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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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‘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.

Performances at Denmark Festival of Voice

I’m very excited to be performing at the Denmark Festival of Voice on 3-5 June 2016… even more excited now that the program has been published and I can see what an amazing lineup I’ll be part of.

I highly recommend anyone to attend this delightful festival in Western Australia’s lush south-west. The Festival’s a gathering of awesome people with a love of song, word, story…. It’s a feast for the ears, the heart, the soul. There’s a whole heap of amazing singers, poets and story-tellers – check the website for details of who’s coming and also for the program!

I’ll be in four performances in the festival: Two in which I perform my own poetry accompanied by the splendiferous instrumentation of Sunset Blundell-Wignall (a blurb for this show is beneath the image below), and two as part of the Tealeaf Troubadours – a four-piece ensemble of storytellers, musicians and poets who create enthralling performances which interweave the different performance arts. The Tealef Troubadours comprise Alex Hey, Jesse the Wind Wanderer, Jaya Penelope, and myself. Details of the shows I’m in follow:

  • Saturday 4th June 10 am @ Storytelling Yurt: Tealeaf Troubadours kids show: ‘Treasure
  • Saturday 4th June 3:30 pm @ Storytelling Yurt: Keren Gila Raiter accompanied by Sunset Wignall: ‘Beneath our feet: poems of earth and body’.
  • Sunday 5th June 1pm @ RSL Hall: Keren Gila Raiter accompanied by Sunset Wignall.
  • Sunday 5th June 2:30pm @ Storytelling Yurt: Tealeaf Troubadours adults show entitled ‘Driftwood Stories’.

Other shows/performers that I’m excited to see include Candy Royale, Jaya Penelope, Donna Jacobs Sife, The Red Sea Pedestrians, the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, Lucy Ridsdale, Ajak Kwai, Craig Sinclair, the vocal chant with Pranava Music, and many more.

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Step on to Keren Gila Raiter’s flying carpet of woven words and animated theatrics as she takes you on wild poetic adventures over oceans and underground, where atoms explode, organisms evolve, and the everyday is extraordinary. Meet a botanical villain who moves by stealth through roots and veins, a spiralling lover who’s wings must heal and rebalance, and two friends that discover the magic of nature in a war-torn land.

Accompanied by the splendiferous sounds of Sunset Blundell-Wignall whose eclectic instrumentation blows the winds upon which this magic carpet sails. This is playful and powerful performance poetry not to be missed!

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A world of contrast

Back in 2006 I was living in Israel and in the summer I travelled in the north, which is mountainous and full of mystical places for Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others… In the summertime, it’s also full of festivals and music. I went with a friend to a Kleizmer festival up in the town of Tsfat, the birthplace of Jewish mysticism, and afterwards we spent a couple of days hiking down from the mountain, along a river, and to the Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake Kinneret. The day that we hiked along the river valley turned out to be a day I will never forget. That was the day that war broke out between Israel and the Hezbollah in Lebanon…

This poem was published by Hypallage, the Magazine of the Multicultural Writers Association of Australia. This video was filmed at the 2012 Denmark Festival of Voice.

Tealeaf Troubadours at Denmark Festival of Voice

The delightful Denmark Festival of Voice will be on again from Friday 3 June until Sunday 5 June in the lush south-west town of Denmark. This will be the festival’s 12th year of celebrating the human voice, with an inspiring lineup of local, national and international artists in a cappella and accompanied ensemble, group and individual performances. Every year hundreds of people come together to watch, listen, learn, laugh, share their stories and sing their hearts out with choral, comedy, cabaret, poetry, spoken word, storytelling, with sacred, indigenous, world, folk, jazz, gospel, hip hop, and blues music.

We’re excited to announce that after a year’s hiatus, the Tealeaf Troubadours are back in action with not one, but two shows lined up for the festival. The Tealeaf Troubadours are a four-piece ensemble of storytellers, musicians and poets (including me) who create enthralling performances which combine music, storytelling and poetry. Our adults show is called Driftwood Stories and will be performed at the Mongolian Storytelling Yurt on Sunday 5th June at 2:30 pm. We will also be performing a kids’ show, called Treasure, also in the Yurt, at 10am on Saturday 4th June.

Meet us at the forest ocean interface, a liminal space where wizened boughs whisper tales of memory and longing to the sea air, but beware your step as this ancient landscape may conceal harder truths.

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Keren Gila Raiter at Perth Poetry Club, 28th May

I’ve been invited to give a feature guest performance of poetry at Perth Poetry Club later this month. The feature will be part of Perth Poetry Club’s regular stint of poetry which happens at The Moon Café (323 William Street, Northbridge, not far from Perth’s Central Train Station) every Saturday afternoon from 2-4 pm. The afternoon will include MCing by Perth Poetry Club’s Underlords and open mike performances from Perth’s happening poetry community, as well as another feature performance by Bill Dickie.

You can find out more about what’s happening at Perth Poetry Club here: http://www.perthpoetryclub.com/whats-on. My blurb for the performance follows.

Keren Gila Raiter is awed by the natural world and the power of our words to give us meaning in an otherwise very mysterious existence. An ecologist and eco-philosopher, she has recently completed a PhD on conserving the Great Western Woodlands of south-western Australia. Keren weaves words and animated performances into poetry that spans landscapes, languages, and lifetimes. In this feature for Perth Poetry Club, Keren will perform a series of pieces about her research, and also some works written in collaboration with the Chinese Classical Orchestra as part of a poetry-and-music creative fusion.

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A love, a loss

A personal story, set in Maasailand, Northern Tanzania. Performed at Perth Poetry Club, October 2012; published by Hypallage, 2013.

We met on the edge of a cliff

gazing into our own negative image

folding limbs and lips into caresses that we had always craved

floating on the words of our deepest desires uttered by another’s mouth

 

bridging worlds with hearts, weaving continents with cups of tea,

melding beads with blessings, black with white, Sabbath with savannah,

mother tongues, and mothers.

pulled by shared aspirations to climb mountains, swim oceans

and create another world.

 

Unsure just how we landed where we did in this unfolding of history

we rowed into unchartered territory with readiness.

and while the earth gave us laughter and texture; soul and pain

the trail that we had followed was washed away by rain

 

we met on the edge of a cliff

with one wing each

the ground was far below us

the sky

out of reach

 

warned about strange birds

far flung nests

we had chased the rainbow

blinded by her colourful promise

 

and as

the cliff’s edge crumbled

our destiny stumbled

we were enveloped by sky

our only hope was to fly

 

and we held eachother

each wing beating as hard as it could

flagellating with all of the rhythms we knew

but our wings beat out of sync

rivers of tears grew

and why – God only knows. We never really flew

 

no. we tumbled. we fell

through shivering winters

flowering springs

through hot summer rains

and old buried things

 

we broke our crowns

our hearts gashed open

our lips cut, dry

our voices hoarse with screams

until, in turn, we stopped.

 

there is always a branch to catch

if you are determined to get out alive

 

and now all I can do

is pick myself up

nurse my wounds

and weave my own second wing.

 

© Keren Gila Raiter