Unplugged Sensibilities. "Goddess of Mercy" by S.K. Kelen and "Love Poet Live" by Ken Smeaton. [review]
S.K. Kelen's "Goddess of Mercy" comes hot on the heels of "Shimmerings" (2000) and represents a considerable leap in terms of control and consistency. "Goddess of Mercy" smacks of well-made editorial cuts and an overall vision of the book as more than the sum of its parts. Kelen's work arguably follows Frank O'Hara's notion that 'you just go on your nerve'. "Goddess of Mercy" maintains the same direct approach, but is perhaps the product of a more hardened and mature nerve. Like the late John Forbes, and O'Hara before him, Kelen's poetry is first and foremost a communicative act, part of a dialogue as much as a discourse, open more often to political comment than to literary hermeneutics. Ken Smeaton's work is probably best known through his live performances at numerous festivals and pubs in Melbourne. Smeaton's commitment to live readings and performances stems from the desire to create an egalitarian and independent poetry scene, accessible to 'ordinary' people. This might leave the reader of "Love Poet Live" at something of a disadvantage. The irony of the title is hard to miss, and may point to Smeaton's hope that his poetry is just as alive on the page as behind the mike.