Here’s a poem I wrote back in my early twenties, in homage to one of my favourite people, and poets, Π.O. Born in Greece, he migrated to Australia in the 1950s and was raised in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
Π.O. is a remarkably prolific and innovative poet, a unique Australian voice, incorporating ocker and migrant languages into his work, effortlessly spanning poetry concrete, number poems, and spoken word. The fattest book on my poetry shelf by far, surpassing even the Norton Anthology, is Π.O’s remarkable 740 page tribute to Fitzroy, 24 hours. He’s gone and done it again with Fitzroy: The Biography.
I was lucky enough to meet Π.O. as a student around the time I wrote this poem, but unfortunately he shouted me a lot of scotch so I remember nothing of the sage advice this mentor bestowed. However, what has stuck with me is the permission to be bold, experiment, play, love language in its most ordinary forms. As a performer, I love the attention he pays to all the stuff apart from words – pauses, glitches, accents, tone, expression.
Thanks Π.O., you wonderful troublemaker.