In February 2008 myself and some friends from The Concrete Organisation established the “Cottonmouth” spoken word project; a performance-based, multi-platform initiative that comes together once a month at the Rosemount Hotel in North Perth. Cottonmouth has now been passed over to a new committee of enthusiasts, and the readings, the publication and the website archive are still growing. Whenever I go along I am consistently amazed at the variety and quality of performances, and the sense of a spontaneous community of wordsmiths drawn in from the surrounding suburbs and further afield. This is all the more impressive for the fact that Cottonmouth has outlived its seed funding from the Department of Culture and the Arts WA.
When I read most recently — at the 26th session — the night included narrated claymation, a-cappella hip hop, indie folk and straight up poetry. In the room adjacent to the bar typewriters clicked, zines were illustrated, and a library of anarchist / feminist / back to the land materials had sprung up. I pored over a children’s picture book about the Exxon Valdez oil spill, while a friend debated the merits of squat-house living with the library curator. Someone offered me a strawberry cupcake and a metal sonnet. Numerous collaborations have germinated here in these ruby-curtained rooms; from the electronic anthologies of Black Rider Press (the “hardest cats out on the sawdust”), to the DIY publications of Coastal Shelf. Writers such as Craig Silvey, Gabrielle Everall, Tom Cho, Claire Potter, John Mateer and Juliette van Loon have read their work, and gifted musicians have played to open the night (Abbe May, Sean Pollard, Gilbert Fawn, Silver Bulletin, to name only a handful). We’ve seen puppetry, photography, sound-art and playwrights, live-illustration and nights themed to promote the Amnesty ARTillery festival. Last year we held a session in conjunction with the Perth Writers’ Festival, and we published a book. In short, I am going to miss coming to these events, and the individuals who give such energy to the collective.
I read an excerpt from a story in progress called “The Nocturnals.”