, Natalie Harkin, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Michelle Cahill, Bonny Cassidy, Lucy Dougan. They are all worth reading. So too is Oodgeroo Noonuccal, who I lament, is an understudied part of Australian cultural life.

Contemporary poetry has found a place in modern mediums, such as video poems, social media and street art. Do you think enough cultural importance is placed on these forms?

For me, poetry is the art of language. The line between it and other language categories is blurry at best. That fluidity is a good thing. But if we think of poetry as a special type of language, especially in the mediums you mention, then no, not enough cultural importance is placed on the contemporary, emergent, modern.

To that end, these new expressions help us understand our place in the world, contribute to a reinterpretation of our past and give us a future archive from which to build good lives and a better society.

Lastly, what is one small way we can incorporate poetry into our ordinary language and everyday life? Why is it important to do so?

Poetry suffers from a bad rap. Its importance in the culture at large has declined, and it seems marginal to people outside the scene. But to me, that simply means you haven’t found the right poetry for you just yet.

When that poem, or poet, finds you, the wait and search are worth it, for in finding language that reaches you, hugs you, pleases and teases you, you will feel an overwhelming embrace of something that is all too often ignored, instrumentalised, uncared for.

It will be like finding a lover you didn’t know existed and having them open a brilliant, bright, beautiful world just for you. There are so many ways for this love, this poetry, to enter into your daily life. There are phone apps that deliver a poem to you each day, there are bookstores that stock an amazing range of very different writing, there are launches and readings, there are events at The School of Life. All of these are simply places to start. To me, that sense of love is what we live for, and poetry is simply one way to encourage that.

Below: A section of the titles available from The School of Life and the Radical Yes Pop Up Shop.

The School of Life

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