Rock & Rhyme & Review

By Amanda Craig

Outside the sky was dull and the roads were wet with persistent rain on Wednesday evening, November 23, but that did not stop the musicians and poets who had a little Gene Kelly in them from participating in South Coast Writers Centre’s annual Rock and Rhyme open mic competition.

A humble stage set up across from the bar in Wollongong’s Irish pub, Dicey Riley’s, our small gathering was very intimate. We were in our own writers’ bubble, which the surrounding pub noise could not penetrate or disturb. The creative vibes from everyone there that night seemed to electrify each time a new poem was recited and a song was sung.

Rock and Rhyme started at 6pm, and officially commenced at 6:30 once everyone had arrived. While judge, Ron Pretty, collected names for the line-up, South Coast Writer Centre's director Rike warmed the atmosphere, showing off her guitar skills on stage.

Getting Rock and Rhyme underway, the MC of the event, Neil Rowsell, introduced the only participant of the music category, Dean, who started things off with two covers. After hearing of Leonard Cohen’s recent passing, he decided to perform a tribute to the music legend by playing Hallelujah. The next song Dean chose was Madonna’s track Frozen, which he put his own folky flare to. “I particularly like that song”, he enthused “as far as I’m concerned it has quite a good meaning…I just love Madonna”. With his chill vocals, shades, bandanna and full white attire, Dean brought the 70s back.


Photo by Samantha Mansell

Taking the stage in his Pink Floyd band shirt, Trevor started the poetry section. Reading his poem, A Fine Line, he revealed that the people from Berkley and Port Kembla inspire his writing. “I quite often come home and write about the people I see. Some of them are in better positions than others”.

A poet to be admired, Len read out three poems, one of which (forgive the cliché), really pulled at every listener's heartstrings. A raw and melancholy poem, he performed a powerful piece, revealing experiences of living in an aged care facility.

Norm was next with his poem on Christmas; Thelma, or Aunty Thelma as she was called on the night, read a poem describing the horrifying influence of ice addiction, and another which looked at bad luck in a comical way. Lastly, Dean stood up to read a few poems, including one on death, whimsically titled Take Me Now.

The performances were not over yet after Dean and the poets had wrapped up. MC Neil took to the stage at intermission, with guitar in hand, and performed a song simply called Wollongong, which he revealed was originally a poem written by Len.

With the song concluding, Ron announced the winners and runner-up of Rock and Rhyme, with Dean winning the music category, and Len winning for poetry, along with Thelma receiving the runner-up award. “You could make out a case for each of those five poets. Each of them had something really interesting to say, and an interesting way of saying it”, Ron explained “It just came down to think which of these were doing something that’s a bit different”.

Overall the night was memorable, and it showed how an event like Rock and Rhyme is able to bring together a group of creative minds. Neil explains this brilliantly, “It brings poets and musos together… When you get poets and musos together, as Len said, you can generate songs… friendship and appreciation for each other’s work”.

As a new writer for the South Coast Writers Centre, allow me to finish my review by quoting Lewis Carroll. “I mark this day with a white stone”. 

Editor's Notes:

And, if you weren't able to make it to the event, Amanda was good enough to record a snippet of the action. You can check it out here

Written by SCWC

Posted on December 07, 2016