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Snow

Just a short quote from Jalal-ud-Din Rumi (Translated by Andrew Harvey) on this warm spring day:

I was snow, I melted in your rays
The earth drank me: mist, now, and pure spirit,
I climb back to the Sun.

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Photograph © Keren Gila Raiter, taken in the Great Western Woodlands.

Hu lu si

A couple of years ago I had the honour of being invited to work in an exciting collaboration with the Chung Wah Chinese Classical Orchestra, as part of the Act Belong Commit Canning Music Series.

The Chung Wah Orchestra is part of the oldest ethnic association in Western Australia, founded in 1909. As cultural ambassadors for the Chinese community, they teach and perform classical Chinese music at various community events and special occasions to promote and preserve Chinese culture. The Chung Wah Orchestra is a ‘family’ of three generations playing together; the youngest member is 9 years old and the oldest is about 70 years old.

The event, organised by the City of Canning and proudly supported by Act-Belong-Commit, also featued the South Side Symphony orchestra in collaboration with Martin De Sousa Mealy, Nova Ensemble in collaboration with Kevin Gillam, and the Vocal Evolution in collaboration with Kate Wilson.

This poem is one I wrote over many weeks of attending rehearsals with the Chung Wah Orchestra, and learning about the instruments they use, the music they play, and the rich and story-full culture that is carried in their music and songs. This poem is about the Hulusi, a type of traditional flute made out of a gourd and played by the Dai people, an ethnic group living in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in south-west China. The Dai people are closely related to the Lao and Thai people.

I fell in love with the Hulusi; I’ve always been amazed by gourds and the uniqueness of this instument combined with it’s sweet sound really touched me, especially once I learnt of the cultural and spiritual significance of the gourd and the instument that is made from it. Listen to the poem for more 🙂

A big thank you to the Chung Wah Orchestra, and especially Xiaowen, for your beautiful music. It was incredibly special working with you!

It’s us who decide

This is one of my more recent poems, about the incredible experiences I had conducting extensive ecological research in Australia’s Great Western Woodlands, and the conundrums that we face when some precious parts of the landscape are threatened by mining. This video was performed on the Riverside Club stage at Denmark’s Festival of Voice, June 2017.

Denmark Festival of Voice 2017

The splendiferous Denmark Festival of Voice is almost upon us again! With the start of the southern hemisphere’s winter comes a beautiful to gather around with people who share an appreciation of song, spoken word, music, storytelling and other performance arts, get cosy in one of the many festival vanues, and be touched by the human voice in its diverse beauty, power and ability to convey meaning. The Artistic Director’s Welcome is an excellent place to start if you would like to know more.

I’m excited to once again be part of the lineup. I’ll have two performances:
• Sunday 4th June, 2pm at the Riverside Club, and
• Sunday 4th June, 4:30-6:30 at Teahouse Books, as part of a set called ‘Poetry, Wine and Cheese’. I’ll be performing alongside Tineke Van Der Eken, Kate Wilson, and Saana Peden, all excellent Western Australian poets.

Also look out for stunning performances by Jaya Penelope and many others! I’m thrilled that Lior will be playing! There will be 80+ acts (including many interstate and international artists) spread across 12 venues, plus workshops, kids shows and more.

Jaya Penelope, Kate Wilson and I will be hosting a small, informal house concert in Fremantle in the lead-up to the Denmark Festival, on Thursday evening 24th May. Contact me for details if you’re interested in attending.

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The Great Western Woodlands: a biological wonderland; a poem; a movement

I’m very pleased to share with you the Wilderness Society’s Great Western Woodlands campaign video. It was a real honour for me to to have a poem that I wrote about the area adopted as the voiceover for it. The poem is based on what I learned about the Great Western Woodlands during my time researching the cumulative and enigmatic impacts of mining and associated infrastructure (especially roads) on the ecological values of this area; the largest remaining temperate woodland on earth, which I researched for my PhD.

Great cudos to Amy Matheson for excellent editing, and to the amazong team at the Wilderness Society for their great work on the campaign.

If you’re inspired to experience the Great Western Woodlands, consider joining the inaugural Jungka Jungka Woodlands Festival to be held in Norseman in April.

Spoken word soup: poetry from the promised land and its people

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be performing poetry as part of Limmud Festival, the ‘Festival of Jewish Ideas’ that will take place on 25-27th November, on the NSW Central Coast. Limmud Fest is a weekend retreat for the whole family, celebrating Jewish diversity, learning and creativity. The festival is supported by Shalom, and set in beautiful natural surrounds, combining dynamic and diverse learning sessions with a festival atmosphere and unique Shabbat experience.

My performance, to take place at 1pm on Sunday 27th at the Bissli space, will consist of a melting pot of poetry written by both classical and contemporary Jewish and Israeli poets, and will include some of my own Jewish or Israel-themed poems. I’ll be performing in English and Hebrew.

The program has now been released, and I’m very excited to see the lineup. The sessions look extremely varied and fascinating… from pickle-making and ‘a tragedy of sarcasm’ to the Shia-Sunni divide, Jewish yoga, the Halacha of Magic, Women and Power in the parashah, ‘a Jewification of modern philosophy’, song circles, silent disco, the Israeli Peace Movement, ethical investing, and app development.

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Video

‘Days’ by Keren Gila Raiter

How does the world turn from peaceful to prickly in the flutter of an eyelash? The story of a human, a PhD researcher, a cyclist, a modern woman with ancient longings, an ecologist and a lover, is the story of the lenses through which she looks just as much as it is the story of the sparks and flames that glimmer through them.

This poem received the judge’s commendation in the 2012 Glen Phillips Poetry Prize, and was filmed in performance at the Denmark Festival of Voice, 2012.