With Australia's rich heritage of poets and poetry looking like it might end up as simply the preserve of the academic elite a vibrant and charming Johanna Featherstone decided that she could do something about opening doors for young creatives with her radio program.
Doors are open and people are flowing through with their words and stories. So we wanted to know more about The Red Room Company, it's involved with The Rocks Pop Up Project and how poets are infiltrating clubs and societies across the country.
What is The Red Room Company?
The Red Room Company is a not-for-profit organisation based in Sydney, Australia. We create, promote and publish new poetry by Australian writers, in unusual ways. Through a range of forms such as radio, podcast, live performance and collaboration with artists and designers, we broaden the public's definition of and experience with high quality Australian poetry.
Our projects focus on commissioning new work and developing imaginative contexts in which this poetry can be creatively and critically explored. We focus on supporting the work of young and emerging writers through individual projects, and are increasingly interested in engaging with regional and remote Australian voices. In 2007, we piloted our national poetry education program, Papercuts, which was launched nationally in March 2009.
What is the Clubs & Societies project?
People do strange and wonderful things behind secret doors and in hidden rooms.
Clubs & Societies, The Red Room Company’s major poetry project for 2011, aims to tap into the latent poetics and strange tongues of Australia’s clubs and societies. The project works by partnering 12 commissioned poets with 12 clubs from across the country. The poets learn the lingo of these fanatics and aficionados, becoming the poet laureate of their partner club. At the end of the project, they produce a new work of poetry that explores their experiences.
We’re encouraging our poets to be as creative as possible when it comes to interpreting their clubs, so the final products ought to be as weird and wonderful as the clubs themselves.
The Red Room Company is still seeking expressions of interest for commissioned poets and feature clubs for some states and territories. Interested clubs and poets can contact us.
Clubs & Societies isn’t just for the commissioned clubs and poets though. It’s for everyone. Any club, society, or poet can get involved.
What’s the inspiration behind The Red Room Company?
The Red Room Company grew out of the Red Room Radio Show on 89.7fm Eastside Radio. Produced and presented by Johanna Featherstone, Red Room Radio began in 2001.
The show broadcast original poetry, writing, reviews and interviews with Australian writers to a local Sydney audience. Its focus was on bringing new poetry and writing to a wide audience that included poets, poetry lovers and those listeners not normally familiar with poetry.
In 2002, the Red Room Epic project was created, commissioning 30 writers under 35 years of age to write poetry for national community radio broadcast and online. Poets were interviewed and an audio epic poem was crafted. This project won the prestigious 'Best New Innovative Radio Program' at the 2002 National Community Radio awards run by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia.
By the end of 2002, the Red Room Radio show and the Red Room project had developed a network of poets and poetry supporters Australia-wide. In order to continue creating original poetry inspired projects for the public in a free and creative environment, Johanna Featherstone established The Red Room Company and is its current Artistic Director.
Since 2008, Mr. John B Fairfax AO has acted as Patron to The Red Room Company.
What is The Red Room Company plan for the Pop Up Project?
The Red Room Company's Pop-Up space acts as our Clubhouse headquarters for our major 2011 project,Clubs and Societies. For six months, we are inhabiting a beautiful, heritage-listed building that has been many things over its lifetime; a pub, a gambling den and a puppet shop.
As the Clubhouse it will also be many things. It will be the home for club meetings, a series of poetry readings, artist talks, film screenings, exhibitions and public events for participating clubs and societies.
It will also house artists and poets in residence every month.
On weekends, the space will operate as a market stall for Red Room publications, but also for the wares of our many and valued collaborators and partners.
How many participants, artists and poets do you have involved in the Project?
The Red Room Company has worked with over 350 Australian poets and artists. Every project seeks out the most suited team of poets, artists and creatives to produce our multifaceted projects. Poets have been commissioned for specific projects or supported via our Sun-Herald publication which focuses on new and emerging poets.
Our education program Papercuts, is currently the only national poetry program of its kind. Papercuts programs have been run in over 35 schools nationally.
Our current education project The Poetry Object engages with over 130 schools to create and exhibit new student poems.
How do people find out about your upcoming events?
Check out the Clubs and Societies Events and Red Room Company Events for details about individual events such as the Caravan Slam, club meetings, artist talks and poetry readings will also be held every week in the space.
What would be 5 tips you have for others considering exploring their own creative endeavours?
1. Remember what first sparked the desire to create, whether it is the first inspired line for a poem or a large project, keep that passion.
2. Share your ideas with other who may be able to help you.
3. Speak with other creative working in your industry.
4. Explore creative differences, emphasize what sets you apart from others without being isolating.
5. Be patient, flexible, open to change and collaboration opportunities.