I was introduced to Voicebox poetry nights by a friend from Bridgetown who came up for their last event at the Fremantle Fibonacci Centre. This is a quirky, retro venue as you would expect from an artists' collective, but very comfortable and welcoming.
Fremantle Fibonacci Centre
We arrived late and it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the dim light in the cavernous building. The floor space was taken up with an assorted collection of worn armchairs, couches and tables, and the stage at the far end was equipped with a wooden music stand, floor lamp and microphone connected to an old fashioned speaker. An open fire took the chill off a cold night, but I recommend wearing warm clothes until the weather warms up.
The stage at the Voicebox poetry night
The poetry night is split into three brackets and three invited guest poets are given a 15 minute spot (one in each bracket). The night I went the invited poets were Dennis Greene (read by Alex Chapman), Mags Webster and Karen Lowry, who all kept the audience enthralled. The MC, Liana Joy Christensen, sat in a comfy armchair at the back of the stage, keeping an eye on proceedings and enjoying the poetry.
In addition to the guest poets, there are ten five-minute open mike spots. Anyone can put their name down to do an open mike poetry reading and the group loves to hear from new people. The first five people who volunteer for the open mike are guaranteed a place. Anyone else who wants to read goes into a hat and the other five spots are drawn at random. This method rewards those people who arrive early.
Voicebox is held on the last Monday of every month, unless that falls on a Bank Holiday, in which case it is held on the preceding Monday. Doors open at 6.30pm, the poetry starts at 7pm and the event finishes by 9.30pm. The poetry nights usually attract at least 60 people and the proceeds go towards the cost of the venue and reimbursing the poets.
One of the organisers, Josephine Clarke, told me that Voicebox has been active in Fremantle for over ten years. It started out in 2004 at La Tropicana Café, then moved to Clancy's in 2010, and a few years later to the Fly Trap at the Fly By Night.
"Every time we have to change venues the organising committee are devastated, but it always works out well," said Josephine.
Josephine Clarke reads poetry watched by MC Liana Joy Christensen
That is evidenced by their latest venue, the Fremantle Fibonacci Centre on Blinco Street. The event is BYO but the adjoining Blinco Street Café opens for the evening so people can buy food and hot drinks. The new venue also attracts more young people which has injected some fresh blood into the poetry sessions.
Inside Fremantle Fibonacci Centre
The guest poets at the next Voicebox poetry night on 21 September are Andrew Burke, Mike Williams and Lily Chan. I know Andrew Burke from attending his creative writing classes almost 20 years ago, so I will definitely be going. I hope to see you there.