Queensland Poetry Festival 2022 Review

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‘The Self, Emerging’ ‘The Self, Emerging’ Image © Kylie Thompson

Poetry, it must be said, gets a bad rap.


A lot of us, myself included, have unhappy memories of high school English classes picking apart poetry written by men long-dead and oftentimes boring or downright skeevy in their poetic contemplations (looking at you, Andrew Marvell).

It’s easy to graduate believing that poetry is a dying art form overly concerned with rich white guys getting laid. And yet, wander into any poetry performance or festival and you’ll see some of the most political, powerful, and profound writing in the world, not to mention the exploration of infinite subjects.

QPF2022 EthanEnochBarlow
Ethan Enoch-Barlow - Image © Kylie Thompson

Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF), one of the nation’s largest poetry-focused literary festivals, has made a name for itself leaning into the political and experimental elements of poetry, and for enthusiastically diversifying the voices it amplifies. For the festival’s triumphant return, it’s only fitting that every event was a masterclass on differing perspectives, experiences, and ideas.

This year’s festival, with the theme ‘Emerge’, kicked off with a spectacular night of performance, with the ‘First’ event, featuring Melanie Mununggurr, Lorna Munro and Ethan Enoch-Barlow, leaving audiences speechless at the absolute mastery of these storytellers. There are moments as a reviewer when you need to accept that you cannot do justice to a performance you’re trying to sum up, and this is one of those times. Each performer, exploring themes from parenthood to racism and everything in between, created the sort of magic I would spend a lifetime paying for the chance to see again.

QPF2022 Lorna Munro
Lorna Munro - Image © Kylie Thompson

While this year’s theme, ‘Emerge’ is a rather obvious nod to the festival having to hibernate through the pandemic lockdowns, it also set the scene for a range of conversations on themes we often hide from. A seeming prerequisite for QPF events is a willingness to go beyond the typical surface-level conversations, and this was showcased rather brilliantly when Rae White led ‘The Self, Emerging’, a phenomenal conversation about the LGBTQIA+ experience and finding the self in creativity, bypassing the usual ‘out and proud’ discourse to contemplate the intricacies of queer poetics.

QPF Poetry at the End of the World
'Poetry At The End Of The World' - Image © Kylie Thompson

Though through necessity a smaller than typical event, QPF made every single moment count, with conversations on ecopolitics, mental health, personhood and belonging, and motherhood not only working to challenge our social standards, but also our understanding of what poetry can truly be. This is never the festival to choose if you’re looking for safe, comfortable conversations and sales pitches for recent releases. But if you’re willing to explore the complexities of the human condition, Queensland Poetry Festival is not to be missed.

QPF will be back next year for another celebration of creativity and inclusivity, and you can find out more about future events through Queensland Poetry's social media or their website.

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